2013 October 2

varsity hoodieChoosing a hoodie for yourself is tough enough – zipped or unzipped, loose fit or skin-tight, pouch or no pouch …? Choosing for a group or team is even more difficult.

Here’s our guide to the best way to choose a hoodie.

Before you begin:

1.    Obtain the right information – get those involved to make basic measurements (waist, hip, chest, neck and arm length) and supply them to you, so you can be sure that the hoodie you choose has the right range of sizes.
2.    If you’re buying for a club or society, check the rules – some places have strict limits on what you can and can’t do.
3.    Check the budget – the more colours you have printed or embroidered, the more hoodies will cost.

Now start your choice process:

1.    Make a shortlist of colours – neutral is best unless you’re sure everyone in the group will be happy with pink or banana yellow!
2.    See if you can try on garments from that manufacturer – each company varies and it helps a lot with sizing to know if they run big or small, relaxed or tailored.
3.    Ask your printer for samples if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
Ale-House-T-Shirt-Fail4.    Check, check and double check and then get somebody else to check – think about how your hoodie will look in different situations … it’s so easy to have an epic fail!
5.    Make a shortlist of your final colours and designs – no more than three, preferably just two.
6.    Invite those involved to vote. Go with the majority even if you think they are wrong – it’s more important that people are comfortable and confident than that they have a stunning hoodie … you will probably get your way next time, if they are happy this time.
7.    Place your order. Wait impatiently for it to arrive.
8.    Look great in your new hoodies!

2010 March 15

The old rule about ‘if it looks too good to be true, it probably is’ definitely applies in tough economic times, but many people are being caught out by counterfeit goods, especially clothing.

Until recently, counterfeiting wasn’t as prevalent in casual clothing as in high-end designer and fashion garments, but the global recession means that almost every brand and clothing line is being targeted by unscrupulous cheats, many of whom chose to sell their knock-off clothing online.

You can protect yourself against fake clothing vendors by following a few simple rules:

1.    Buying clothing online can be a fantastic way to save money – but make sure you buy through a reputable online retailer. Counterfeiters choose to sell this way because it allows them to stay anonymous and the set-up costs of business online are low, so look for a company with a long history in retail and a good range of the kind of clothing you want to buy. While some retailers specialise in a single brand – especially of more expensive garments such as high quality jackets, shoes and trainers – and are perfectly genuine, an online store selling only one brand can also be a sign that a counterfeiter is using that website to offload fake goods, so be doubly careful.
2.    Look at the details – detailing can often separate real goods from fake ones. On brand T-shirts, for example, look at what the company in question describes as its ‘signature’ or ‘classic’ styling, such as where brand labels are located, stitching styles and cut. Often, even online, you can see where a picture of the goods doesn’t match up to the company’s signature style, such as a garment looking skinny when the cut is supposed to relaxed or roomy, or a label being slightly different in colour, size or shape. Counterfeiters can produce garments that are almost identical to the real thing, but most are just trying to sell similar looking garments as quickly as possible and don’t pay as much attention to detail so you can catch them out by examining photographs carefully.
3.    Ask for references – all good online shops have references and testimonials, but counterfeiters have become good at faking those too! Try googling the company and seeing what comes up: disappointed buyers often vent their fury on consumer sites or in online forums, while satisfied customers of online shops will also tend to enthuse about the good quality of their clothing, the excellence of the service and the speedy delivery. Use these online clues to help you decide where it’s safe to buy.

2010 February 12

Most people have a limited budget for clothing these days, and it helps if you know how to be a smart shopper, whether you are buying in a shop or online.

A good way to start is to browse some magazines or watch some of the TV programmes that feature fashion. This gives you an idea what’s currently stylish. Then you can visit the websites of the clothing stores you can also see in the high street, or browse the pages of online retailers to check out what sale items they have on offer. Online clothing retailers often provide real bargains this way and if you’ve got a good idea what clothing you’re looking for, you can save a fortune.

Buying online, for a  novice, is often easier when choosing casual clothing as it requires less attention to fit. It’s easy to buy a classic sweatshirt online than to choose the right fitted jacket, for example.

Be sure you know your clothing size and how different manufacturers ‘scale’ their clothing because each company has a slightly different cut and style so you might find that a Hanes ‘Beefy’ T-shirt in medium fits you the same as a Fruit of the Loom T-shirt in large … trying clothes on in shops before you buy online can save you disappointment and the need to return garments to get them in a different size.

One area where online retailers really score highly for bargain buying is that they tend to have really good offers on purchases of multiple items, so if you find a work shirt you like, and need to six or a dozen to get you through a week or two of work, you’ll often find you get a discount for a bulk buy, which saves you money.

2009 October 8

bluepoloPolo-shirts are a comfortable, smart-casual item of clothing that can work well for leisure or employment, but choosing the right polo shirt for your body shape can really change your appearance. A well-fitting polo-shirt in the right colour can make you look slimmer, taller and more defined, while a badly-fitting polo shirt in the wrong colour can make you look fatter, shorter and baggier.

•    If you are tall and thin, choose a polo-shirt with bands or stripes, or with a contrasting collar as all these make you look wider.
•    If you have a narrow neck, leave your polo-shirt completely unbuttoned and wear a white or pale grey round-necked T-shirt underneath – this gives the impression of widening your neck and shoulders. Don’t pop the polo-shirt collar up though, as this casts shadows that make your neck seem even thinner.
•    If you are broad necked and stocky, pick a medium toned polo shirt, such as royal blue or green, and wear a black or navy blue vest type T-shirt underneath, this narrows the front of the body and draws the eye downwards, making the neck appear less wide. Don’t button your polo-shirt neck as that will add bulk to this point of your body.
•    For thin arms, a ringer polo shirt with a contrasting trim on the edge of the sleeves can add bulk, as can wearing a pale-coloured, long-sleeved T-shirt under the polo shirt. For maximum effect, push the sleeves of the T-shirt up so that they sit around mid forearm, this makes the arms look much stronger.
•    Relaxed fit shirts suit larger people, while the slim should choose a tailored fit.

2009 October 5

red hoodieAutumn is that time of year when you can’t tell what the weather will do, but, unlike spring, you can always assume the worst.

At this point in the year, we need clothing that is warm but not too hot, keeps the rain off but isn’t too bulky or clammy, and looks good.

A hoodie fits the bill. Wearing a hoody over a T-shirt gives you the chance to shrug off the outer layer if the day warms up, and just tie the hoodie around your waist or stuff it in your bag for the cooler hours of evening. If the day turns even nastier, as it often does, you can supplement your hoody with a scarf to keep your neck and chest warm.

The great advantage of a hoodie is the hood. It can either be pulled up over your head to keep drizzle from your hair so that you don’t look like a drowned rat, or it can be snuggled around your neck to add extra warmth and comfort on a chilly day.

Hoodies with front pockets allow you to tuck your hands inside to keep them warm before the weather gets cold enough to carry gloves, and a hoody with a drawstring at the neck also allows you to stop draughts attacking your face and neck and chilling your whole body.

Choosing a hoodie in a bright colour, like red or yellow, can also have the psychological effect of making you feel warmer, so that you stride out more and that, in turn, actually heats your body up so that you are genuinely warmer.

2009 September 14

steel toecap socksIt comes as news to many people that there are socks specifically designed for specific situations and specialist footwear.

Most of us have got used to the idea that there are sport socks that are engineered to stop the feet sweating and blistering and not to chafe, but did you know that there are special socks for many situations?

There are specially cushioned socks for work-wear, designed specifically for people who spend a lot of time on their feet and especially for those who are active on their feet: builders and loaders of vehicles, for example. These work socks are often called crew socks and are worn to protect the feet as well as keeping them cool, comfortable and infection free.

Steel-toe boot socks are specially designed to offer both maximum comfort and maximum safety when wearing steel-toe capped boots or shoes – the best ones have reinforcement in both the heels and the toes, an arch support which offers extra comfort and supports the foot during long hours spent standing, and an antibacterial finish, because one problem with steel-capped footwear is that it is prone to making feet both smelly and more liable to fungal infections.

2009 July 20

white poloSeriously, researchers into evolutionary theory and practice have discovered that both men and women respond better to white clothing than other colours and that there might be an evolutionary reason.

White shirts, with a dark suit, caused women to view a man as more powerful than the same man wearing a dark shirt. White shirts with a white tuxedo amplified the effect and given a choice between the same man wearing a white T-shirt or a navy blue one, women preferred the white T-shirt.

We know that men respond to women wearing white, whether it’s a wedding dress or that girl tennis player scratching her behind, but why?  When men were shown the same ‘nurse’ wearing a white polo shirt or a green one, they felt the one wearing the white polo shirt was more intelligent and compassionate.

The colour white is a high risk colour in the world of animals, unless you live in a snowy region – white stands out against most backgrounds. This means that a white creature that can survive against a non-white background, must be more resourceful, clever or powerful than other creatures, so it’s a good creature to breed with as it has better genes for survival.

We don’t like to think of ourselves as creatures, but it seems that we may have the same evolutionary tendencies as all other living things. We think that white clothing makes the wearer superior. So wearing a white polo shirt could be just the thing if you want to impress a certain guy or gal … or maybe even a teacher or interviewer. And if you have a business, putting your staff in white polo shirts, work shirts or even T-shirts, could make a lot of difference to the way your company is seen by your customers.

2009 July 6

black-poloA black polo shirt is a hybrid clothing item. Its white cousin is clearly sportswear and can only get away with being worn to work in casual environments but a black polo shirt somehow manages to be more formal – this means that everybody from students to salesmen, musicians to ministers, can wear a black polo shirt and make it their own. It has universal appeal and universal versatility.

How to wear a black polo shirt

Because it can be worn with jeans or shorts and look ultra casual, it’s easy to forget that with a little more thought, the black polo can be worn in much more formal situations. With a formal jacket and a pair of beige or grey trousers it can be worn to many social events and in Asia, in particular, the tendency to wear a polo shirt with a tie is well-developed, because it looks just formal enough for business whilst being much cooler and more comfortable than a formal shirt.

Varieties of polo shirts

Long-sleeved polo shirts also look good in black and are often more worn in winter, when they look great with a fleece or just a scarf knotted around the neck, to give a little extra warmth once the weather turns chilly.  A black long-sleeve polo shirt is a particularly good present for a college attending student, whether male or female, because it’s as good worn for kicking back as for interviews for campus jobs.

In fact, because polo shirts are relatively cheap, very hard-wearing, and useful as clothing all year round, and in many settings, they can be one of the best investments that are made in developing a good set of clothing.

2009 June 29

womens-polo-shirtPolo-shirts for women are hugely popular in the United States and have increasingly caught on in the UK, especially as items of workwear. The most common place to see women wearing polo-shirts today is the sports industry, where lifeguards and tennis instructors, physiotherapists and aerobics instructors have all discovered the value of this kind of clothing. A women’s polo-shirt is popular with those involved in fitness because it is easy to wear, incredibly simple to wash and pack and looks as good at the end of the day as it does at the beginning.

Another place where women’s polo-shirts are turning up in uniforms is the healthcare industry where nurses are finding that the polo-shirt delivers wearability, washability and performance without the institutional look that tabards and tunics often impose.

Women’s polo-shirts may be long or short-sleeved although the latter is considerably more common. They usually have a two or three button neckline, called a placket, and a knit collar which can be worn ‘popped’ (turned up) or laid flat.

Usually polo-shirts are made of cotton or a cotton synthetic blend which is used to be more crush proof and to stand up to heavier wear.  Basically the lighter weight the polo-shirt, the more easily it will sag or lose its shape, but this is not always true of women’s polo-shirts, because they are cut differently, having less ‘hang’ on the hem, and because they tend to be smaller all round, they suffer less from the issue of sagging than men’s polo-shirts do. Look out for double-top stitching and a heavier weight if you want clothing that will last for a long time and can cope with winter temperatures, while single stitched women’s polo-shirts and lighter weight materials are more suitable for summer wear.

Worn with cargo pants, chinos or jeans, women’s polo-shirts look casual and cute but with a tailored skirt they can look professional and organised.

2009 June 25

uneek20active20pique20whiteAs Wimbledon glues every Brit to their TV set, just as the summer happens (all six days of it) so that we’ve got the choice of cheering on our great white hope or getting rid of our white bodies in favour of a tan, the white polo shirt puts in an appearance.

There’s a good reason for this, apart from the classic link to Wimbledon and the formal wear of the early tennis tournaments which required men to wear long-sleeved shirts buttoned to the neck and women to wear ankle-length skirts.

A white polo shirt always looks good, whether it’s worn under a blazer or with a pair of beach shorts. It suits both men and women and it is just formal enough to past muster for the office and yet it’s perfect casual clothing for a barbecue or a day on the beach.

Keeping a white polo shirt white is easy too, because unlike other white summer clothing, notably linen, it barely creases and can handle a tough wash to remove those famous summer stains: grass from sitting in the park in your lunch break, ice-cream from the quick Cornetto you grabbed at the end of the day and barbecue sauce from the TGIF party your best mate threw.

Above all though, a white polo shirt flatters most figures – a short and less than svelte person looks just as good in a white polo shirt as the tallest, leanest, tennis player. So while you don’t have to be Andy Murray to get away with wearing this classic item of summer clothing, it might make you feel as if you were him!