The pattern-loving late Duke of Windsor. While I hardly suggest that you fear wearing patterned garments, it's best to exercise a bit of forethought, care, and restraint here. A little goes a long way in other words.
Time to get back to clothing and accessories methinks! As usual, I've been observing the world, both the physical and the virtual, during the last few days as well as taking stock of what's in my own wardrobe since the coming academic year now looms threateningly on the horizon. Several things have occurred to me that might be good to share with other average guys who either want to, or are in the midst of kicking up their everyday style several notches. So, here we go!
1) Be Careful with Patterns.
And I say that as guy who is extremely fond of bold windowpane checks, houndstooth, Glen Plaids, and the like. However, exercise some healthy restraint here. While you shouldn't shy away from these patterns totally, neither do you want to stick to charcoal, gray, or navy all of the time. What I propose is to keep everything else simple if you opt for a bold sports jacket or suit on a given day. Stick with understated neckties, pocket handkerchiefs, and odd pants for the plaid tweed sports jacket. Although with the latter, you might be able to get away with some corduroy pants in an interesting color. Consider, for instance, mustard yellow, dark, or olive green. Maroon or wine too will work nicely with many tweed jackets.
2) Resist the Urge to Over-accessorize.
Don't go crazy with loud suspenders/braces, bright silk pocket squares, cufflinks, tie clips, pocket watches, crazy socks, and so forth all at the same time. Like artistic painting, something I dabble in, one of the hardest things to learn with classic male attire is knowing when to stop. And like a novice artist, it can be very tempting as a guy into kicking up his everyday style by way of classic menswear to keep piling on the accessories. But you risk looking overwrought, much like an overworked canvas, if you geet carried away with all of the cool stuff. So, here's a good tip that might help. When you are all dressed, look yourself over in a full-length mirror and remove one item. Or possibly two. Far better to strive for and achieve something akin to understated elegance than look like you're attending a Dr. Who or steam punk convention in character. Know what I mean?
3) Walk on by the Cheap Shoes.
Eurosko, Dansko, Lugz, et al. Never. Under any circumstances. Cheap, ugly shoes will spoil the most expensive and best tailored clothing ensembles. And make you look like you have no clue about what you're doing. So spend more here than on almost any other part of your wardrobe, whether you buy retail or develop your wardrobe through visits to thrift and charity shops. And avoid at all costs those overly long, cheap-looking square-toed abominations, which never looked good. Even way back in 1999.
4) Don't Get too Trendy.
Stick to classic colors, patterns, lines, and proportions with your attire. Stay classic in other words. You'll look equally sharp next week, next month, next year, and in 15 years. 'Nuff said?
5) Don't Wear 'em too Tight.
In keeping with the previous item, make sure your clothes fit correctly. Unless you're in a Beatles tribute band and wearing tight, Edwardian-inspired suits ca. 1962, it's best to skip to the currently snug look with any item of clothing other than your t-shirts and your Levis 501s. . . or your lycra spandex bicycling gear. Ok?
6) Don't Go too Short.
Likewise, make sure your jacket sleeves and dress pants are long enough. Unless you actually want to look like Pee Wee Herman of course. And you know what they arrested him for back in the early 90s, don't you?
7) Skip the Ostentatious Sports Watch.
I'll never figure out this one. Often enough, we see guys who are dressed reasonably well, but their overall look is spoiled by an over-sized, clunky sports watch with a metal band that is far too big and fits more like a loose bracelet. Lots of Rolex wannabees out there I guess, purchased by guys who are trying too hard to show that they have achieved some level of affluence and success, real or imagined. But if you wear one, it's better to keep your watch understated and sedate, so that it's 's not the first thing people notice about you when you enter a room.
8) Avoid Unusual Colors.
Especially with suits. It's not 1975 anymore, so hopefully no one has actually suggested that you show your face, as one of the groomsmen pressed into service, dressed in a rose or powder blue suit or tux. Instead, stick to charcoal, medium gray, and navy, or perhaps tan, light gray, and/or cream for warmer weather when it comes to suits. There is a bit more room to play when it comes to odd blazers, sports jackets, and tweed jackets though. The right kind of Madras or Gun Club plaid can look amazing, depending on the season, and the other items combined with either jacket for example. But once again, keep everything else simple when you don a bold color or pattern. Say it with me. . .
9) Go Easy with the Visible Jewelry.
Two pieces at most. Ok? An understated watch and a ring (preferably a wedding band. . . go easy with signet rings and the like). That's it. You ain't 19 and attempting to project a slightly dangerous image of your bad self to the world anymore, so ditch the diamond stud earring along with the edgy toe ring, International Male. Likewise, it's perhaps best to get rid of the facial piercings and those overly large plug things in your earlobes. It's awfully hard for the rest of the world to take you seriously (if you aren't holding a knife to our throats that is) when you resemble the Son of Iron Man. And all of that facial hardware makes people's eyes water when they are forced to look in your direction for too long. If you simply cannot resist the bizarre trend of self-mutilation, it's really better to keep any other piercings out of sight and to yourself. Ca-ching!
10) Don't Forget to Have Minor Alterations Made to Your Clothes.
And before your wear them in public. Don't be a tightwad. Spend the money to make your clothes look as good as possible specific to your own personal dimensions. Don't walk around with your pants and jacket sleeves too long like so many guys do everywhere. You'll risk looking like a doofus. At best. By the same token, don't wear jackets that are too big for you either. Have the waist of your sports jackets and suits coats suppressed slightly to enhance your masculine figure. . . within reason of course. And avoid shoulders that are too big and boxy. Shoulders cannot be altered successfully, so try going down a size if possible if buying retail. When thrifting, on the other hand, put any jacket that is too large (or tight) in the shoulders back on the rack at once and move on. It will never look quite right on you if the shoulders don't fit to begin with.
A Special Bonus Tip
Finally, don't wear those sleek sporting sunglasses, like the kind worn by professional bicyclists, if and when you are not actually engaged in sporting, fishing, or hunting activities. Get some actual "dress" sunglasses in a classic faux tortoise shell to wear when you are dressed for public consumption. Otherwise, you'll resemble a cheap Eastern European street hood. And surely, that's not what you want, is it Boris?
There we are. Undoubtedly, there are numerous other style boners and gaffs to avoid, but the ten + one mentioned above came readily to mind this morning and are a good starting point when it comes to improving one's everyday sense of style. Remember, if you do it right, even items as banal and commonplace as a blac or navy t-shirts, a sports jacket or blazer, jeans, and cowboy boots can look super. It's all in what you wear and how your wear it. A bit of knowledge and care can go a long way to helping you kick up your everyday style several notches.