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…

Team Uniforms

“I play an amateur men’s team sport for England and my team and I are currently preparing for a World Cup championship taking place in Sydney at the end of April. Being amateurs – albeit extremely fit and dedicated amateurs! – we unfortunately don’t have off-field clothing sponsorship.

This means it’s down to us to dress ourselves for the opening and closing ceremonies. As we’ll be representing our country, we’re looking to dress in patriotic fashion where possible.

Keeping in mind Sydney’s going to be hot at the time, that the majority of the squad are students (and don’t have money to burn), and there will be an expectation to incorporate navy blue, could you suggest one or two combinations we could go for?”

Clinton, via contact form.

What an exciting trip – jealous much!

If you want to keep your spend down, it’s probably best to buy one or two items as uniform and then give the team instructions on how to put together the remainder of the look.

For example, each buy a navy blazer and then simply pack your favourite white button-down shirt – everyone has one of them. You could then add beige straight-leg jeans/chinos and smart-casual footwear (think leather boat shoes or loafers); most of the guys will probably have at least one or two of these in stock? If you have a little more money to play with, you could opt for a pair of red chinos to nail that preppy and patriotic red, white and blue colour scheme.

This way you’ll look coherent and fairly uniform without being identical.

The Jacket

I’d personally opt for a navy blazer in lightweight cotton or linen to keep you cool. You say you’re all in good shape so I’m assuming you’re more of an athletic, muscular build than the average bloke. With this in mind, it’s best to avoid particularly slim-fitting tailoring – stick to regular cuts, and single-breasted styles rather than double-breasted.

For a decent blazer on the high street, you’re looking at around £50. Uniqlo has a superb lightweight pre-washed cotton version in stock currently that is perfect for warmer weather:

ASOS is another retailer stocking an excellent washed cotton version (£55), but bear in mind that it’s cut quite short, so it won’t work well for taller guys:

Elsewhere, New Look has produced a style in cotton jersey (£54.99), meaning it’ll offer a little stretch to fit everyone’s shape and be comfortable to wear if the ceremonies drag on:

Finally, Marks & Spencer is usually more generous in its cut and sizing. The retailer’s linen mix jacket (£69) will help to keep you from sweltering, and there is an identical version in its Big & Tall range for the larger members of your group:

The Trousers

As for the red chinos, John Lewis do a pair in washed cotton for £40, while H&M offers a darker shade for £19.99. These trousers can do double-duty teamed with a white T-shirt when you’re not attending the official ceremonies:

John Lewis Lumsden Chinos, Washed Red - Click To See More Chinos Slim fit Dark Red - Click To See More

US Road Trip

“In May, I am heading to the US for a fifteen-day road trip. We’ll be starting in Chicago, where we’ll be spending three days, then driving for six days through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington DC before arriving in New York for the final part of our trip.

What should I pack for the occasion?”

Jason, via contact form

For such an epic, multi-stage journey, I’d opt for Americana-inspired pieces while you’re on the road, which can then be easily dressed up for city slicking in Chicago and New York.

You’ll need a couple of check or flannel shirts, a denim jacket in whatever wash takes your fancy, a pair of desert boots, some slim jeans/chinos and shorts, as well as a smarter varsity-style bomber jacket and a good helping of lightweight cotton T-shirts in neutral colours to pull everything together.

While on the road, try something comfortable and appropriate for the experience, like khaki chinos, desert boots, a check flannel shirt and denim jacket for when the sun goes down. Once you hit the city, swap out the shirt for a chambray button-down or a crisp white tee and sub your denim jacket for the bomber.

Think Route 66, arm out of the window, breeze in your hair – the picture of an Eagles song. Just stop short of the cowboy boots and Daisy Dukes!

Lookbook Inspiration

lucky brand 2013 h&m zara november 2011 mango man blacksmith aw14 edwin ss14 reserved aw14 7 for all mankind aw14 Scotch & Soda Amsterdams Blauw Resort 2015 selected homme mavi aw12 reserved aw14 mango man spring 2015 Scotch & Soda Amsterdams Blauw ss14 wrangler aw11 mango man blacksmith ss15

Dressing For An Art Exhibition

“I am a Fine Art student preparing for my graduation exhibition in a couple of months. I was wondering what you’d suggest to wear for such an occasion for someone that’s not your average art student – i.e. reserved and not one to scream for attention through their look?

I will be meeting many influential industry movers for the first time on the night of the opening, so I want to dress appropriately. I’m 5’11”, very lean for my height and have dark hair that’s greying at the sides. I was thinking maybe a navy slim-fit suit and a white button-down shirt?”

James, via contact form.

You want something that flies in the face of the stereotypical artist’s look? Then, as you rightly suggest, a sharp suit is your best bet.

Luckily, it sounds like you have the perfect shape for a slim or skinny suit. There are plenty of those around, at all price points. A silver grey version would complement the grey in your hair wonderfully. That said, if you already have a timeless navy suit in your wardrobe, it would work just as well.

As for the details, let’s go really grown-up. I’m talking cuff links and buttoned braces. I really like a new men’s accessories brand called Alice Made This for cuff links. Made in Britain, they have a luxurious industrial feel and make a statement without being tacky or too ‘look at me’:

  • Thomas Rhodium Cufflinks
  • Oliver Steel Cufflinks
  • Matthew Steel Knurled Cufflinks

This will mean you’ll need to wear a double cuff shirt (stick to white) to accommodate them, and as for the braces, try Turnbull & Asser or Thomas Pink. Off-the-peg suit trousers probably won’t have the buttons to fix the braces to, but hopefully being artistic you’ll be able to sew these on, as it looks much better and more sophisticated than clip-ons:

  • Adjustable Silk Braces In Wine
  • Thomas Pink Box Cloth Braces
  • Austin Reed Black Combination Braces

Add a complementary tie and a good, neatly groomed hairstyle and you’re set – looking more Patrick Bateman than Patrick Heron!

Alternatively, if cuff links and braces feels a little too put-together for you, then keep the suit and shirt but go tieless – you can either button your shirt all the way up for a minimal feel, or unbutton your collar slightly and drape a silk scarf neatly around your neck. A slightly less formal approach, this look says you’re both an aesthete and an exceptionally sharp dresser.

Example Looks

austin reed ss14 zara aw12 massimo dutti ss15 asos h&m suitsupply 2014 h&m aw11 mango man ss14 mango man ss14 reiss aw14 unknown massimo dutti nyc 5th avenue aw14

A Quality Denim Jacket

“Can you recommend a good quality, stylish denim jacket under £200?”

Tod, via twitter

We’ve recently showcased our top ten denim jackets for the season (many of them well under £200), so may I recommend something else?

It’s not denim, but it has got that western feel. I wore this corduroy jacket from Hunter Gather during January’s London Collections: Men shows and it’s now half price (£60).

It comes in plenty of wearable colours, looks extremely contemporary due to its slightly cropped cut, and has the potential to become your new outerwear favourite:

How To Look After Suede

“I’ve just bought a pair of suede brogues for spring. What’s the best way to keep them in good nick?”

Arthur, via twitter

You’ll need a suede brush to clean them regularly with, as well as a fabric protector like The Sneaky Store’s Sneaky Spray (£4.99). Although not a miracle cure, this stain repellent is an excellent preventative measure:

For stubborn stains on suede, use a traditional rubber-cleaning block in a gentle manner. You’ll want to avoid getting them caught in the rain at all costs, but if they do get damp, allow them to fully dry first then buff the nap with your suede brush:

John Lewis Suede & Nubuck Cleaning Block - Click To Buy John Lewis Multi Purpose Suede Brush - Click To Buy

A Smarter Gym Bag

“Can you recommend a gym bag that I can carry throughout the working day that won’t look seriously at odds with my suit?”

Jamie, via Facebook

I’m currently using a holdall from London-based accessories brand Stighlorgan. It’s a good size and the perfect balance between sporty and sophisticated.

This navy coloured ‘Dunmore’ bag is rubber-coated, features the brand’s signature rope detailing, and won’t look out of place next to your suit or on the bench at the gym:

Get Involved

Have something you could do with our two cents on?

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