Men’s Free Style

Sharpen up

Sometimes you fancy tightening up your look – here are my tips on how to go about it as simply as possible.


STEP 1: Look in your wardrobe




This might seem quite daunting (especially if you’re the sort of person that never throws anything out) and perhaps a touch counterintuitive if you’re trying to avoid splashing the cash, but to start with you’d do well to get rid of your wardrobe’s undesirable elements. Essentially, what you’re looking to do is:

  • Separate out and put to one side the clothes that you actually wear (go for ones that you have worn in the past 6 months – this should cover items that may not currently be in season)
  • Sort through the remaining ones to see if there are any hidden gems – we often buy clothes that don’t fit completely with our fashion thinking at the time and so tend to ignore them and then forget about them. Coming back to such clothes with a fresh pair of eyes may make you realise that they now slot perfectly into your current sense of style
  • Take the ones that didn’t make the cut immediately to your local textile recycling bank (look out for TRAID if they operate in your area) – waiting will only make you doubt your decision to ditch them, but you’ve proved to yourself you’re never going to need them again, and there are plenty of people out there that do.

You should now have a manageable set of clothes to work with – the next task is to use these as the template for renewing/updating your look.


STEP 2: Spot the gaps




You should now make sure you re-assemble your new wardrobe in a way that really allows you to see what you have and haven’t got. I imagine most of you group your clothes by type – jumpers together, shirts together, trousers together etc., with work clothes in a separate cluster. I think a more helpful approach – as not all items within a particular clothing type are identical in terms of style or fit – is to order your new wardrobe by season.

This is easier than it probably sounds – all you have to do is take account of things like:

  • style – some clothes are more naturally suited to being worn at certain times of the year, like hoodies (often reserved for autumn/winter) or shorts (only likely to come out during the summer, if at all)
  • weight – whatever the style of the garment, its thickness will often determine when it can be worn, for example knitwear (a lambswool jumper is perfect for chilly weather, whereas a lightweight cotton or merino wool one would be best kept for spring/summer evenings)
  • cut – how fitted the clothing can have an impact on when it can be stylishly employed. A slimline T-shirt can be easily layered under a crew neck sweater if extra warmth is called for, but a more loosely fitting one should be used to round off a summer outfit (paired with either shorts or roomier jeans)
  • colour – this is probably less important, but if you have a great polo shirt in sunflower yellow, the likelihood is you’ll get more wear out of it in hot weather than trying to match it with darker, winter colours

Now go through your newly-sorted collection and pick out where you’re understocked. If you keep in mind the sort of outfits you tend to put together throughout the year, it should be fairly obvious where the gaps are. Try also focus on is what your wardrobe now reveals about your own style, and be clear-headed about whether you really need additional items to complete that style.


STEP 3: Shop for it




The final stage is obviously to go and stock up on what you’re missing. But before you go, quickly look through the new wardrobe and write down where you bought the clothes you have selected. When you’re compiling the list, have a think about your usual clothing budget and try to rank the shops you come across by price. You should aim to put each store into one of the following categories:

  • Basics (the cheaper end of the spectrum – probably where items like plain T-shirts and underwear came from)
  • Mid-range (as the name suggests, mid-price places you will have gone to for more than your average staples, perhaps a decent sweatshirt or going-out clothes)
  • Luxury (the expensive places you’ve been for one-off items like a your favourite pair of jeans or the jumper you practically live in)

This exercise is useful in deciding which stores will provide the best hunting ground for each of the gaps that need filling. It may be that what is really missing from your collection are a few high-end pieces to give it a bit of class, in which case you may have to spend a bit of time building towards your goal. Alternatively, if it’s basic clothes which can be picked up at your basic shops that you need, you can have more confidence to shop sensibly for the missing pieces.

I guess the real point of my approach is to stop you blowing a hole in your budget unnecessarily. We often end up buying clothes that don’t fit with our overall style, or spend more than we need on quite basic items. My view is that this only serves to hold you back when it comes to investing in clothes with real quality – and it always makes financial sense in the long run to spend a touch more when that extra bit of style is called for.


One final thought…


… to take with on your shopping trip – spare a thought for where the clothes you’re buying came from, and what they’re made of. There are loads of places out there now have made real effort to make their fashion more ethical and more sustainable, so look out for them and take advantage where you can.


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