The positive magnetism of being well dressed is irresistible and has the power to change lives; from turning heads to opening the door of opportunity on your behalf. The clothes you wear say a lot about yourself both as an individual and a professional, so it’s important to put thought into choosing your threads. On an average day you could walk through a crowded room and nobody even knows you exist, but with the right style suddenly everybody is taking that second look, asking you out for lunch or presenting you with unimaginable career opportunities simply because of an impressive first impression.
As a shopaholic I have tailored my wardrobe to suit my needs, with angles, cuts and biases for every occasion and beautiful pieces in every colour of the rainbow to compliment and contrast. But style for men is totally different. Unlike us ladies, men don’t have lipstick to match their accent colours to, they can’t tie an outfit with a statement necklace, or coordinate to their heels or handbag, and so they have to really step up their game to stand out from the testosterone crowd and not become yet another tall, dark stranger blending into the back of the room.
It’s safe to say that a mans formal staple is his shirt, as this is where he can express his style in pattern, print, colour and texture, to which his trousers can then follow suit. There are many styles of shirt, but in my opinion the high collar, full length sleeve and a silk tie cannot be beaten. Here I have a selection of the six most popular styles of shirt.
So let’s start with the plain white, the most classical yet unimaginative. It certainly looks smart and professional, with a man having to be impeccably clean and tidy in order to keep it pristine, but it won’t exactly make you stand out for style as it is undoubtedly the safe option. There is something reassuring about narrow stripes, as the vertical lines are slimming, purposeful and constant and come across as trustworthy and reliable to a woman. It’s the next subtle step up from the plain white shirt by adding a splash of detail without going crazy.
Squares are somewhat defiant, deviating from the traditional plain shirt or stripe, as they cross both the horizontal and vertical line and challenge the attention of the eye for a focal point. They signify ability, control and logic and because of this squares to me are a symbol of strength. I always seem to find wide stripes to be loud, attention seeking and busy, much like a zebra crossing or caution tape, it is there to catch your eye and screams “hey look at me”. Confident and big personalities will clash with a loud shirt such as those with wide-stripes, as it’s a sensory overload, so it generally tends to be the try-hard person who wears a shirt like this, because they wan’t to be noticed and stand out and use their clothes to do this.
A single block of colour on a shirt is a bold statement to make, as each shade can be attributed to a mood; from hot and fiery reds to rustic browns, smooth greys and calm blues, whether you match your shirt to your eyes or hair, a bold colour can be incredibly playful and flirtatious. Plaid is a timelessly stylish pattern that can be dressed in many different ways, from casual with jeans to formal with suit trousers. The grouping of colours, stripes and varying widths create an eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing shirt. And plaid will certainly make you stand out whilst showing the entire room how confident you are with your style, and for that it gets the gold star for the best dress shirt for men.
Accessories are key to completing a mans look, and although you may never truly know the power of the push up bra or fishtail plait, you can certainly work the room with some clever textures and key focal points. Every mans staple accessory has to be his belt, as it not only keeps your trousers in place and coordinates with your eyes/hair/shoes, but it works to draw the eye line down to the most powerful part of the body. The stomach of course. At one point or another, your socks will become visible to us ladies and we twitch at the thought of black sock fluff on our cream carpets or grey sweaty stains on white slip ons. Therefore the failsafe for all socks is to go patterned, from subtle neutral shades to siren stand-out statements, a cheerful and upbeat sock melts our hearts.
Although gloves are only practical for the colder months of the year, this is one accessory that men do not utilise enough, as protecting your hands shows that you take care of yourself and have pride in your appearance. A quality and stylish leather glove gets me weak at the knees and makes me feel safe and protected like a knight in shining armour. Equally, cufflinks are a great way to add a touch of glamour to a shirt, as they highlight the attention to detail when completing a look, showing that you go the extra mile to have everything just so.
Braces are a forgotten jewel in mens style, and I get so incredibly excited when I see them peeking out beneath a nicely tailored jacket. Much as a man would gasp if he caught sight of the top of a girls stockings or a laced bra strap, there is something powerful and dominant about straps and shackles that screams va va voom in every language. Finally the herringbone scarf is the most stylish accessory a man can wear in my eyes, as it oozes sophistication, masculinity and shows humanity with a fabulous vertical length to draw the eye down the torso, and every stylish gentleman needs to be kept warm.
A suit to a man is equal to the little black dress of a woman, fact. It is the power item that every wardrobe must have, as it can be worn for many different occasions. As a rule of thumb, for every business engagement a suit is absolutely essential, and it also works beautifully at a formal dinner, ball or party. For times when you want to look smart and sexy but not overdressed, such as on a date, evening drinks or sight-seeing, you can utilise key parts of your suit teamed with more casual garments for a daywear to evening look.
Teaming a pair of smart jeans with a suit jacket is the epitome of smart-casual daywear, as you can really play with textures, tones and patterns. If you have a plain dark suit jacket then layer it over a light fitted t-shirt or something with a busy print to contrast. Equally wearing suit trousers with a turtle-neck jumper, skinny cardigan or long sleeve t-shirt balances perfectly. To take a suit jacket to a casual evening look you simply have to tone down the amount of colours and contrasts used, and instead of mixing light with dark or bold print with plain, keep everything as closely linked as possible. If you have a charcoal jacket layer it over a casual grey jumper with a white shirt, or if you have brown suit trousers then why not pair them with a beige jumper and ivory shirt.
The latest trends can be quite daunting to work into a wardrobe, especially if you feel at home with your trusty jeans and jumper combo. It’s easy to become set in your ways and to dress in very similar clothes day in and day out, because we all unconsciously navigate towards the familiar and what we know best. But if you want to stand out from the crowd then it’s essential that you work a few on-trend pieces into your wardrobe each season.
Fear not, you can update your threads in a subtle and forgiving way by choosing a particular new print in your favourite neutral colour, limit it to an accessory such as a scarf or socks, or go all out and choose a statement top that you can always dress down with casual jeans or a timeless black jacket. Whether it’s buying the latest style of shoe or matching your hairstyle to the catwalk, it’s the attention to detail that turns heads and gets you noticed, from the boardroom to the bedroom, always make an effort!