Do you get your jackets tailored? Wash your whites separately? Press your underwear? No? Then there’s a strong chance your style might be suffering as a result. According to club menswear’s most influential opinion-makers, there are a few habits shared by nearly all the most impressively turned out blokes on the red carpet, and it’s not necessarily having a stylist on speed dial. In a bid to give you the sartorial shortcut to wardrobe success, here are 15 things worth adding to your daily routine.
They Know The Basics – And Stick To Them
A look is only as good as its weakest link, but then you don’t have to tell these men that. “From Steve McQueen to James Dean, all the fashion greats kept it simple,” says stylist Georgia Boal-Russell, who has worked for the likes of Tom Ford, Adidas and Jigsaw. “They rely on basic uniforms and don’t worry about making a statement if that’s not their style.” According to a survey by online men’s personal shopping service Thread, British men on average wear just 13 per cent of their wardrobes. “My hunch is that guys return to their basic pieces time and again,” adds Boal-Russell, “which makes it worth investing in quality staples that will still look good after many wears and work with a lot of things in your wardrobe.” Cover your bases with a few well-fitting white T-shirts, a sky blue Oxford shirt, grey sweatshirt, denim jacket and some light coloured chinos in a slim or straight fit.
They Shop Offline, Too
With thousands of brands at your fingertips, no queuing, and the ability to buy pants without wearing any, shopping online has revolutionised the way we stock our wardrobes. But steer exclusively digital and you might miss a trick. “As popular as e-commerce is, I still love popping into brick-and-mortar boutiques,” says menswear writer Jian DeLeon. “You get a feel for up and coming brands that might pique your interest and have the ability to try on clothes and feel fabrics in person. Also, stylish and knowledgeable sales associates can be a boon in helping you think of different ways to wear the same thing.” Not only that, but you’ll also get to try the items on — saving you from enduring the special hell that is waiting in line at a post office on your lunch break.
They Take Care Of Their Underwear
Even if you’re the only one who sees them (the reason might be linked), your underwear should still be treated with the same respect as the rest of your wardrobe according to Olivia Francis, founder of luxury loungewear brand Hamilton & Hare. “Press your boxers – just like your shirts – with a hot iron and lots of steam. You’ll be amazed at how good they feel to put on in the morning.” If that’s a little TLC too far, at least commit to keeping your underwear rotation fresh. “Threadbare and faded underwear is not a good look; you should aim to replace yours every 12-18 months depending on rotation.” And need we say you’d be hard pushed to find a novelty pair of sausage skins in the wardrobes of Messrs David Gandy or Beckham, so yours should be no different.
They Don’t Plan Obsessively
One of the most commonly pedalled pieces of advice when it comes to getting dressed is to select an outfit for the following day the night before. But this is not the way all stylish guys go about it. “I rarely lay out clothes the night before,” says Simon Chilvers, men’s style director of MatchesFashion.com. “Unless you’ve got a strict uniform or dress code to adhere to, dressing with spontaneity is most likely to result in outfits that you feel comfortable in and that will suit your mood.” Admittedly, you might need a bit longer for such free-styling, so having a few go-to combinations on hand is never a bad thing. “Just make sure you run through what your day looks like while you’re picking something out so you choose something that’s flexible enough for meetings or an after-work event.”
They Don’t Ignore Care Labels
There are few things in life more irritating than discovering that the new season sweatshirt you just bought is dry-clean only. Or having to devote precious weekend minutes to hand-washing delicates. But caring for your clothing could be the difference between subpar and outstanding style. “We live in a world of disposability, but it’s still worth taking care of a garment,” says photographer-turned-menswear-influencer Jonathan Daniel Pryce. If you’re only just getting to grips with separating light and dark colours, invest in pieces that are built to last with minimal fuss such as Merino wool, which needs to be washed less frequently due to its antibacterial properties.
They Only Settle For the Best Trouser Break
Aside from allowing your footwear to be on full display, nailing the trouser break is something that separates the men from the boys, and can also elongate your frame to make you appear taller and slimmer. “If your trousers aren’t turned up or hemmed to the correct length, any shoes you wear are wasted,” says shoe designer Marc Hare. “The greatest shoes in the world have zero presence poking out from under a bunch of fabric.” In colder weather, buy trousers that break just the right amount (hitting the top set of eyelets on your footwear at the longest) in the first instance or have them altered to suit. When it warms up, try going sockless and pinrolling your trousers slightly to show off your shoes (and ankles) in all their glory.
They Don’t Wash Their Jeans
Believe it or not, in some cases it’s possible to look better by doing less. This is particularly true of jeans, which you should skip washing in favour of a swift half down the pub for at least the first six months of wear. “We champion the habit of buying raw denim (or ‘dry’) jeans and breaking them in yourself so that they can create their own wash,” says Nudie Jeans denim designer Johan Lindstedt. “By holding off from washing your jeans for as long as possible, you can create a beautiful pair of your own without buying the wash ready-made.”
They Stay Stocked
Buying basics may not be the most exhilarating way to empty your wallet, but it is essential to dressing well and looking good in all situations. “Basics are the bedrock of any wardrobe,” says Sarah Gilfillan, founder of personal styling consultancy SartoriaLab. “Once you have these sorted, all other pieces will fall into place, and you can add more trend-led pieces into the mix.” Stylish men make shopping for replacements less strenuous by taking time to find the perfect example of each, making a note of the store, size and cut, then staying stocked up. For bonus points, take a picture of the label and keep it in your phone so you can do this when out and about.
They Take It Up With Their Tailor
Every well-dressed adult knows that the key to looking good is fit. From your basics to your best two-piece, there’s nothing that can’t be improved with a nip and a tuck. “Whether you’ve just blown your month’s wage or picked up a bargain on this winter’s overcoat, make sure you get it tailored,” says FarFetch.com menswear editor Tony Cook. “In menswear, an inch means a mile and the slightest alteration can make a massive difference.” So focus on the small (and therefore, cheaper) tweaks, particularly on jackets, that make a big difference: cuffs, shoulders and back.
They Do The Little Things Well
The phrase ‘I woke up like this’ has misled scores of men into thinking the best-dressed guys do just that. Not the case. Far from simply throwing on clothes and leaving the house, taking time to cuff your jeans, roll your sleeves and choose the right tie knot can make a big difference. “Style for men is most definitely in the details,” says Daniel Johnson, a stylist who has worked with the likes of Ralph Lauren, Paul Smith and Hermès. “A man’s wardrobe differs very little in terms of the shapes of clothing available, so we have to get the little things correct.” Accessorising cleverly is another small but impactful style move worth perfecting. Just be careful not to overdo it, particularly in the case of jewellery – you should be aiming for James Bond, not Mr T.
They Know The Importance Of Rotation
Building a capsule wardrobe that has you covered for every occasion can be extremely rewarding. But it also comes with the risk of quickly wearing key pieces out. “Try to think of yourself as a something of a team coach when it comes to your wardrobe,” says Selfridges personal shopping consultant Daniel Rhone. “Rotating your clothing and shoes – like a manager does his squad – is key, especially if you have to wear a suit every day for work.” Not only does this keep your look fresh, but reducing the strain on individual pieces by allowing time between each wear also increases their lifespan.
They Wear The Shoe That Fits
It’s not uncommon to hear people waxing lyrical about how footwear is the most important component of an outfit. And while it’s quite a bold statement, they have a point. Shoes have the power to make or break a look, so as well as ensuring you have all the cornerstones of cordwaining to hand, it pays to swot up on what to wear with each, and where. You should have at least a pair that matches every trouser hanging in your wardrobe. “Some of the most versatile shoes a man can have are Chelsea boots in brown, wingtips in dark tan, double monk straps and, my favourite, plain loafers,” says Johnson. “Aside from that, there’s not much else you need apart from a pair of white sneakers an and an all-rounder black shoe.”
They Organise Their Wardrobes
It’s been established that not all impeccably-dressed men spend hours meticulously planning their outfits. However, they do give themselves the right tools to work with, thanks to a spot of wardrobe organisation. “When doing wardrobe edits for clients, I find that if they don’t have their clothes in some sort of order, they either forget they have things or feel overwhelmed by choice and only wear a small portion of their wardrobe,” says Gilfillan. “To make the most of everything, it’s crucial to have it organised in a way that makes sense to you.” Try organising by colour, type of garment or season, and you’ll find getting dressed in the morning becomes a whole lot easier.
They Don’t Wear Bootcut Jeans
There’s a common thread that has long precluded the likes of Simon Cowell, Jeremy Clarkson and Paul Hollywood from best-dressed lists: their choice of jeans. And far from being something thought up by a fashion editor, there’s science behind the shame. “For the majority of men, bootcut jeans are incredibly unflattering. Don’t wear them,” says stylist Elgar Johnson, who has dressed the likes of Eddie Redmayne, Travis Scott and John Boyega. Instead, Johnson suggests slim, straight or tapered styles for jeans that fit your body type – whether yours are chicken-like or #swole from chugging protein – in ways no bootcut style ever could.
They Look After Themselves
You can buy a bespoke suit, hand spun in Italy from the finest thread known to man, but if what’s underneath it isn’t up to scratch then you’re still not going to look your best. Eating well and working out are two of the most overlooked factors when it comes to style, but they make a huge difference to your overall appearance. Just a small amount of exercise and a balanced diet can have a massive impact on how you look and feel – just ask personal trainer Lee Axon. “Too much sugar can metabolise as body fat and on men. This sits on the lower back and abdomen area, just where we don’t want it,” he says. “On the other hand, exercise increases the circulation of oxygen and nutrients and releases toxins through sweat, which leads to clearer, firmer skin.”