Men of the world, it’s time to get your style together. Consider this your crash course.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to clutch that wallet through your cargo shorts, though. Instead, we’re reviewing the low (or no!) cost ways to give your style a major boost.
Let’s begin by considering what style is and why it’s important. Style is not the clothes you wear, but how you wear them. Maybe you’ve seen the movie Crazy, Stupid, Love and learned about men’s style? It’s the one where Ryan Gosling gives frumpy dad Steve Carrell a total makeover. You’ll notice that in addition to new clothes, Gosling’s character pointed out that Steve needed to improve his posture and the way he carried himself, as well. That is, gentlemen, the difference between being “well-dressed” and having “good style.”
Why should you care about having good style?
Research shows that presenting yourself well, in all situations, gives others around you a more positive view of who you are as a person. It’s probably easy to understand how this can affect your personal life in a positive way. However, good style can help you professionally, too! In fact, well-dressed people tend to be considered for promotions and raises more than sloppily or poorly dressed coworkers.
So, does this give you permission to blow your paycheck on new clothes so you can get a raise?
No! Instead, you can learn how to look like a million bucks without blowing the bank.
15. Fit Don’t Cost a Thing
This is going to be time-consuming, but it’s not going to cost you a dime. You must understand that no matter where you got an item of clothing, or how much you spent on it, there is no excuse for a poor fit. In general, pants should hit the floor without pooling when you are in just socks. Pants should not gap or tug at the waist. Shirts should not pull on the chest or arms. Shirts should also not turn your body shape into a potato, and should show your shape, just skimming (not hugging) the skin. Long-sleeved shirts and jackets should comfortably allow you to raise your hands over your head and swing your arms. All long sleeves (jackets, shirts, sweatshirts, etc.) should hit your wrists when your arms are at your side. Now, take those rules, raid your closet, and purge! Have a fashion show and put everything that is not a good fit in a pile. You can sell them online (try Poshmark or ThredUp), donate them to a local charity, or find a secondhand clothing store near you! The point is, at the end of this, you will only be left with well-fitted clothes.
14. Find Your Colors
Now that you have a closet full of well-fitted clothes, let’s consider them one step further. Are there any colors you see repeated throughout? Is everything black and white? Do you have a lot of red? To create a low-cost, effective wardrobe, we must streamline your colors. It’s important not to just buy colors you like, but instead, have colors of clothing that best suit you. Right now, consider your eye, hair, and skin color. To determine if you are “cool” or “warm,” look at the veins in your wrist and see if they look blue (cool!) or green (warm!). With all of that information in mind, look at an article like this one to learn which colors suit you. Once you determine your colors, evaluate your clothes again and purge!
13. Create Outfits
Now, you should be left with a closet of well-fitted clothes in colors that suit you. Hurray for you! This is already a great improvement. You may be concerned that you have very few clothes left, but don’t be! The truth is, we do not need a lot of clothes when they are perfectly flattering and can be mixed and matched. With the clothes you have left in your closet, try to put outfits together for seven days. That means, put together five work-appropriate outfits, two weekend day outfits, and two date/night out outfits with what you have now. Take note of if it seems like you have a lot of great shirts, but it’s difficult to pair each one with bottoms. Or maybe you have really great jeans, but only work shirts to wear with them. This is how you can prioritize your shopping list later on.
12. Shoes Wisely
Keep in mind that at this point in your style evolution, you should know what colors suit you and what well-fitted outfits you have already in your closet. Whether you work from home and can wear leisure outfits all week, or have a corporate job requiring a suit, shoes are of paramount importance. Even those of us with more casual jobs need to have dress shoes for nights out, events, and weddings. Same goes for our corporate counterparts needing more casual footwear. Go in your shoe closet and get out every single pair of shoes you own. Choose your most comfortable, well-worn pair of sneakers. These are your lawn-mowing/trail walking shoes. Next, identify a pair of black dress shoes (or the absence of one). Do the same for brown dress shoes, attractive (not white!) athletic sneakers (for working out), walking shoes (think New Balance 574s), and a pair of loafers or boat shoes. These are the shoes every man should own. Take inventory of yours, throw out anything that does not meet these requirement (unless it’s hiking boots or something you need) and make a list of what you don’t have from this list. That’s the first part of your shopping list.
11. No Belts About It
Belts are much more of a staple in men’s wardrobes than they are for women. Whether wearing jeans of dress pants, men should have on a belt. You should ideally have a belt that matches each pair of shoes, but you can save some money by investing in a reversible black-brown belt to start. Make sure that the metal buckle on the belt is subtle and dark, so it won’t clash with a watch or the details on your shoes. Also make sure the brown of your belt matches the brown dress shoes you have or will buy. Consider also having a casual belt, in a soft, tan leather, to wear with loafers and walking shoes. Please do us all a favor and donate any Western-style or overly embellished belts. Simplicity is key here.
10. Style from the Inside Out
It’s time to consider what you’re wearing under all those well-fitted, flattering-colored clothes, shoes, and belts. Toss away any old stained, torn, or stretched out undershirts, socks, and underwear. These are not expensive items. Go to your nearest discount store and purchase a 3-pack of v-neck, tight white undershirts and a 5-pack of stretchy boxer briefs in neutral colors. Boxer briefs are the most flattering “invisible” undergarments men can wear under good clothing. They eliminate the risk of underwear lines (from briefs) and wrinkles and bulges (from boxers). You’ll want v-neck undershirts because you must understand that one should never actually see your undershirt. Undershirts are simply worn to eliminate any nipple-show-through or chafing in button-down shirts and sweaters. With this in mind, make sure you undershirts are tight enough to not cause wrinkles or bulges under your clothes.
9. Hats: The Ultimate Risk Factor
Listen, we’re all well-aware that a lot of men choose to wear fedoras on a regular basis now. Is it a style-must? Absolutely not. In fact, most men should never wear fedoras. Instead, invest or save a couple of hats that look good in a variety of outfits. Whether you’re on your way to the office or headed out to the grocery store, hats can be practical and are a great way to look more stylish. Protecting you form wind, rain, snow, and sun, hats can be worn in almost any setting. When you have a neutral, well-fitted wardrobe (like you do now!), hats can be a great way to add color. Consider your most complimentary colors from task 14 and buy a slouchy beanie hat, baseball hat, and more fitted knit hat. If you already have a favorite knit hat (with no obvious logos or cartoons) and baseball hat, you’re golden. Hang onto those and donate the rest.
8. Let’s Get Shady
An easy way to add instant style to a simple wardrobe is with sunglasses. You can find great sunglasses at discount and secondhand stores, or online at places like Poshmark. Every man should have a great pair of brown sunglasses and a great pair of black sunglasses. You will wear them almost every day, and it is a great way to show others that you have some confidence and style. To determine which sunglasses suit you, you must determine your face shape. You can use this guide to help you. Next, determine which sunglasses flatter your face shape using this guide. If you own sunglasses that don’t work for you according to those guides, ask a couple of people you consider fashionable if they’re flattering. Or, bite the bullet, and toss them in your donate pile.
7. Sock Hop
Socks are the best way for men to add personal flair and style to any basic outfit. They can add color, pattern, and fun to almost any outfit. Make sure that you use thin cotton blends to wear with any dress shoes. Loafers and boat shoes should be worn without socks, no exceptions. Sneakers and athletic shoes should have thicker knit socks in white and black. Boots require taller socks and the socks should always come at least to the height of the top of the boot. Once you determine which socks you need according to each shoe, you can take inventory of what you have. Next, consider the outfits you put together and the shoes you have and try to get creative with sock pairing. You can use this color chart to help you understand which color socks might complement the outfit or suit you want to wear.
6. Watch Yourself
Every man should own three watches: metal, leather, and athletic. If you have a smart watch, consider that the “athletic” option here. For a metal watch, choose a brushed silver or titanium. This means a buttery gray color or a dark gray, charcoal metal. These metals will allow you to mix and match with the maximum number of colors and outfits in your wardrobe. You’ll also want black on the watch face, and your metal watch will always be your go-to when wearing black. When you’re wearing navy, gray, or brown tones, the leather watch is your friend. Choose a watch with a buttery smooth, brown leather band. Make sure it does not clash with the brown of your shoes, loafers, and brown belt. Athletic watches can be silicone, rubber, or even mesh. Just choose a fun watch you wear wear with your (well-fitted and flattering-colored!) athletic wear.
5. Barbershop Delight
You’ve made great progress in your wardrobe, don’t let your haircut hold you back. If you’ve fallen into a hair rut, or don’t know what would look good on you, considering going to a new stylist. Consider asking a friend or coworker with good hair where they go for an idea! Once you’re at your appointment, your stylist or barber should be able to recommend a flattering cut based on your hair type, face shape, and bone structure. If you don’t want your fate in the hands of someone else, you can check out articles like this for ideas of modern haircuts for men. When getting a haircut, always remember, it will grow back. Even if you don’t love it, you can go for something a little different next time until you find your perfect, flattering cut.
So, you have a new hair cut- what else could you need? Having a well-kept beard and well-groomed eyebrows are the difference between “looking great” and having a “good haircut.” However, if you’re new to manscaping, leave this to the professionals. Changing your beard and eyebrows can drastically change how you look, and one wrong move can leave you looking wonky. Ask your barber if he does men’s grooming services or could refer you to someone who does. Do not let anyone trim your eyebrows, only let them remove stray hairs from the area. Thin, transparent eyebrows aren’t flattering on anyone.
3. Get Some New Product
You may be wondering why skincare has anything to do with your wardrobe, but it all goes into great style. If you have skin that looks uncared for, your clothes are simply not going to look their best. Good skincare does not have to be expensive. Just go to a drugstore and buy a good hand cream, daily face moisturizer with SPF, gentle face wash, nail file, lip balm, and whitening toothpaste. Wash your face morning and night, apply your moisturizer before work, and apply hand cream every night. File your nails instead of biting them and use lip balm and whitening toothpaste every time you brush your teeth. These small changes can take you from “well-dressed” to “man of style” in just a couple of weeks.
2. Get a Second Opinion
Let’s recap: At this point, you have a closet full of well-fitted, color-coordinated outfits for work and play. You have well-fitted and flattering undershirts and underwear. You have fun, but practical socks for every occasion. You have a watch for every outfits. You have shoes to take you from work to the gym to drinks. You have a hat for the sun and a hat for the snow. You have sunglasses for every day. You have an amazing haircut, beard or shave, and eyebrows. You have glowing, healthy skin, nails, hands, and wall-kept teeth and lips. Okay, so maybe you don’t have all of that, but you’re on your way! At this point, you might just be thinking “I need to go shopping!” instead of running to the mall, invite a trusted confidante over. Show them your new haircut, purged wardrobe, and accessories. Try on some outfits and tell them about your complimentary colors. Ask your friend to be honest about what works and what doesn’t and create your shopping list from there.
1. Bargain Hunt
Now, you’re finally ready to hit the mall. Start small, and go in wanting only the top three items you and your confidante identified. Go to the least expensive stores first, because there’s a great chance you can find what you need for less. Also, consider looking up promo codes online to use in-store and always, always, always start at the clearance rack. Never let yourself buy more than three things, though, or you’ll get carried away. Knowing everything you know about great style, you want to slowly build your wardrobe back up. Eventually, you’ll have the best wardrobe of all your friends, and you don’t need to go into debt doing it.
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