It’s a long drive down this road we call life, and along the way, your brain will absorb constant gems of new information, sometimes without you even noticing. Little tidbits that will serve you well until your dying day.
Some of these will be microscopic practical realisations – don’t stare at the sun, don’t touch dog poo, don’t tattoo your neck – while some may unlock the answers to bigger philosophical questions. And, of course, others will just be simple lessons about how to dress correctly. Like these.
Cheaper Is Basically Never Better
There comes a time when the mountain of man-made fibres zapping you with a thousand static shocks whenever you reach into the wardrobe is going to need to be replaced – a single stray spark and those things are bursting into flames.
Bid farewell to cheap garments (which, of course, is different to inexpensive) and say goodbye to the constant threat of combustion by instead investing in a small cluster of well-made items that will stand the test of time.
Not All Trousers Actually Look Good On You
Twisted denim, distressed denim, basic denim – denim has so many different moods. Then there’s skinny jeans, hideous bootcut ones, turn-ups, turn-downs, trousers that stop short of the ankle, baggy trousers, embroidered flares, chinos, slacks, cords shaped like carrots.
There are innumerable styles on offer for your bottom half. Know your style, size and age to avoid looking like a clown.
Copying Other People Doesn’t Work
On some level, we are all an accumulation of influences from people cooler than us, but start aping your friends at your peril. Not only will everyone notice and start nudging each other when you’re not looking, but it can also trigger a ripple effect that ends with one of you in prison and the other one in a witness protection programme. No one likes to get Single White Femaled. Especially men.
Not Every Item Needs To Make A Statement
Hawaiian shorts, yellow flip-flops, insanely colourful shirt – these don’t spell out ‘Doctor of Fashion’, they spell out ‘man who had nervous breakdown’. The lesson here is quite simple: don’t dress like you’re on a mountain of drugs.
If you do want to experiment with something a little more Liberace, choose a single statement piece and build around it with classic, pared-back items that make it the star.
Suits Don’t Always Look Smart
You think you look like James Bond emerging from the ocean (yes, in a suit) before wandering into a bar to order a martini or casually kill a guy. But in reality, you look like you came last in a ‘Who Looks Most Like 1980s Icon Alexander O’Neal?’ style-off.
If it doesn’t fit you or suit your body type, it’s no better than a matching velour tracksuit. Two words: find a good tailor. OK, granted, that might actually be four words.
Getting Stuff Tailored Makes A Huge Difference
Here’s a public service announcement: it isn’t just suits that need tailors. Even jeans can be adjusted to perfectly contour your legs. And is there a man in the world who doesn’t like having his legs perfectly contoured? The answer to that rhetorical question, if you haven’t put two and two together, is that no there isn’t.
Trends Aren’t As Good As A Signature Style
At some point during your sartorial puberty, crackling light bulbs will start repeatedly exploding above your head, as you realise that you have developed your own nose for what looks good on you, and no longer feel the need to tick off every seasonal trend.
It’s like you’ve chucked your armbands out of the window, or enjoyed the ritual burning of bicycle stabilisers. You’re a man now. And best of all, the light bulbs bit was a metaphor, so there’s not even any cleaning up to do.
Sometimes The Most Simple Outfit Is The Most Stylish
It can be easy to get caught up in the insane whims of fashion, as you find yourself making a grand entrance in a sarong and what looks like a dressing gown, and possibly bananas as shoes. But there’s a reason why all the fashion greats, from Steve McQueen to James Dean, kept it simple. Because it just works. As the equally stylish Tom Ford once said: “Figure out what your look is.”
Your Hair Should Not Be Overcomplicated
There’s not a jury in the world willing to forgive frosted tips, or a gelled-down fringe, or that weird phase you went through with the blond stripe down the middle, or the undercut, or the spiky front bit and the soft, feathery back.
The trick here is to understand how your hair works with your face and to stick to the simplest and most obvious cut there is – under no circumstances should you give your hairdresser carte blanche to dick around.
Show Your Feet Some Respect
As with anything, finding the correct shoes involves a lot of trial and error. Like Disney princesses have to kiss a lot of frogs before they find their prince; similarly, you will have to work your way through a conveyor belt of bad daps before you find the ones that fit you perfectly – like Cinderella and her glass slipper.
Sorry, there seem to be a lot of fairy tale metaphors going on all of a sudden. The point is this: avoid extreme shapes – particularly anything too pointy or too square.
You Need Three Coats Maximum
The way things are going (with the world and everything) you probably only need two coats. One heavyweight overcoat that will keep you warm when global warming finally drives us all into an Ice Age. Then another, much lighter one, for the flipside of that coin, which would find us all smouldering in a volcanic microclimate.
In the short term, however, allow yourself an extra, medium strength one for autumn – such as a classic trench.
You’re Either An Earring Guy, Or You’re Not
There’s no exact science to this, and unfortunately, it’s not something you can accurately predict without going through the barbaric rigmarole of having someone else spear a needle through your earlobe first. Then, and only then, will you be able to accurately assess whether you’re an earring guy or not. Harrison Ford, for example, is not an earring guy, no matter how hard his left ear tries to convince us.