We Answer Your Questions

Resident style consultant and founder of men’s style blog The Chic Geek, Marcus Jaye answers the latest batch of reader’s questions in this month’s FashionBeans Q&A…

Re-Interpreting Tuxedo Trousers

“I recently bought a pair of trousers but failed to realise that they were tuxedo trousers – and I have no clue what to do with them. I don’t want to buy a tuxedo jacket and dress shirt just to wear these – are there any other ways I can rock them, casual or spiffy?”

James, via contact form.

I’m guessing the detail that makes these ‘tuxedo’ trousers is the stripe covering the outseams of the sides of the legs? Usually these stripes come in the same colour as the rest of the trouser, so provided yours are similar then don’t panic – you will be able to wear these in several different ways.

First things first, you need to ensure they are tailored to perfection; from how they fit at the waist, to the break, to how the leg tapers – tuxedo trousers won’t look good as part of any outfit if they don’t sit correctly. If they don’t fit like a glove as they are, then consider a visit to your tailor to have them taken up, in or both.

I know you said you didn’t want to buy a tuxedo jacket, but any smart black blazer would work here. If you have one already, don’t be afraid to team it with these trousers – along with a crisp white shirt and black tie – for a formal look that’s a little less stuffy than full-on occasion wear.

Strictly speaking, you will be restricted to wearing these trousers in the evening. However, if you were to pair a fairly unremarkable button-down shirt with them, it would just look like you’re missing the jacket – as with any high-low combination, the juxtaposition needs to look deliberate and considered. With this in mind, you have two solid options: a T-shirt or a piece of fitted knitwear.

You could really dress the trousers down with an all-over digital print T-shirt and monochrome leather trainers, or go slightly smarter with a crew neck jumper/sweatshirt or knitted long-sleeved polo shirt and a pair of black monk-straps.

Whatever you decide, keep it relatively simple.

Lookbook Inspiration

The lookbook below offers some examples on how to dress down a pair of black formal trousers, rather than tux trousers. Use it to inspire your own outfit combinations and experiment with the pieces you already have in your own wardrobe:

harmony aw14 el burgues aw14 reiss ss15 reiss aw13 h&m august 2014 dunhill aw14 el burgues aw15 reiss aw14 drykorn aw14

Sizing Up Sunglasses

“I am looking to invest in a pair of quality sunglasses for the summer, but I have a particularly small head. I was wondering if you could recommend any that might suit me, as most seem to swamp my face?”

Rob, via contact form.

It’s not solely about the size of your head – it’s also about the shape of your face. Identifying your face shape will help you determine which types of sunglasses suit you best, before you even start thinking about proportion.

Obviously, you won’t want to go oversized. The best advice I can give you is to set aside some time to head to your local department store (or somewhere with a wide range of styles) and try on plenty of frames to get a feel for what works for you – both in terms of how they look and make you feel.

When you have identified the silhouette (Clubmaster, round lens, Wayfarer, D-frames, aviator etc.) that suits your specific shape best, you can always shop online for more unique designs from artisanal brands like Cutler & Gross or Garrett Leight.

Also, as you’ve got a smaller head, don’t worry too much if you end up in the women’s section. Brands like Ray-Ban produce all their men’s styles in smaller women’s sizes, so you may even find this opens up the possibility of frame shapes that didn’t look quite right before.

Not So Traditional Nuptials

“I’m getting married in September but still at a loss as to what to wear. Some of my friends who’ve recently been married went for off-the-rack hired top and tails – but that’s just not me.

I’m also the manager of an estate agent’s office and wear suits regularly so I don’t want to wear anything that feels too much like work. Any guidance would be much appreciated.”

Luke, via contact form.

While I definitely wouldn’t suggest you wear a single-breasted notch lapel navy or grey suit on your big day (especially considering you don’t want anything that feels more office rather than registry office), it’s difficult to imagine anything more fitting for the occasion than some quality tailoring.

You could try a kind of dressed-down shawl collar suit or tuxedo – i.e. a single-breasted style in a fabric like wool rather than velvet. It’s formal tailoring, yes, but not as fussy as tails and worlds apart from a suit you’d wear to work.

Depending on the tone you want to set for the occasion, you could dress it up with a crisp white shirt and bow tie, or keep it smart yet slightly more relaxed with a tie-less white or sky blue shirt buttoned to the top.

j crew 2015 j crew 2015 calibre ss13 suitsupply aw14 tommy hilfiger tailored aw14 sarar black tie aw14

Recommended Options

This J.Crew Ludlow tuxedo (£790) is exemplary, as is this Hackett peak lapel wool-mohair blend dinner suit (£650). In both cases, opting for the navy colourway allows you to look occasion-appropriate while avoiding the stuffily traditional choice of black.

J CREW LUDLOW SHAWL-COLLAR TUXEDO JACKET IN ITALIAN WOOL - Click To Buy Hackett Peak Lapel Dinner Suit - Click To Buy

Well-Engineered Underwear

“Where can I find good quality underwear that’s built to last but still affordable?”

Harry, via twitter.

I’m not sure you really want underwear to last, to be honest. Rather, you should be looking for something that’s affordable, does the job and can be replenished reasonably often at little expense and with minimal effort.

The best underwear is the underwear you don’t think about once you’ve put it on. If you have to keep adjusting or pulling it up, then it’s not doing its job properly.

I’ve been buying my underwear from Topman recently. The brand produces a vast array of styles, many of which incorporate plenty of colour and character without looking idiotic. Elsewhere on the high street, Uniqlo and Marks & Spencer also offer excellent value for money.

  • Topman Mint Marl Underwear 3 Pack
  • Topman Breton Stripe 3 Pack Trunks
  • Topman Floral Print 3 Pack Underwear
  • Uniqlo Men Supima Cotton Trunks
  • Uniqlo Men Woven Printed Boxer Shorts
  • Uniqlo Men Trunks
  • M&s Collection 4 Pack Cool & Fresh Marl Marl Briefs With Staynew
  • 3 Pack Pure Cotton Easy To Iron Assorted Boxers
  • 3 Pack Cool & Fresh Stretch Cotton Hipsters
The Indispensable Inter-Seasonal Layer

“I’m based in the UK, where the weather’s not cold currently, but still not warm enough for just a T-shirt; what would you advise I wear as a top layer that will work for both casual and smart looks?”

Jacob, via twitter.

You really can’t beat a bomber jacket in this respect. A simple, form-fitting shape in a dark colour and lightweight fabric can be thrown over everything from a T-shirt to a smarter button-down. And you can also easily dress it up with more formal trousers.

Luckily for you, we’ve recently hand-picked our ten favourite styles on the current market, at varying price points.

reiss ss15 j crew ss14 h&m ss13 zara march 2015 club monaco aw14 river island ss15 next summer 2015 jigsaw ss15 allsaints aw14 camel active ss15 vince ss15 selected homme denim ss14

The Alternative: Lightweight Knitwear

Alternatively, opt for some lightweight knitwear, like a merino wool cardigan – it’ll hold its shape and colour better than a cotton style and the fabric’s natural temperature regulating properties will ensure you stay comfortable.

If you’ve got cash to splash, go for a British-made John Smedley; otherwise, Uniqlo is good for quality knitwear in a particularly wide range of colours and sizes.

JOHN SMEDLEY BRYN FINE-KNIT MERINO WOOL CARDIGAN - Click To Buy MEN Extra Fine Merino V-Neck Cardigan - Click To Buy

Top Of The Tablet Covers

“Can you recommend a classic, well-made leather iPad cover for under £75?”

Otis, via contact form.

iPad covers generally seem to sit at one of two ends of the spectrum: they’re either really cheap and nasty, or so exorbitantly overpriced that they cost about half of what you paid for the device itself.

Since your budget is somewhere in the middle, I’d opt for a simple style with minimal branding; something like this superb zip case (£70) by Sandqvist, a specialist Scandinavian brand which is renowned for its well-made, high quality bags and accessories.

Crafted from 100 per cent vegetable tanned leather, it features a half zip closure and internal padding for added protection and comes complete with a subtle debossed brand logo.

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