When guys start looking to refine their fashion sense and start dressing better, it’s easy to think that standing out means buying clothes that have wild patterns, bright colors, or expensive designer names on the labels. While you’ll certainly stand out if you dress like that, it won’t always be in a good way, and it might get you the wrong kind of attention.
If you want your style to stand out (in a good way), it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to dress like you’re fresh off the runway in Paris. The art of dressing well is all in the details: The more you pay attention to the small things, the better you’ll look. After all, it’s not about a specific shirt or a specific pair of pants — it’s how they make you look and feel that matters.
If you’re looking for a way to refine your wardrobe and really stand out, here are 10 classic style tips that will make you look great.
1. Commit to good hygiene and grooming
If you want to improve your style, it starts in the bathroom. The most basic of all hygiene advice is that you need to shower regularly and brush your teeth, but there’s much more to it than simply staying clean. Spending a little more time each week on grooming will give you a significant payoff in the looks department.
Schedule a regular haircut, keep your eyebrows trimmed, and if you have any facial hair, make sure you keep it neat. You’ll look better, feel better, and have more confidence when you’re walking down the street.
2. Don’t compromise on buying what fits
By now, most guys have a pretty good idea of how their clothes are supposed to fit. The problem comes when a really good looking item of clothing isn’t available in the right size. Every time I’ve bought something that was “close enough” to my size, I’ve later come to regret it.
It’s worth it to be more selective with what you purchase, even if that results in you buying fewer items. Not only will you look better, you’ll also get more value for your money because your closet won’t end up full of clothes you only wear on laundry day.
3. Splurge on a tailor
Unless you’re ideally proportioned, even when you buy clothes that fit, it’s going to be hard to find clothes that fit perfectly. A tailor can fix that for you, and as long as what you’re having tailored only needs minor adjustments, it won’t be particularly expensive. If you need major changes, though, it’s going to cost you. There’s a huge difference between shortening the sleeves on a blazer and re-cutting a size 44 to fit a guy who’s a 38. Another option is to take advantage of companies like Indochino and Combatant Gentlemen that offer custom clothing for surprisingly affordable prices. It may take a little time to find the right company for you and to make sure they get your measurements right, but if you’re willing to work with them, the end result can be quite nice.
4. Invest in dry cleaning
Dry cleaning costs money, so guys on a strict budget might not be able to justify it. Assuming it could reasonably fit in your budget, though, it’s absolutely worth investing in. The biggest reason to do so is that dry cleaning will make your clothes last longer. No one wants to spend good money on a shirt only to pull it out of the dryer and find a tear in the collar. The other advantage is that your clothes will always look their best. It’s probably not much of a concern with your T-shirts, but who wants to iron a button down before they wear it out? Even if you do, it never looks as good as it does after a trip to the dry cleaners.
5. Switch to V-neck undershirts
In a perfect world, we’d all smell like leather and wood, and body sweat wouldn’t be a problem. We could get dressed, walk out the door, and never think twice about back sweat or pit stains. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world, and for most guys, back sweat and pit stains are a real concern, making undershirts an important part of their wardrobe. The crew neck undershirt, however, just isn’t flattering. If you’re wearing a tie, it usually isn’t visible, but any time you leave a button or two unbuttoned, the crew neck undershirt sticks out like a sore thumb. If you’re still wearing them, especially with a polo shirt, go ahead and make the switch to a V-neck. It will hide better and be much more flattering.
6. Wear a watch
Other than a wedding ring, a watch is the most socially acceptable item of jewelry for a guy to wear. Sure, we all have cell phones that tell us the time, and watches aren’t exactly a necessity anymore, but there’s still something nice about having one on your wrist. Unfortunately, the trend in watches lately has been to wear the gaudiest monstrosity you can find. For a look that will age better in the coming years, consider a smaller, simpler design. You don’t necessarily have to buy a Patek Philippe, but whether you’re spending $20 or $20,000, a classic design is always going to look good. If you want something more interesting than a Timex or Fossil, consider buying vintage. For the same price as an Apple Watch, you can buy a nice vintage timepiece.
7. Take care of your shoes
The idea that you should own more than one pair of shoes is nothing new, but there’s more to standing out than going and buying another pair of shoes. Save that for when they inevitably wear out. Instead of going and buying gold shoes with wings on them, consider taking some time to make the shoes you already own stand out. People probably aren’t going to ever point out to you that your loafers are dull and a bit scuffed up, but they will notice if they’re clean and polished. Even your boat shoes can be cleaned if you do it the right way. Athletic shoes are more difficult to keep clean, but you also shouldn’t be wearing them when you aren’t exercising, so it’s not really a big deal. No matter what kind you’re wearing, though, if your shoes look good, you look good.
8. Tie your tie correctly
If you’re going to wear a tie, few things make you look less like you know what you’re doing than tying it poorly. Even if you’re in a hurry, take the time to make sure that your tie is the proper length. If it’s too long, it’s going to look bad, and if it’s too short, it’s going to look just as bad. If it doesn’t reach your waistband or reaches past it, retying it is totally worth the extra 30 seconds.
If you’re wearing a bow tie, it’s just as important to make sure you tie it correctly. Making sure it’s sized appropriately for your neck will help ensure that everything comes out even, but most guys get that right. What most guys do miss, though, is that they need to tighten the knot once it’s tied. When they don’t, it just looks sloppy.
9. Splurge on socks
It’s easy to just buy basic socks and not put too much thought into them, but good socks really are worth it. Assuming your pants are an appropriate length and don’t look like you borrowed them from your dad’s closet, your socks are going to show every now and then. That means you can spring for some fun patterns or different colors to mix things up from time to time.
Nicer socks are also less likely to slide down your leg and bunch up around your ankles. Not only does that make them look better, it makes them more comfortable to wear as well. Since even nice socks aren’t particularly expensive, just go ahead and plan to buy new ones on a regular basis. You won’t regret it.
10. Change your glasses
If you wear glasses and it’s been a while since you bought your current frames, it’s probably time to consider getting a new pair. Instead of just ordering a new version of the same ones you already own, try a variety of different frame styles. You may be surprised by how much you like something completely different.
Thanks to the Internet, there’s no need to limit yourself to just one pair either. For the cost of buying frames at the store, you can buy at least two pairs from a company like Warby Parker and switch which ones you wear depending on the day. If you’re really looking to save money on new glasses, skip Warby Parker and head over to Zenni Optical. For those prices, you can buy as many pairs of glasses as you want.