One of my cubicle mates dresses like a college professor in leather patch jackets and tassled loafers. I’ve tried to get him to change, but he’s just a lowly LC and he doesn’t make much money. He also hates shopping and refuses to step one toe inside a mall or store unless forced at gunpoint. Is there anything he can do to add some style to his look without replacing the entire wardrobe?
Believe it or not, fashion isn’t all about the clothes you’re wearing. If you aren’t wearing them right, it won’t much matter what you have on. Think of a simple white t-shirt; it takes a special kind of person to wear a XXXL when they are 175lbs. Since you aren’t hiding a gat in your waistline you obviously will buy a shirt that fits you. Well, the same thing holds true for how you put everything else together, you can be wearing a $5,000 suit but if you’re rocking the Shaggy from Scooby Doo look from the neck up, no one will take you seriously.
Here are five easy things you can do to make yourself look sharp without having to go shopping.
1. Shave and a Haircut – We have gone over this before, but if you want to look good then your hair has to be right. Sometimes grooming can be done at home, and other times it will cost money.
I know what you’re thinking, “Beau, why should I spend $50 on a hair cut?”. Well, the fact is that you’re probably already spending $20 or $30. So an extra $20 to look good for 4-5 weeks seems well worth it. Check out the past blog post here for further expansion on this topic.
This should really go unsaid. But guys…shave, please. It’s not hard, and it takes a maximum of five minutes. Also, do it after you shower, it’s better for your skin that way.
If you want to go the extra mile invest in a nice shaving kit. The Pentagon City Mall has a place called the Art of Shaving. Kinda pricey, but maybe you can convince your girlfriend to get you something for your birthday…assuming you’ve been able to convince someone to be your girlfriend.
2. Make Sure that Suit is Tailored Properly –Don’t go out and buy new suits, you don’t need to. However, if you never got the suits that you own tailored then you should definitely get that taken care of soon. And if you did get your suit tailored and all your tailor did was cut the back open down the middle and pull the sides together, get a new tailor. I have an affinity for Kim’s Tailor in the Pentagon City Mall. Go to her, she can fix anything. And remember, a well tailored suit will do more for you than an expensive suit.
Note: Don’t listen to a tailor who wants your jacket cuff to reach the base of your thumb. Shirt cuffs, and by extension cuff links, are meant to be seen. They elongate your arms and give off an air of confidence. A quarter inch is a must, really confident men will go up to an inch.
3. Shine Your Shoes – Yeah I know, this one is pain in the rear. Nobody likes shining shoes. But with the winter weather upon us, you should get in the habit. It’ll lengthen the life of your shoes and make you look sharp. You can get a cheap shoe shining kit at any department store, but really you should already have one. And if you work in the Capitol, there’s a shoe shine station in every building.
4. Keep It Simple – Do not, I repeat do not, show up to work with a striped tie, striped shirt, and striped suit. You may think you’re pushing the envelope but really you just look like an optical illusion. You don’t need to get fancy with your color combinations. White shirt, solid tie, solid suit. Boom, you’re good…provided of course, that you’ve learned how to use an iron and can properly tie your tie.
Note: Collar stays gentlemen, never leave home without them.
5. Match Your Shoes and Belt – I can’t believe I felt the need to write this, but I see it all the time. Guys, your belt and your shoes have to be the SAME color. Not close. Exact. Dark brown shoes and light brown belt won’t fly. It has to match. Same color, same shade, same hue, whatever you want to call it, just make sure it’s the same. If you buy a pair of shoes at a department store, ask the clerk to recommend a matching belt, problem solved.
You don’t need to replace your whole wardrobe to add a jolt of style. By observing a few style guidelines you can improve your look without spending much money.
Beau is a legislative aide on Capitol Hill whose side project is to help clueless young men stop dressing like frat boys and start dressing like professionals. You can find his column here most Wednesdays. If you have a question for Beau, e-mail capitolhillstyle (at) gmail (dot) com.