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Mandarin collar – to button up or not

Blending  urban minimalism and nonchalant chic, a mandarin collar shirt is the perfect alternative to the standard collar type. However, not being your everyday choice, you might be wondering if the collar should be worn buttoned or not.

In terms of style, when a  dressier look is what you’re after, you might want to wear the collar buttoned, especially if your look includes a suit or sport coat. Even if the outfit is casual, as in including jeans and athletic shoes, buttoning up the shirt collar will result in a sharper, more urban look.

On the other hand, if what you’re after is a softer and casual look, regardless of whether the shirt is worn with formal or casual pieces and especially if it’s a hot summer day, just leave the collar button undone.

In addition to your desired look, consider also the visual effect of each option on your face shape. Which of the two options complements it most?

The mandarin collar, being so minimalist, tends to accentuate one’s face shape, offering little to the wearer to visually balance his face’s proportions. For example, a man whose face shape is round or square, especially if his hair is cut very short or is bald, by wearing the (mandarin) collar buttoned, will only emphasise his face’s width. What he needs is to add visual length, which makes the face appear less wide and more oval, and for this, the collar should be worn unbuttoned.

Mandarin collar on a round face
By adding visual length, an unbuttoned collar will make a round face appear more balanced.

The opposite applies for men whose face is oblong-shaped and who therefore, need to visually minimise its length. Although a mandarin collar will not add visual width in the same way a standard collar does,  leaving the collar button fastened will avoid adding even more depth below the face. A higher collar can also help here, as it visually shortens the neck.

Mandarin collar and oblong face shape
By adding visual length, an unbuttoned collar will make an oblong-shape face appear longer, when the aim should be to make it appear wider.

Final note

Being well-dressed is not just about putting together a stylish outfit but also about how well that outfit complements your shape and features. Next time you’re trying on a shirt, consider how much it flatters (or not) your face shape. Does it accentuate it or make it look more balanced? Of course, other elements usually also come into play, such as one’s haircut and beard shape. These should also balance/complement one’s face shape for more flattering results.

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The visual impact of scarves on physique and height

A scarf can be worn in various ways but not all will work equally well on the same person. This usually depends a lot on the length and thickness of the scarf itself; more precisely, on how long and chunky it is in relation to the wearer’s height and physique.

Proportion is – as always – key to ensuring the scarf you’re wearing looks good on you. The longer a scarf’s ends reach, the bigger the impact on one’s visual height. On short men, a scarf’s length should ideally reach mid-torso. This will keep the focus on the upper part of the body, that closest to the face. Tall men can afford greater flexibility though a scarf is never flattering when it reaches too close to the nether parts. 

A scarf’s length will also affect how bulky it appears when worn. One that is too long will require more turns for its ends to reach the desired length. This will result in added volume that will not only feel restrictive but also make one look too bundled up.

On the other hand, a scarf that is relatively short is best worn hanging around the neck. Alternatively, for added warmth, you could flip one end over a shoulder, in order to keep the neck covered.

However, it seems that the two most common ways – and to me, also the most comfortable – of wearing a scarf are either with a knot just below the neck or loops around the neck.

The first results in a ‘Y’ shape stretching from the neck to the point on the torso where the scarf’s ends reach. Apart from giving a very neat appearance, its vertical effect creates an illusion of added length and also has a slimming effect (assuming the scarf is not entirely covered by the jacket). It can be particularly flattering on shorter and/or bigger men.

The second, that with loops around the neck and the ends hanging on the sides, visually broadens the shoulders and chest, giving them more prominence. It’s ideal for men who want the emphasis to be on their these areas, especially if their hips are proportionately wider. This look will also work well on very tall men who should ideally focus on broadening their silhouette, rather than elongating it.

Whichever way you choose to wear your scarf, as much as it’s important for it to look elegant, it should never look too precise, such as with the ends reaching the exact same length. Nor should a scarf look too stiff. In fact, a scarf’s soft and flowing texture can balance the seemingly linear and sometimes rigid structure of a winter jacket/coat, effectively softening the look.

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Rolled up sleeves – how high on the arm should sleeves be rolled up?

There’s a lot of debate on how high on the arm shirt sleeves should be rolled. Just above the elbow is what traditionalists will say is the right height. At that level, the bulk of the roll’s folds is balanced by the widest part of the forearm. This is because one very, very important point to remember about rolled up sleeves is that they add visual bulk to the part of the arm where the roll is. As a result, the exposed part of the arm looks comparatively thin. 

However, we southerners tend to prefer a lower roll that reaches somewhere between just above the wrist to at most, mid-forearm. Since the wrist is the thinnest part of the arm, a roll just above it will of course make the wrist look even thinner. That makes a low sleeve roll perfect for men with a bigger frame, who can also afford a wider roll, especially if on the taller side and with long arms.

On the other hand, men with a small frame will look better with a higher roll that is also neatly folded and not too wide – so as not to look too chunky. This allows for the roll to be balanced by the natural width of the forearm. For better results, add volume to the wrist with a watch or bracelet. Generally though, skinny men, especially if on the shorter side will look best with an above the elbow roll that makes the biceps look bigger and the shoulders broader. It will also visually elongate the arms. However, it just doesn’t look very Mediterranean – if that’s the style you’re after. 

Regardless of one’s physique, the sleeve should never be wide enough to leave a visible gap between the arm and the roll. This seems to cut the arms in a way that makes them look hanging limp. 

Finally, if you’re not too sure about how to get a neatly rolled sleeve, here’s a video that will show you how to do it. 

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Four essential tips for choosing a T-Shirt

Originally designed as an undergarment, the T-shirt is nowadays one of the most popular, versatile, and practical pieces of clothing in menswear, which is why we love it so much. However, being so comfortable, it is easy to overlook the style aspect of a T-shirt, with the end result often looking rather sloppy. Here are four essential tips for choosing a T-shirt that will give you both comfort and elegance. 

Casual vs. very casual

T-shirts are always casual but some are more than others. If you don’t want a look that’s too relaxed, a T-shirt that fits close to the body (without being too figure-hugging), will give you definition and downplay the ‘comfort’ element that is associated with T-shirts consequently, resulting in a dressier look. 

Regardless of one’s size, a T-shirt shouldn’t fit too loosely as to have a draping effect. A slimmer fit will mostly suit toned men. Bigger men (including muscled men) should opt for a looser fit that fits comfortably, without being too loose. The same applies for skinny guys on whom a bit of volume will have a more flattering result than a tight fit.

How a T-shirt fits at the shoulders is a good indication of in/correct size. The shoulder point, where the armhole is seamed onto the shirt should lie just at the end of the shoulder. If it lies above that point, the size is too small for your frame and will result in the seam pointing upwards with movement. If the shoulder point lies below the curve of the shoulder (along the arm), it is because the size is too big thus, making your shoulders look smaller. For the same reason, the sleeves should not reach below mid-biceps.

Originally, T-shirts were designed to be long enough to be worn tucked in (as an undergarment). Today, T-Shirts are meant to be worn untucked. The length should therefore, not exceed mid-buttocks. Any longer and it will visually shorten the legs too much. However, neither should it be too short as to leave the trouser waistband exposed.

Which neckline suits you most?  

T-shirt necklines are typically either crew neck (round) or V-neck, albeit with varying widths and depths. A round neckline will broaden the shoulders whereas a V-neck will give the illusion of a longer neck.

Rather than basing your choice of neckline merely on style preference, choose according to which has the most flattering effect on your frame.

Going for a neckline that reveals a big part of one’s chest is not something I would recommend. They seem to be popular with men who jump at every opportunity to show off, which is probably why most women I know find a deep ‘V’ or a wide round collar quite a turn-off. 

Use prints to hide areas of concern

Prints and contrast colouring are what often make a T-shirt look less basic. However, since T-shirts can be quite revealing of a man’s physique, these can also be an effective way of camouflaging areas of concern, e.g. sizeable breasts or a beer belly.

Unlike a T-shirt in a solid colour, which leaves little to the imagination, prints can counterbalance the bulk of a beer belly by adding weight to the area where they are located. A full pattern, as well as contrast colouring (e.g. between the upper and lower parts of a T-shirt) will also make one’s silhouette look more ‘homogeneous’. 

Final word

Those are the four essential points to keep in mind when choosing a T-shirt. Can you think of any other things to watch out for?

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Shorts – the right fit and length

 

Shorts offer some welcome relief against the cruel temperatures typical of the Maltese summer, making them a definite favourite for the season. Comfortable as they might be, it’s easier to look poorly dressed in shorts, than in trousers. Whilst this is often a result of what they are worn with, it’s also the result of the wrong choice of fit and length.

As for length, whereas the trend is for shorts that barely reach mid-thigh, the truth is most men are not comfortable exposing so much of their legs. On the other hand, shorts that reach below the knee are rarely flattering. By covering most part of the legs, they make them appear too short compared to the rest of the body, giving the impression one is always about to trip. The ideal length is just above the knee, with the option of going for slightly higher or lower in order to visually balance the legs’ length in proportion to the upper body.

Final word

It’s easy to assume that all shorts will keep you cooler. That is far from true. Of course fit and length play a major part in how effective a pair of shorts is in keeping you feeling comfortable in the heat. However, equally important is the choice of fabric. Thick or synthetic fabrics will make it unbearably hot. Hence, it’s always important to opt for cotton or linen and check the fabric’s thickness for comfort.

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The rolled up trousers guide for short men

Trouser cut

Rolled up trousers work best on slimmer cuts, such as bootleg or slim fit but not skinny cuts, which would give a very feminine look. The trouser cut should follow the natural width of the legs, visually creating the illusion of one continuous line all along the length of the leg including the covered and exposed parts. On a wider cut, the rolled up end will result in too strong a contrast between the width of the trousers and that of the exposed leg thus, drawing the eye only towards the (shortened) length of the trousers. Low waisted cuts will also visually shorten the legs as they give the illusion that the legs start from the trousers’ waistline.

Bulk 

Pin rolls shouldn’t look too chunky, which is usually the result of too many folded layers or very thick fabric. Whilst turn-ups can give an extra dose of style to an outfit, being located too far down, they should never be the centre-piece. People should be focusing on your face, not your legs/feet. Therefore, trousers should never be too long as this will inevitably lead to more layers to fold.

Trouser length 

How long you wear your trousers will also have a visual effect on your height. Rolled up trousersusually reach just above the ankle or slightly lower. However, men’s trouser lengths are getting shorter meaning your trousers can even be worn up to mid to lower shin, especially if complemented with a pair of boots in the same colour as the trousers and socks, allowing for the legs to look longer.

 Colour combinations

 In fact, for short men to carry off pin rolls, the focus shouldn’t be limited to the trousers themselves but also to how the other pieces affect one’s silhouette. Monochrome is considered perfect for looking taller as it avoids that break-up of the silhouette into a top and bottom half. Therefore, it should make turn-ups safer.

However, monochrome can be a bit boring, not to say restrictive, especially given the limited range of colours that most men would feel comfortable wearing from head to toe. Hence, it’s OK to opt for varying yet, similar colours – a tonal look. You still don’t want too much of a strong contrast and always keep lighter tones on top as the other way round makes the top appear heavier. 

I would also suggest to keep the belt minimal in a way that it blends in with the trousers’ colour, making it hardly noticeable. This prevents it from creating too strong a horizontal line that breaks the silhouette. 

Top layers 

In addition to combining colours wisely, how your top layers fit, as well as their length also affects how short/tall you appear. Stick to shirts, tops, and/or jackets in your size which in combination with the trousers’ cut will keep your silhouette balanced (size-wise), as opposed to top-heavy. Just as you can make your legs appear longer by avoiding low-waist cuts, by keeping your tops to just below the waist, you keep more of your lower half exposed.

Rolled-up trousers and shoes combinations

Rolled-up trousers must be worn with the right shoes and my idea of the right shoes are those which keep your feet looking narrow but not necessarily longer. You want shoes that keep your feet looking proportional to the rest of your body whilst visually elongating the legs. Bulky shoes do the exact opposite. Moccasins, loafers, sandals with vertical straps, chukka and Chelsea boots, as well as Converse all look great with pin rolls even on short guys. Just as you’d avoid too much contrast between your trousers and tops, combine colours that give your lower half a flowing look. This can be achieved by opting for similar trouser and shoe colours, or which at least blend effortlessly with one another.

Final word 

I know how fashion trends seem to be set with only tall men in mind and how disappointing it can be when the end-result is not what you hoped for. With these tips, I’m hoping you’ll be able to keep looking great and confident when wearing turn-ups. Just remember that the trick is to compensate by keeping the eye drawn vertically, thus creating the illusion of height.

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Choosing a swimsuit for your height and body shape

What would summer be without days relaxing on the beach or by a pool? Quite frankly, unbearable, which is why there is no other piece of summer clothing more essential than the swimsuit. When looking for a swimsuit, you want one that is first and foremost comfortable but just as important is how it makes you look. Here are some basic tips on how to find a swimsuit for your height and body shape.

Long swimsuits reduce visual height, making them more appropriate for men with long legs. Their height affords a bit of length, such as that of board shorts, which reach just above the knee, without making the person look short.

In the case of very tall men, a long swimsuit will help balance the disproportion in size between torso and legs. 

Nevertheless, a suit that exceeds knee-length should always be considered as to long to be stylish or comfortable.

 The short man

 Since long swimsuits reduce visual height, on a short man, they will result in the legs appearing proportionately much shorter than the torso. The shorter height of the person will also emphasise the length of the suit.

Thus, what the short man should aim for, is a suit that does not exceed mid-thigh level. It can also give the illusion of longer legs.

That’s a length that’s shorter than what some men are used to and consequently, what they’re comfortable with, making the choice of fit especially important. 

The skinny man

With a smaller physique, the skinny man needs a slightly loose-fitting swimsuit that can add a bit of volume to the silhouette, without appearing overwhelming.

In addition to a slightly loose fit, horizontal stripes and contrast detail can also add volume. In proportion to the physique, patterns should be in a small scale, as large motifs will look overpowering.

 The big man 

In order to balance the size of this physique, a loose-fitting swimsuit is the chubby man’s most flattering option, at least in terms of style. An elastic waistband or tie cords are essential to keep the suit from sliding, although the best option against this are the tight-fitting square-cut shorts. Their tight fit prevents them from sliding and exposing that unsightly plumber’s crack.  

Rather than horizontal stripes, vertical or diagonal will look best, as these have a slimming effect. In addition, pattern sizes should be on the larger scale in proportion to that of the physique. 

The athletic man 

All styles will look good on this physique, as long as the visual effect of a swimsuit’s length on one’s height is taken into consideration.  

Colour 

Colour and motif are very much a personal choice. However, it’s also worthy to keep in mind where and in whose company a swimsuit will be worn. Is a suit in a bright colour and featuring a fun pattern the best option to wear to a pool-side barbecue with colleagues? Maybe not! 

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Style tips for short men

Height gives a man more presence, making it particularly desirable amongst men. Unfortunately, not all of us were lucky enough to reach six feet but whilst growing taller is beyond our control, looking taller is.

When choosing your look, the crucial thing to aim for is to avoid one which emphasises your lack of height. Think of your silhouette as a small block, that when divided into several blocks, these will end up looking tiny. Thus, it is ideally kept as a single block with its focus being the top. Here are some easy ways how you can achieve this.

Colour

Mixing colours is what makes putting together an outfit fun – for those of us who enjoy it. However, multiple block colours also break up the silhouette, emphasising your short legs thus, making monochrome the best option.

Of course, such a look does get monotonous after a while, especially since there are very few colours men can pull off when wearing a single colour. Add texture to your look by opting for pieces in the same colour but in varying shades or fabrics, with preferably bottoms in darker shades. If wearing multiple layers, outer pieces in a darker colour will create a slimming effect and consequently, make you look taller. Just remember to avoid a strong contrast between colours on your upper and lower halves (including your belt’s colour), as this is what makes will make you look shorter.

Fit and length 

Key to adding visual height is to make the silhouette appear slimmer hence, emphasising its verticality. Avoiding baggy fitting clothes will help you achieve just that. 

As for the length of your jackets or shirts that are worn untucked, in order to conceal as little as possible of those short legs, keep the length to just below the waist. Remember, tall people have long legs, which is why you need to keep as much of yours exposed.

A common challenge I come across is that of finding clothes in the right fit for big men who are also short. In order to fit their width, these tend to go for large sizes that often end up fitting way too long for their height, either resulting in a suit jacket that reaches mid-thigh or too much fabric gathering at the end of the sleeve. Truth be told, it is difficult for all to find ready-made clothes that fit perfectly but it is especially difficult for big and short men. Crucial here is to opt for brands which mainly cater for slightly shorter men, such as Italian and French brands. Their clothes might still be long but short enough to be shortened further without completely ruining their proportions. As for suits, I recommend going for the short range and to avoid anything that generally contains exposed pockets, e.g. combat shorts/trousers.

Patterns 

I’m sure you’re aware of the slimming effect of vertical and diagonal patterns, so I recommend you take advantage of these and include a striped shirt or knitwear in your outfits. Since your aim is to keep people focusing on your highest part – your face – my recommendation would be to keep patterns located as much as possible on your upper body, unless these are very subtle as to be barely noticeable. 

Collar type 

Think of collars as a face-frame, one which complements your facial zone. Since for a taller silhouette, length is crucial, short men should ideally opt for V-necks which create the illusion of a longer neck. As for shirt collars, these should be medium to small but definitely not the high Italian collars that practically hide your neck completely.

Shoes

The shape and bulk of the shoe will directly affect how long/short your leg appears. For visually longer legs, opt for minimal bulk and cap-toe styles. These strike the right balance between feet that appear slightly longer without looking too heavy for your height. To further enhance the linear effect sought, opt for shoes and socks in the same or very close colour to that of your trousers, which should have a quarter break at most.

Final word

The world of fashion seems to cater for men with the same type of physique – tall and lean. Trends are thought of with the same type of man in mind, which is why they often look rather unflattering on short men. This doesn’t mean that being short automatically excludes one from the possibility of looking trendy but it does necessitate some reflection and adaptation to one’s height. Being aware of those common mistakes that result in a look that underlines one’s shortness will enable you to include trends and styles in your look without making your lack of height the focal point.

Are there any other tips you would recommend?