Men’s Free Style

Bag it up
February 3, 2009, 16:53
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I’ve just come across this – it looks like charity shops are doing well out of our current money troubles, at least in terms of selling clothes. I think it’s great that people have thought about the savings they can make, both in their wallets and to the clothes mountain recent consumerism has created – but one problem is that it appears to have led to a run on the shops themselves.

So, if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to sort out that bulging wardrobe, have a quick look at my Sharpen Up page and make sure that any unwanted items don’t end up out in the cold, but instead safe and warm in your local Oxfam (or similar).


Plain simple, or just plain dull?
January 22, 2009, 17:53
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The Times has proved more thought-provoking today, as ‘Mutton dressed up as lad’ swings (if you’ll pardon the pun, those of you who read the article I’m referring to) back into town.

What is under scutiny is essentially whether plain clothes in muted colours (i.e. traditional golfwear) are a too little dull for the modern links course, but I think the question can be asked on a wider scale. In aspiring to dress more simply, are we condemning ourselves to dressing like a dullard?

I think the answer to that question has to be (unsurprisingly, given the content of this blog) no. All the article seems to be getting at is that guys normally steer clear of bright colours and stripes – as used by brands such as Original Penguin, who sell a pricey but generally stylish collection – but that such things should be embraced as part of the new man’s wardrobe.

I couldn’t agree more – in my view, simple style is not about avoiding vivid colours or patterns, but instead about avoiding garish use of them. A cherry red wool sweater (paired with blue jeans or beige cords) is the perfect tonic for a dreary winter’s day, but a bright purple T-shirt proclaiming that you are ‘Mr Lazy’ (yes, they do exist) is not.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that dressing simply doesn’t mean that you put no thought into it and just reach for the nearest white T-shirt. Instead, if you take the time to match things well, you’ll be able to make a statement with whatever your wearing, regardless of the colour.

The 3 R’s – Reduce, Re-use and Recycle
December 29, 2008, 12:56
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So Christmas has come and gone, and in all likelihood will have left you with a few more items of clothing to squeeze into your already over-full wardrobe.

It is also likely that the festive season will leave you with a bit of time on your hands (especially now the mad panic of present buying is over), so why not put it to good use and sort out what killer pieces will be (and certainly won’t be) adorning you in 2009.


If you’re anything like me, you will have been hoarding clothes wherever you could stash them for quite some time – now is your chance to think about what you are realistically going to wear again and what you are not (the latter almost certainly including anything with holes artfully gouged out of it).

One thing to watch out for, though, are items that may not have been worn for a while, but are great candidates to be brought back into circulation under the umbrella of simple style. Re-introducing things that a few years ago might have been considered rash additions to a student wardrobe but now fit well with a more polished look is a great way to kick-start the new year.

And for those pieces that don’t make the cut, always remember that one man’s loss is another man’s gain. While I can’t foresee male swishing parties taking off any time soon, charity shops or shelters are always grateful for clothes that are in good condition at this time of year – look up where your nearest one in located and see whether they have given any guidance as to what types of clothing they really need.

Sales hitch
December 15, 2008, 14:23
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I have up until now only made passing reference to the utility of simple, inexpensive style in the current climate. However, recent events have prompted me to be a little more vocal about it.

You cannot have failed to notice that every shop on every high street has for the past few weeks been desperately trying to tempt you into propping up the ailing economy by splurging on their own merchandise. Sales, just like love at this time of year, are all around.

I have talked about how to play the sales before – saying that they provide the perfect opportunity to pick up great clothes cheaply, not cheap clothes in great numbers – but I think there’s something more important at stake here.

Keeping in mind that looking and feeling great does not have to be accompanied by a hefty price tag will surely allow us all to enjoy what may have to be a toned-down festive period this year. The sales may be working towards a similar goal, but swapping the mad-dash consumerism they inevitably prolong for a more nuanced approach to sating your style needs is likely to pay long-term dividends as the credit crunch continues to bite.

Cold snap
November 20, 2008, 14:07
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Well the nights are well and truly drawing in now, and you can feel in the air that winter is upon us. What better time, then, to try your hand at layering and accessorising to boost your party season style credentials?


Layering is something guys have always had issues with. What’s wrong with the basic approach of T-shirt for warm weather, jumper for cold weather? Well, my view is that if the British climate is anything to go by, it’s never normally that simple, and experimenting with the possibilities of pairing a slim-fit T with a lighter-weight sweater (merino wool has the flexibility of being both thin and warm) or doubling up two long-sleeved crew necks in contrasting colours could make your wardrobe go that bit further.

Scarves also go down very well at this time of year, so long as you know how to play them. My advice is to make a feature of them – bold colours, and left exposed by an open jacket – and going with a thinner material will allow you to tie them as you would a normal tie (Half Windsor, for instance) to bring a classic edge to your outfit.

Finally, as any woman will tell you, don’t forget about the shoes. I think, in the cold and wet, a great pair of leather shoes (or boots if you’re feeling extravagant) rounds any look off perfectly, whether you’re dressing up or dressing down.


American Smooth
October 21, 2008, 19:10
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Apologies that I have been away for a little while, but I can assure you it was all worth it – I’ve been shopping! The United States beckoned, and given that us Brits often have to spend a long time waiting for the opportunity to raid Uncle Sam’s stores, I was happy to answer the call.

As you will probably know, there are plenty of great shops that just aren’t around in the UK (American Eagle/Hollister to mention a couple), and you’ll see in the photo below they afforded me some great stuff very much in line with my motto.

Yet what made my visit all the more interesting was the fact that all the shops were preparing their rails for a sale. Now, having been subjected for too long to London prices, the extra discount was enough to turn me into shopping machine.

Which brings me on to a difficult topic for a man looking for maximum style at minimum price. The one thing that tends to happen with the sales is that you occasionally get what you want for a great price, but more often than not you end up getting what you don’t want, for a price you didn’t need/want to pay.

My advice: never abandon your style principles just because the clothes are cheaper. Stick to what you know – only then will you really end up with some true bargains.

Like a fine wine
October 7, 2008, 21:42
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I’m coming round to the idea that some clothes really do get better with age.

No, your eyes are not deceiving you – that, my friend, is velvet. It certainly surprised my friends when we hit the town this Saturday, but I’m happy to declare that vintage is definitely something the stylish man does not have to leave to his girlfriend.

There are two things about vintage which make it the perfect team player when it comes top your wardrobe – number one, the clothes have been around for a while so inevitably know something about retaining a good deal of wearability; number two, they are likely to be well-made and use great fabric (otherwise they simply wouldn’t have lasted) but will always come at a better price than their modern equivalents.

Of course that doesn’t mean you have to wear velvet. But don’t let me stop you…