Maintain And Develop

Perhaps the ultimate expression of personal style is comfort – or more specifically, confidence and comfort. A man must own his clothes and the way he wears them. Being confident breeds comfort and being comfortable builds confidence.

The successful creation of your own inimitable style is an achievement in itself. Yet maintaining, cementing and nurturing it is an even greater battle. It’s crucial to keep your focus as it is far too easy to lose sight of the very thing you worked so hard for. Distraction is all around us, serving only to fragment, dilute and confuse, and even the most well dressed men are guilty of becoming complacent.

Wardrobe harmony is one of the corner stones of an effective, workable style and maintaining it requires almost constant updating, replacing and altering. This continuous process ensures that your style stays fresh – day in, day out – and that your wardrobe is always able to respond, no matter the situation, occasion or current whims of the industry.

Development of your personal style should also be viewed as a long term commitment, but not necessarily in the way you might imagine. It does NOT, as many people seem to think, mean regular investment in new clothes.

It’s often far more important to make the most of what you’ve got. Whether that means experimenting with your existing pieces or being realistic, logical and practical about your style as a whole, there is a great deal that you can do without spending a penny…

1. Take Stock

Taking stock is a particularly important first step. It’s far too easy to get carried away while building or sculpting your personal style/image – particularly when it’s going well.

These days, the world is quite literally bursting with inspiration: reading fashion blogs/magazines, browsing the high street on your lunch break, searching online for new clothes and analysing the style of other well dressed gents are just some of the things that can spark a new idea or outfit, but they can also lead to serious case of wallet burn.

Unnecessary purchases will only have a detrimental effect on your style and your ability to maintain it consistently. Fashion is surprisingly emotive, especially with style being such a personal concept, so it quickly becomes a war between head and heart.

The solution is to step back, evaluate and take stock on a regular basis. To really be able to support and develop your style AND wardrobe you should have a very clear and up to date idea of what you already own and, more importantly, how it all fits together.

Taking Stock Of Your Wardrobe And Knowing Exactly What's In It Is An Important Part Of Maintaining Your Personal StyleTaking stock & knowing what is in your wardrobe is an important part of maintaining a unique and successful personal style

An intimate knowledge of your wardrobe not only allows you to plan your purchases effectively, but by being totally aware of exactly what you own and how you can wear it, you avoid making any rash decisions.

In addition, this process will make you much more familiar with the subtle nuances of your style; the little details that really individualise what you wear and make it truly yours.

2. Fit & Finish

It’s important to remember that buying the clothes to create your style is only half the battle. Items will rarely fit perfectly straight off the rack, so a tailor will likely become your new best friend.

Alterations serve many purposes. Fit is the most obvious: whether it’s taking up a pair of trousers, shortening your shirt sleeves or nipping in the waist of a jacket, making sure all of your clothes fit you properly and flatter your body type is one of menswear’s few prerequisites.

Good fit also ensures comfort, which, as previously mentioned, breeds confidence. To be truly confident in your clothes you need to feel completely comfortable in them (in both the physical and metaphysical sense), and alterations offer the perfect way to starting building it.

However, if you want your style to be truly individual, you must consider more than just fit. Adding interesting details to your clothes or altering them to better suit your personality/look will really separate you from the crowd.

Man Making AlterationsGetting your clothes altered to better suit your personality or to incorporate unique detailing will help effortlessly separate your looks from the crowd.

For instance, having your trousers cropped or tapered, shortening the hem so you can roll them better, darting your shirts to make them super slim-fitting or changing the lining of your blazers are all things that will make a huge difference to your overall aesthetic.

You don’t even have to go down the alterations route to achieve this sense of individuality. Swapping buttons, changing laces, learning a new pocket square fold or simply switching the way you knot your tie are all ways of adding depth and character to your look quickly and easily.

These subtle touches are often the difference between a good outfit and a great outfit. Besides this, your tailor can also be used as a fantastic learning tool when it comes to understanding how things should fit, why they should fit that way and how the different alterations are performed.

Those that want to save money can even attempt basic alterations themselves – YouTube offers an almost endless source of information and inspiration for this.

Low Cost Alterations

eBay and charity shops are both great places to source unique buttons, laces and even materials that can be used to alter your current clothing and create something altogether more unique.

Whether it’s as simple as changing the standard plastic white buttons on your high street chinos or making your very own pocket square from a custom fabric, what can be achieved is limited only by your own imagination:

  • 15/30 Sets Snap Fasteners/press Studs15/30 Sets Snap Fasteners/press Studs
  • 100 Mother Of Pearl Round Buttons100 Mother Of Pearl Round Buttons
  • 20mm Hammer On Antique Denim Jeans Buttons20mm Hammer On Antique Denim Jeans Buttons
  • Anchor Pin Badge PewterAnchor Pin Badge Pewter
  • Waxed Cotton Round Shoe Boot LacesWaxed Cotton Round Shoe Boot Laces
  • Flat Shoe LacesFlat Shoe Laces
  • Camo FabricCamo Fabric
  • Vintage Paisley Floral 100% Cotton FabricVintage Paisley Floral 100% Cotton Fabric
  • D Ring Buckles For WebbingD Ring Buckles For Webbing
3. Replacement

A key part of taking stock and evaluating your existing wardrobe is the replacement of old, tired clothes. Especially when it comes to wardrobe basics, keeping them up to scratch is imperative if you want to maintain high style standards.

Plain tees, indigo denim, basic knitwear and Oxford cloth button-downs set the foundation of any successful wardrobe and once these staples start to look tired or worn out they have a significant negative impact on the success of your daily looks.

Men's Basics Outfit InspirationWardrobe basics such as tees, jeans, sweaters and Check/Oxford shirts form the building blocks of any successful wardrobe

Reiss Sports Luxe 2012Zara Feb 2013H&M Spring 2013Massimo Dutti Sept 20137 Diamonds AW13River Island AW13H&MDebenhams AW13Banana Republic AW13

With this in mind, if yours have shrunk over time, started to lose their shape/colour or are just plain falling apart, replace them. A like-for-like replacement is sometimes difficult because more often than not, they usually aren’t made anymore or the cut/style has changed.

Investing in multiples will help you get round this issue in future and has the added bonus of allowing you to rotate them so they last longer.

As part of taking stock, examine your basics before you rush out and buy a new piece or add another colour to your wardrobe. Always remember that the reason these clothes wear out is because they are worn so much and, as such, they need regular care and attention.

Best Of Their Kind: Wardrobe Basics

Our recent guide to the best menswear basics currently available showcased a range of high quality pieces that would make a great addition to any capsule wardrobe:

  • John Smedley John Smedley Cotswold Long-sleeved Merino Wool Polo ShirtJohn Smedley John Smedley Cotswold Long-sleeved Merino Wool Polo Shirt
  • John Smedley Sherwood Merino Wool And Cashmere-blend CardiganJohn Smedley John Smedley Sherwood Merino Wool And Cashmere-blend Cardigan
  • Incotex Lightweight Cotton Chinos 191086Incotex Lightweight Cotton Chinos 191086
  • Sunspel V-neck Cotton-jersey T-shirtSunspel V-neck Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • Sunspel Striped Cotton-jersey T-shirtSunspel Striped Cotton-jersey T-shirt
  • John Smedley John Smedley Marcus Crew Neck Merino Wool SweaterJohn Smedley John Smedley Marcus Crew Neck Merino Wool Sweater
  • Eton Plain Long Sleeve Shirt WhiteEton Plain Long Sleeve Shirt White
  • Hanro Superior – Shorts – BlueHanro Superior - Shorts - Blue
  • Pantherella Ribbed Sea Island Cotton-blend SocksPantherella Ribbed Sea Island Cotton-blend Socks

Many high street stores offer multi-packs or spend and save deals on wardrobe staples. ASOS, Gap, American Apparel and UNIQLO (occasionally) are some of the key retailers that offer the best value for money and have received good feedback on our forums:

  • American Apparel Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-shirt 3-packAmerican Apparel Fine Jersey Short Sleeve T-shirt 3-pack
  • American Apparel Pinpoint Oxford Short Sleeve Button-up Shirt 3-packAmerican Apparel Pinpoint Oxford Short Sleeve Button-up Shirt 3-pack
  • American Apparel Baby Thermal Long Sleeve Henley 3-packAmerican Apparel Baby Thermal Long Sleeve Henley 3-pack
  • Asos Polo Shirt With Long Sleeves 2 Pack Save 12.5%Asos Polo Shirt With Long Sleeves 2 Pack Save 12.5%
  • Asos T-shirt With Crew Neck 5 Pack Save 23%Asos T-shirt With Crew Neck 5 Pack Save 23%
  • Asos Smart Shirt In Long Sleeve 2 Pack Plain/gingham Check Save 19%Asos Smart Shirt In Long Sleeve 2 Pack Plain/gingham Check Save 19%
  • Gap Solid Pique Polo – Buy 2 Or More Save 20%Gap Solid Pique Polo - Buy 2 Or More Save 20%
  • Gap Essential Even Striped T – Buy 2 Or More Save 20%Gap Essential Even Striped T - Buy 2 Or More Save 20%
  • Gap The New V-neck T – Buy 2 Or More Save 20%Gap The New V-neck T - Buy 2 Or More Save 20%
4. Experimentation

You know how your sister/mother/partner/house mate or girls in general prance around in front of the mirror for hours on end, trying on their entire wardrobe? Well, this is actually something all men could learn from.

When it comes to developing your style and making the most of what you’ve got, this is perhaps the best thing you can do to breathe life and excitement back into your wardrobe. Wearing the same pieces, relying on go-to combinations, ignoring or forgetting about certain items altogether – it all leads to style stagnation and more unnecessary purchases.

If you were brutally honest with yourself, you don’t actually need that new piece that caught your eye, just fresh ideas and a different approach. Most of us have a wardrobe that is far bigger and far better than we currently believe – its potential just needs to be unlocked through experimentation and a little bit of trial and error.

This process, more than anything, is an exercise in styling: pushing yourself to try new combinations of what you already own. Next time you have some free time, set yourself a challenge: create three or more new outfits with pieces that you don’t normally wear.

Alternatively, mix things up and task yourself with integrating a formal jacket into your casual wardrobe or really dressing down a pair of tailored trousers. Whatever you do, just make sure it’s totally different to what you are used to and really go for it.

The more you do this, the better you will get and the more intimate your knowledge of your wardrobe will be, helping guide any further developments.

Examples: Classic Pieces

More than just a spring/summer casual staple, below we showcase six different ways you could potentially style a denim jacket. From business-casual to off-duty layering, it’s much more versatile that you might first think:

Men's Denim Jacket Lookbook - Experimenting With Ways To Wear

he by mango aw13j crew AW13he by mango SS14he by mango SS13ami ss13allsaints ss13

The same goes for your collection of checked shirts – why not slot them into your business-casual looks or dress them up for a night out?

Men's Check Shirts Lookbook - Experimenting With Ways To Wear

he by mango aw13Selected Jeans AW13Lucky Brand AW13Ami AW13River Island AW13Gant ss14

Finally, consider how you can wear your trusty khaki chinos all year round. Give them a couple of folds and go sockless during spring/summer and pair with heavy cable socks and rugged boots in autumn/winter:

Men's Khaki Chinos Lookbook - Experimenting With Ways To Wear

River Island aw13Drykorn AW13He By Mango SS14He By Mango SS13He By Mango AW12Woolrich AW13
5. Be Realistic

Finally, at every stage, in whatever you do and however you do it, you must remain realistic. Take logical steps and be certain in what you want, why you want it, whether you NEED it, how much you can spend and, ultimately, if it’s all that necessary.

If you want to be successful in maintaining and developing your style you must – at all costs – avoid fragmenting and confusing it with rash purchases and dramatic changes in direction.

Being ruthless, practical and logical will make your job many times easier. Prioritise the replacement of basics over a new statement piece, buying that key item that will unlock the potential of your wardrobe over yet another pair of trainers and altering the clothes you already have to guarantee their fit/uniqueness.

Plan ahead so that you don’t lose focus, weigh up every purchase you make and stop your style stagnating by experimenting and challenging yourself on a regular basis. But perhaps most importantly, enjoy it.

Enjoy the fruits of your labour and enjoy wearing your clothes and the way they make you feel. They are an expression of your tastes and personality; intensely personal and a huge part of who you are.

If you love your style and you love your clothes, it will definitely shine through and that, to my mind, can only be a good thing.

Until next time.