Fashion can be a cruel mistress. Attempting to follow it can feel like you’re navigating a particularly difficult hedge maze where they keep changing the exits. Also, did I mention that the hedges are made up of people who are cooler than you, who enjoy being judgmental and smoking in an aloof manner?
At the risk of ostracising myself from the entire industry I work in, I’m going to stick my neck out and say it is completely pointless trying to master fashion. Style, however, is easily within your grasp.
I’ve put together a list of three basics of style that you should not be getting wrong. If you read on and find that none of the following applies to you, then you can breathe a huge sigh of relief and carry on the good work. If it does, at least you can take comfort in the fact that it can’t really get much worse…
The Number One Style Blunder
Even the most sartorially-challenged among us can follow this simple matching rule: if you’re wearing black shoes, you should wear a black belt. If you’re wearing brown shoes, you should wear a brown belt. Never the twain shall meet. The smarter the outfit, the more critical this rule becomes.
“But I haven’t got a brown belt. Can’t I just wear this black one with my brown shoes?”
No you can’t! It’s better to go belt-less and get caught with your trousers down than break this fundamental rule.
Glorious Technicolour or Beige Magnet?
Neither are great options. Whatever you do, do not wear everything in exactly the same shade (see below). There’s coordination and then there’s looking like a jelly baby. Balance is the key to life, and the same applies to style. If you’re struggling, then stick to simple outfits of three colours. An outfit built around three colours won’t look too busy or too matchy. Try to build around blocks of neutral colours like black, grey and white and then add a flash of colour.
Struggling with colour coordination? Think back to the halcyon days of junior school when you were happily learning the finer points of painting and the mastery of the colour wheel. Use this wheel as a guide: colours next to each other work in harmony, whereas colours on opposite sides tend to be less forgiving.
Unfortunately it’s not all as simple as buttoning up a shirt (I’m assuming you know how to do that). Failing to nail the basics of buttons can ruin even a suit made from the finest Italian wool. Let’s start with the shirt cuffs. If the shirt has a one button cuff, button it (unless you’re going for the French duke look). If the cuff has two buttons, button only the one closest to your elbow.
There are three simple rules for single breasted jackets, depending on how many buttons there are:
- One Button: Go ahead, button it.
- Two Buttons: Button the top one, NEVER the bottom one.
- Three Buttons: Button the middle one, NEVER the bottom one, it’s up to you on the top on.
The same goes for waistcoats, only ever do up the last button if your life depends on it (even then, try negotiating first…)