Small Details Big Differences | How to Wear a Suit | Men's Style Advice

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Some people look better in a suit than others. It could be the amount they spend or it could be that the suit is made for them. A proper bespoke handmade suit on Savile Row will cost around £5k. But no matter what you spend, there is a way of wearing a suit that will improve your appearance that costs nothing (or maybe a little…certainly nowhere near £5k). So if you value your appearance and would like to look your very best in tailoring; read on. This will significantly improve the appearance of any high street suit.

  1. Polish your shoes. You can read more about this in my last post.

  2. On a new suit make sure all the visible white stitching is removed. This can be on the shoulders, vents and cuffs.

  3. Please remove any brand labels that are on the jacket cuff.

  4. Your jacket side pockets may be stitched closed. Keep them this was as long as you can…more on pockets later.

  5. On a single-breasted jacket, only do up the top button on a 2 button style and the middle-button on a three button style.

  6. On a double-breasted style where you can button up more than one outside button, pick the one that is most comfortable. Always do up the inside button.

  7. Keep your trouser hip pocket buttons done up.

  8. Distribute your kit around your various pockets. Suits have plenty of pockets so never overfill them. Your wallet should be slim and have neither Velcro or a coin purse attachment. Consider using a card wallet rather than a billfold.

  9. Keep minimal a amount of stuff in your trouser side pockets. Perhaps a couple of coins, some banknotes and a clean hanky. Do not keep your phone in your trouser pocket.

  10. The outside chest pocket of your suit looks its best when it has a pocket handkerchief in it. Forget any crap about matching and co-ordinating and acquire a white linen or fine cotton, a navy silk spot and a dark red paisley. This will complement all your ties. If you are not a hanky guy, your chest pocket is useful for spectacles, sunshades or mobile phones.

  11. Don’t fret about folding your hankie and don’t keep touching it.

  12. Your lapels should have a buttonhole in them. If it is not open, it can be cut open with a sharp knife. This is where you wear your poppy or flower at a wedding. If you ever need to wear a badge on your suit to show unity to a cause you feel passionate about, this is where it should be placed. I cry a little whenever I see wedding flowers in the chest pocket of a suit.

  13. Do not overload lapels with brooches and trinkets. But you can wear a flower and a pocket hankie at the same time.

  14. In modern business, the suit/no tie look has becoming the norm and is not a flattering look on most men. When I worked on Savile Row in the 1990s, wearing a suit without a tie was considered edgy. Now it is the uniform of provincial mid-management. Wear a tie. A few simple textured solids is all you need.

  15. If you are carrying a little weight around your waist, avoid white shirts and bold patterns. It draws attention to your belly.

  16. Never wear a rucksack. It kills your suit and your dignity. Imagine going mountain trekking carrying a leather briefcase. That is how stupid a rucksack looks, not to mention inconsiderate to fellow passengers on public transport. If you absolutely must have a rucksack, at least carry a smart leather version.

  17. If you are a tie-wearer and like a tie-bar, please position it below your chest and not underneath your chin.  Unless you are appearing on The Apprentice and it is 2012.

  18. Pay more attention to how well your tie is knotted than how long the blade is. Practise tying a few different tie knots to see what you prefer. When you have discovered that the “schoolboy” or four-in-hand is best, you should practise achieving the perfect dimple.

  19. Keep pens in your inside pocket and ration how many you need to carry.

  20. Braces will make your trousers hang better. I would suggest getting a tailor to add buttons so that you can wear the traditional kind. Clip-ons are quite fashionable at the moment but they can damage the waistband.

  21. If you have a long journey or commute and need to wear headphones, please keep them discreet.

  22. If you are not a regular suit wearer, try to avoid posturing when you receive compliments. Shooting cuffs and adjusting your tie looks contrived and corny. Try to maintain a relaxed elegance.

  23. If you want to dress down your suit or want to wear it at the weekend but not look corporate, consider a simple long-sleeve crew neck in cotton jersey or fine merino wool. Seriously, a navy crew neck with a dark suit is an easy yet sophisticated change of pace.

  24. When not wearing your suit, empty the pockets and store on a proper hanger with good shoulder support. Plastic is fine. Keep the trousers from the cuff and allow them to hang unfolded. You can buy specialist hangers for this or you can borrow them from hotels.

  25. Brush regularly and give a light steam.

How to Dress for Work | Men's Style Advice

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It can be quite a drag turning up to work and seeing the milieu of boxy grey suits on display. You don't want to be making up the numbers in this department so why not get yourself some suitable armament, a great wardrobe for the workplace. 

In my latest YouTube video, I'll walk you through a couple of handy hints on how I approach my working day. 

I've worked in I.T for most of my life, dressing for the office was a routine that I actually relished and lead me to run my own e-commerce store Hawkins & Shepherd

WHERE DO I START? 

I'd start with upping your organisational skills. Dedicated tie drawers are a must for me, with classic patterns and motifs, but vibrant hues such as lilac or ivory work well. I'm a huge advocate of contrast, light colours with darker coloured suits. 

I even take into consideration that my hair is dark, so it would be redundant for me to wear dark shirts (which are often frowned on in the work place). However, a friend of mine who is bald regularly wears black shirts because it breaks up the look of white head, white shirt. 

What kind of suit is best for the office?

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Hands down it's pin stripe. Next question? A lot of men will sweat over the kind of colour or pattern etc., but you need to be thinking of your environment. Do you have a long commute? If so go for a lighter but robust fabric. I recommend anything mohair. Mohair is a good choice because it is crease resistant and drapes incredibly well. 

Perhaps look at getting an extra pair of trousers when you buy a suit as it's typically the seat and the crotch area that will go first. If you're buying an extra pair of trousers you should be able to negotiate a good discount with your tailor. 

For accessories, it's very much how an actor approaches cosmetic surgery. You want to look great, but don't want to look like you spent 30 grand on hair implants. (Not sure that really cemented my point). 

Point is, have some interesting bracelets, learn a pocket square fold or two (I normally go for the Scallop Pocket Square fold) and a tie pin also tells people you don't mess around. 

Finish the look with some High Shine Oxford Shoes and some statement socks. 

Let me know what you think of the video, make sure you're checking out Base London shoes for their competitions and exclusive offers. 

Great Suits and Shirt Pairings | Men's Style Advice

It's not always the simplest of tasks to pair the right suit with the right shirt. Depending also on what side of the fashion spectrum you sit on, some shirts that could be construed bilious, have little chance of being tempered by a suit, no matter the quality. Here are some simple style pairings that might help you.

Pin or Tab Collar Shirts = Double Breasted Suits

The 20's were considered the high water mark of men’s tailoring. The pin collar shirt was introduced as a mode of rebellion. The young fashionistas of the day didn't connect with the formality of the stiffened starched collars and migrated over to the soft pin collar shirts. A problem arose however when the relaxed silky fabrics were too delicate to support a tie without looking unkempt. Hence the introduction of connecting the collar to a pin, allowing the wearer a more defined shape.

During the 30's the Double-Breasted jackets were becoming more prevalent, popularised by the Duke of Kent, hence why the four-button construction that buttons at the lower button is eponymously referred to as the "Kent". A suitable marriage for the pin collar shirt would be a double breasted jacket. With the double breasted jacket comes the broad peaked lapels which offers the verisimilitude of a large chest, a look that would certainly augment ones masculinity. A look that has survived in the UK thanks to modern renaissances of London Speakeasy's and Gangster series such as Boardwalk Empire and Peaky Blinders. 

Grandad Collars and Waistcoats

Grandad Collars are considered less formal because of their unconventional look. With a few different interpretations to the origins, from foundry workers to New York wives cutting off their husbands' collars to clean, it has a colourful narrative. Most bloggers will tell you that a simple neutrally-hued blazer will do the trick, however I gravitate towards a waistcoat only, or if the climate is conducive, simple accoutrements such as braces will suffice. 

Mix and Match

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The one unsubtractable rule to mix and matching the suit jacket and trousers is to keep the shirt simple. Anything too ambitious in the pattern or motif department and the entire look will unbalanced. A tieless button down shirt will maintain a clean look. 

Ivory Tuxedo - English Spread

Whilst black and midnight blue dinner jackets have silk facings to primarily differentiate them from ordinary lounge jackets, the Ivory Dinner Jacket does not need such a distinctive mark. Not only should the IDJ be a statement in its own right, silk facings invariably pair and precipitously clash with black silk bow ties. A classic pleated-front shirt with soft turndown collar is traditionally paired, although if you're looking for something more contemporary, David Gandy's interpretation using the blue cotton English Spread collar is a suitable act to follow. 

 

Shop These Suit & Shirt Combinations by Hawkins & Shepherd

The Small Details that make Big Differences | Men's Style Advice

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I often hear that men would like to dress better “if they had more money”. I won’t lie to you; an unlimited budget would give you access to some seriously nice clothes. You could shop with the best tailors on Savile Row or fly to Naples for fittings on bespoke suits, and have your own lust for handmade shoes. For a small investment, you could even employ me to manage your wardrobe and help you pick out the nicest clothes.

I would also share with you the names of the best tie and sock makers but I know that most do not have that kind of disposable income. So I will share something for free: You can dress better without spending a lot of money as long as you have a little time and don’t mind making an effort. Working in luxury menswear has given me access to some nice clothing but I have also learnt that it is how you wear something is as important as what you wear.

I am planning to write a series of tutorials for Carl to help you dress better where the maximum expenditure is £100. I know £100 is a lot of money when you have nothing, so some of my tips will be cost you no more than your time. Some will focus on getting more out of what you already own and certainly on making clothes last longer. Tips on caring for as well as wearing clothes. One of my pet hates is seeing a man wear a rucksack with a tailored jacket. The pressure of the shoulder strap kills the shoulderline of the jacket and will ruin the shape. It also pulls the jacket away from the neck and looks clumsy. If you need it for your laptop or gym kit, at least carry it by your side. Your fellow commuters will appreciate it too.

Of course, my advice will be traditional with a bias towards classic style but it is certainly a more economical way of dressing. I found my personal style in my late teens and still wear items that are twenty years old. I rarely discard clothing because it is “out of fashion” and you should find your own style too. This will, sometimes, mean ignoring trends. But a well cared for tailored jacket that fits and is in a good cloth will always look good. That is not to say I am anti-fashion, I adore fashion but there is a difference between classic style and dressing the same for twenty years.

There has been a significant move to a more casual way of dressing for business and formal occasions and most of my tips will be relevant for casual dressing too.

Stay tuned for more information.

And if you happen to have a lot of cash burning a hole in your pocket and need some personal sartorial advice…please get in touch.