They say time waits for no man. And as any man who’s slept through five iPhone alarms and faced the near-impossible challenge of finding something appropriate to wear in 30 seconds will tell you, they’re not wrong.

But there are ways to minimise the time spent blankly staring into the wardrobe in the morning, as if waiting for a Wallace & Gromit-style invention to – any second now – kick into action and clothe you.

Whether you’re against the clock, or just can’t muster anything that looks vaguely decent staring back at you in the mirror, this is our guide to styling it out when you’re stumped.


You’re already half an hour late, so what’s another few minutes? Whatever you do, don’t panic. Losing your chill because you’re late or think you’ve got nothing to wear definitely won’t expedite the process.

“Panicking leads to frantic and impulsive dressing, which can only result in regrettable outfit decisions,” says Allie Ohyoma, personal stylist at online men’s personal styling service The Chapar. Less wigging out, more figuring out what you’re going to wear.

Check Your Calendar

Just like a suit and tie jars with a few jars down the local, so does a tee and jeans worn to the office. The lesson? Know where you’re going and what you’re doing, before you decide what to put on.

“The most important things to consider when dressing for the day are where you’re going, what you’re doing and how long you’ll be doing it for,” says Ohyoma. It’s like picking the right tools for the job.

Consult The Weather App

It’s not just about meeting dress codes – your decision also needs to take Mother Nature into account. A quick glance at a weather app could be the difference between arriving in style, and arriving sodden.

So if all you’re seeing on your screen is rain clouds, put the suede away and pack a mac instead.

Basics Are Best

Resist the urge to reinvent the wheel. When you’re against the clock, or just racking your brain trying to figure out what to wear to look good/not like a dick, don’t get crazy.

“Don’t overcomplicate things if you’re unsure what to wear,” says stylist Karen Mason, whose work has appeared in the likes of Jocks & Nerds and British GQ. “Keep it simple with classic styles in a neutral colour palette.”

That fire engine red boiler suit? Maybe not today, mate. Instead, it’s best to fall back on the old reliables, those fail-safe pieces that form the backbone of a wardrobe. “Classic items like a white Oxford shirt, a pair of jeans suitable for evenings out, and smart trainers and brogues never go out of style,” says Ohyoma. “Build a foundation to your wardrobe with classic, unfussy and versatile pieces like these, and you can only ever go right.”

Of course, general pointers are all well and good, but what about the quick fixes? The foolproof blueprints for looking good wherever, whenever? If you find yourself at a loss, fall back on these:

For The Corporate Office

OK, so it’s not exactly mind-bendingly difficult to a make a call on what to wear when your coalface has a dress code that specifies one thing and one thing only. (That’s a suit, if you hadn’t already guessed.) However, there’s still a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to ‘business formal’.

Bring your A-game with a navy or blue single-breasted suit, a crisp white shirt, brown brogues or Derbies and a tonal tie in a slightly lighter shade of blue. Job done.

The Corporate Office - Men's Dress Code Outfit Inspirationluigi bianchi mantova aw15

Key Pieces

Men's Corporate Office Outfit

suitsupply HAVANA BLUE PLAIN suit - Click to buyreiss ZINC SLIM STRETCH SHIRT - Click to buyDRAKE'S 8cm Wool And Cashmere-Blend Tie - Click to buysuitsupply DERBY BROWN - Click to buy

For The (Kind Of) Corporate Office

Welcome to the minefield. Watch your step, because getting caught wearing the wrong thing here will at best result in office cooler chuckles at your expense, and at worst land you in an awkward disciplinary, or possibly even cost you a promotion.

It pays to play this one safe with a combination that leans smart-casual but lets you feel comfortable, without incurring the wrath of your boss. Try a white Oxford shirt underneath a merino or cashmere jumper, some neutral-coloured chinos and a pair of leather loafers for a look that’s professional, but not overly punctilious.

The Semi-Formal Office - Men's Dress Code Outfit InspirationAquascutum SS15

Key Pieces

Men's Semi-Formal Office Outfit

j.crew SLIM LIGHTWEIGHT OXFORD SHIRT - Click to buyuniqlo Merino Crew Neck Sweater - Click to buyreiss TENOR T SLIM-FIT TROUSERS - Click to buyG.H. Bass WEEJUNS LARSON PULL UP DARK BROWN LEATHER - Click to buy

For The Weekend

Sometimes it’s the absence, rather than the enforcement, of a strict dress code that’s frustrating. Sure, prepping your finery for a black tie ball is a pain, but at least you know what your hosts want you to turn up in.

The weekend, and downtime in general however, opens up a whole world of possibilities (not to mention potential fails). Steer right with something casual, but not careless – like a classic white crew-neck tee and selvedge jeans as the foundation, with an optional grey sweatshirt and beige camel jacket for when the cold bites.

Men's Off-Duty Weekend Casual Outfit Inspirationasos ss16

Key Pieces

Men's Casual Outfit

baracuta G9 MODERN CLASSIC HARRINGTON JACKET - Click to buyuniqlo Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans - Click to buyACNE STUDIOS FONT CREW SWEAT - Click to buyuniqlo Supima Cotton Short Sleeve T-Shirt 2 pack - Click to buyADIDAS STAN SMITH - Click to buy

For A Night Out

More often than not a man’s already three or four cold ones in by the time he starts sorting his club clobber. While this ritual is guaranteed to get the creative juices flowing, it also comes with the risk of you turning out something that skews more car crash than cool.

So make it easy with head-to-toe monochrome. A black leather biker or smart bomber jacket and a grey or black tee worn with slim jeans works everywhere. Cap off with a pair of black Chelsea boots to bring this look’s rock aesthetic to its natural conclusion. Perfect (just don’t swill your pint).

Men's Night Out Outfit InspirationH&M Spring 2015

Key Pieces

Men's Night Out Outfit

reiss BRUNO FUNNEL NECK BOMBER JACKET - Click to buyuniqlo Supima Cotton Short Sleeve T-Shirt 2 pack - Click to buyACNE STUDIOS Max Slim-Fit Overdyed Denim Jeans - Click to buyCHEANEY Godfrey Leather Chelsea Boots - Click to buy

Final Word

Want more ideas for when you’re in a pinch? Check out these six timeless outfit combinations for men, and why not pick up a few of the 10 habits shared by all well-dressed men?