During our coverage of Fall/Winter 2009-2010 Paris Fashion Week, we declared that a sartorially-cut double breasted suit from Raf Simons was a must, and that Louis Vuitton’s immaculate totes were an essential this season. With all that said and done, there are only a few who can claim easy accessibility to these pieces, but to the rest of us…we unfortunately don’t have the bank accounts to sustain the prices. Despite all of this, in the world of fashion: it’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it. The above statements were intended to inspire you so that you can take that particular look and make it your own. Now, some have this peculiar view that in order to look good, it has to scream out logos and price tags (you know the type). And in all honesty, that’s just tacky in the world of fashion. We’d rather be put-together well in recession-proof prices, than look horrible and have spent your mortgage on the outfit. You’d be surprised to find that a lot of stylish men don’t spend that much. By shopping smart you could look just as good, if not better, than the guy wearing expensive labels from head to toe.
Don’t get us wrong, we’d love to lay claim to all these luxury pieces. And most of the time, you get what you pay for, but the common person can’t tell whether you’re wearing a $300 cashmere sweater or a $90 one. As long as you know how to pick out a $90 one that could pass for $300. So, we will show you how to look like a million dollars…without spending a million dollars.
think in outfits
In order to create killer outfits, you have to be a smart shopper, and a smart shopper will always think in outfits. Before you buy something, you should always ask yourself, “What can I wear with this?” Our natural inclination is to judge a piece by itself. Too many times men will have a closet full of busy pieces, so much that any possible outfit combination would look a mess.
For example: if you come across a solid coloured shirt, imagine how it would balance well with your patterned blazer or your leather jacket with all the pockets and zippers. Or if you find a dress shirt with patterns on it, the next piece you would need is something that would compliment it instead of clash with it, like a simple jacket.
A perfect visual would be the top picture of the article. It’s a look from lookbook.nu of a guy wearing a blazer from H&M, bow tie and shoes from Zara, shirt from Tommy Hilfiger, and custom-made pants. Everything is fairly cheap from these shops except for his pants, which you could probably find in the same shops as well. It’s clear that it doesn’t take a lot of money to put together an outfit like this.
Don’t judge a single garment by how much it costs, but more on how it will look in combination with other pieces.
quality, quality, quality
When it comes to attractiveness, no matter who you are, the majority of our modern society will judge you on money, status, and how well-dressed and groomed you are. The better you fair in these areas, the more influence you have. This doesn’t mean you have to dress up like a wealthy businessman to be highly attractive. You may like wearing skinny jeans and a t-shirt, or a sweater with slacks, whatever you wear, the key is that the pieces should look of high quality.
The good news is that they don’t have to cost you a lot of money. The trick is to find inexpensive pieces that look just as good as the expensive ones.
fit is king
You should know that nothing will be more “money” than a great fit. Keep this in mind when shopping, first and foremost. Rarely will you find anything that fits perfectly off the rack, so buy the best fit that you can find, and then get it tailored. It’s smarter to get a cheaper piece tailored to fit you perfectly than get a fancy piece that’s mediocre in fit. And this will make your “inexpensive” finds look expensive. Because in the end, the only real difference (other than the material) between luxury and “regular” pieces, is the fit.
dark raw denim
Avoid the distressed jeans and go for a solid pair like raw denim. Crazy back pocket bejeweled graphics are, well…tacky. So keep it simple.
So why darker jeans? Generally, darker jeans look more classy and higher quality than most light-coloured jeans, especially ones with no wash like raw denim. Most of the time, jeans that are machine washed and given that faded look come out cheesy and looking cheap. When in doubt, go for a solid pair of jeans. Now, don’t think that any cheap pair of dark denim will do. Jeans are something that guys wear almost everyday, so you should definitely invest in a quality pair for great comfort and fit. But hunt around and you could find a pair that look just as good as a designer pair for less.
it’s in the detailing
In menswear, detailing is everything. From having the finest silk tie, to the minute stitching of the piece, it makes or breaks the item. So, the quality of all your clothing is spoken through the details.
For example, hard plastic is the most common material for buttons nowadays, and natural materials such as bone, ivory, or shell are used in premium apparel. When buying a shirt or a jacket, check if the buttons looks cheap. Do they look thin and brittle? Sometimes buttons will be poorly sewn on and look like they’re going to fall off at any moment. For button down shirts, try to look for strong buttons that look like they have a shine to them, such as mother of pearl or that resemble the natural materials. It’s just a simple detail to make a shirt look more “luxury.”
The stitching is another detail that reveals signs of quality. The stitching should be uniform and even throughout the garment. If stitches have been dropped, then the quality of work done is very poor. You should definitely not see threads hanging out where the seams are, it should be clean and unnoticeable.
choose your pieces with care
A lot of clothing makers will copy the popular trends off the runway. For example, in luxury shops, you may see a lot of patent leather pieces. You’ll see patent leather jackets, patent leather shoes, etc. Even if you bought these type of shoes for way less at a cheaper store, the common person won’t be able to perceive the difference.
So before you buy a shirt or a pair of jeans, ask yourself, “If I saw this on someone else, would I think it was cheap or expensive?”
Some people buy very expensive pieces but they look horrible and nobody would know they spent a lot of money on it. Others look great, and it seems like everything they have on is high quality. But the truth is they didn’t spend a lot of money at all, because they chose the right pieces.
pop of colour
Few things make you look more confident than picking clothes with colour. Either go for bold colours such as red and purple, or subtle colours such as pastel blue or icy pink. Pink is a colour that is flattering on all skin types, yet so many men avoid it. Everyone is wearing black, gray, white, and blue…so why not stand out with that pink shirt underneath your blazer with confidence?
Another thing you should do is to find out what colours are best for your skin type. Many guys walk around wearing all the wrong colours for them, and they don’t know how much of a difference it would make in their appearance if they wore the right ones.
As we previously wrote, accessories accent your outfit and will really take your look to a higher level. For example, you could buy a fairly inexpensive french cuff shirt and add a snazzy pair of cuff links, and the shirt will look a lot more expensive than it is. Or add a skinny tie and a knit scarf to any outfit and it’ll give it more class.
The quality of your outfit is affected by the piece that looks the worst. Notice we didn’t say “cheapest” but “looks the worst.” You could be wearing a great pair of shoes, jeans, and shirt, but then when you throw on a soiled fitted, that just cheapened the entire outfit. Ensure that all your pieces flow together, in terms of colour and story. And as always, simplicity is key.
spend on the most important pieces, save on the rest
You should at least have one really nice part of your outfit that is the main attraction of your outfit. For example, it may have been those really nice A.P.C. shoes you splurged on for your birthday, or those Dior Homme pair of jeans that your friends bought you. Or you may have found a jacket that you couldn’t pass on, so you decided to buy it, all while saving money on everything else. Just make sure that if you’re going to splurge on a pricey and really nice piece, that it covers a big part of your body, and it’s not an accessory that nobody will notice. Splurge on a jacket or a pair of pants first before you splurge on a watch! That way, it maximizes your wardrobe.
Remember that to be your most attractive self, you don’t have to look “wealthy,” but what you wear should look quality. When shopping, don’t just go for the most expensive individual pieces, but think in outfits and think about how a cheaper item may be mixed with other items to create a quality outfit combination. This is how these “effortlessly chic” men shop. You might think that they spent a heap of their money on their wardrobe, but in reality, they spent less than what you would pay for a dinner for two (excluding wine) at North 44.