Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, or so singer Andy Williams told us. Firstly, there’s the food (because who doesn’t love being holed up for days on end with no one counting how many sausage rolls you’ve consumed – least of all you?). There’s the sales (all the year’s best pieces at a fraction of the price – err, yes please). And, then there’s the brief but delicious abandonment of all things buttoned-up.
As for resolutions, forget about the gym – that’s not going to outlast Dry January. And speaking of Dry January, forget that too. After all, what’s the year’s gloomiest month without a little liquid spirit? Instead, pull yourself up by the bootstraps – or slippers as the case may be – and leave all your sartorial sins in 2016.
1. Buy Less, Buy Clever
This first resolution isn’t so much a pearl of wisdom as plain common sense. Before you even think about investing in the latest burgeoning trend, have a long think about whether or not you’ve covered the basics first.
Buy the navy chinos that will go with everything, or the Oxford shirt that can be dressed both up and down – and don’t be afraid to splurge on them either. They’ll last longer and you can wear them with almost anything.
2. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
The phrase ‘If the cap fits, wear it’ might be a roundabout way of telling somebody that they’re a fool, but taken literally, it’s also a pretty solid piece of style advice to live by.
There’s no shame in admitting that no, you do not stand comfortably northwards of the five-foot mark, nor is it a shortcoming to accept that your arms won’t ever rip T-shirt sleeves. What you can change, though, is how you dress what the man above has given you – and this is never more important than when wearing a suit.
“Go for a suit that flatters your shape,” says Alex McCart, men’s formalwear buyer at Selfridges. “For example, a double-breasted suit is a good choice for tall, slim men, while a single-breasted design is a classic all-rounder. And if you’re on the shorter side, it pays to remember that vertical stripes [such as pinstripes] add height.”
Work with what you’ve got, not against it.
3. Dress For Your Age
We’ve all cringed at Madonna’s peculiar inability to reconcile her actual age with an age-appropriate wardrobe. But we men are often no better. And whether in the grip of a midlife crisis or a misguided attempt at looking mature, our wardrobes can end up being the giveaway.
Dress according to your decade. In your twenties, it’s still acceptable to experiment. In your thirties, it’s important to begin dressing like you’re a grown-up (even if your life choices to date say something else). In your forties, you should consider putting your rebellious days behind you (no slashed denim and studded leather jackets please). And in your fifties, recognise that the fit of your clothes is just as important as how comfortable they are (Jeremy Clarkson, we’re looking at you).
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what age a man is – he can still look sharp and on top of his sartorial game.
4. Find Yourself A Tailor
We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but size matters. Luckily, we’re talking about your trousers, not what’s inside them. Along with your suit jacket and everything else down to your chinos and your shirts, fit is paramount.
Your clothing consigliere, a savvy tailor is arguably the most important personal in your sartorial black book, so find one pronto. Not only can they make a budget suit look a million dollars with just a few tweaks, they can also extend the lifespan of your pieces by replacing buttons and zippers and even updating cuts and shapes (within reason) to stay with the current trends.
Much like a barber, the key is finding a good tailor and sticking with them, so tap friends or our forum for recommendations. This allows the tailor time to get to know your personal style and even push you to try new things in the future.
5. Maintain Your Wardrobe
By now you should have learnt how to perform upkeep on your skin and your body (if not, what are you waiting for?), so it stands to reason to pay the same care to your clothes.
Looking after what your wear requires more than throwing things in a boil wash once every couple of outings. But that’s not to say increasing the lifespan of your staples need involve endless instructions and worry over which detergent to use.
Get into a habit of polishing shoes your regularly, de-bobbling knits before they look like they’ve contracted something and take five minutes to acquaint yourself with the wool setting on the washing machine. Trust us, you’ll get more mileage out of your menswear, save money and avoid endless embarrassment.
6. Be Swayed By Suede
Suede jackets used to be the oxymoron of the luxury fashion world; incredibly expensive to produce but almost always naff in their design. Those oversized, shapeless vintage versions you see haunting charity shops? They were just as shudder-inducing in their heyday.
In 2016, however, suede finally came into its own. There was everything from suede bombers and overshirts to shoes and bags to take your pick from. And it’s not just run-of-the-mill shades of brown, stone and tan that it comes in now, either – 2017’s suede is set to be a veritable rainbow of touchably soft luxury.
“Soft and supple to handle, suede gets better with age and its velvety surface means it shows the best of both deep and soft colour palettes,” says Reiss head of menswear design, Alex Field.
Just don’t take it out in the rain.
7. Don’t Divide Your Wardrobe Into Smart And Casual
Your mother may still be of the opinion that owning a pair of joggers makes you a card-carrying member of ‘the wrong crowd’, but if there’s one thing we learned in 2016, it’s that menswear is relaxing.
Trainers with tailoring? Right on. Tapered joggers and Derby shoes? Absolutely. Try mixing and matching tailored and relaxed pieces for surprisingly versatile and stylish combinations that you might not have previously thought of.
Just stop short of trying to get away with wearing your gym kit on a night out.
8. Accessorise All Areas
Got your basics collection completed and live in a uniform of black, navy and grey? Yes, you may look well put together, but without a spark of originality you risk blending in with the rest of them.
Make 2017 the year you invest in accessories. The appeal of accessories is that you can choose a level of commitment that suits you. Tentatively show off your originality with a subtly patterned scarf or a simple leather bracelet. Feeling braver? Try adding a point of difference to your tailoring with a lapel pin or collar bar.
In short, accessories offer an easy way to upgrade your existing look, without breaking the bank.
9. Keep Your Shirts In Check
The shirt is the workhorse of a man’s wardrobe. But come the end of the day, it usually sits crumpled at the foot of the bed. This year, take due care of this timeless staple – follow these tips and reap the rewards:
- Wash a shirt at no more than 40 degrees Celsius.
- Wear your shirt only once before washing.
- Take your shirt off carefully, folding once lengthways and then sideways before putting into your washing machine.
- Use a fine cloth (such as linen) to place between your shirt and the iron to prevent damage.
10. Master The Military Tuck
For a crisp finish when wearing a shirt, try deploying the military tuck. Once you’ve buttoned up your shirt, and with your trousers left unbuttoned at the top, tuck only the front of your shirt into your trousers, making sure there is no bunching of fabric.
Then, pinch the side seams of the shirt and fold back against your torso, tucking in and smoothing the back of your shirt. Keeping everything in place, button up your trousers.
Hey presto, you’re looking sharper than David Gandy’s six pack.