2013 May 9

sir alexSo, the most successful British football manager of all time is retiring. For many it’s the end of an era, and all those other clichés. There are also a thousand theories about what made Ferguson so great and one of them is related to clothing.

Scientists at Portsmouth University discovered that a team’s belief in their manager’s competence is related to the way the manager dresses. So Ferguson’s habit of wearing tracksuits in training, and suits and shirts for match days, creates the perfect blend of competence. A tracksuit or leggings and sweatshirt on training days suggests the ability to transmit technical skills while formal clothing for match days inspires belief in strategic competence.

Surprisingly, the effect is greater on the opposition, than the team being managed, so part of Ferguson’s longevity may be his consistent approach to always dressing like a player when coaching and a businessman when in front of the opposition – over long years of media exposure, he’s created a persona that appears to have perfect mastery of both sets of skills, creating an air of omnipotence that threatens both players and managers on other teams.

Gamegear_Tracksuit_104_282One way that this has been proved true is that in February last year, when Sir Alex appeared on TV in a suit and white polo neck sweater rather than a shirt, social media networks and sports commentators alike were agog about his apparently insignificant change of attire – and all kinds of theories abounded. Several tweets went with the line ‘The name’s Ferguson, Alex Ferguson’ referencing the famous white polo neck of James Bond and linking the two great British icons.

Few other managers have such an impact and, apart from Jose Mourinho, none of them score anything other than own goals, clothing wise. So it seems that to dress like a boss, on and off the pitch, has been part of Sir Alex’s success story.

2013 May 3

Mantis_World_Ladies_Hoody_36_758It’s the time of year when many women end up questing – new clothes, new summer shoes, the right accessories: the summer clothes we put away with such love and care last autumn look completely inadequate when we take them out again. It’s part celebration and part neurotic excursion into self-loathing, but it doesn’t have to be.

Few of us have the lifestyles to allow us to invest in haute couture, or to wear it all the time if we can afford it, so casual style needs to work for us, and while we want to look unique and have our own style, few of us want to be ‘out there’ in our personal look. Casual clothing has inbuilt versatility, it can be dressed up or down, and that’s invaluable in our changeable climate.

Casual wear has other advantages too: it tends to be kinder to real bodies and real shapes that high fashion and it costs less to maintain. Even so, knowing how to make it work with the year’s fashion trends can be difficult.

One example is the metallic finish leather that was seen on all the catwalks this spring, notably Burberry, Nina Ricci and Diane von Furstenberg – but finding the right balance between high fashion and high street can be difficult. Gunmetal, bronze, silver and gold leather all have their individual appeal, and work well with certain colours: denim, all shades of blue and white, for example. But they can look too much like evening wear if paired with black – so if you’ve got a metallic leather belt, one of this year’s embossed leather bags, or the metal finish leather high-tops that are a fashion rage, pair them with a pure white hoody and a long, draped white cotton skirt, or for a hot day, wrap the belt around a peach or cream coloured vest, worn over oyster leggings or white jog pants, for a summery relaxed feel.

Metallic leather flowers on grips or hairbands are a key feature and easy for most of us to wear, so if you’re updating your wardrobe, it’s good to get rid of things you don’t wear and replace them with a key new piece that is classic in style, and then add some accessories to make it work for this year – new T-shirts teamed with plaited metallic leather bracelets will work for next year too, if you invest in key accessories to bring them up to date.

2013 April 25

Uneek_Premium_Reversible_Fleece_29_745There’s three extremes of football fashion – the one that involves Robbie Savage and weird coloured trousers, the one that includes Roy Keane who always seemed to be playing in a get up from a Beano comic and now dresses like his clothes are on loan from Alan Partridge, and the one where David Beckham and Xabi Alonso meet in designer suits and aviator glasses.

Sadly, most British men veer between the Savage and the Keane – the Savage is what gets worn in Ibiza or to a stag weekend in Brighton, while the Keane is what gets dragged up off the floor whenever we sit down to watch a match, especially if we’re at home with the lads. So how do we get to the Beckham/Alonso point of the triangle?

It’s easier to say what not to do. The Cristiano Ronaldo approach is the wrong one – regardless of his nimble footwork, Ronaldo’s bizarre fashion sense, which combines too much hair gel with too little clothing and waaaay too much attitude, is a style attitude that scores many own goals.

Instead, aim for one really classy item around which to build an outfit. One pair of designer jeans, if clean and not too crumpled, will carry with them a tatty T-shirt or really grungy but lucky old hoody. Similarly a fresh polo-shirt, worn crisp and starched, overwhelms the effect of our favourite old trackie bottoms.

Accessories divide and conquer fashion failures, so brand name watches and sunglasses will cause comfy flip flops to vanish from view, and a really good mens jacket has stealth capacity to disguise a rank vest worn underneath.

2013 April 22

Kustom_Kit_Classic_Polo_21_814Two of the biggest names in polo shirts have independently come up with similarly bright and breezy new designs for summer. The first is Uniqlo – the Japanese giant that designs, manufactures and retails its own clothing. This year it’s partnered with Michael Bastian – golden boy of the current American preppy market – to create a very different kind of polo shirt.

Bastian, best known for his collaboration with GANT, has risen to the challenge with a line of really bright polo-shirts, finely cut to work for the frame of a fencer, rather than the average American, and with some print designs that verge on the kitsch, particularly the china cats.

The second is Lacoste, celebrating eight decades of popular perfection with its giant crocodile pool party at Thermal, CA. Those attending included Rita Ora, , Brad Goreski (he’s a stylist, he puts clothes together for more famous people) and Alexa Chung and they all scooted around the pool on those giant crocodiles and drank, or rather sucked on, tequila lollies. So how’s the new Lacoste polo looking? Also bright, very bright. And slimline.
To get the look without access to Uniqlo or if you lack pockets that are deep enough to afford Lacoste, aim for a slimfit polo shirt in a bright colour, but stay away from the primaries: lime green, pink, orange or purple are all great, red, blue and yellow not so popular. Pair the polo with chinos, with shorts and a belt, as the slimline top won’t cover your waistband the way the looser styles does, or this year’s coloured jeans where the favourite shades are white and canary yellow.

2013 April 16

SG_Mens_TShirt_53_705The answer is simple, but it’s not always what we do. The first thing is not to do any of these:

1.    Shop online at the end of a day of real life shopping. It’s called ‘desperation shopping’ and while women do it after they’ve failed to find anything in the bricks and mortar shops they want to buy, men tend to do it the night, or a couple of nights, before they need a new top, having left it until the last moment to put in some effort. In either case it leads to a desperate attempt to find ‘something’ that is acceptable, and it nearly always leads to disappointment.
2.    Shop because you’re bored or have been let down. It’s called compensation shopping and women do it most – buying something cute just to cheer themselves up. While the process works at the time, the chosen garment usually disappoints on arrival.
3.    Shop in the dark. Seriously! The tendency to buy garments from a small screen in a darkened room late at night is reckoned to be causing nearly a fifth of all returns to online clothing retailers – it’s partly because our eyes are tired at the end of the day so we don’t see as clearly as we should, and partly because screens are daylight balanced but our body clocks by evening are night balanced by circadian rhythms so our eyes can actually distort the colours on the screen. The only time it’s okay to buy at this time of day is when we’re buying black or white garments.


1.    Buy in daylight. Or get your computer to balance itself to your circadian rhythms with a programme that adjusts colours according to the sunset time in your region.
2.    Check the small print to find out what the deal is with returns and whether there is a bulk buy discount that could get you free postage or some other good deal.
3.    Sign up for mailings and alerts from your preferred online retailers – such deals often save a lot of money for the consumer and being aware of them in good time can help you plan your spending effectively.
4.    Be sure of your size. Not clothing size, as that varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but your actual body size – and recheck it every six months as even the slimmest of us will change shape in winter as we exercise and eat differently. Get a friend to help you measure your chest, arm length, waist, hips and inside leg – this allows you to assess your real size against the dimensions of the clothing advertised online.

2013 April 8

AWDis_Chunky_Zoodie_74_432Well, apparently there’s two extremes – the David Bowie (up to and including clown outfit) and the Simon Cowell (down to four items: black T-shirt, white T-shirt, white shirt, jeans and not much in between.

The weirdest thing about male ‘style’ is that it nearly always comes down to wearing the same thing, or a selection of things. Sherlock Holmes in his deerstalker hat, Giorgio Armani in black T-shirt and (designer) jeans, Prince Harry in his ski gear.

So why does it work for them, and yet the average bloke gets continually told he’s boring if he wears the same stuff day in, day out?

Partly it’s because they are rich and famous, of course. But also their look works for them, it’s not something they’ve given up and settled for, whereas for most of us, our clothing choices have come down to what we can get away with, or what we were wearing when we gave up.

So how do you pick a winning outfit?

First, get the colour right. There are places you can go to get your colours done and you don’t have to tell anybody that you’ve done it, or you can find an online site to help you decide which colours suit you. The simplest way is to look at the veins inside your elbow in good daylight – if they look greenish you should wear warm colours: orange, yellow, brown, beige, tomato reds etc. If they look bluish, you should wear cool colours: blue, black, grey, purple and blue reds etc. If you can’t tell if they look blue or green, you are probably colour blind and that’s not a joke – 7% of men and less than .4% of women are colour blind, so sometimes our fashion sense is off for genetic reasons.

When you have a colour, pick a classic style. Get some ideas from vintage shops and films – the cowboy look or the mod look or the rat pack look are all classic styles.

When you find a look, whether it’s a hoody, jeans and trainers or a formal shirt, suit and boots, replenish your choices each year. Classic doesn’t mean old, tatty or worn out, so new classic items should give your chosen capsule wardrobe a fresh appearance each year, even if the overall look never changes.

2013 April 2

AWDis_Cool_Vest_82_281While the weather hardly suggests it, it’s been a week for wet T-shirts, six packs and tans. Ryan Lochte posed for US Weekly to promote his new TV show (yes, he has a TV show, to celebrate his Olympic gold medal, presumably) in which he stood on a road in a wet T-shirt with his muscles sharply defined, as usual. The series covers his clothing choices, training regime and sex life!

Meanwhile Andy Murray showed that he’s a true Brit by baring his own six pack on the beach and revealing an excellent semi-tan that stopped where his body had been covered by his T-shirt during his recent Sony Open win.

Both men had something that the average chap might struggle to bring to the party – namely an excellent musculature, but if you’re not the Olympic type, it’s still possible to pull off a good beach look:

Singlets or vests are a good way of covering a less than chiselled torso – go for a dark colour such as a navy blue vest and don’t tuck it into your shorts.

Talking about those shorts, while budgie smugglers may work for Tom Daley, most men will look better in a formally styled pair of shorts such as cargo shorts – even Murray went for the long look in board shorts.

And check out your footwear, flip flops don’t cut it – choose a good pair of leather sandals (no socks) or really excellent trainers in a neutral colour and again, no socks!

2013 March 25

Fruit_of_the_Loom_Short_fit_Ladies_Valueweight_TSh_25_415Many people are let down by their planning rather than their clothes, but cheap clothing and tight budgets can contribute to looking less well put together than you intended. Here are half a dozen hacks to help you make the most of what you’ve got, save money where you can, and get out of scrapes and difficult clothing situations.


•    Colour code your wardrobe from white at one end to black and the other with the shoes that go with each colour underneath. This saves time every morning because you can pick out an outfit that WILL coordinate.

•    Put socks or tights in your shoes when you put them away, so that each pair of shoes has the right thing tucked inside and you don’t have to waste time rummaging through drawers to find what you want.

Money saving

•    Consider where you don’t have to launder garments. Jeans, sweatshirts, hoodies and other heavyweight garments may not need to be washed – if they’ve picked up an odour, maybe beer or hot fat or just the smell of being stored for too long, unfold them and put them in the freezer. An overnight freezer and all day defrosting will remove any odour and allow them to be worn again.

•    If you’ve outgrown your shirt collar, you can get some more wear out of a too small shirt by moving the top button. Usually you can move the button outwards by up to half an inch – that’s a whole shirt size, without changing the hang of the shirt. It’s easy to mark the spot and resew the button, even for those with no sewing training.

Real time problems

•    Stuck zip. If your trouser or skirt zip sticks, find a bar of soap and rub it along the teeth of the zip and then slooooowly work the zip open. You can do this with thick hair conditioner too, if you can’t find a bar of soap.

•    You spill something on your shirt. Keep a plain white short sleeved T-shirt in your desk drawer. For most occasions it will be okay and it’s better than wearing pasta sauce or a coffee stain all day.

2013 March 22

Uneek_High_Visibility_Jacket_modelWith snow already falling across the north, and floods in the west country, the UK is suffering extreme weather conditions. It’s being called Foul Friday, but don’t let it ruin your weekend – it’s still possible to look good in tough weather but it takes a little more work:

•    While rain depresses the spirits, snow changes the colour of the landscape and affects the way we look in our clothes. In both cases, aim for light cool tones – unless you are working outdoors, when high visibility clothing is essential to keep you save in difficult conditions. Otherwise, try to keep to pale blues, light clear yellows, spring shades of green and heather/marl mixes of lavender pink or grey – these tones lift the skin and give a glow in a white out.

•    Start from the basics and work outwards.  Good socks, good boots and good underwear are essential to get you through tough weather conditions. Boxers work for men, and women might like to consider thermal shorts or leggings to avoid that ugly goosepimply look.

•    Gloves are great too – numb hands cause accidents and cold fingers are not sexy. Fingerless gloves are good for those who can’t afford the new screen-affecting iGloves which allow operation of Ipads and smartphones.

•    A hat stops the rattail hair that is so unattractive when wet and even more ugly as it dries in clumps – slouch caps and oversize tams have been a big winter hit but for a more springlike look, try a close fitting knit hat. Women can pincurl their hair under such a hat with hairgrips to get a great ‘bed hair’ look when they take it off.

•    Steer clear of any jacket or coat made of suede or denim, fun fur is good for snow, but has a horrible mangy dog look in rain and wool coats, whilst warm and snug, can produce an unpleasant aroma as they warm up after getting damp.

2013 March 15

AWDis_Cool_Vest_82_281Well, maybe not quite yet, but both kinds of clothing could be on the cards in the future.

While Livestrong tells us that one way to aim for a summer six pack is to train less, and maybe even rest and eat more, performance clothing to support the kind of intensity that leads to a six pack is being explored by researchers.

The most recent work is in the field of cross-country skiing and has discovered that the quickest way for competitors to improve their performance is not to have the right skis, or the right wax, but to be at the right temperature, which for competitive skiing is +1 and -4 degrees. Any colder and competitors tire quicker and have reduced performance, as a result of joints and ligaments stiffening and enzyme activity in cells changing. While any warmer means that competitors over-sweat, dehydrate and have extra fluid loss that leads to swifter negative results like cramp or lactic acid build-up.

This is significant for exercising and suggests that major muscle masses, like thighs and upper arms, may benefit from better air circulation – so singlets or vests are good, while T-shirts may actually inhibit bicep building or six-pack shredding in warm weather. Once it gets cold though, major muscles need an air pocket between them and the outside temperature so joggers in jogging bottoms will probably outperform those running in shorts in wintry weather, all other things being equal.

As for self-cleaning sportswear, the Natick Soldier Research Development and Engineering Centre is exploring omniphobic coatings for clothing that creates a lower surface tension that that of anything that might harm the clothing, encouraging sweat, water and toxic chemicals to roll off, while the same coating repels dust and dirt. As a result, within a generation, or fitness clothing could be self-cleansing, and the more we sweat, the cleaner, and stronger, we’ll be.

2013 March 4

Jerzees_Ladies_LS_Ult_NonIron_Shirt_27_962A recent survey suggests several Australian companies have ceased to allow, or created strict clothing rules for Dress Down Friday. The firms, which include large companies such as the Lomax Financial Group have dropped casual Friday clothing as the results were counterproductive, ranging from top clients arriving unexpectedly to be greeted by staff whose clothing could have looked disrespectful through to time spent policing ‘casual’ to ensure it was not too casual for business purposes.

What are the new rules?

  • For women it’s trousers or skirts or tailored dresses in appropriate colours, tailored short-sleeved shirts or blouses, knitwear without slogans or pictures and shoes or boots that can be open toed but not flip-flops or clogs, and, where appropriate tights and jackets. Halternecks, shorts, torn or ripped clothing and messy hair are not appropriate.
  • For men, suits, ties, dress shirts, socks and boots or shoes. Shirts may be collared or collarless, and in some industries, polo shirts are acceptable. Sandals, shorts, T-shirts with cartoon characters or slogans are not. Jackets may be considered necessary, depending on the industry.

Jezebel has also been exploring the cost benefit of clothing, determining that the average American woman spends $6,000 and 100 hours a year on buying and returning clothing. A further $25,000 over a lifetime is spent on shoes!

And while that may seem excessive, a survey of Australian employees discovered that 72% of them believe that to get bonuses or promotions, they need to be more smartly dressed than their colleagues.

2013 March 1

Henbury_Short_Sleeve_SemiFitted_Shirt_27_989While we’re all getting bigger, our clothing doesn’t necessarily keep pace. The average man is now two inches taller than he would have been 20 years ago, and two chest sizes bigger. Much modern clothing can help men look strong rather than chubby, if we make smart choices. Many men choose casual clothing because they think it is more flattering, but there are some slim-line secrets that few men understand:

•    Men wear sweatshirts because they come in larger sizes and are comfortable, but a dark T-shirt under a front zipper hoody works much better to create an impression of slimness.
•    To make the most of your solidity, choose small patterns and mesh, pique or waffle weaves, this fine detailing draws the eye in to the smaller picture, wiping out awareness of the larger one.
•    A short sleeved shirt worn untucked turns size into presence. It’s important to ensure that you don’t break up the flat line of the shirt by putting a jacket or fleece over the top.
•    The old adage of wearing light clothing on your upper body and dark clothes on the bottom has largely been proven not to work as well as minimizing the colour difference, with a slightly lighter colour on the upper body. Charcoal trousers with a lighter grey sweatshirt or beige shorts with a cream shirt work better to give a unified, and slim-line, silhouette.
•    Necklines with a vee give a much more streamlined appearance. Don’t wear round necks if you’re at all chunky as it adds to the rotundity of your body.

2013 February 25

Fruit_of_the_Loom_SetIn_Sweatshirt_17_900_500_500While the triple A rating may not affect most of us, other than to know that Britain has lost hers, we’re all likely to feel the pinch over the next year and one way that many of us will try to economise is on clothing expenditure.

1.    For those who are hoping to save money but still look good, sweatshirts can be a versatile and useful item. Worn alone, a sweatshirt fits into the smart casual category – especially if worn under a blazer or fitted jacket – this look works particularly well for women, if combined with a dramatic costume necklace.

2.    The same sweatshirt can work just as well over a T-shirt on cold days and when worn with jeans or jog pants it’s an excellent clothing choice to wear when at a football or rugby match, to the pub or walking in the country.

3.    Finally, the sweatshirt works well to ring the changes on other clothes – you can adopt the Rihanna look by tying it round your waist to offset your casual shorts or skirt for a modern relaxed look.

2013 February 23

BC_XLite_Soft_Shell_Jacket_29_896Ben Affleck often seems to have too much luck for one man: he’s an award winning actor, he’s got model-style good looks and he’s dated some of the world’s most famous women, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Garner, with whom he has three children.

So while he didn’t win any Oscars, his double win at the BAFTAs put him firmly back in the spotlight – getting Best Director and Best Film for Argo.

So how do you get the Affleck look?

He’s famous for his V-necked sweaters and neatly cut beard and the more formal version of this look, in which he is often see: button down shirts worn under grey cardigans with a blazer. Good barbering is key to his appearance and he’s managed to grow into a more substantial look over the past five years, without it ageing him too much.

The bad boy look has faded into the background somewhat in recent years, but from time to time, when out with his family, Affleck reverts to the biker boots and casual jeans of his youth, worn with a knit cap under which he tucks his hair, which he tends to grow longer between films, the whole look finished by a casual jacket.

One thing Affleck never looks is rumpled – his tall frame and broad shoulders make him a good clothes horse and while he often dresses casually, he usually takes care to appear in shirts that are a good fit, and form fitting jackets are a definite feature of his appearance.

2013 February 20

AWDis_College_Hoodie_74_162A recent study in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology reveals that many people, especially athletes, have lucky clothing that allows them to feel they will perform better and that they may, in fact, be so.

Wearing something with symbolic meaning – that is, something that the wearer believes will bring them luck or success – can change the cognitive behaviour of the wearer to be more assertive, confident and empowered.

So what makes a ‘lucky’ garment?

Colour is significant – it seems much of the ‘luck’ comes from a distinctive colour, often red, so women often feel sexier and more powerful in a scarlet dress, while gamblers may wear lucky shamrock boxer shorts. A yellow hoody may work for a skateboarder while an artist may find a particular light blue T-shirt brings their creativity to the fore.

The other thing that makes clothing lucky is strong associations with a previous happy or successful experience – that isn’t as easy to control as colour, but generally speaking, formal clothing is most likely to have a ‘success association’ for the general individual and sports clothing, obviously, is likely to have the greatest ‘success association’ for athletes.