Good style doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, often the opposite is true. Just take summer: while, as the saying goes, the devil is in the detail all year round, it’s during the satanically warmer months that the smaller elements of an outfit truly make a difference.
You might be able to put together a solid, ‘gram-worthy look with a killer jacket or knit during winter, but as the seasons change and we begin to strip back the bulk, it’s wise to learn how to do more with less.
To that end, here are 12 subtle ways of taking your style game up a stitch or two this season.
Mankles & No-Show Socks
While fashion portmanteaus are almost universally naff (we’re looking at you, mewellery), there’s no escaping the appeal of the mankle.
Aside from helping regulate body temperature (on account of your hooves being home to two of the body’s pulse points), a flash of flesh, achieved by cropped or pinrolled jeans or trousers, adds a breezy air to any look.
To keep your hygiene on the right footing, ground the look with a pair of invisible socks, ideally with rubber heel grips to keep them in place. No one need ever know.
Once derided as an icon of unforgivably bad taste, distressed denim is back in a big way, and it’s not just for reality TV show stars this time around.
Chiming perfectly with menswear’s toughened-up aesthetic, ripped, stained and generally worn-in jeans give a rugged and relaxed feel to off-duty attire.
Of course, distressed – rather than destroyed – is the aim here. Anything that can be considered more holes than jeans should be sent to the rubbish tip immediately.
Nato Watch Straps
The majority of guys – at least those without a six-figure salary – often limit themselves to two watches: one with a leather strap and one with a metal bracelet, which they switch between depending on the occasion.
However, with most big-name brands now offering interchangeable straps for their wristwear, it’s easier than ever to update the look and feel of your timepiece on the regular (and on the cheap).
Consider switching out one of your regulars in the summer for lightweight canvas (also known as a ‘Nato’) strap, which can be found in a range of colours and designs, not to mention save you from a sweaty wrist when things heat up.
Mirrored & Coloured Sunglasses Lenses
Classic sunglasses – whether being used to disguise a hangover or avoid forcibly squinting at the sun – will never fail to look stylish. However, that’s not to say your entire optical assortment need skew simple.
Coloured or mirrored lenses lend timeless frames a contemporary edge, not to mention give onlookers a chance to check their pompadour is still on point.
A word of advice: consider carefully what you wear with these styles. Don’t attempt to match coloured lens to other shades you’re wearing and certainly don’t deploy mirrored aviators with a jumpsuit. You’re no Maverick.
The T-Shirt Sleeve Roll
A styling move that has found favour with well-dressed men for decades (think James Dean and Danny Zuko), rolling your T-shirt sleeves is a simple way to frame your upper arms and give everyone a ticket to the gun show.
Of course, your T-shirt sleeves are already short, so two rolls the width of the hem should suffice (we want to avoid tank top territory). Then shake them loose for a touch of Rebel Without A Cause.
For a more permanent, solution, sew the new roll-up in the armpit, or for a cleaner finish that doesn’t drop out, opt for pre-rolled styles when stocking up on basics.
The hallmark of any great style upgrade is that it should be inexpensive, and always get a double-take from passersby. Lapel pins, which have recently re-joined the pocket square in the tailoring accessories pantheon, tick both boxes.
Floral pins, in particular, are the ideal tool to break up the monotony of a suit and stand out from the crowd at formal events such as weddings.
Be mindful of over-accessorising. If opting for a lapel pin, leaving the collar bar and tie pin on the bench – there’s no hard and fast rule on this one, just take a good look in the mirror and apply common sense.
Not solely the reserve of clowns and bowling aficionados, statement footwear is a low-risk, high-reward way to stand out this season.
It goes without saying your neon running shoes should remain in the gym, but with the rest of your sneaker rotation don’t be afraid to go ‘ugly’ with throwback colourways and chunky soles, or keep it classy with brighter tones in premium fabrics such as suede.
At the smarter end of things, contrast laces on otherwise formal Oxfords scream city banker. Instead, loafers and Derbies in less classic shades like grey and green offer an eye-catching foundation to build a look on.
Though most guys go through their formative years doing anything possible to avoid tucking in their shirt, as a sartorially liberated adult, it’s a simple way to level-up a range of looks.
Carefully cramming hems into your waistband is a quick, easy and free way to smarten up an outfit or add some louche nonchalance while earning serious style points in the process.
Add Some Texture
As the temperatures rise and the number of clothes you wear at any one time goes down, the risk is that your outfit can get a bit flat. Look to vary the textures on your top and bottom halves to counter the cardboard cut-out effect.
Think knitted polo shirts, towelling T-shirts and suede jackets for those inevitable cooler evenings. Particularly important with tonal outfits, bear texture in mind when picking out footwear, accessories and legwear, too. You’ll be surprised at what an impact some contrasting fabrics, such as a pair of seersucker shorts or canvas shoes, can make when it comes to elevating even the simplest of looks.
A frequent habit of some of the world’s best-dressed men, opting for raw (or ‘dry’) jeans over a pre-faded pair is the denim equivalent of swapping the high street for Savile Row when suit shopping.
Left unwashed after the dyeing process, raw denim is able to develop its own pattern over time and mould to the shape of your legs with each wear.
The result is a pair of jeans that are unique to you, with whiskers and honeycomb fades unique to your denim. Even the most expensive off-the-peg trews can’t get close to replicating that.
‘Summer’ and ‘layering’ aren’t two words that are generally placed together. Unless, that is, you’re talking about how many coats of SPF to apply before heading outside.
But don’t give up on layering just yet. As well as warmth, summer also brings with it a wealth of light fabrics that make spicing up an outfit with a few additional components a breeze. Think linen or seersucker in light, pastel shades and you’re on track.
Try elevating the standard T-shirt, shorts and trainers look by adding in a shacket or light, unstructured blazer. Ensuring each layer works on its own as well as together means you can always strip off as the day heats up. Just don’t take it too far, your hard-won summer body is for the beach, not the commuter train home.
Lightweight Scarves & Neckerchiefs
Scarves in summer. Wait, where are you going? Come back. We don’t mean those 70-pound woolly numbers designed for sub-Arctic conditions.
Purely used as a decorative accessory, a lightweight summer scarf or neckerchief can be the sartorial shortcut to Riveria chic you’ve been looking for, especially if worn alongside a fuss-free white shirt with the sleeves rolled.
When it comes to fabrics, something in silk will lend a more formal, dressier touch, while a cotton design ensures your neck doesn’t overheat – either way, it’s an effortless way to individualise smarter looks once the mercury rises.