RULE NO 1:
Inspite of the GFC, spend good money on jackets, belts & shoes.
Own at least one awesome jacket for each season – a light one for summer and heavy wool or gaberdine jacket or trench coat for winter. If you don’t have much money then probably the one item to make a large one off investment in is your jacket. For your winter jacket, think $350 – $500 (trust me, it’ll be worth it), then perhaps a couple more light-weight jackets in the $100-$200 range to help mix things up in the summer or on sunny winters day. Then hit up the second hand stores for some dress jackets to mix things up.
We cannot stress how much difference a good belt can make. Men don’t have as many accessorizing options as women, so a good belt is almost more important for a guy than for a girl. $100 for a brightly colored belt is not unreasonable. When it comes to how many, 5 or 6 belts is about the right number to own (if possible) for the standard guy and mix them up – two business/work belts if you have a job that requires business attire AND some brightly colored awesome belts, perhaps one leather one (this is where you spend that $100) and one that’s more a novelty item (think cheap 2nd hand stores). The final belt should be a standard (but nice) black belt, possibly studded if you want to go for a more punky route (think $50). White belts are sweet as well.
You can actually get some pretty nice looking shoes on the cheap, and then have one or two primary pairs that you spend more money on. Obviously you want a pair of dress shoes, and these are usually down to personal preference. Avoid the overly curly tips, a bit of a point is ok, just stay out of pirate territory. As for the more casual look, try ‘street’ sports shoes – for example the Chuck-Taylor variant is good to have as well. You can score some fantastic shoes with plenty of character for under $100 (believe it or not). Your main pair of dress shoes may obviously be somewhat more than this.
RULE NO 2:
Spend the rest of your clothes budget on accessorizing and clothes with bright colors.
A mix of contrast and color in your wardrobe and style will definitely lift up your game. Think dark pants/jeans and a black jacket worn with a very bright (but simple) colored t-shirt or a plain white shirt + colored tie.
Ties are great as an opportunity to add some color and diversity. The white shirt + tie look never gets old, and can be worn casually (with jeans, open top button and loose knot) as well as formally. Browse second hand stores for color and character, and perhaps spend a bit more on some nice new (perhaps black or red) versatile ties.
These versatile wardrobe accessories are gaining in popularity amongst men because and they’re an awesome accessory and a great way to add further color, especially in winter with your jacket. Once again, owning a few scarves is handy, and you can often pick these up very cheaply, especially in second hand stores. How to wear them … see our next post!
Sunglasses and Watches:
Try and own two watches, one classy, analog watch and perhaps a more casual one (possibly digital, provided it has smooth lines and isn’t clunky). As for sunglasses, stick to variants on the aviator look; take Ray-Bans as your expensive starting point and then go from there i.e. cheaper variants that look similar nonetheless. Also, stay away from the standard cheap wayfarers, everyone is wearing those things. You can get good looking sunglasses for $30 if you shop around.
Cardigans and Sweaters:
These can be hard to find, try some second hand or even casual wear stores for the right style that could make you look very sophisticated. Some jeans stores today are carrying great sweaters and cardies – and if you’re a slimmer guy, try the chunkier sweaters to add some bulk to your frame. Beware though, avoid exessive bagginess and over the top patterns, or you could end up vying with like granddad or Professor Joe for most unfashionable man in the room. And don’t be scared of bright primary colours in your knitwear – blues, greens, yellows, reds are excellent for cardies!
A good casual backpack is good for the casual look (worn over one shoulder). The backpack as a fashion accessory should NOT be a camping pack, nor should it look too high school, so be careful here. Try having a satchel as well, try not to get one that looks too battered, also watch out for the surfy/skatey logos on these, you don’t want any of that. Also, don’t go too big. $50 should get you what you need satchel wise.
A standard, must have item. As with pretty much everything else, the more you can afford, the better, but having at least a couple is good. As usual, keep them design free, and stylish if possible. Have one with a front zip and one without and budget at least $100 – $150 per hoodie.
We only have one simple tip for fragrance. Keep the spray to a minimum. Our idea of MSP hell is being trapped in an elevator with a over zealous spray dude reeking of ‘Mega Odour du Homme’! Pepe le Pew anyone?
1) Take a girl who you trust with you on your expedition (make sure it’s one with a good fashion sense themselves). They’ll tell you if things fit right ( and secretly they’re better at dealing with overly-persistent shop assistants than you’d probably be).
2) Patience. Most guys go way too fast when shopping. Take the time to browse and hunt out bargains. Don’t blow your budget on one or two items. Therefore, you need to be on the hunt for sales, second hand stores and sweet deals.
3) Keep your eyes peeled for interesting colors. Being able to have a light, pastel mix is cool, with a very light pair green or blue jeans (cardigans are awesome when you go for the pastel look), while the other combination is dark jeans + black jacket + colored t-shirt + colored belt.
Look for specials at the end of the season and try get new clothes at wholesale prices here from time to time. Second hand stores offer the best in bargain hunting even in the most odd shop places you might be able to find a great piece like a velvet jacket circa 1930s. In particular things like cardigans, scarves, shoes and ties can be picked up on the cheap from these types of places.
And lastly, things to kick out of your wardrobe (or rock ONLY in the right context):
1) Sandals are horrible anywhere except on a beach.
2) Graffiti/big numbers/garish designs and logos. Generally keep your clothing free of brands and logos – it looks generic and sloppy. You also don’t want to be a walking advertisement unless they’re paying you a big fat commission!
3) Baggy jeans/pants. Once again, these lack class. You don’t have to go super-tight, but at the same time, don’t be afraid of going to a tighter cut than what you might normally feel comfortable in. You can get great specials on jeans (particularly at the end of a season), but without a special, a really good pair can be found for around $140 or so if you shop cleverly. This is not unreasonable, a good pair of jeans should last you a long time if taken care of properly.
4) Sporty &/or skate shoes. Keep this look to the casual casual days (never on a date! or for a formal dinner!), and if you want to go the sports brand route, try some variation of the ‘street’ style.
Gents, we can assure you that if implement these handy tips you’ll enjoy your great masculine style (and the ensuing compliments) without robbing the bank!