Stepping stones to style for men

1. While you cannot buy style - it really is a combination of what you wear and how you carry yourself - you can make smart sartorial decisions which will ensure you look good, even if you are on a tight budget.

2. If you are wondering if it is worth the trouble making an effort to dress well, the answer is “yes”. People form an opinion about others within 15 seconds of meeting them and 55 per cent of first impressions are based on appearance, such as how you dress, grooming and body language. Apparently, the brain reacts instinctively on an emotional level before it begins to analyse information. Anyway, think of all the people who have to look at you each day, you owe it to them to be easy on the eye!

3. You do not need to spend a fortune to end up on the best dressed list. All that is required is an ability to maximise your good points, a flair for mixing and matching which will extend your wardrobe and a keen eye for accessories which will update jaded outfits or add panache to the season’s hottest looks.

4. Start by taking a long, hard look at yourself and your clothes. This is best done after a good night’s sleep and on a full stomach - reality is best faced when you feel good! Turn off the phone, position yourself in front of a full length mirror and take on the task with military zeal. This is no time for wishful thinking (Maybe I will fit into those trousers if I shed a few inches - you won’t and they will be out of fashion by then! ), sentimentality (“I can’t throw out this shirt, I wore it on my first date in 1993/’83/’73 ) or being fainthearted (remember faint heart never won....Best Dressed Man competition ).

5. Decluttering your wardrobe is the key to freeing up space, organising your clothes and helping pinpoint gaps (you may have seven pairs of trousers but only two jumpers ). You must be ruthless if you are embarking on such a revamp. Divide clothes into three piles, the good, the bad and the ugly. The first category should be promptly hung on good quality hangers in your wardrobe, some of the second group may be salvaged (repairs/ alterations/dry cleaning may restore them to their former glory ) if not ease them in the direction of the last category which is solely for items which are past redemption, the no- hopers which are offensive to the eye and are destined for the bin or a charity shop’s recycling department.

6. Now that you have pruned your press take stock of what is left. If you have the makings of a basic wardrobe you are off to a headstart. If not, begin building it up by gradually buying shirts, trousers, shoes, accessories - belts, scarves, ties, watch, sunglasses (buy fairly expensive ones which will take you through a few summers ). Buy clothes for the size you are now. One of the biggest mistakes men make is wearing clothes that do not fit properly. Outfits which are too tight or baggy are major fashion gaffes.

Choose shirts in white and pastels. It is important to update these seasonally. Buy a pair of dressy and casual shoes and several pairs of socks in solid colours. If your job requires you to wear suits (even if it does not, you will still need one for special occasions ) invest in navy, grey and a subtly patterned one. A sports jacket, classy coat, (a beige or stone trenchcoat is a stylish seasonal alternative to a heavy coat ), several plain and patterned ties and well cut trousers are a must, too. A few quality jumpers are essential as are white T-shirts. Men’s fashion trends tend to change more slowly than women’s so a few good items will last you a while.

7. Avoid copying others. Being stylish is all about finding a look that suits you and remaining loyal to it. Don’t be swayed by fashion fads or looks that flatter other people but do not feel right on you. You don’t need to fit a certain mould, have your own identity and this will become your signature.

8. It is important to dress not just to suit your personality and pocket but also your age. Skin tone and colour fades with the passing years so if you are on the wrong side of 40 it is advisable not to wear the same tones and shades you wore when you were younger. Wearing clothes which complement your skin tone is important to avoid looking tired or sallow skinned.

Fair or warm skinned people with fair hair tend to look good in mid-tone navy, charcoal or grey. Those with deep colouring look great in black, deep navy, charcoal or grey. If in doubt, opt for dark navy or charcoal.

9. Unlike fashion which changes with the seasons your face shape, neck, height, shoulder width, leg length and foot size tend to remain the same. Learn to choose the most flattering clothes for your body type and complexion. Wise choices should highlight your assets and diminish any perceived imperfections. If you tend to be heavy around the hips and waist you can play down this by avoiding clothes with detail at the waist. Avoid belts, stripes and plaids. Patterns or designs should be current. If you have a small waist you will look good with a belt and your shirt tucked in. Should you have narrow shoulders opt for a jacket with discreetly padded shoulders or if you have very skinny legs avoid figure hugging jeans. Garments which have a good cut tend to cost more but are well worth the investment because they disguise a multitude of sins and hang well.

10. Co-ordination is the secret of creating a complete look. Ideally, the colour, pattern and fabric of your clothes should co-ordinate. The colours should complement your eyes, skin and hair colour.

11. Use accessories to add a finishing touch. These can make or break an outfit and are an ideal way of revitalising dated pieces or adding pzazz to this season’s favourites. Belts add style and should ideally match your shoes. If you are wearing a watch with a strap it should match as well. The same rule applies to briefcases. Classy scarves look great with coats and umbrellas are another option. Discreet cuff links or gold watches always look well, especially when worn with a tailored suit.

12. Keep abreast of changing trends because looks change seasonally.You can achieve this by buying classic clothes which will not date or lose their appeal. Then, all you have to do is update your image each season by investing in the latest acessories, such as shoes, ties, even shades.


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