Help me be a bit less fashion-ignorant
February 14, 2010 7:01 PM   Subscribe

Hey guys. I'm 18, male, British, and have really no sense of style clothing-wise. What's the best way for me to very quickly builds some sort of fashion sense, so that (a) I can start wearing clothes that actually look good and (b) I feel less in the dark when people talk about such matters? Basically, what I need is some sort of crash course in style: the lessons I would have learnt if I hadn't spent my time programming.
posted by insperatum to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (26 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Watch the TV show "What not to wear" for a good crash course. You can probably find it on Hulu or Youtube.

Otherwise, just dress like the people you respect, and find out where the "people" you mention get their opinions. I'm 23 and work as an engineer, so I may be similarly fashion-challenged.
posted by sninctown at 7:20 PM on February 14, 2010


I was in the same position as you.. when I was 25! I got over it pretty quickly and managed to develop my own sense of style after visiting and befriending a local ex-Savile Row tailor.

All I wanted was a suit but this guy went on and on about colours, how colours, patterns, and styles all come together, and stuff like that. Many hours of talking over the last few years have given me confidence to shop for clothes without guidance, although I tend toward the extreme now. One thing I got from him, rather than just looking at people I like, is the insight into why and how people make certain style choices, rather than an eye for what I want to copy. This means I can make my own choices independently that aren't just a rip.
posted by wackybrit at 7:26 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Go to H&M, seriously. Sure, it's easy to cheap shot a brand like H&M, but if you want to look halfway modern trendy for cheap its a good start. Pick up a few shirts you like, some jeans and a couple of pairs of trousers, a basic wardrobe is easy since they have already put out the fashionable clothes.

It's a start, and then you can expand as you decide what your style is.
posted by tumples at 7:26 PM on February 14, 2010


I'm not a guy, but in general my advice would be: Don't be afraid of salespeople! Sure there's some useless, apathetic twits out there, but I've had a lot of success over the years by just throwing myself on their mercy & seeing what they come up with. The trick is knowing when to say "uh...not me; not going to be me." If they want the sale, they'll adjust course.

A lot of people get into clothing retail because...they...like...clothes. Use the resource! Over time you'll develop your own ideas & repetoire.
posted by Ys at 7:37 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a question that has been asked a few times before here, so if you didn't get a chance to read the archives yet, you might try that. If I was by a computer rather than by my phone, I'd look up the past questions for you myself. One or two threads went into a fair bit of detail so they are likely to be pretty helpful.
posted by salvia at 7:39 PM on February 14, 2010


18, eh? Fuck it. All the fashionistas your age are lackwits and/or children. Instead of aping old people (25 and up), find your own sense of style. Look at other men your age, especially the gay guys. What they do? Do it, too, only look like you're not trying as hard as they are. Go for an off-brand, preferably second hand, and one size too large, and not pressed for the "I don't have a mommy or a boy/girlfriend who'd iron this" look. If you don't like it, find something you do like, and work with it. 18 is too young to be stuck in one style, however hip it is with old (25+) people. Trust in your own judgment... if you like it, chances are the people you want to impress would like it, too.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:58 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would say start out with a good pair of jeans (dark and straight leg). A good pair of shoes - even sneakers - don't go over the top, they should accent your outfit, not completely over take it. NEVER wear anything that you could also wear to the gym. Track pants and polo shirts don't look good on anyone. Personally I think short sleeved button up shirts look ridiculous on men. A good suit-like jacket will look great even over a t-shirt. Build a wardrobe from monotone, darker colors and then once you get comfortable you can start adding in unique items that will become your style. Not couture always has great mens items. Mostly, since you're a young man I pressure you into wearing things that fit you. Tailor your pants or shirts or jackets, please.
posted by Unred at 8:01 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have four simple fasion rules that I live by and they have never steered me wrong. Master these four rules and you'll do alright.

1. Fit. Make sure what you're wearing fits well. Not too tight. Not too baggy. There's a saying that cheap clothes that fit well will always look better than expensive clothes that don't fit, and this saying is very true. Just use your instincts on this: does it look like it fits you well? Then you're okay. Do you think it might look too loose or tight? If so, don't wear it.

2. Solid colours. I always wear solid colour clothing. Why? Because it always looks good, never goes out of style and is easy to colour coordinate. A solid colour button up shirt will get you by in a wide variety of situations. Solid colours are flattering on most people and generally look pretty classy

3. Contrast. I like to have some contrast between the shirt and the pants. i.e. a light coloured shirt with dark pants or vice versa. Again, having some contrast between shirt and pants almost always looks good/in style. For example, a white shirt and gray pants looks fantastic. Wearing a dark blue shirt with your dark blue jeans usually does not.

4. Overall intuition. This is the most important rule. Put the clothes on. Look in the mirror. Do you feel silly? If so, pick out something else. Look good? Then you're all set, don't worry about it. If you feel confident in your clothes, that is the most important thing, so use your gut.

Of course there are plenty of ways to dress that look good that don't obey my four rules, however these are just intended as an easy way to look pretty good without much effort or fashion sense.
posted by Diplodocus at 8:05 PM on February 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Unred: "polo shirts don't look good on anyone"

Paul Rudd would probably disagree with you!

Here are some websites that might help you out.

A Continuous Lean
A Suitable Wardrobe
Nerd Boyfriend
Put This On, and also its companion video series (one episode is up now; more are coming soon!)
Sartorially Inclined
posted by andrewcilento at 8:24 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Find lots and lots of photos of David Tennant.

I'm not joking. He has excellent style -- unique without being loony, sharp without being haute couture.

Example.

Example.

Example.

Example.

Example.

Example.
posted by tzikeh at 8:28 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


thanks andrewcilento I think I've finally figured out why I don't find Paul Rudd alluring, despite what popular culture tells me.
posted by Unred at 8:43 PM on February 14, 2010


18, eh? Fuck it. All the fashionistas your age are lackwits and/or children. Instead of aping old people (25 and up), find your own sense of style. Look at other men your age, especially the gay guys. What they do? Do it, too, only look like you're not trying as hard as they are. Go for an off-brand, preferably second hand, and one size too large, and not pressed for the "I don't have a mommy or a boy/girlfriend who'd iron this" look. If you don't like it, find something you do like, and work with it. 18 is too young to be stuck in one style, however hip it is with old (25+) people. Trust in your own judgment... if you like it, chances are the people you want to impress would like it, too.


Do not buy clothing one size to large. That is awful, awful advice. Event the fanciest clothing will look awful if too big on you. Don't buy clothing that is super tight but it should be fairly close fitting.
posted by kylej at 8:43 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fashion blogs! Enjoy the beautiful people and ponder what looks good and why. Here's a fave: http://www.thesartorialist.blogspot.com/
posted by cymru_j at 9:09 PM on February 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


One size too large in relation to what's in vogue with the 20-and-under gay community. Hell, with the 50-and-under gay community. My wife took one look at the jeans Ted Allen was wearing during the Alton Brown retrospective, and giggled for an hour solid. Just because you can squeeze yourself into an outfit like ground veal into a pig intestine doesn't mean you should. Clothes need to fit right... but at 18, the temptation is to go too tight to show off. Fight it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:56 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Since you're 18, you'll be several step ahead of the game if you don't wear stained, too-big, wrinkly t-shirts or polos.

But nonetheless, here are a few simple things that are your friends:
- Button down shirts.
- Solid-colored sweaters. Dark/deep colors are usually flattering, but whatever works for you. Bonus points for ones you can wear a collared shirt under.
- You don't need fancy-looking shoes at your age. Colorful converse or pumas or onitsuka tigers, or cheaper variants of those, are pretty fashionable. Anything's better than giant clunky white sneakers.
- Trousers. Avoid mid-length khakis/cargo pants. Dark-colored, straight-legged jeans are usually a safe bet. Look at how the jeans fit here. Not too loose or sloppy-looking, with a nice straight line.
- If you're going to wear t-shirts, something of a thin, soft material is often a good bet.

That's pretty clean-cut and not especially original, but those are some simple ideas to get you started.

The best thing you can do is go into fitting rooms with lots of things. Don't feel obligated to buy any of it. It's a good way to figure out what suits you, and what size you should be wearing.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:02 PM on February 14, 2010


Just because you can squeeze yourself into an outfit like ground veal into a pig intestine doesn't mean you should.

That's why you buy clothing that fits you. Nothing makes you look more out-of-shape than clothing that is a size too big or small - it's true some fashionistas and really beautiful people can pull off the one-size-too-big rule, but it's safer for the rest of us to stick with clothing that is neither baggy nor constricting.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:04 PM on February 14, 2010


There are some good links in this previous question of mine.
posted by tellumo at 10:35 PM on February 14, 2010


Find lots and lots of photos of David Tennant.

I'm not joking. He has excellent style -- unique without being loony, sharp without being haute couture.


There are some basic things wrong with many of these outfits.

Pic 1: Stripe clash. Generally it is a terrible idea to put on matching stripes. Something about it just does not work. If you want to wear two striped items, vary two or more properties between the pieces. Example

Pic 3: Very few dudes can pull off a velour jacket. David Tennant can't, it's quite probable that you can't either. In any case, this jacket looks like it's too tight on him. He looks quite uncomfortable in it.

Pic 5: This outfit makes him look 13. The t-shirt needs to be more fitted in the arms. Not a bad outfit in general, just the particulars that are wrong.

--

Honestly, the absolute best thing you can do at your age is to work out. A little bit of muscle and less fat make all outfits look good. Working out will also make you carry yourself more confidently, which is always attractive.

More fitted clothing is more attractive. Very cost effective places to get fitted, of-the-moment fashion are stores like Zara, H&M, Club Monaco, and Mexx, although I'd avoid anything too shiny or loud from the aforementioned places unless you're willing to make a statement.

Try to match complementary colours together: http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/clothes%20articles/color%20coordination.htm

As mentioned above, if you wear two patterns at once, make sure they're different.
posted by sid at 1:53 AM on February 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Seconding finding some fashion blogs. I recently realised I had become frumpy and decided to do something about it. Young people who go out a lot have good fashion sense because they are surrounded by lots of other fashionable people. If you are less social, like me, you don't experience so much fashion. So the trick is to make an effort to expose yourself to it and thankfully for us introverts you can do that online.

I put the Wardrobe Remixed Flickr pool into my RSS reader and started to train my fashion sense by looking at other people, faving photos and working out what I liked about them. I'm female, that pool won't be helpful to you since its 99% women, theres bound to be some Flickr fashion pools for men too (Im at work so its hard to look).

I've noticed a few young British men posting pics on Chictopia.com so you might try there.
posted by Ness at 1:59 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Any major department store will have a personal shopper service. They are a perfect way to get help finding clothes that look good together. On the high street, House of Fraser is your best bet, if you live somewhere without one, try Debenhams or John Lewis at a push, although JL might not be to your taste. Avoid M&S and BHS at the moment as they are aimed at slightly older customers.

If you live in/near London, Topman's personal shopper would be a fantastic choice, and if your budget stretches to it, Selfridges. If the idea of a personal shopper is a little daunting, look on the high street for independent menswear retailers, as the staff in those kinds of shops are generally more helpful than those of H&M/Gap and the other chain retailers.

If you live in Reading, MeMail me as I work for an independent menswear retailer and help men in your situation daily!
posted by ellieBOA at 2:11 AM on February 15, 2010


For an 18yr old British male the easiest way to learn about fashion is to go to Asos.com regularly and browse through everything they are selling. Look at the models for ideas, buy some of it if you want. It's as easy as that.
posted by fire&wings at 3:53 AM on February 15, 2010


Following on from my previous post: Stylish Men on Chictopia.
posted by Ness at 4:42 AM on February 15, 2010


sid: (re: David Tennant) There are some basic things wrong with many of these outfits.

Tell it to most of Britain's "Best Dressed Males" lists.

There are no hard-and-fast rules about fashion (e.g. "Stripe clash"), so long as the clothes fit the body type and you don't end up looking like a sanitation worker or a circus clown, you'll be fine.
posted by tzikeh at 7:30 AM on February 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


The forums at styleforum.net are extremely active and very educational. There are threads where men of all ages and nationalities post photos of their outfits for comments and critiques. The Streetwear and Denim category is probably what you'd be looking for.
posted by ROTFL at 7:46 AM on February 15, 2010


There are no hard-and-fast rules about fashion (e.g. "Stripe clash")

With respect, there are some hard and fast rules, particularly for beginners. You can begin breaking the rules when you gain more confidence and knowledge, but, as a beginner, you are better of learning and respecting the rules.
posted by sid at 8:41 AM on February 15, 2010


so long as the clothes fit the body type and you don't end up looking like a sanitation worker or a circus clown, you'll be fine.

Interesting, since Tennant is wearing ill-fitting jeans in a few of those pics, and a skin-tight velour jacket in another. He's also rocking a pair of brown clown shoes. He's a poor man's Ryan Seacrest (who is actually a decently-dressed, if boring, dude).

-----

OP, the answer is fit, fit, fit, with regard for your silhouette. This doesn't mean skin-tight. Don't dress like the Jonas brothers, who really should size up one on their denim. I mean, middle Jonas's denim is so tight you can almost see his junk.

One, two, three great examples of fit. It's not about skinny--look at the dude in the grey shorts. He's wearing an oversized shawl cardigan with a t-shirt that drapes well. He's also relaxed, and you should be too.

Basically: your clothes should not swallow or hug your shape. Everyone has a silhouette, and you should find clothing that works with yours. Then, eventually, you can get some grandpa cardigans or leather jackets or whatever suits your style. But first: figure out your silhouette.
posted by achompas at 3:18 PM on February 15, 2010


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