At some point in my life, I became the resident fashion consultant of my friend group. It started with me just helping my halfway-to-blacked out fraternity brothers dress semi-competently for a sorority formal, and all of a sudden those same friends of mine are sending me mirror selfies of their New Year’s Eve outfits; asking for closing remarks (I promised I’d keep their identities secret for this piece). This made me think, would other people actually take this advice, too?
So if you’re a guy who made a New Year’s resolution to up his style this year, or if you’re just starting out and don’t exactly have Ryan Gosling’s Crazy Stupid, Love clothing budget, or if you’re like me and are always looking for new tweaks and ideas, maybe you’ll keep reading.
1. Don’t categorize your style.
In my humble opinion, this is the worst mistake a guy trying to look good can make. If you’re trying to make some changes to your wardrobe, why in the HELL wouldn’t you take a chance on some clothes that may not “fit your style?” The cool thing about style is that you can throw a few different pieces together and, all of a sudden, you have your own style.
2. “Versatility” a word that needs to be thought of early and often.
This is big deal if you’re trying to look sharp without having to dread checking your bank account after-the-fact. I normally won’t buy a shirt if I can’t think of at least two different ways I could incorporate it into the clothes already in my closet. It really helps when I’m buying shirts and ties for work. I rarely buy a shirt that I can’t pair at least two of my ties with and vice versa when buying ties.
3. Layering is the “fake it til you make it” of men’s style.
This can be tied back to tip #2, especially if you’re in the Midwest like I am. It’s not easy trying to look good on a Saturday night in February. If you don’t want to be the guy holding his North Face jacket in a crowded bar, invest in a jacket or a vest that you can throw on over a flannel or a long sleeve shirt (or both if you think you can handle it). Quarter-zip/button sweaters are also a huge staple in my winter wardrobe. They work for the office and for the bar, so there’s another versatility lesson for you, on the house.
4. Watch more television.
No joke. I don’t know what this says about me, but most of my fashion sense has come from taking note of the clothes guys were wearing in the shows or movies I’ve seen. You can get some pretty solid ideas from Herbstreit and Desmond on College Gameday or from any of the big three in That Awkward Moment. Hell, every single male SportsCenter anchor is dressed like a damn Ralph Lauren model now. You really can’t turn on the T.V. without seeing seriously dapper gents. Maybe bring a notepad, just in case.
5. Nothing takes an outfit off the rails faster than pants that don’t fit.
They don’t need to be skin-tight, okay? Especially if you’re like I am and built like the Coors Original stout bottle. But some slimmer-cut chinos or jeans can completely alter your look, especially if you cuff them over some boots or high-top sneakers. Plus, it’s 2017; everything fits tighter now. Embrace it.
6. Outerwear is the most important piece of your winter wardrobe.
Okay, yeah, an overcoat/scarf combo looks really good when you’re heading into work. But I recently gave this a shot when I was wearing jeans and boots to a happy hour with friends, and it worked out really well (meaning I got a few compliments that may have been facetious, but I rolled with it). You don’t have to shell out a bunch of dough for an overcoat or peacoat, either. I got a really nice one for less than $200 at Banana Republic. Nordstrom Rack rarely misses in the outerwear department, either.
7. Ask for people’s opinions.
If you’re trying something pretty bold compared to what you usually, there’s a great chance that you’ll think it looks weird on you at first. That’s when it’s time to swallow your pride, take a mirror selfie, and send it to a trusted member of your inner circle. It probably looks way better than you think, and you just need to hear it. I’ve gotten some great looks from people while taking pictures of shoes in the shoe aisle at Nordstrom Rack. Leave your shame in the car when you head into the mall. It won’t get you anywhere.
Good luck out there, gents.