A Gentleman’s Guide: 6 Ways to Reinvent Your Style

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In the latest edition of A Gentleman’s Guide, we check out six ways to pep up your everyday look:

  • Photograph by Adam Katz Sinding

Part of dressing well is knowing what suits you – the pieces and combinations that, time and again, will make you look good and flatter your body shape. But once you’ve got this nailed, it’s easy to fall into something of a rut. If navychinos and a polo shirt will do, why not wear them every day? If you just buy everything in black, doesn’t that just make things easier?

Of course, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t stick to a winning formula. Many successful people – from President Barack Obama to designer Mr Tom Ford to US GQcreative director Mr Jim Moore – deliberately adopt a uniform to cut down on “decision fatigue”. The idea being that not having to decide what to wear each morning allows for more dynamism at work. But while that is a valid modus operandi, for some of us it can feel too predictable and make opting for something new a bigger deal than it is.

However entrenched you are in your current sartorial mode, there’s probably one or two things you could switch up, not just to update and enliven the way you dress, but to lift your spirits a little, too. As we teeter on the brink of a new year, it seems as good a time as any to consider such changes. To help you do so we’ve put together the list below, focusing on the most common issues that bring on the style doldrums, and creative workarounds to help you break out of them. If you’ve hit the end of December feeling a little stuck in your ways, this is the New Year pick-me-up for you.

BE MORE COLOURFUL

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  • Photograph by Tommy Ton/ Trunk Archive

There’s currently a school of dressing – drawing from street and sportswear as much as from the luxury world and epitomised by brands such as Rick Owens and Public School – in which colour is a bit of a moot point. As in: everyone just wears black. The benefit of this is that, if this is your look, you can be sure that pretty much everything you own goes together. The drawback is… well… there are other colours. This is why, even if you’re keen on black, you should experiment a little this 2016. Here, Mr Eugene Tong, style director of Details magazine, sets a shining example on this front, being a man who knows how to wear black well but also, evidently, can work a few colours. Unlike black, mixing colours can be a hit-and-miss affair but Mr Tong has avoided such problems opting for classic shades of grey, olive and navy that are so entrenched in menswear’s military heritage that there’s no real risk in combining them. The bright blue sneakers are a little more daring, but, as they are compatible in tone with the chinos, they work as an accent rather than a jarring element.

SWAP YOUR JEANS FOR CHINOS

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  • Photograph by Søren Jepsen/ The Locals

A good pair of jeans is the kind of garment that feels like a friend, one that you can wear and wear with no thoughts of any other. This is particularly true if you’re the sort that likes to wear in and naturally fade your selvedge denim yourself, washing it as seldom as is socially acceptable. However, jeans are also not the only type of casual trouser in the world, and far from suitable for every occasion. If you can get the right pair of chinos, in fact, you might even find yourself in a more comfortable position. Chinos, particularly those that come in a sturdy cotton canvas (such as these from Officine Generale), can offer the triple boon of being sturdy, stylish and versatile, working both for casual outfits, like the above, as well as with a jacket and shirt for the evening.

MAKE BOOTS YOUR NEW SNEAKERS

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  • Photograph by George Elder

We at MR PORTER love sneakers. Particularly since, in the past few decades, the luxury world has really got on board with sportswear (see Valentino’s studded runners) and the sports world has cottoned on to style (hello, Y-3). It’s a two-way love-in that has resulted in myriad eye-catching designs. However, given the hype surrounding such pieces (and their relative comfort), it’s easy to fall into the trap of never wearing anything else on your feet. Which is why 2016 is a good time to acquire an additional pair of shoes that sits somewhere between casual and smart. Boots are perfect for this purpose, being equally acceptable worn with turned-up jeans at the weekend as with chinos and/ or tailored trousers to the office. If you get the right pair, in a dark shade, and roll down the cuffs of your trousers, they can even pass for smart, especially a brogued pair like those pictured above. And then, of course, there’s the fact that, during winter, they’re going to keep you just that bit warmer than your sock-like Yeezy Boost 350s (no matter how long you queued up to get them).

DRESS DOWN YOUR BLAZER

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  • Photograph by Adam Katz Sinding

The blazer is a classic piece, make no mistake. The result of many decades of refinement and experimentation, it’s designed not only to appear neat and smart but to flatter the male form. However, in a casual context, it can get tricky. You don’t want to be that guy who, on his time off, basically wears what he does to the office… but with jeans. It might give people the impression that you don’t really know how to relax. And that won’t do. However, if you’re devoted to your blazer, and find yourself reaching for it frequently at weekends (or have just picked up a particularly good one in the MR PORTER sale), there is a way forward. Take cues from the two men above and pair your blazer with a deliberately casual piece, such as a hooded jumper or crew-neck sweater in a bright, contrasting colour. The more you think of it as merely another light jacket, rather than something you wear to “dress up”, the more chilled-out and approachable you will seem as 2016 grinds into gear.

THROW A COAT OVER YOUR SWEATS

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  • Photograph by Nabile Quenum/ Blaublut-Edition.com

Traditionally sweats are the kind of thing you wear when you’re hungover, or on the way to the gym, or about to board a long-haul flight. Now, of course, that’s not necessarily the case – sweatpant-inspired, cuffed, tapered trousers in particular are likely to form a core part of the male wardrobe for spring 2016. But such licence can result in a look that’s a little slobby. If you find yourself slouching around in tracksuits a lot of the time, you can add a definitive element of style by pairing with a more classic and weighty piece such as the above wool coat. Harmonising black and grey while playing with a couple of different sartorial idioms will make it clear that you know what you’re doing, style-wise, and not just a couch potato popping out to get cigarettes.

ADD DENIM TO YOUR SHIRT AND TIE

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  • Photograph by Tommy Ton/ Trunk Archive

As working life becomes ever more casual, the world presents fewer and fewer occasions for you to whip out a shirt and tie combo. And when an appropriate moment comes, you often don’t want to – the whole thing can feel a little too much like clocking in. But, as the stylish figure above demonstrates, it doesn’t have to. Simply insert a denim jacket under the obligatory blazer and hey presto, you have an interesting, multi-textured look that’s cool, slightly nostalgic, but also shows that you know how to take care of your appearance.

~Mr Porter

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