Who’d be a stylist? While the clothes horse gets the plaudits, it’s the hands off-camera that pick out what they wear, tweak a jacket to fit perfectly and spot-fix stains caused by an upended glass.
In short, a stylist’s trade is to make a messy reality look perfect; and for that, they need some serious tricks. So we asked the names behind some of the world’s best-dressed men to reveal the pro-level style hacks all guys can replicate at home.
Safety Pins Can Replace A Tailor
Much like being a barber or bricklayer, the job of being a stylist comes with its own tools of the trade. For Daisy Deane, who has dressed Tinie Tempah, Taron Egerton and Stormzy, safety pins are the most important.
“If you pop a button, rip your jeans, or have a hole in an inappropriate place, they come in handy,” she says. Just pin from the inside, so your fix is invisible. Unless you want to channel your inner punk.
Clothes Can Be Stretched
Any man who’s had a fight with the washing machine (and lost) knows it’s possible to shrink clothes. But they can also go the other way. “Shoes often don’t fit on shoots,” says Deane. “But if you take the branded insert out, they instantly go up a size.”
For sweatshirts, T-shirts or jackets, take advantage of the fabric’s natural give. “Get someone else to hold one end and stretch at the seams together, pulling from both ends, so it keeps its shape but expands in size. Another trick is to steam or iron a cotton T-shirt; the fibres expand in the heat and will mould onto your body shape.”
Don’t Let Old Clothes Dye The Death
All it takes is one wrong move with a cup of coffee or the emergence of yellow pit stains to take the white T-shirt from a style hero to a wardrobe zero. But all might not be lost. “Don’t throw away your old washed-out white T-shirts,” says River Island stylist Jordan Alexander. “Bring them back to life by bleaching them.”
Fill a bowl with 1/4 cup of bleach per gallon of water and leave your sullied staples to soak. Then rinse clean, dry and stand back to admire your handiwork.
Refresh Your Wardrobe In 10 Minutes
Keeping your style fresh is a time-consuming (and expensive) task, but doing so doesn’t always have to involve buying more stuff. “Patches and pin badges are the ultimate way to customise anything, and they can be removed,” says Kitty Cowell, a go-to stylist for Nike, ASOS and Urban Outfitters.
The technique is one also used by River Island’s Alexander. “Update your old trousers for the new season by cropping them yourself. Turn up the trouser to the desired length, mark them and then cut with a pair of scissors. Use a lighter to burn off the frayed edging or leave them for a distressed look.”
Cheat The Perfect Arm Length
We’ve all been there. You left it too late to buy a suit for that upcoming wedding and now your tailor’s fully booked. No stress, says menswear image consultant (and the man behind David Gandy’s impeccable style), Joe Ottaway.
“If the blazer’s arm is too short, choose a similar coloured roll neck or shirt to wear underneath, giving the illusion of correct sleeve length. At a later date you can have it tailored correctly.”
Nonchalance Works The Camera
Instagram-happy mates mean you can’t always prepare for the camera, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “The best way to pull off a great pose is to look natural,” says Ottaway, a street style legend himself. “Act like you’re not even aware of the camera; hands in pocket, with a natural ease while strolling gives a timelessly stylish image.”
To highlight your suit’s silhouette and the suppressed waist it creates, try the ‘teapot’. “When being photographed, arch your arm at a soft right angle,” he says. “This helps showcase and accentuate the sharp lines of a suit.”
Fake A Fit Body
Far from just being things you throw on to avoid getting arrested, clothes can change the entire appearance of your body. If you know how. “Work with your body, not against it,” says Natalia Keet, who has styled campaigns for J.Crew, House of Fraser and Hugo Boss. “Layering breaks up your frame, so try a jacket with a waistcoat. Make sure it’s a good fit with no bulging buttons. A scarf or slim tie is another trick to slim down your look.”
To shed a few more pounds, find your best side. “Stand at an angle to the camera, so the width of your body looks slimmer,” says Alexis Knox, a name well-known to stars like Bruno Mars and Miguel. “Put one leg out in front of you, as it lengthens that leg, making you appear taller.”
Step Out Sharp
Style, like the devil, is in the detail. So before you leave the house, it’s always worth having one last check that you look sharp. “When you put trousers on, shove your hands into the pockets and spread them out so they aren’t all bunched, and make sure the seam or ribbing of your socks is going straight,” says Deane.
“If wearing a T-shirt or shirt on under a jacket, tug the underneath layer into the shoulder and down the sleeve to stop the jacket bringing your top up at the front. These are the little secrets that make you look well put together.”
The merits of a pair of suede shoes can’t be overstated, but they’re not exactly a breeze to keep looking fresh. Thankfully, there’s a solution.
“Revive worn or scuffed suede shoes by steaming them over the kettle,” explains Sarah Gilfillan, founder of personal styling consultancy Sartoria Lab. “Rub them over with your hand or a soft brush while holding them over the steam to reinvigorate them.” Once you’re done, simply leave them to air dry, and you’ll be good to go.
No guy wants to fall into a style rut, and because our tastes change over time, there are endless benefits to taking stock of your wardrobe before hitting the shops for a refresh.
“My advice is to use Pinterest to create a mood board before you start,” says Daniel Johnson, who specialises in overhauling men’s wardrobes. “Work on impulse– if you like something, save it; if you don’t, just move on. Spend 30 minutes doing this and you’ll be amazed at how consistent your style choices are.”
No Dress Code? No Problem
Sure, minimalist sneakers fly in most establishments these days, but it can still be a bit of a gamble deciding what to wear to a new restaurant or bar if the the dress code isn’t stated on the website.
“It’s a common thing to wonder how formal or casual a place might be, so I’ve got a killer tip,” says Johnson. “Open up Instagram, do a search for the venue and look at the most recently added photos. This will give you an idea of how to tailor your look.”
Keep Your Kicks Fresh On The Fly
A pair of crisp white trainers is one of the modern menswear essentials. They look great, they go with everything, but man, are they a struggle to keep clean.
“Baby wipes are great for giving your shoes a touch-up on the go,” says Alexander McCalla from men’s personal shopping service Thread. “You can’t clean them every time you leave the house, but if you do step in grime, just give them a once-over when you’re back inside.”
Skin Tone Hacks
Beetroot face? Don’t wear red. Paler than an albino polar bear? Avoid pastel shades like the plague. Wearing colours that complement your skin tone sounds easy, but if you’re unsure, there’s a quick way to check.
“Hold clothes up to your face in front of a mirror,” says McCalla. “It’s like a buttercup: things that work will make your skin look brighter; the stuff that doesn’t will make you look dull.” Try it with a few different colours and you’ll notice the difference immediately.
Do Away With Stains
Few things in life can bring down a crisp white shirt like an unexpected stain. But whether it’s coffee from a lunchtime meeting or makeup from an affectionate female, there’s still hope.
Foundation: “Foundation is a nightmare, but there are ways to deal with it,” says Deane. “Instantly wipe the shirt with baby wipes, or go to the bathroom and scrub it with soap, using a paper towel or another part of your shirt. The chemicals in the soap dissolve the oil and the grease within the makeup and start to get rid of it.”
Red wine: “Many swear by the old wives’ tale of using white wine to neutralise the stain,” says Gilfillan. “But high-proof alcohol also works by absorbing the pigments that make it red.”
For coffee: “Your biggest weapon is time,” says Gilfillan. “You want to keep the stain wet to stop it penetrating the fibres. Run it under cold water for five minutes, rubbing the stain gently every 60 seconds with soap or detergent.”
Shave To Save
Bobbles (or ‘pills’, if you want to use the technical term) may seem like only a minor inconvenience, but they’re guaranteed to bring your whole look down. They needn’t spell the end for your beloved clothes, though.
“When clothes get old and bobble, use a good quality razor to carefully shave them off,” says Topman senior stylist Sarah Thow. Just be sure to use this hack sparingly, as repeatedly dragging a blade across your clothes is about as good for your knits as it is your face.
Iron In The Shower
Whether you’re in a pinch or staying away from home, ironing is a luxury not always afforded. If you find yourself caught short, the shower is the next best option.
“Hang your suit and shirt in the room with the shower on, [the steam will relax the fibres],” says Sarah Ann Murray, who has got men like Samuel L Jackson and Chiwetel Ejiofor ready for magazine covers worldwide. “Take it one step further if you’re really stuck and use a hairdryer to reduce the creases further.”
Keep Your Wardrobe Regimented
Most guys are still half asleep when throwing on clothes in the morning, which can make picking a coherent outfit a challenge. But a bit of forward planning can make those frenzied 7am decisions a thing of the past.
“Separate your wardrobe into fashion/trend pieces and everyday basics,” says Thow. “This will make it so much easier to build an outfit.” You could also sort your clothes by type so that all shirts, jeans and T-shirts have their own space, helping you look put together, regardless of whether you actually are.