Style mistakes. Everyone makes them. Be it Brad Pitt or your mum, anyone at any point can and will make a fashion faux pas. But worry not young sir, mistakes are there to be learnt from.
Every man that has gone before you has made the style mistakes below so that you don’t have to. By the end of this article, you’ll be a new you, with a huge head swelled by fashion knowhow.
Am I an expert?
No – I don’t think anyone can really be an expert in something so personal and subjective. BUT I do have a lot of experience with making style mistakes. I have made some poor decisions that I regret when it comes to dressing up but I’ve learned from them, which is all we can ask for isn’t it?
There are a few people in the blogosphere that I highly respect when it comes to men’s styling, so I’ll leave a few links below for you to check them out when you get a chance. These are as close to experts as you’ll find.
Can’t style be costly?
Of course style can be costly. But potatoes can be costly too if you buy enough of them. If you buy the right sort of items that prioritise quality over quantity then they will last you a long, long time and will save you money in the long run.
I am a huge believer in paying a premium for better made clothes that will last me far longer than cheaper alternatives. If you buy a t-shirt from Primark and one from Reiss, which do you think will last longer? Which will fit better? Which will look better? It really is no contest between the luxury brands and the cheaper ones.
Obviously Primark has its place sometimes but it’s fast fashion. Not only is that bad for your wardrobe, it’s bad for your space and it’s bad for the environment too.
So no, style isn’t costly. It’s only costly if you continue to impulse buy every little thing you see. I’ll pop a little list of my favourite brands below that offer quality craftsmanship and longevity, whilst not charging an arm and a leg.
#1 Colour coordinating everything
I remember a time when I thought this was cool – it’s not.
I rocked up to a party with blue adidas running trainers, blue jeans and a blue shirt – all the same shade. I then did the same thing for another party the week later with some lovely light blue nike blazers, the same blue jeans, a blue jumper and a blue jacket.
The only colour you can really get away with doing is all black – if not then you need to get colours that compliment each other. Think black and white for instance. Or your grandad’s favourite – beige and brown, ooo yeah beige and brown.
#2 Ill fitting clothes (or ill fitting anything for that matter)
Is there anything less cool than a bad fitting piece of clothing? Younger blokes are guilty of this more than older ones when it comes to suits (think full Don Johnson) but the older gents are behind when it comes to everything else – probably because they just stop caring but that shouldn’t be the case.
Don’t wear clothes that are too tight because you think it ‘hugs the guns’, you just look like a fool. Conversely, don’t go for baggy clothing that hides everything and makes you look like you’re wearing daddy’s clothes.
Same goes for shoes, get yourself a good pair of dress shoes custom made for your feet, these will last you years and have you covered for every formal occasion you go to.
If you’re in doubt, go to this website, which tells you exactly how your every piece of clothing should fit.
#3 Your socks
You may not think your socks are important but they really are. Unless you’re Michael Jackson or the edgiest skater boi in town, there’s no need for white socks with literally any item of clothing ever – just so we’re clear on that.
And now one of the most common style mistakes I see fellas making – they just don’t care about their socks! They’ll throw their 6 year old holy socks on that say ‘I’m a whacky dude with a really funny personality!’ across them, as if trying to convey an image of greatness via their ankles.
It doesn’t work, people just think you’re a man baby. Just get a load of black socks every 12 months. Discard socks over a year old as they will have worn down massively and we don’t want that.
Personally, I have about 12 pairs of black dress socks, about 6 pairs of invisible ankles socks for summer and then a few pairs of athletic socks (for working out – not for wearing with jeans god dammit).
#4 More than 3 shirt buttons undone
It takes a bold man to undo a shirt button, even bolder is he who undoes two. But three? You have to have testicles made of platinum and gold to rock that look.
The moral of the story is 3 buttons is the absolute limit. It’s for those pushing the boundaries between style icon and weird pervert. If you go for 4 or more, you run the risk of pulling a full Simon Cowell and no one will want to interact with you – in fact, your family might disown you, so just stick to 3 or less, yeah?
#5 Buttoning all the blazer buttons
I had no idea this was a thing until I put my blazer on ready to hit up high school for the first time when my dad turned round and said ‘why have you got the buttons all done up?’ to which I replied ‘because you’re supposed to button up buttons?’.
Apparently, this was WRONG and I haven’t forgotten it since. Most men’s blazers have two buttons, so just remember to only do the top one and leave the bottom one undone. Why this is a rule, I still don’t know, but I must admit when I see people with all their blazer buttons done up, it does look a bit daft.
#6 Getting the tie bar all wrong
Another weird rule, this time found out via a semi-stylish friend when I was about 17. You should never put the tie bar all the way across your tie. Always leave a little bit of room at the end of the tie bar before the edge of the tie.
Again, I have no idea why this is a rule, but once you see people with their tie bars all the way across, it just looks a bit silly!
A simple fix fellas – don’t be caught short (or long, technically) – one of the easier style mistakes to correct.
#7 Floppy collar
Floppy collars look so weak and soft, it really isn’t hard to fix this one. All you have to do is iron your collars until they’re crisp and can stand up straight by themselves.
You could also buy some collar stays if that’s more your thing and you fancy an extra bit of protection.
#8 Trying too hard
This may seem a bit out of place in an article trying really hard to make you dress better, but you’ll get the point in a sec.
We see people trying so so so hard to look stylish that they try every little thing to elevate their style. Think a watch, bangle, bracelets, pocket watch, rings, necklace, hat, tie clip, collar tips, even a monocle for god’s sake.
Just keep it simple and don’t try too hard. Get the basics right and maybe opt for a couple of the above. To be quite honest, a watch is probably enough but you could stretch to a tie bar and maybe a hat if you really needed to.
If we’re looking for a definitive rule, let’s say 4 accessories max. Just don’t overdo it is a better rule though so let’s say that.
#9 Wanting too many options
This one refers to your wardrobe as a whole. People nowadays want so many options, but let me ask you – why?
I now have less than a quarter of the clothes I had when I was a teenager and yet I never find myself saying ‘I’ve got nothing to wear’ although I used to say that all the time when I had mounds and mounds of clothing.
So, how is that? Well for a start, I pick all of my clothes now (my mum used to do most of the clothes shopping till I was about 13, how cool). But also, I invest in quality over quantity. I know I say this so much, but it holds true and it will always hold true.
Take your time when buying clothes, give it two weeks and think it over a bit – don’t just dive in and impulse buy. That’s how we end up with clothes that we wear once and then go off the day after, filling up our wardrobes with stuff we barely like.
By having a minimal wardrobe, you get to wear your favourite stuff every day. You won’t get bored and you can always mix and match your pieces so that you never run out of looks. You can’t make style mistakes if you love everything in your wardrobe can you?
This doesn’t mean you can’t buy new things, it just means that you have to be more intentional with your purchases, asking yourself whether these things will bring value to your wardrobe and your life.
#10 Showing off your undershirt
There’s something eerily off-putting about being able to see a guy’s undershirt through his shirt. It screams ‘please stop running, I just want to talk to you’.
The only time it’s acceptable to be able to see someone’s undershirt is when they’re wearing a flannel shirt with all the buttons undone. If you’re wearing a dress shirt, just forego the undershirt and save yourself the hassle of having to explain to everyone that you’re not on any police watch lists.
#11 Matching your tie to your pocket square
Finally, the last of the style mistakes. So many people think that they have to match their tie to their pocket square when they don a suit.
I’ll be honest, I used to think this too but it’s one of the rookie style mistakes that trips even the most stylish of fellas up from time to time. This one is like point #1 – don’t try to match colours exactly, get ones that compliment each other. This could be a difference in pattern, shade or colour altogether.
Just don’t match them exactly, okay?
Your style mistakes overhaul
Let’s recap the main points that you can take home from our cautionary tale:
- Don’t try to colour coordinate every single bit of your look.
- Wear well fitted clothing (and shoes)
- Wear appropriate socks
- Don’t go wild on the unbuttoning
- Only fasten one blazer button
- Don’t push your tie bar all the way across
- Keep your collars firm
- Don’t try too hard – keep it basic
- Be minimal – opt for quality over quantity
- Keep your undershirt off limits
- Don’t match your tie and pocket square exactly
There you have it – the main offenders when it comes to men’s style mistakes and what exactly you can do to combat them. You may not be able to implement them all straight away but it’s definitely worth starting your journey as soon as you can.
You’ll thank yourself (and me) in the long run.