How to look stylish, not silly

It’s a well-known fact that men’s fashion is more evolution than revolution, and if you’re past age 25 you probably don’t want to look like a fashion victim. That said, few men want to be perceived as drab, boring, dated, out of touch or (worst of all) essentially invisible. So how can guys update their wardrobes to look modern and stylish but not silly?

Here are five suggestions:

  1. Define your personal style. Are you classic or contemporary? Do you prefer to stand out or blend in? What kind of statement do you want your clothes to make about you: serious, casual, fun-loving, no-nonsense, risk-taker? Obviously, you need to know who you are before you can dress the part.
  2. Find a few brands that fit you well and reflect your personal style. Your shopkeeper or salesman can help you with this—never hesitate to ask for fashion direction; we all need help putting together wardrobes. Once you find the labels that fit well and best reflect your personality, stock up on a few basics from these brands.
  3. Basics = five-pocket pants, solid tees in a soft cotton, top-quality button-front shirts in your best colors, cool hybrid sneakers, a sweater or sweatshirt, an unconstructed sportcoat.
  4. Figure out your most flattering colors. Most guys look great in blues, so that’s always a safe bet. Other clear bright hues are also flattering, as is pink! Be more careful with in-between shades of yellow, orange, green, khaki and tan—these can bring out the yellow in sallow skin tones and make you look unhealthy, especially worn close to the face.
  5. OK, here’s the fun part: You’ve got the basics, now add the pizzazz! Pick an accessory and make it your trademark. Stackable wrist jewelry is so cool these days. There’s nothing more impressive than a great watch but unless you’re wearing Rolex or Patek, consider changing the band to a pop color. If you wear sportcoats, add a printed silk or linen pocket square. Buy some new ties: The ones in your closet are likely too wide and/or too shiny. Wearing a beautiful tie, woven shirt and jeans makes a powerful statement, especially since fewer men are wearing ties these days. (Why is this guy wearing a tie? He must be important!) Buy a shirt or two in a whimsical but sophisticated print—one that you love but nothing too tacky. Or buy several crisp all-white shirts in cotton or linen and make the solid white shirt your fashion statement; these pair nicely with five-pocket pants in a non-neutral color. Invest in one great softly tailored sportcoat that’s NOT a navy blazer. And if you really want to get noticed, wear a hat!

The bottom line: A single fashion element or statement accessory can become your signature, a conversation starter, a reflection of who you are. And remember, wear it with confidence.

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