8. Keep Accessorising To A Minimum
Accessories like ties and pocket squares bring individuality to classic clothing, but be careful how you use them. “It’s best to harmonise them with what you’re wearing by picking out a colour or two. Or even to juxtapose them entirely,” says Michael Hill, creative director of men’s accessories brand Drake’s. “What you don’t want is to match them up.” When it comes to curating shirt and tie combinations, wear your tie or pocket square in a darker shade than your jacket. And don’t overdo the accessories either – if in doubt, think less is more and take one element away. “You’re aiming for an air of nonchalance,” adds Hill. “You just need one point of interest.”
9. Know Thyself
There’s are few things less stylish than a man dressed as he thinks he should dress rather than in what he genuinely feels suits who he is. There are caveats to that, of course: there are no prizes for dressing like a rodeo clown unless indeed you are one. But whatever you’re wearing, you have to own it. Genuine style icons are those who go their own way with a self-confidence that comes from their clothes being a second skin, not a costume.
10. Dress For The Setting
Style is not merely about self-expression; it’s also about being dressed appropriately for your environment. Think of clothes as being codes: you need the right combination to work with the setting you’re in – and that’s whether it’s a formal dinner or a lazy Sunday in the pub. The worst style is one which is out of place. Is this a kind of conformity? No, as one of Tom Ford’s oft trotted out fashion quotes explains, it’s a mark of respect for others. And about feeling comfortable in yourself. When in doubt, overdress.
11. Don’t Skimp On Glasses
Invest time into finding the right spectacles for you. “People spend an average of seven minutes picking a pair that will define them for the next three or more years,” notes eyewear designer Tom Davies. “Poor choice and poor fit are why so many people learn to hate their glasses.” Buy what you feel good in, taking into account your face shape but considering the top line of the frames’ relation to your eyebrow shape – team straight with straight, curved with curved – and your hairstyle. Buy wisely too, says Davies: there’s no point buying cheap frames and being up-sold on expensive lenses because the frames will look tatty soon enough anyway.
12. Choose Versatile Outerwear
The temptation may be to wear a classic style, but modern technical fabrics in darker shades and easy cuts are making coats what they should be – lightweight and breathable but also properly protective. “Changes in seasonality, the climate and buying habits are making heavy wool coats seem out of keeping now,” suggests Adam Cameron, owner of outerwear specialist The Workers’ Club. “Think of a coat instead as being your final layer – one you can wear as much or as little under as required.” A field or bomber jacket jacket is a good all-rounder but if you need to dress up, go for a short mac.
13. Buy A Dinner Suit, Never Hire
Occasions for the height of formal dressing may be rare, but they’re all the more exacting for that. So, while it feels like an extravagance, owning a dinner suit that fits you rather than hiring one makes more sense after years of use. “With hiring, there’s always the risk of the wearer looking almost childlike while dressed in some oversized, boxy ensemble,” warns Toby Lamb, design director of contemporary tailoring label Richard James. Own as classic a dinner suit as possible: in midnight blue, single-breasted, with satin lapels and trousers seams. And it goes without saying you should learn how to tie a bow-tie yourself.
14. With Shirts, Stick To The Classics
“It sounds silly,” says James Cook, head of bespoke shirtmaking for Turnbull & Asser, “but any men’s shirt can be made to look expensive if it’s well-pressed.” All the same, Cook is particular about the details. Strike a middle line, he recommends: avoid bold styles unless you think you can carry it off, and, for a collar that works with or without a tie, and that always sits properly under a jacket, opt for a semi-cutaway.
15. Know When To Break The Rules
Know when to adhere to dress codes such as black tie and know when to break them. Some are there for a good reason, typically because the occasion demands it or some higher authority – your boss, perhaps – expects it. But, likewise, as Drakes’ Hill notes, “we can get too hung up about rules as well, and there’s always a case for ripping them up”. That, after all, is how style advances, little by little. “Enjoy the freedom there is now to make mistakes.”