I spent quite a lot of time on tubes and trains the weekend before last… And when I’m bored on public transport I have to admit that I do enjoy a spot of people-watching (what am I saying, I don’t have to be bored to partake in a bit of PW!). So with all the activity of everyone getting on and off the trains I inevitably had lots of outfits to look at. It’s funny, I very rarely look around at what people are wearing with a critical eye – but once I start, I can’t stop. And I have to say that it was the boys who were giving me a lot to think about.
Now I can’t generalize and say that all men dress badly because that simply isn’t true, but when I was out and about, I was very under-whelmed by how the majority of the men looked style-wise – there were lots of beige and brown short-sleeved shirts and ill-fitting sports tops with light blue jeans, white trainers and rucksacks! I know this hot one minute, cold the next weather we’re experiencing is hard dressing-wise for the best of us but seriously, it was going from one extreme to the other. There were those wearing short sleeved shirts who looked like they were going to freeze to death (is it really so un-cool to take a sweater or coat out with you when you’re a man??) and then there was one guy dressed head-to-toe in black – black base-ball cap, black hoodie with the hood up, black jeans, huge boots and black gloves and sunglasses! You know when you know that you shouldn’t stare at someone but you literally can’t help yourself… I wanted to ask him where he was going as he looked like he was auditioning for a gangster-rapper video (but he was a little bit too scary-looking so I didn’t think conversation was a good plan, especially considering I had already taken off two items of clothing as it was completely boiling on the tube and he was dressed with enough layers to live at the North Pole in the depths of winter)!
I really do feel badly about singling out the boys but to me, as there is so much less choice on offer, there are in theory fewer opportunities to make mistakes. So really, dressing for boys should be much simpler than for girls. And that for me is the key-word – simple. The answer to dressing well for men is definitely to keep to the basics. Menswear is not a competition for who’s got the best outfit – and for me it’s better to not necessarily notice what a man is wearing, but just to notice the subtlety of how well dressed he is in an understated manner. Basically – don’t try too hard, but make sure you buy good quality pieces that can easily be worn together. Boys – less is more.
An example of a basic smart-casual shopping list would be – a pair of straight-legged indigo blue jeans, some figure skimming knitwear, simple t-shirts and custom-fitted shirts, a blazer and a cotton jacket in a military-ish style for example. Try Zara, Reiss and Nicole Farhi for good basics and Diesel for a great choice of denim. If you struggle with buying jeans, have a look at http://www.my-wardrobe.com/denim-bar/denim-intro – it’s a really helpful guide from my-wardrobe.com going through styles and brands… and if you get confused between your “aged” and “distressed” jeans there’s also a denim “glossary”, if you’re interested!
Also, I found this article which I thought was pretty helpful for men’s dressing: http://mens-fashion.lovetoknow.com/What_Does_It_Mean_to_Dress_GQ. But if all else fails, Robert Pattinson has been voted Britain’s Best Dressed man for 2010 – so get some false teeth, grow your hair and you can give him a run for his money!