“Fashions fade, style is eternal”. Designer Yves Saint Laurent’s well-worn (moth-eaten?) assertion that sticking to one’s guns – rather than constantly changing one’s stripes – is the mark of true style is a generally accepted truth: just because magazine editors are pushing boilersuits one season doesn’t mean you bump off your regular suits to make room.
That said, without fashion, style gets staid. And while true style isn’t fickle, it does, every so often, change for the better (just take a look at this lot). However, pinpointing exactly when that change is needed isn’t always a cakewalk.
To that end, we’ve rallied some of menswear’s most discerning experts to help you spot the signs that your style is suffering, and the steps to take to save it.
1. You’ve Bought The Same Jeans Your Whole Life
“Jeans can be very difficult to buy,” says Claire Miles, head buyer at London boutique The Shop at Bluebird. “If the cut is right, then the the wash isn’t; if the wash is right, then the fit doesn’t work.” So it makes sense that once you find a fit that works, the idea of spending another chunk of your life playing hopscotch in various changing rooms isn’t so appealing.
But, Miles says, stick to the same pair for too long and you become predictable. “It’s really important [not to get trapped in the mindset of] ‘but this style fits so why change?’ Take some time out to try different brands and cuts to find the right new one for you.”
2. You Can’t Let Anything Go
More clothes than the average landfill? Are you a shoo-in for the next series of Hoarders?
If you haven’t worn many of the clothes you own in the last year or so, then it’s time, dear reader, to get a grip. “Cleanse your wardrobe by getting rid of everything you don’t wear or clothes that look dated,” says Mylene Genty, lead personal stylist at etailer Frank + Oak. “Your rule of thumb should be to donate anything that you haven’t worn in the past year.”
And think twice the next time you find yourself stood in the cashier line, lime green pyjama shirt in tow.
3. Every Shirt You Own Looks The Same
“It’s so easy to fall into the trap of buying 100 variants of the same Oxford shirt to stock your wardrobe,” says The Shop at Bluebird’s Miles. “But it only takes a little bit of effort to [break the cycle].”
One of the simplest ways to breathe new life into your rotation, she says, is to switch up your shirt collars. Don’t be afraid to stick your neck out and try styles other than the traditional point collar. “A favourite of mine is the granddad collar; it’s simple and looks good on men of all shapes and sizes.”
4. Your Clothes Don’t Go Together
That oversized, fire engine red rhinestone-studded Dsquared2 bomber jacket was a real find, wasn’t it? A snip at just 50 per cent of its original price (still a month’s rent) and, well, it goes with pretty much ever–
Nothing. It goes with nothing, let’s be honest.
“Impulse buyers often don’t think about the bigger picture,” says Topman’s creative director Gordon Richardson. “Always keep in mind ‘What can I wear this with?’ when shopping so that you can get maximum wear out of an item and you don’t end up with a wardrobe full of mismatched pieces.”
5. You’ve Had The Same Haircut Since School
A good haircut can take years, even decades, off your face, so finding a style you like is extremely rewarding. However, this isn’t the military, so don’t treat the barbers like the barracks. If you’ve been getting the same snip since school, try switching things up. Today’s short, ballsy buzz cut can be tomorrow’s platinum pompadour (okay, maybe not in a day but you get the idea.)
“Boys have a real habit of getting into a hair rut,” says Ruffians artistic director Denis Robinson. “Luckily, there are some easy ways to counteract this and these tend to be minor changes.”
As well as altering the length and style of the hair, Robinson recommends using new products – swapping matte for shiny or vice versa – as a low-risk high-reward way of achieving a fresh look. “Overall, the changes do not have to be big. Sometimes the smallest of adaptations to your style can get you noticed.”
6. You Stick To The Same Silhouette
Style may be timeless, but your fast metabolism is not. Fail to adapt the cut of the clothes you wear to weight gain, loss or even just the overall ebb and flow of fashion, and you run the risk of looking less than your best.
“Whether you stick to skinny jeans or tailoring that looks like a second skin, we all get comfortable with a certain fit,” says Richardson. “Go for something a bit different and out of your comfort zone; try updating your look with some relaxed tailoring or jeans with a wider leg.” And keep a quality tailor on speed dial.
7. Everyone Knows Your Wardrobe By Rote
There’s having a uniform. And then there’s boring everyone to actual tears. While no one expects you to reinvent your style every 24 hours, wearing the same thing day in, day out is a way of dressing only the likes of Tom Ford can get away with. (If even he can.)
Watch out for clues that your style is stagnating from your mates. They might complement you a second time on the same black sweatshirt or indigo jeans, or, more likely, mercilessly mock you in a public forum.
The fix? Switch things up now and again. That doesn’t mean overhauling your style, but adding in a novel T-shirt, accessory or pair of trainers here and there to keep things fresh.
If at a loss as to how to mix things up, Frank + Oak stylist Genty suggests doing some research. “Pinterest isn’t just for women, and Instagram is an easy source of inspiration for looks to try,” she says. “Go out there and, if need be, get someone else’s opinion like a close friend that knows you and has a good eye.” (Or to avoid the mockery, consult a personal shopper or stylist.)
8. You’re A Monochrome Bore
“Dressing [head-to-toe] monochrome is always a safe choice, but [consider using it as a] blank canvas and add to it from there,” says Topman’s Richardson. “[Introducing] some colour to your outfit can really enhance your [overall] look.”
Bold primary hues ‘pop’ especially well against a backdrop of all-black or white, or try bright pastels for a softer contrast that still makes a statement.
9. You’ve Smelt The Same For Years
Some guys pick a signature scent they wear their entire lives, creating an instantly recognisable olfactory handshake, while others opt to change their fragrance as often as they change their underwear.
There is no hard-and-fast right or wrong (aside from generally wearing heavier spices or woody smells in winter and lighter citrus or floral scents in summer), but making subtle changes to how you smell over time can help avoid nose fatigue.
“When looking to switch up your fragrance, don’t go for something completely different. Try sticking with the same brand and moving across the line to the next nearest scent,” says master perfumer Roja Dove. “Another strategy is to look for [fragrances with] similar notes – preferably ones where your favourite ingredients are main notes so that the structure is the same but the way it’s dressed up differs.”
10. You Wear The Same Navy Swim Shorts Every Holiday
There’s nothing wrong with navy swim shorts (in fact, a pair of nicely tailored navy swim shorts is one of the best things you can wear to conceal your goods on a sun getaway). But wearing the same pair every year makes for some awfully boring social media updates.
“Going bold with [your] swimwear is much easier than [anywhere else in your wardrobe],” says Miles from The Shop at Bluebird. “Try something with a bit more flair. If it’s colour you’re afraid of, then go for a blue short that is heavier on the patterning. If it’s patterning that you’re hesitant to try, [then look for] a simple design in a brighter colour.” Miles’ go-to brand? British-Brazilian label Frescobol Carioca.