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 January 22

Result_Active_Fleece_Tassel_Scarf_36_491The first real snowfall of the year has led to lots of fun for most, but some serious consequences for others: broken or sprained limbs are just one consequence of being outdoors in snow and ice. The risk for those pursuing their fitness goals is even greater: runners aiming for the London Marathon this year are aiming to get their 12 mile run done this week – ice and snow or no ice and snow.  There are some practical tips that can help outdoor lovers to stay safe in winter weather:

1.    Check current and expected weather conditions for the time you will be outside. It may look great now, but if a blizzard or sleet is due in the next couple of hours, you need to make adjustments for temperature drops, poor visibility or the effect of wind-chill on your ability to complete your activity safely.
2.    Dress appropriately. Several layers of lightweight and loose clothing are ideal – and the outermost layer, and preferably the one below that, should be waterproof and wind-resistant. The value of have two waterproof layers is that if the first gets damaged, perhaps in a fall on ice, the sports person isn’t exposed to the elements for the duration of their time outside.
3.    Remember that goggles, gloves, sock, shoes, hats and helmets are vital. Poor vision can cause accidents and the extremities: hands, feet and head are the most likely body parts to be injured.
4.    Don’t go out alone. If you really must run or exercise solo, make sure somebody else knows where you are, what you are doing and when you expect to return. Call them when you get back safely. If they don’t hear from you in a certain period of time after your projected return, they are in a position to alert the authorities. It’s good to carry a mobile phone but don’t rely on a signal in bad weather. Wear highly visible clothing to ensure other people can find you if they need to.
5.    Warm up thoroughly and check your health before leaving home. If you feel at all unwell, don’t exercise in extreme weather conditions. If you feel or experience any signs of hypothermia or extremity frostbite, head for shelter and get medical attention. The things to watch out for numbness and tingling in the hands or feet, lack of feeling (if the face is exposed to the elements, rub your cheek regularly to check that you can feel your fingers on your exposed skin) or poor motion in your fingers or toes.

2013 January 7

Fruit_of_the_Loom_Lady_Fit_Rib_Polo_Model-549-662Here are 12 top tips to help you look good and feel good in your clothing, right through the year:

1.    Measure Yourself – particularly when buying online, it’s important to know your actual measurements, not your clothing size. Manufacturers vary in their sizing and knowing if you’re a medium or a small isn’t just about the label in your current garment. Most online retailers have detailed sizing charts for clothing like polo-shirts so you can order what fits, not just what’s in your size.
2.    Shop Alone – you might do your research with a friend or partner but if you actually do your buying alone you’re less likely to overspend and will save time in the actual shopping process as you won’t be looking for advice or support from somebody else. Apparently we also tend to end up shopping for others when we shop with them, so if you want a winter jacket and your mate wants new trainers, expect to spend at least half your time browsing the Vans store with him!
3.    Get Colour Wise – people with cool skin tones (tending to the blue or pale) will look best in white, black, blue, and grey shades. People with warm skin tones (tending to the olive or pink) look great in yellow, cream, beige and red.
4.    Consider Alterations – if you are an unusual shape: barrel chested, very petite or tall and slim, it may be worth having trousers and jackets altered by a local tailor. They don’t charge that much and they make your clothing look … like it was made for you.
5.    Dump the Rubbish – even men have clothes they are never going to wear. It’s okay to keep one funeral suit, but if you have something you’ve owned for over a year and not worn, either take it to a charity shop or ask a friend for advice on how to style it. Polyvore.com is a great site for finding out how to wear items you’ve never worn.
6.    Love Lycra – for both men and women, body-shaping underwear can give extra confidence in dating or interview situations. Buy a good pair of body-shaping undies and use them when necessary.
7.    Beware Bling – too much shine is very off-putting. If it looks real it’s intimidating and if it’s obviously from Claire’s Accessories you look cheap. One ring, for men, or one necklace, is plenty. Women can go a bit wilder but clashing bracelets and a neck full of gold may turn people off.
8.    Tend To Be Smart – it’s always better to overdress than underdress. While you might feel a little foolish for being the smartest person in the room, it’s nothing compared to feeling the shame of being the least smart. Also, you never know if your next boss or lover might not be present – why not show them the best of yourself?
9.    Comfortable Feet Count – wearing shoes and socks that fit well and allow your feet to spread through the day can really change the rest of your outfit, because when our feet hurt we look grumpy and defensive and the rest of our clothes seem to constrict and annoy. So choose good footwear and everything else will look better too.
10.    Leather Always Works – unless you have ethical objections, leather wallets, handbags, shoes, boots and belts always work well. Taking care of leather is simpler than some artificial fabrics and leather accessories last much longer too.
11.    Workout Wear – people with good fitness clothing tend to exercise more as they are more happy to pull on their running shoes or their sweat pants and head for the gym. If your fitness clothing lets you down, invest in new shorts and T-shirts and you may find your whole body improves as a result.
12.    Be Modest – too much body on show is less than alluring. Men who reveal their backsides in low-slung denim cutoffs, or women whose midriffs and cleavages are on display through boob tubes, are doing themselves a disservice. Apparently we are more entranced by mystery than fact, so a pair of well fitting shorts or a pretty vest are more likely to get attention than having the goods out on full display.

2012 December 27

As the UK hits the sales, it’s a good point to step back and look at the fashion predictions for the year ahead, so that money isn’t wasted on misses rather than hits.

Spring 2013 is destined to start bright and end bold – the spring colours are bright primaries for both men and women but men in particular are expected to be wearing red, black and white, which makes for simple colour coordination and allows pretty well everything you buy to be worn with pretty well everything else. Big blocks of white are highly fashionable – a white hoody meets the bill, as do white jeans.

By the end of the year, those bold colours will be cropping up as stripes and even tartans, so think deck chair and you’ll have the perfect Christmas shirt or jumper! If you don’t particularly want to do a Noel Edmonds, then combining three strong colours in one outfit works well, and as the winter clothing is expected to be unstructured and natural fibres it’s easy to put together a fashionable winter look with a loose shirt over a cotton T-shirt teamed with sporty jeans and an unlined jacket.

The overall hair look tends towards mildly nostalgic with comb-overs, buzzcuts and Jedward style bouffants with lots of gel and mousse. Facial hair is heading towards clean-shaven again.

Shoes are dividing the fashion world for men: one side of the 2013 divide is in boots, particularly desert boots, while the other side is in pointed toes – even heading towards the winklepicker!

2012 December 17

Most men get clothes for Christmas, but that doesn’t excuse them from choosing appropriate garb themselves. Here are three key mistakes that are proving to be Xmas turnoffs this year:

1.    Shorts: it doesn’t matter if the sun is shining, shorts are not appropriate winter wear in the Western climate, unless you are running a marathon or Bradley Wiggins in training. Cargo trousers look just as sporty and spare the rest of the world the sight of your winter white and hairy legs. The other problem with Christmas shorts is that there is no appropriate footwear to accompany them. Instead get some Desert boots, Converse trainers or Vans skate shoes and pull on your jeans, chinos or cargos.

2.    Big bad hats: while furry hats with flaps are great for occasions like carol singing or tobogganing, they are not appropriate for sitting around in coffee shops, browsing car showrooms or taking your girlfriend on a romantic winter walk. Not appropriate for any man who wants to be taken seriously are hats with turkey feet, pig snouts or tails of any kind. Instead invest in a tight-fitting, neutral coloured beanie. For blue eyed guys, a white beanie can produce the ‘Paul Newman’ effect, well worth trying for if you have a lady to impress!

3.    Sloppy coats: everybody needs a coat, but sometimes the coat is something that comes out in September and vanishes again in March and is worn every day in between, regardless of weather or appropriateness. Often a coat is not required. If the weather is just wet, rather than cold, go for a waterproof jacket. If it’s cold, but not wet, many men look and feel better in a padded sleeveless fleece – it allows more range of movement and gives you the chance to layer clothes underneath. Avoid the Paddington Bear effect, leave the big hat and the big coat for Tom Baker’s Dr Who or truly bad weather days.

2012 November 30

It’s been a revelation, to fashionistas at least, to discover that back in 1969, Yoko Ono designed a capsule wardrobe for her husband, John Lennon, that included trousers with a sheer panel over the buttocks and a pair of ‘nipple headlights’ on a string around the neck! According to Ono, these designs made John wild with love. Now they’ve been made into a collection being sold through ‘Opening Ceremony’.

Does it help the average man choose his Christmas wardrobe?  Not so much, unless he’s happy to sit down for a turkey dinner in a pair of trousers with a white hand screen printed over his crotch. But there are a few pointers from Ono that are good to consider.

Her clothes, she said, were designed to emphasise Lennon’s ‘very sexy bod’ and men are increasingly aware that dressing well requires more than just clean clothing – understanding body shape and choosing colours that work with your skintone can enhance your general attactiveness.

Ono’s collection is largely black and white, and this somewhat ska palette has been neglected in recent years in men’s clothing but the ‘two tone’ look can be great – black jeans with a white hoody, or a white polo shirt with a white fleece worn over think black cords can give an impression of fitness and strength in winter that works well.

It might be good to stay away from the transparent bottom view trousers though!

2012 November 26

For the first time in many years, this catwalk fashions for winter and through to spring are not youth oriented. Refined, classic, wearable clothing has been seen at all the fashion shows from Donna Karan to Louis Vuitton, partly influenced by the previews  upcoming big movies: The Great Gatsby for example, by the continuing influence of Mad Men and Downton and by the American Presidential election which drove snappy dressing and smart casual wear to the forefront of  newspapers, televisions and billboards.

To make the look work for you, focus on polish and sophistication – chinos look great with a classic, well-made leather belt, polo shirts in simple snappy colours work well with an investment jumper: go for a cashmere round or v-neck in pale blue, grey or cream.

For women, even an outfit as simple as jeans and shirt can be brought to a sophisticated pitch with a pair of good knee length leather boots, in a classic pattern and a rich tone of chestnut, burgundy or black. Stay away from patent – it looks like Wellington boots from a distance. Go for jewel coloured leather gloves too and a pashmina to wrap around a simple white shirt or long sleeved T-shirt.

Dressing too young is actually going to be counterproductive – the ‘resistance to youth obsession’ is being supported by many retailers, designers and manufacturers as cash-strapped teenagers are no longer driving the fashion market. Dressing responsibly and with presence is this winter’s top driver, and tousled hair, ripped jeans and trainers are likely to lead to failure in love and work.

2012 November 14

The weather’s changed, and wardrobes have to change too – the men who are still walking around in shorts, but with a hoodie over the top in the misguided impression this looks tough and macho, are as ancient and out of touch as dinosaurs. Wise men are gearing up for winter with a solid wardrobe that will take them through to spring with the minimum of fuss.

Jacket – a ski type jacket is a natural buy: it works for anything up to, but not including, a formal occasion, and right down the scale to picking up the milk on the doorstep. Bright colours and strong textures are in this year, so a blouson style jacket in a rich colour will be totally on trend.
Sweatshirts – a winter must, from the simple solid colours like black or blue, through to stripes or ringers, there are few winter occasions when a sweatshirt isn’t acceptable, just wear it under a formal jacket to dress up, or with jeans to dress down.
Shirt – stronger colours work for winter, so dark shirts are a good option but bright shirts can work too. Consider a tartan shirt under a white hoodie to give a nice Christmas feel without looking too much like a comedy act.
T-shirts – only work if worn under a jacket or sweatshirt or beneath a shirt; T-shirts in winter give the impression that either a ‘harder than the weather’ approach is being taken, or that you’re too cheapskate to buy long-sleeved tops!

2012 November 6

Really? Well according to Angela Kelly, who has been the queen’s personal dresser for nearly two decades, Queen Elizabeth II has ‘fantastic understanding’ of both clothes and fashion.

Apparently she knows what suits her, is cost conscious and wants to ensure that she doesn’t overspend to look good. Fabrics have to be tested to ensure they don’t crumple and look bad when they have been sat in.

Can the average Joe learn anything from this information?

Yes, actually. Three things:

1.    Know what suits you – fashion’s great and if you’re One Direction you might be able to get away with the retro haircut, statement knitwear, puppy cuddling level of fashion forward that some guys fall for, but generally that’s a really dangerous road to take. If you have a pencil neck then don’t wear V neck T-shirts, if you have a pot belly, slim fit polo-shirts are not your friend. You know it, and no amount of fashion hyping of a particular trend will make that trend work for you.
2.    Don’t overspend – a jacket should cost no more than a seat at a premier league game: more than that and you’re heading for a place where the garment has a higher credit rating than you do! Well, maybe not, but when you’re hesitating about spending ‘that much’ on one item of clothing, it may be better to spread that money over a range of items: eg six decent T-shirts, new socks and pants that will upgrade your entire look, not leave everything else you own looking tatty by comparison to your fashion icon garment.
3.    Test the fabric – you may not have a dresser to crumple things for you, but you can examine the washing instructions and make sure that you do what the label says – it can increase the life of a T-shirt by a year to wash it according to the instructions!

2012 October 30

Most British men have socks that are more than three years old, a survey by Socked.co.uk reports. So what, you may wonder?

The same research suggests that 90% of women are turned off by men who have cruddy underwear, so those men with their ancient, threadbare, cardboard hard socks are damaging their chances of a meaningful relationship.

Over 70% of men also say they wear odd socks if they can’t find a pair to that matches and that such slovenly behaviour has been commented on and they have still failed to do anything about their unmatching wardrobe.

Woollen clothing is big this year, from boot socks to trophy jumpers, but if you’re the kind of chap who doesn’t like wool or who has itchy skin as a result of wearing wool next to the skin, there are a couple of things you can do to get with the trend without suffering the scratchiness:

  1. Invest in classic coloured, ultra heavy sweatshirts – they have the same bulky outdoorsy profile as chunky wool jumpers but are easier to wear and launder.
  2. Go for reinforced toe socks to avoid holes in the toes and pick those with a silver component to stop odour.