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Matching shoes and belts

It’s one of the first things about dressing well that we learn as young men – a black belt is worn with black shoes and a brown one with brown shoes – always; but what about blue, beige, and the more unusual options that are becoming increasingly popular? Wearing a belt and shoes in matching colours is a basic rule of male elegance but with eye-catching colours, it doesn’t always work so well.

Unless the trousers are in the same colour and therefore, camouflaging the belt and shoes, the combination often results in a look that screams ‘put together with great care’. It’s like walking into a living room where the sofa (cushions included) and curtains are in the same floral fabric. Elegance must seem effortless and a matching belt and shoes, which aren’t black or brown are anything but that.

Another reason for doing away with the rule is that matching shoes and belts, effectively make a person look shorter. This is especially so, when the shoes and belt contrast in colour with the trousers’, as what you’ll end up with, are legs that only appear as long as the distance between the belt and the shoes.

DSCF4858.JPGRather than opting for identical colours, if your shoes are in an unusual colour, go for a belt in a colour that’s as close as possible to that of either the shirt or trousers – depending on whether you want to add or reduce visual height.

Taller men, whose legs tend to be considerably longer than their torso, will achieve a more balanced silhouette with a belt that mirrors the shirt’s colour, as this effectively visually elongates the torso. On the other hand, shorter men should aim for visually longer legs, making a belt in the same colour as the trousers’ the better option.

If it’s your belt that’s the fancy piece, go for shoes in a neutral colour, which blend in as much as possible with the trousers. Here, your outfit’s centrepiece should be your belt.

Final word

As is often the case, rules are never set in stone. With pieces in unusual colours – and in the case of shoes and belts, anything other than black or brown is considered ‘unusual’ – the safest approach is to make these the focal point of your outfit. Consequently, since there can only be one focal point, avoid having more than one piece in an unusual colour.

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Seven Secret Santa gift ideas

It’s a workplace tradition that is intended to enhance the Christmas spirit among colleagues. Yet, what do you get someone you probably hardly know and on such a low budget? We’ve put together a list of items that are practical, cost less than €25.00, and obviously stylish – and they’re all available at Kir Royal.

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KIR ROYAL at the Artisan Market

Are you planning on visiting the Artisan Market at Fort St Elmo this Sunday? Then we look forward to welcoming you at our stall, where we will be showcasing our range of men’s accessories. This includes bow ties, pocket squares, cuff links, lapel pins, and scarves.

It’s our first time as artisans at the market and as one can imagine, are very excited about it. So we hope to see you there on Sunday.

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What to wear to a Maltese wedding

Most foreigners’ first experience of a Maltese wedding is one of utter amazement. Never in their wildest dreams could they have imagined being a guest, at what often feels like a re-creation of a royal wedding. If the look on their face doesn’t give it away, their distinctively casual outfits are proof enough, of how unprepared they were for what was awaiting them. If only someone had told them before. That would have saved them the awkwardness and disapproving looks from the other guests.

You see, there is no such thing as a simple, relaxed Maltese wedding. Without the pomp, extravagance, and a dose of kitsch to make things more eclectic, it wouldn’t be worth the effort. Regardless of whether it’s a classical or a beach wedding, it’ll always be a grand affair for which, every guest is expected to make the effort to look their very best. So if you’re wondering what you should be wearing to your first Maltese wedding, here are some of the wardrobe pieces to definitely consider.

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Suits

To a classical wedding, as most weddings tend to be, most men will opt for a suit. If the invitation doesn’t specify a dress code, assume this will be the case. Timeless colours, such as navy, grey, and black are the most popular choices with beige being a summer favourite; because even if a heatwave is on, you’re still expected to wear a suit.

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Sport Coat

For a more intimate wedding, a slightly less conservative outfit but which is still elegant, makes a more appropriate choice. Here, consider a sport coat without elbow patches, as your alternative to a suit. Whilst one can never go wrong with classic colours, a fancy sport coat can make it easier to add a bolder colour or pattern to an outfit, without making too much of a style statement, as long as the other outfit pieces are in neutral tones.

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Waistcoat

Although not most men’s preferred choice, a waistcoat is ideal for a vintage-themed wedding, or when it’s just too warm. Being less formal than a jacket, make sure the waistcoat doesn’t have any patch pockets or fit too loosely. These, as well as a fabric texture that isn’t smooth, make a waistcoat look more casual than elegant. To keep your outfit looking dressy, opt for a waistcoat in the same colour as the trousers.

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Accessories

It is the norm for men to wear a tie or bow tie, especially when wearing a suit. Bow ties are the preferred choice for men, whose style is less conservative. If opting for a waistcoat instead of a jacket, a tie or bow tie is highly recommended, as they compensate for the more casual look, that is the result of the absence of a jacket. However, for less formal summer weddings and if wearing a jacket, it is not uncommon for men to do away with the tie/bow tie. In that case, a pocket square and lapel pin will complete your outfit, adding a touch of sophistication, as well as personal style.

Final Word

Whilst there are no strict rules as to what to wear, and it is becoming more common to come across different outfit styles at weddings, there are nevertheless, lines that should never be crossed. That includes anything that results in an outfit looking too casual. T-shirts, shorts, jeans, and sports shoes are the kind of clothing you will never see worn at a Maltese wedding, for doing so, might cause offence. Remember, you are less likely to be overdressed than underdressed, because the latter is always frowned upon, so no one wants to take the risk.

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Seven things to consider wearing to a vintage-style wedding

Up to a few years back, wedding attire for men was pretty straightforward. No mention of a dress code was ever made in the invitations and every man considered the suit and tie formula the only one appropriate. Nowadays, it is not unusual for wedding invitations to include a dress code, which reflects the general style or theme of the wedding.

At the moment, vintage is the hottest trend and although vintage can refer to any style from the 1920s to the nineties, unless the era is specifically indicated, locally, ‘vintage’ usually refers to styles that were dominant from the thirties to the forties. So, if that’s what the dress code on the invitation says, here are the pieces you definitely want to consider including in your outfit.

Boutonnières
Boutonnières once symbolised an elegant lifestyle and grace but nowadays, merely serve to distinguish the groom and his party from the rest. Being mostly a thing of the past makes this the ideal vintage-style accessory. You needn’t outshine the grooms men though. Choose one that’s relatively small, and in a colour that ties in with the rest of the outfit.
Bow Ties
Bow ties are a popular choice for weddings. If you’re after a look from the 1940s/50s consider one that is self-tie and patterned, especially if the other pieces you’re wearing are in a solid colour. On the other hand, for a seventies or eighties-inspired look, opt for a larger and pre-tied model in a satin finish.
Braces
Braces are the perfect accessory for vintage-style outfits, especially when combined with a bow tie. For a more subtle and formal look, opt for a minimalist pair in your suit’s colour. On the other hand, if you’re after a more playful look, go for contrast, especially if it’s a laid-back wedding and a jacket is not required, in which case, the braces could be your centre-piece.
Brogues
Associated with the British aristocracy, brogues combine an element of tradition with drama. They are the go-to style for a dressy, elegant look that is neither too formal nor corporate.
Classical patterns
Polka dots, paisley, and plaid are some of the patterns associated with vintage styles. You could opt for such patterns in most of the pieces mentioned here. This will accentuate the style you’re after. Alternatively, if you’re not too keen on experimenting with accessories and pieces you don’t usually wear, there’s always the option of including such patterns through your choice of jacket, shirt, tie, or maybe just a pocket square.
Hats
Hats are a stylish but also practical option, especially for a morning wedding during the warmer months. Expect to stand out from the rest of the crowd, so make sure to opt for a quality hat in excellent condition.
Waistcoats
A key piece for any vintage-style outfit, waistcoats can add colour and contrast to a besuited look or in the case of a summer wedding, serve as a substitute for a jacket. Add a pocket watch for the ultimate vintage look.

Final note

Remember that your aim shouldn’t be to replicate a vintage-style outfit, in a way that renders it fancy-dress. Include one or two of the pieces listed above, or even just a pattern – enough to make the outfit suggestive of the fashion of the time but still ultimately, modern.

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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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A guide to men’s ties – Part I

A tie is often the first thing people will notice about a man’s outfit. Some might compliment you on your choice, others might not like it but certainly, no one will fail to notice it. Hence, when it comes to choosing a tie, it’s worth making the effort to put your best foot forward. That includes going for a tie that suits your frame and which of course, complements the shirt and suit it is worn with. In this two-part guide, I’ll be covering all you need to know about ties, including size, proper length, and colour associations.

Size 

For the sake of balance, a tie’s width should be proportionate to that of the jacket lapels, which in turn should depend on the size of the wearer’s frame. A big man will look best in a jacket with wider lapels and therefore, a wide tie, whereas narrower lapels and slim ties suit slender men.

Proportion also applies to the size of the knot, which compared to one’s frame should neither look too chunky nor thimble-size. This is often determined by the tie band’s width, with wider ties usually giving bigger knots.

Length

The trickiest part of tying a tie is getting the length right. The tip should just about reach the centre of the belt buckle, give or take a centimetre. Aesthetically, neither shorter nor longer will look good.

When a tie is too long for your height, it will leave too much of the narrow end exposed (the band at the back, when tied). The best way to avoid having so much extra length is to opt for shorter ties. Tucking the narrow band into the shirt tends to look amateurish and the band still shows under a white shirt. 

The alternative to a shorter tie is opting for a fuller knot, such as the Prince Albert, which by using up more of the tie, effectively leaves a shorter back band. Tuck this into the loop sewn onto the back of the wider end for a neat look.

Knot 

Most men stick to just one tie-knot – the four-in-hand. It’s simple to execute, elegant, and suits most face shapes. And yet, there are over 177,000 possible knots. Regardless of the knot you opt for, a tie should never look too stiff/flat below the knot. 

When fastening the knot, make a dimple just below. This will allow the tie to arch out from the collar thus, adding texture and movement to the tie, making it look less ‘wooden’ 

Final word

Those are the basics of choosing a tie in the right size and wearing it properly. In the next post, I’ll be focusing on colour and pattern, mainly, the associations made with different colours, combining tie, shirt, and suit colours, as well as patterns.

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Pocket squares – all you need to know

 

A pocket square is personal. It’s one of those few elements in formal or semi-formal menswear, which offer a man the opportunity to express his unique style. Therefore, knowing the basics of how to wear a pocket square is critical, because at the end of the day, you want your choice of pocket square to reflect good taste and eye for detail. So here’s all you need to know about choosing a pocket square for an outfit. 

Fold 

A pocket square is intended to add a touch of nonchalance to an otherwise very structured outfit. Therefore, none of the points should look mathematically exact or flattened. What you want is a pocket square that seems to have been worn with minimal effort, yet of course, still looks neat.

Amongst the various folds available, the most common four are explained in the following video:

 

Personally, I find the more discreet ‘straight fold’ ideal for professional environments. The scallop-like shape is another daytime alternative – not so obviously dandy yet, doing away with the rigidity of the straight fold.

Regardless of the fold you opt for, your pocket square should be slightly angled toward the shoulder. This has the advantage of visually reinforcing the diagonal lines of the jacket’s lapel thus, enhancing the chest’s ‘V’ shape and also broadening the shoulders.

Size

How neatly a pocket square fits in the chest pocket will depend a lot on how well it fits. Pocket squares that are too large for your jacket’s chest pocket will result in an untidy bulge caused by the ‘extra’ fabric tucked in the pocket. On the other hand, a pocket square that’s too small, especially in a slippery fabric such as silk, is likely to keep sliding down the pocket, needing constant readjustment.

 If your jacket size is small, your ideal pocket square size is one of around 25cm.

 Fabric

Pocket squares are generally made from silk, linen, cotton, or synthetic fabrics, such as polyester. Whichever you choose should complement but not be identical to that of the tie/bow tie. If your tie is made from silk and has a shine, the pocket square should ideally have a matte effect. The difference in fabric gives the outfit more texture and balance, as opposed to making it look too coordinated.

Secondly, some fabrics lend themselves better to certain folds. Silk or polyester are softer thus, ideal for the ‘peaked’ or ‘pouffe’ folds. Stiffer fabrics, such as cotton and linen will give a better angular fold, such as the ‘straight fold’.

 Colour and pattern

 The worst one can do when matching a pocket square with a tie or bow tie is to go for an identical colour. As with your choice of fabric, the colour/s and pattern of your pocket square should complement those of your tie but never be identical. If the base colour of the tie is navy, that of the pocket square should be different but with hints of navy in the pattern. The link between the two should be there but it needs to be subtle.

Similarly, when combining a pocket square and suit, avoid identical colours and patterns.

Final word

Those are the basics of choosing a pocket square for an outfit. Now it’s up to you to adapt them to suit your personal style.

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Men’s belts

It’s amazing how much that narrow strap of material tied around a man’s waist can add a touch of elegance and style to a look. The belt has been a fundamental element of men’s fashion throughout the ages making it a recognised symbol of masculinity. Consequently, getting the belt right is essential for being well-dressed. Here are the essential factors to consider when choosing a belt.

Length 

A belt should be long enough to finish through the first trouser-loop, with the pointed end just slightly exceeding the loop. If the belt is too long, a quick visit to the cobbler will get it shortened for as little as €2.00.

Proportion 

Men’s belts are usually 3 – 4 cm wide though wider belts are not uncommon. A belt’s width determines the size of the buckle with wider belts requiring larger hence, chunkier buckles. Opt for a width that is proportionate to your height. 

Formal vs. Casual belts 

Combining a belt with an outfit is more than a question of colour – it’s also about style. Formal belts are always made of leather, are monochromatic – usually in black or brown – and with a small and plain buckle. These are the belts one would wear with a suit or a semi-formal outfit.

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Casual belts can be distinguished by their brighter/lighter colours, patterns, and larger buckles. They also come in various materials with suede and leather alternatives being particularly suitable for summer.

 Matching belt and shoes 

That the two should be in the same colour is one of the basic rules of men’s style. However, with modern colours featuring prominently in men’s footwear and belts, the rule needs reconsidering. Generally, if the shoes or belt are in a bright or particularly unique colour, the other should be in a colour that is as close as possible to that of the trousers. In the age of mix-and-match, having both the belt and shoes in the same striking colour will result in a look that seems too coordinated. It will also break up your silhouette, effectively making you look shorter. Sometimes, it’s also better to go for a completely different colour rather than a similar but not identical colour – it indicates that the difference is intentional. 

As a combination, mismatching shoes and belt would work best on a less formal outfit. On a suit, one would normally wear shoes in a dark, neutral colour, which is easier to combine with a matching belt, thus giving a more timeless look.