Saturday, January 23, 2010

Style Manifesto 2010 - Get Back to the Basics

By the time you're done reading this article one of two things can happen, either you go through your closet and realize that you need a complete makeover or you realize that you have a great style foundation and now its time to build on that. 
When men's fashion writers chat about changes in the industry, or the latest and greatest in product, the conversation usually is limited to the 3Fs: fit, fabric and finish. I guess its a guy thing; just straight to the point. This past year we saw a lot of embellished trends come out of menswear. Acid wash jeans. Ripped jeans. Metallic suits. Intricate knitted sweaters. Superfluous colors and patterns. 

This year, I believe we will see a paradigm shift in menswear; a shift that will encourage men to really know who they are and get to the basics of sartorial style. To start that shift, ISTYLEU would like to share your style manifesto for 2010. 

1) Stick with what works. Yet be open to new variations of "what works".

We all have our favorite trousers, dress shirts or shoes. "I like them because they fit like a glove". "This shirt just makes me look like a million bucks". "These wingtips make me walk on water". Regardless of clothing item, one thing to think about this year is how can I still stick to the classics that fit but still be "on trend, in time" with my wardrobe. That favorite shirt you have, is a similar fit available in french cuffs? Or those wingtips you love so much, do they come in a boot format? Explore new options to what works. 

2) Refill on the BASICS. 
Last year, I met Joseph Mimran, the man behind the successful high style, low price label JOE FRESH. I got some great style advice from the guy who also was behind the success of Club Monaco, now owned by Ralph Lauren. He said "If there is one thing a guy should have a lot of in his closet, its crisp, white, dress shirts. You can never go wrong with a nicely pressed white shirt." So if you only have one white dress shirt, you're better off investing in more than trying to wear paisley to keep up with the Joneses of mens fashion.

3) Two is better than One -- for Dress Shoes or any shoes.
If you only have a pair of dress shoes, start thinking about getting another pair, even if its the same style. Some men are very particular about their dress shoes. Some like a wider toe box in a wingtip, while others like a long, more modern toe. From a woman's point of view, they look at shoes as metric for where you've been. Sloppy, scuffed up dress shoes tells a woman that you've been around the block (not in a good way) and could care less about your appearance. First impressions count. So tie your laces and shine your boot.

4) Know your FIT
Just because you weigh 200 lbs, doesn't mean you have to wear an XL on that suit jacket. Go to a professional tailor and get measured. While you're at it, maybe even get a custom fitted suit. Also know what fits your body type. Keep those measurements with you at all times. It will make shopping for the right pieces much easier. Here's a quick reference guide of measurements you need to ALWAYS know.

Dress Shirts and Suit Jackets

  • Measure around your neck just below your Adam's apple.
  • Add a half-inch to the measurement for comfort.
  • Have someone measure one of your arms, with it hanging straight at your side.
  • Measure from the center back of your neck, over the top of your shoulder and down to your wrist.
  • Measure around your chest, right along the lines of your nipples. Add about half inch for comfort.
Trousers/ Pants

  • Bend over to one side to find the spot where your waist naturally creases.
  • Measure this spot; it should be right under your navel.
  • Keep the measuring tape parallel to the floor and snug against your skin, but don't pull it tight.
  • Stand up straight with your legs about 6 inches apart.
  • Have a friend measure the inside of one leg from the crotch to the bottom of your ankle.
  • In this case, measuring a pair of pants that fit you well can be fairly accurate.
5) I will KEEP my wardrobe FRESH. 
Aside from staying with the times, having a fresh wardrobe with pieces you wear on a regular basis is a great feeling. Clutter in general is a pain in the behind, and to some degree holds you hostage. Donate items of clothing that you haven't worn in the last year or two; you will never wear them again, even if you think so. Or hold a clothing swap with your buddies or even the girls in on it. More and more women are wearing menswear these days.

What are your style resolutions? Share it with all ISTYLEU readers by adding a comment below.

Have a great 2010!