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The black polo neck

Da Vinci once said: ‘simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication’ – and probably, no other menswear piece is as good an example of that, as the black polo neck.

On a par with the plain white shirt, or navy trousers, the black polo neck is a highly versatile classic that comes in handy when you’re at a loss, as to what to wear. It can complement just about any other winter piece in your wardrobe, from a suit to a pair of jeans. Dress it up or down, as required, whatever the occasion, it’s bound to be a safe choice.

Often, polo necks in a lighter knit will result in a more elegant look. The lack of volume, especially around the neck makes less of a statement, resulting in a more streamlined look.

A slim fit will accentuate the body, making it an ideal choice for men with a slender or toned physique. Bigger men will look better in a polo neck that has a chunkier collar and is not tight enough to be too revealing of one’s contours. The added width of the collar will also help minimise a wider face, which a polo neck inevitably emphasises.

In the case of men with a larger belly or wide hips, polo necks are best worn as part of a layered outfit, e.g. under a sport coat. This will visually widen the shoulders, balancing out the width of the hip area or belly.

Final word

When wearing a polo neck, aim to keep a small part of the neck – just below the chin – exposed. This will avoid your head from appearing as though it’s floating. It’s also a more flattering look for men with short necks, or who are rather lacking in height.

Also, one of the biggest concerns most men have about wearing polo necks is that the collar can feel too restrictive. Going for a soft and breathable fabric, as well as a collar that’s not tight, is crucial for ensuring optimal comfort. Finally, a polo neck in a heavy fabric might keep you comfortable when outside in the cold but once indoors, it’ll be too hot.

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How to wear a beige sport coat

Some colours seem appropriate only for a particular season. Just like black is associated with cold weather, beige is a colour for warmer days. Light, fresh, and versatile it’s one of those colours that are practical in many ways – as well as timeless. In this post, we focus on one particular item that should feature in every man’s wardrobe – the beige sport coat. Suitable for any time of day and pairs well with most other colours, it’s one of those basic pieces that make a man’s life easier – and that includes young, as well as fair-skinned men.

Wearing a beige sport coat according to one’s skin tone

Beige is a summer favourite not only because compared to darker colours, it looks light and fresh in the heat but also because of how well it complements tanned. As a general rule, when choosing an outfit, one should aim for some contrast between the outfit’s colour scheme and one’s skin tone. Without contrast, the resulting image will be one of utter dullness.

A sport coat is a top layer and therefore, when considering if a colour suits one’s complexion or not, cannot be seen on its own. The deciding factor is the shirt one wears under the sport coat and its colour should be chosen with the need for contrast in mind.

Men with darker skin tones will look best with shirts in lighter colours, such as white and pastel colours. This not only creates a direct contrast between the shirt and skin tone but also maintains the element of contrast throughout the upper half of the outfit.

On the other hand, on men with lighter skin tones, a beige sport coat will not create any significant contrast. This will have to be created by means of a shirt in a strong colour, such as royal blue or violet. A strong coloured-shirt has the added benefit of keeping the focus on the wearer’s face – as should be.

Wearing a beige sport coat to work

Being a neutral colour, beige is a safe colour to wear to most places, including workplaces where some degree of flexibility and personal preference is tolerated. For a professional look, a shirt in a solid colour, such as white or sky blue (especially if fair-skinned) is an unbeatable choice. Keep the trousers in a neutral colour. Ideally, so as to add visual interest, aim for a bit of contrast between the trousers’ colour and the rest of the outfit. If wearing a tie, aim for a colour that approximates that of trousers. This not only adds an element of continuity along the upper and lower halves of the outfit but also balances the soft look resulting from the light colours of the sport coat and shirt.

Of course this very much depends on one’s workplace. In certain corporate environments, such as banks or law firms, any form of deviation from black and charcoal are typically frowned upon. On the other hand, more work environments are promoting a less formal atmosphere, which also applies to their dress code.

Wearing a beige sport coat as part of a smart casual outfit

As a light colour, beige is ideal for summer morning events. It certainly feels more comfortable than other classical options like navy or brown. In addition, in tune with the relaxed and less formal atmosphere that prevails in summer, a beige sport coat will not look too casual at an evening event.

When coordinating an outfit for a social event, the choice of colours should mainly depend on the event itself. A classical look is always a safe bet. Sticking to neutral colours, one can add a brighter and more adventurous streak through a pocket square or neckwear.

img_0705.jpgAlternatively, if a more youthful or unique look will not seem out of place, a beige sport coat will complement trousers in less common colours, such as mint, pink, and turquoise. If opting for such colours, keep the shirt in a neutral colour, even if patterned.

As a neutral colour, there are many options that can be considered, as long as the result is appropriate for the event, including setting and crowd.

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How to wear white linen trousers

When it’s unbearably hot, nothing beats a pair of linen trousers for comfort. Yet, despite how great they feel and how quintessentially summery white is as a colour, white linen trousers are seen as a mature man’s favourite, making it hard to see how they could be a suitable option for men who want a modern look. However, a bit of styling and coordination with the right pieces can turn white linen trousers from a dated option into a timeless piece, and here’s how.

So as to maximise comfort, linen trousers typically come in a relaxed fit, which allows plenty of room for air to circulate. As comfortable as that might be, a loose fit is somewhat old-fashioned. For a modern look, roll up the trousers, just enough to expose part or all of the ankle. Keep it neat by aiming for a narrow turn-up that doesn’t look too bulky, as to make the lower legs appear too heavy. The trick is to make this an accent and not the focal point of your outfit.

Equally important is what you coordinate your white linen trousers with. Their loose fit can easily make your outfit look too relaxed, especially if worn with a loose-fitting shirt. To keep your outfit looking sleek, aim for balance by combining your trousers with slightly more structured pieces, such as a waistcoat or sport coat. However, avoid very structured or corporate-looking pieces, as these will contrast too much with the flowing texture of the linen trousers.

If you’d rather keep layers to the bare minimum, opt for a slim-fit shirt (not form-hugging) with a semi-stiff collar, for that bit of structure. Tunics are best avoided. For a more elegant (think cocktail party) look, wear the shirt tucked in but with the sleeves rolled up. So as to complement the soft texture of your outfit, consider belts in suede or woven cotton – polished leather will look too harsh and formal in comparison.

Similarly, light and casual shoes, such as stylish trainers or canvas shoes will work well. If it’s a dressier look you’re after, a pair of brogues, especially in suede, will also make a great match. Because of the trousers’ loose fit, loafers won’t work. They’ll just make your feet look too narrow. So as to keep the outfit looking light and fresh, black shoes seem inappropriate, as do socks.

Ultimately, white linen trousers will always result in a laid-back look – it just doesn’t have to be ‘midnight walk on the beach’ laid-back.

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A guide to men’s ties – Part II

Trump’s victory has left many bewildered. On Facebook and Twitter, personal analyses of what led to his victory are abundant but my guess is that many voters were won over by his power tie – what else? That iconic red tie was selected intentionally to portray him as a man of success and authority, because in the West, those are two qualities we associate with red. Of course, it’s not what really got him elected but because of its associations, colour is definitely an effective way of influencing people’s judgement.

In the second part of our guide to men’s ties, the focus will be on colour and pattern, specifically, what they are associated with, and which suit colours they can be best worn with.

Colour associations 

Against a light shirt and dark suit, which is the combination most men wear, the only distinctive element is the tie. It’s what sets a man apart from the rest and the first – if not the only – thing people will notice about his outfit. Since colour affects how people feel towards something, before even having really tried it or experienced it, a tie can influence people’s judgement about a person they do not really know. Therefore, it’s worth choosing a tie colour in a way that facilitates a favourable judgement, especially on occasions, such as job interviews, when such judgement could make a real difference.

Less aggressive than a red tie but one which also stands out and can represent vitality is green, such as bottle green. Like red, it’s a colour that tends to look too strong for a professional outfit – unless it’s a patterned tie. However, a grey or navy suit and light blue shirt will tone down the colour’s intensity for a more muted look. 

On the contrary, pastel colours are associated with tenderness and tend to have a calming effect. Consequently, a sky blue tie can give a man a softer look. Outside office politics, pastel ties are a great option for summer, especially on a light grey suit.

 Similarly, a yellow tie can make a man look more radiant and approachable. However, yellow is a colour that looks too dull on a white or light blue shirt, especially against a fair complexion, making it a better option as a background colour for a patterned tie, worn with a grey or blue suit. 

You might have noticed how most uniforms tend to include navy and/or burgundy. They’re two classical colours that tend to denote experience and therefore, reliability. Being easy to combine with grey, green, and blue suits, they are also the two most versatile tie colours a man could opt for. Burgundy is also one of the very few colours that pairs well with a black suit.

For the opposite effect, opt for a purple tie. However, it doesn’t mean it’ll make you come across as inexperienced. In terms of tie colours and menswear in general, purple is considered a modern colour and for that purpose, a rather bold option. Therefore, a purple tie can be associated with youth or a modern outlook. It’s a colour that is best worn with a navy, green or grey suit. 

In addition to black, silver and gold are other options to consider for evening events. Like anything that sparkles, they can be too dressy for the office.

Patterns

Like colours, patterns can also be associated with specific attributes and these can be further emphasised by one’s choice of tie colour. There are various patterns typically used in ties, each giving a different twist to an outfit.

Diagonal stripes are definitely a favourite. In addition to having a slimming effect, diagonal stripes can look both modern, interesting, and yet, still conservative enough to avoid an outfit from appearing too playful, something that’s not easily achieved with a tie in polka dots.

Paisley and plaid are two other options but which are not as popular as diagonal stripes, possibly because they can look too fancy or even slightly old-fashioned. However, that depends a lot on the colour scheme. A high contrast colour scheme can give a tie a more modern, bolder effect, whereas darker colours with minimal contrast can make it look like a more conservative option.

When combining colours, one should ideally limit himself to a maximum of three different colours (i.e. suit, shirt, and tie in a different colour). In the case of a patterned tie, that number can be exceeded. However, the tie’s colour scheme needs to tie in with the rest of the outfit. Therefore, one of the tie’s colours should be identical to that of the suit with the shirt acting as a buffer, usually in white or light blue but sometimes also pink.

Final note 

As mentioned earlier, the tie is often the first thing people notice about a man’s outfit. It’s very much the focal point. Consequently, it’s worth making the effort to not only make sure the size and length complement your frame but that the colour and pattern keep the outfit looking coherent, and if need be, enhance the message about yourself you are trying to get across.

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Building a versatile wardrobe for the first year without a school uniform

What a relief it was to get rid of that dull, sad-looking school uniform. Those grey trousers, thick and heavy, you couldn’t wait to take off as soon as you got home and the blazer that was always too big at first and then too small but never quite your size. Having to no longer wear a uniform feels liberating. It’s something you’re quite excited about, though it does pose a few challenges at first.

To start with, you need more clothes than what you already have. Wearing the same pieces over and over again is not something you want to be known for. However, investing in a new wardrobe is always going to be quite an expense. That’s why you need to focus on getting versatile clothes that will enable you to combine multiple outfits, without anyone noticing they’re the same pieces you wore a few days earlier.

Before looking at the sections with the trendier pieces, get a few T-Shirts, shirts or polos in neutral colours, such as greys, navy, and black. You’ll also need a few shorts and chinos in the same colours – simple models in solid colours or at most, very subtle patterns. These are usually cheaper, meaning you’ll be able to get more of each. Their minimalist design and versatile colours make them easier to combine with other colours consequently, enabling you to create many more outfit combinations than is possible with pieces in trendier colours. Neutral colours also lend themselves well to different styles, meaning you can easily adapt an item to reflect your own personal style. 

The more particular an item’s colour, pattern, or style, the more restrictive it will be, in that it’s harder to be worn regularly without it being noticed by others. Only once you’ve got enough basics should you start adding pieces that are more unique 

 A good bag is also a worthwhile investment. Take it up a notch from the one you used for school by going for a stylish design, such as a minimalist model in faux leather or a synthetic material (depending on your budget), which is also light and comfortable. Backpacks are ideal for carrying heavy loads and are currently very trendy. Messenger bags are another popular alternative, as they can be spacious and contain a number of compartments.

Final word 

In addition to all the running around from one hall to another and getting lost in the maze of corridors, the first days at Sixth Form are about building a circle of friends. Therefore, making a positive first impression among other students is crucial and you know all too well how important your appearance will be in helping you do just that. Personal hygiene and a neat look will not only help you feel more confident but will also make it easier for others to see in you, someone they would like to have around. Remember, without the school uniform, you need to make a bit of extra effort, as your appearance is all about you.

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Combining coloured trousers with other colours

For so long, men’s trousers were only available in neutral colours with at most, a subtle pattern that distinguishes a trendy pair from a classical one. Nowadays, men have a much wider range of colours to choose from, some bright, some muted. However, neutral colours remain by far most men’s preferred choice, mainly because of the ease with which they can be combined with other colours. Trousers in non-traditional colours, such as red, yellow, green, and turquoise pose too much of a conundrum for those unsure of their colour-combination skills. Yet, such colours are actually very simple to combine. Here’s how.

Neutral colours

Combining neutral colours with your brighter trousers is always your safest bet. Going for another strong colour is almost certain to result in a clash of colour, that will make the outfit look disjointed. In case you’re not too sure if beige, grey, or navy will work well just go for white. That’s one colour that definitely blends well with any other. You needn’t stick to solid colours though. As long as the background is in a neutral colour, a patterned top will work just as well, especially if the pattern includes a hint of the trousers’ colour. It gives continuity to the outfit, without making it look too coordinated. This also applies to accessories e.g. pocket squares.

Contrast 

The monochrome look does not work well with trousers in brighter colours. They need tops in a lighter/darker colour to tone down the intensity of the colour. This is why neutral colours work so well with such trousers, as they keep the outfit looking balanced. However, other colours can also be combined, as long as there is some contrast between the lower and upper halves of the outfit.

Below are some colour options that I find work well with trousers in non-traditional colours. They are not the only combinations that work but are merely intended to illustrate the points above and help you get started. 

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Wearing colourful socks

 

Hats off to those men who dare be original in their choice of socks and do it with style. You rock! 

Most men, as did I till some time ago, consider socks as having a purely functional purpose – a necessity that nevertheless, should be barely noticeable. Hence, the norm to stick to conventional and neutral colours like black, brown, grey, and navy. Yet, hosiery is ultimately an accessory and like all other accessories can be used to give an outfit a bit of an edge and certainly, a personal touch. 

True, there is a very fine line between looking original in fancy socks and looking eccentric. The only way to incorporate funky socks successfully into an outfit, even a formal one, is to keep coherence between all the separate pieces. It needs to be clear that you put that pair on as a result of a style-decision and not because it’s your favourite cartoon character or even worse (or is it?), a random choice. 

Matching colours 

Your starting point should always be to match your socks’ dominant colour with that of your trousers and not the shoes. There might be exceptions to this, depending on the particular colour but generally, I recommend going with this rule. Socks in the same colour as the shoes combine to form a unitary block that stops the eye at the level of the trousers’ end, rather than drawing it further down to achieve that lengthening effect.

If wearing other accessories, such as a tie or pocket square, or even small detail on your shirt/top, I would go for socks in a colour scheme and pattern that echoes those of the other accessory/detail. What you should avoid at all cost, is having your socks looking disjointed from the rest of your outfit. That is where people will give you that ‘what on earth?’ look. 

As for how much colour to go for, well, that really depends on the outfit’s style. On a formal outfit you’d wear to the office, I would opt for a pair of socks in the same colour as the suit with subtle patterns and colour contrast. It’s not the place to make style statements – looking elegant and professional should be your aim here, keeping expressions of personal style minimal.

On the other hand, for something more casual, a colourful pair will not look out of place, of course as long as the colour scheme ties in with that of the outfit. Moreover, I would suggest to keep the main pieces (trousers and top) in a solid colour. This will maximise the impact of your socks, avoiding the separate pieces from clashing. You could still add a bit of colour/pattern through another accessory worn on your upper body e.g. a tie/scarf. In fact, this will keep you from only attracting attention to your feet.

Matching textures 

The second important element in hosiery is texture and combining this with that of your outfit gives a more unified look. Essentially, what this means is going for a pair of socks that are similar in thickness to that of the trousers, which itself should be chosen to complement that of the rest of the outfit. Therefore, if wearing trousers in a heavier wool, opt for socks that are not as fine as e.g. the silk pair you’d wear as part of a black tie outfit (whose silk echoes the silk on the jacket’s lapels and trouser sides). Apart from complementary texture, thick trousers (fabric) need bulkier socks to avoid the ankles looking too thin, just like thick socks will add too much bulk around the ankle when worn with trousers in a light and soft fabric.

Cannot not mention… 

I’m assuming if you continued reading till this point you already know this but no post on socks would be complete without mentioning that white socks are to be worn only for sports and open shoes, such as sandals are not to be worn with socks. If it’s hot enough for sandals, it’s too hot for socks.

Final word

So, those are the basics for combining socks with an outfit – matching the socks’ dominant colour with that of your trousers and the rest with any other accessories worn, and keeping the socks’ thickness similar to that of the outfit, especially the trousers.

Feeling confident enough to inject some happiness into your hosiery collection? Check out our range of hosiery in store.