I must admit, sometimes I get unbelievably frustrated at men’s style and fashion. I’ve been writing about it for over three years now and, just like anything that involves being creative, it’s hard to find the same passion that you once had when you first started out.
However, recently I’ve begun to feel reinvigorated with this menswear game that I know and love, and this change in attitude has stemmed from the strangest of sources: women’s fashion. Now before you all start scrolling to the comments section to give me a good verbal thrashing, allow me to explain…
I don’t mean that I’ve exclusively started wearing women’s clothes! I don’t even mean that I’ve started incorporating a few subtle women’s pieces here and there (although there is an argument to be made for this). What I mean is that I’ve injected some life into my personal style by stealing ideas from the way that women approach fashion in general.
Remember, they’ve been doing it a lot longer than us, guys! And arguably a lot better too. When it comes to colour combinations, pattern mixing and textures, women are the masters. And who’s to say we can’t steal from them? Fashion is still a women’s game anyway, so why not learn from the best?
There’s more of a crossover between our two worlds than you would originally think, so why not try implementing some of the tips I’ve leant from the fairer sex the next time you’re struggling with your menswear passion…
1. Less Restriction, More Innovation
Menswear tends to impose far too many rules on the way guys dress. “Men don’t need lots of options, just the right options” is a phrase that springs to mind. And whilst that is still true, it can get taken to the extreme.
Women have no problem mixing and matching formal and casual pieces to create expertly balanced, ‘straight down the middle’ looks – and it’s all thanks to putting a lot less restrictions on what they can and cannot pair together.
For men, it could be something as simple as re-considering wearing trainers/boat shoes/loafers with a suit or as complex as blending a tuxedo jacket with jeans. Either way, experiment with your clothing choices a bit more and you might be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Why not consider more interesting/unusual outfit combinations? Suits with casual shoes/trainers, shorts with boots, shorts with socks or tux jackets with jeans are just some of the options you could look to explore.
2. Colour Stories
A constant theme running throughout women’s fashion is that the colours used to create looks always seem to be impeccably chosen. The next time you see a girl who you think has really nailed their colour scheme, take a moment to consider why you like it and how it works.
I’ve already managed to pick up a lot of colour palette/combination ideas for this coming autumn/winter by going through old Ralph Lauren and J Crew catalogues. One that I am desperately waiting to break out is navy and red tartan (shirt) with dark green (trousers) and grey tweed (jacket).
Most guys only have two colour modes: monochromatic or bright, bold and loud. Instead, take inspiration from the female of our species and explore that middle ground of muted, contrasting and complementing colour combinations.
Instead of just monochromatic or bold and loud, consider how each colour within your outfit complements and contrasts so that the palette stands out as a whole, rather than just one individual piece.
3. The Importance Of Texture
Seasonal materials work best together, and no-one understands this more than women.
As men, there’s almost an instinct to stick to cotton exclusively all year round, without ever venturing away from them too much. We’ve previously touched on types of fabrics to wear during the specific seasons – be it tweed with raw denim during autumn/winter or tropical wools with linen blends during spring/summer – so make sure you read up and start to develop your very own seasonal wardrobe.
Not only will understanding textures keep you warm in winter and cool during summer but it adds another visual layer to the outfits you put together, making them appear infinitely more appealing to those who view them.
Key Pieces: Spring/Summer
- Gant Rugger Shirt With Madras Check
- J.crew Short-sleeve Madras-check Cotton Shirt
- Allsaints Jakob Grandad Jumper
- River Island Pale Blue Linen Long Sleeve Shirt
- Uniforms For The Dedicated Blazer In Linen Melange
- Brooks Brothers Seersucker Stripe Jacket 146637
- Topman Blue Seersucker Mid Shorts
- Reiss Rushby Three Button Notch Lapel Linen Suit Airforce Blue
- Oliver Spencer Linen Oxford Shorts
Key Pieces: Autumn/Winter
- Topman Premium Grey Herringbone Suit
- Richard James Spirit Slim-fit Wool And Silk-blend Blazer
- Asos Slim Fit Blazer In Corduroy
- Esprit Jumper With Fleck
- Reiss Braun Flecky Crew Neck Jumper Grey Marl
- River Island Tobacco Skinny Corduroy Trousers
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Trousers In Tweed
- Asos Slim Fit Suit Trousers In Fleck Herringbone
- Topman Brown Tweed Dogtooth Flatcap
Now I’m the first to admit that I have a uniform I stick to most of the time: chinos, an Oxford cloth button-down shirt and a blazer/waistcoat is pretty much my jam – year in, year out.
Guys tend to like to play it safe with looks that they know suit them and fit in with their lifestyle. Girls, on the other hand, have all the fun! One day they can be dressed as a preppy business woman and the next they can be drawing inspiration from a Rick Owens ninja pirate or a Raf Simmons biker chick.
They often treat each day as a chance to play dress up and experiment with different sides of their personality. Obviously, I’m not advocating going to work as a pirate or a Hells Angel, but why not take courage from the bold choices they make on a daily basis and experiment with your own style?
If you’re in more of a playful mood then why not break out a floral print, a pair of camo chinos or brightly coloured footwear? It may not be what you would usually wear but those times when you push yourself tends to be when you reap the most rewards (or, at the very least, learn something about yourself).
Finally, don’t be afraid to have a look around the women’s section of a store that you like. I’ve managed to find some of my favourite accessories in the women’s section that I never would have considered before.
For example, some of my favourite statement scarves have been found this way and I often find myself buying cheap pieces, such as t-shirts/vest tops, to turn into makeshift pocket squares if they feature a pattern or colour that I like.
It’s a completely wasted resource that goes unnoticed by the majority of men due to embarrassment or something weird like that. Suck it up and shop the women’s section, you girls!
As an example, we have quickly picked out some women’s accessories available online that could easily transcend between the genders. Panama hats, printed scarves and certain styles of bags are suitable for both men and women and most wouldn’t be able to spot any form of difference:
- Printed Trim Panama Hat In Black
- Asos Straw Pork Pie Hat
- He By Mango Camo-print Studded Foulard
- Allsaints Snake Scarf
- Salvatore Ferragamo Gancini Logo Scarf
- Asos Leather Backpack With Tab Detail
- Fred Perry Foldover Tote Bag
- Bao Bao Issey Miyake Bao Bao Lucent Shopper Bag 161482
- Grafea Villa Bianca Medium Leather Rucksack – White/tan
So, next time you’re struggling for inspiration or feel that everything you look at isn’t exciting you like it used to, don’t forget that there’s a whole other market out there, which has been doing it bigger and better than us for years.
Why not tap into it and steal some ideas? Next time you see a woman whose style you admire, try and break it down into what made it appealing and how you could incorporate into your own look. The results may surprise you.
Anyway, I’m off to see if I can realistically incorporate a tweed skirt into my every day work attire. A tweed sarong is a thing, right? Kidding… or am I?