Overthinking – men’s fashion should not be complicated

For those of you who don’t know what I mean by ‘overthink’, it’s a term used by Kinowear that explains that sometimes, too much thought about an item of clothing or one little detail in particular can do more harm than good, and only serves to cloud the mind about even simple things.

This is a problem faced especially by those starting out, who ask themselves too many unnecessary questions instead of concentrating on what is absolutely essential:

  • How do I match my scarf to my belt?’ (instead of wondering whether it’s really important to do so)
  • ‘What thickness of sole should I go for for my sneakers?’ (instead of wondering if there really are several major thicknesses on the market)
  • ‘What width belt should I put with my raw jeans?’ (instead of seeing that it isn’t really a very important part of the outfit)
  • And the great classic – ‘I’m 5’5” tall, can I wear a trench regardless?’ (see the chapter on the silhouette in the Kinowear Bible

The superb brand Wing

The superb brand Wing + Horns give excellent examples of spontaneous outfits

Some beginners take this kind of question very seriously and I was surprised to see that the Overthink can really be a source of anxiety for some. ‘Have I made the right choice? But if I don’t choose the right width for my belt, that will leave my outfit looking out of proportion, won’t it?’ It was therefore high time we got rid of the Overthink once and for all…and that’s the aim of this article!

Never forget what I often repeat in relooking:

‘Fashion isn’t meant to stress you out.’

It’s really stupid but it is also essential: we shop for pleasure, not for a breakdown. You know the importance I accord to beliefs and state of mind when it comes to clothes, so make my day: actively make sure that each shopping trip is a relaxing experience full of discoveries! But really do it! Take pleasure in going and trying on new clothes without buying them, in discovering new cuts, materials and shades…instead of over-intellectualizing by systematically asking yourself if a certain item is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. (such a binary vision has no place in your style apprenticeship!)

Personally, when I moved to Montreal at the end of August 2011, I’ve been really enjoying roaming round old Montreal to find some really nice stores (Reborn, Rooney, U&I, SSense, for those of you in the area) and discovering Canadian designers.

This intro was long but nevertheless necessary to remind you that this notion of pleasure is absolutely essential. Now we can go into more detail.

The Overthink. Why?

The Overthink. Why?

The Overthink, as I am led to conclude, comes from two main things:

  • A lack of trying before you buy
  • An extreme attempt to rationalize everything

Why is it so important to try clothes on without buying them? Quite simply because most of the time this will answer all of your questions, and in a concrete way, too! It is through physically trying on a pair of boots that you’ll find the style you like; it is through physically trying on two different colored knitted items that you’ll see which one suits you best (and which you like the most). So, try, try…and try again!

For the example of the width of the belt, when I was asked this question, I answered:

‘What does a wider belt look like on you?’

‘I don’t know, I’ve never tried it.’

You see the problem?

And about that, when a beginner has no concrete way of answering (which comes with trying things out), he tries hard to find one through extreme rationalization, thinking that you need to know (and not try) the precise thickness of a sole or the crotch size in mm for a pair of jeans. And he goes about his research with useless info, such as the precise shade of white that you should look for in sneakers. In this kind of case, I think it’s justified to use the term ‘fashion geek’!

The Overthink in details

‘OK, OK, but when you’re trying to learn how to find your own style, there are nevertheless really important things you need to know, aren’t there? What’s the limit between essential knowledge and the Overthink?’

This is a good question that I have already been asked. To answer concretely, I propose to go over in detail a few items that often provoke the Overthink.

Jeans – not all creases are your enemies

Rick Owens

Look, even Rick Owens has fun purposefully putting ‘creases” in clothes – which are actually where they’ve been shaped – on the thighs of these jeans 😉

Oh, the famous crease in the back pocket of your jeans…In the sales, I often get messages from readers who say they’ve found a really nice pair of jeans with well-defined back pockets, perfect thighs, a nice material… but they didn’t buy cos there was a crease in the back pocket. I don’t know if you’re aware of what you’re saying but…not buying a really nice pair of jeans because of a stupid frickin crease!!! (Yep, this time I’m allowing myself the extra exclamation marks cos it really is a stupid little niggle!)

So, sorry to disappoint you, but this crease in the back pocket is perfectly normal and natural. And I’ve already said that ‘no crease’ is like ‘no risk’ … it doesn’t exist and will never exist when it comes to jeans. Me too…I’ve got jeans with this crease.

Same goes for perfectly adjusted thighs. Honestly, if the jeans are well-cut at ass level and slightly tight around the hips, that’ll do the job. Sometimes, there will be a little bit of room around the thighs…it’s no big deal.

So when you’re being a ‘jeans geek’, it’s an example of the Overthink. Bring things back to basics.

Accessories – spontaneity is the dish of the day

Robert Geller

Robert Geller always has super expensive accessories…but they’re worth taking a look at anyway

If fashion isn’t meant to stress you out, this is even truer of accessories. If you often spend time thinking about the color of your belt (or even worse, your shoes), you’re taking things way too far.

Unless your outfit is really formal, you don’t need to stress about a simple belt. Choose a belt you’ll wear all the time and let it wear over time. You’ll never ask yourself the question about what belt to wear with what again.

Same goes for bracelets: don’t stress out. A little leather bracelet, no matter the color, will do the trick. Do you think Johnny Depp, who always has a little something on his wrist, spends three hours wondering what color bracelet to wear? Of course not.

As for scarves and other shawls, it’s (pretty much) the same thing. Trying to match your scarf to your shoes (question already received in an email) is an example of the Overthink. Wearing a scarf should be something spontaneous and natural and that’s that. Obviously, it has to be a nice scarf, not something in polyester from H&M 😉

The only accessory that really needs a bit of attention, is a pair of glasses, sunglasses or otherwise.

Jackets: not all that difficult

A pure and simple cut

A pure and simple cut from Prorsum, that’s what you need

The beginner’s nightmare? Having a jacket that isn’t the perfect fit and not well-cut. And that’s justified, because a jacket with an approximate fit does you no favors…but you know that already. On the other hand, a well-cut jacket can be spotted right away.

Be careful not to be a crease geek and to wonder if the waist, even if it’s fitted, is ‘adapted to your morphology’. Don’t go into problems of the height of the waist, that’s no use when it comes to choosing your first jacket. Other beginners think that a waisted jacket is necessarily adjusted all over, particularly at chest level and with ZERO creases. They’re wrong and such a jacket would be uncomfy to wear and would limit you in your choice of clothing.

So as to stop asking yourself these questions, the cure is still the same: try without buying, especially high-end stuff. After you’ve tried a lot of items you’ll have a clear idea of what suits you best. The whole thing, without getting into the never-ending problems of the size of the lapels etc.

Another important point: with a jacket of your size, you should be able to easily wear a cardigan of your size underneath. Not necessarily chunky knit but a simple linen cardigan should be able to be worn underneath. If not, it’s too small!

Once they’ve chosen their jacket, some people complicate things by wondering ‘what range of temperatures a jacket can be worn in’. Here, too, everyone’s different, it’s up to you to try wearing your jacket with one or two layers underneath and to see if you’re comfy. Once again, this kind of question cannot be answered unless you physically try things out!

And if really, after you’ve bought a jacket, you’re now well-tuned eye spots that it isn’t really too well-cut, go to a tailor’s to get a few retouches done. Don’t worry! 😉

To take things further, I invite you to read the article on men’s jackets that I wrote (as well as the comments with it).

Sneakers: look for good value

Ah, sneakers…it’s strange to see that an item that is in itself so casual can be the cause of so much Overthink.


Still the brand Wing + Horns

It’s not complicated:

  • Either you go for vintage designs by Nike or Adidas
  • Or alternative brands (Bagua, Faguo, Veja, Clae, Filling Pieces, Fillipa K etc)
  • Or you go for high-end stuff

There’s no way you can go wrong with these three possibilities. Forget about the thickness of the sole, the depth of the lacing, the color of the laces… in 99% of cases, these questions are unnecessary. We’ve done a fair bit on the subject on the blog and in the Kinowear Bible, so you know where to look if you want more info 😉

And, as usual, try out a few pairs one sunny afternoon.

Mixing and matching clothes…why complicate things?

We’re now getting to THE worst point in terms of the Overthink: putting items together for an outfit. Sometimes, I get asked things like:

  • What do I wear with a trench?
  • How do I wear a cardigan?
  • What can I wear with raw jeans?

Yet it is so simple, the answers are usually right in front of your eyes:

  • In the pics we use in our articles
  • In lookbooks of different brands
  • In the windows of good stores, who always create nice looks on models
  • On websites/blogs where people post their outfits: lookbook.nu, Les frères Jo (a great French preppy style) Little Style Box (for men’s street looks).
  • Some eshops such as Need Supply, Azalea or Mr Porter
  • And, more generally, the people around you

a very good example of how to put chinos with a cardigan

For example, in the lookbook of the brand Apolis, you’ve got a very good example of how to put chinos with a cardigan or how to make a nice little tie work with a cardigan

In short, open your eyes. So as not to have to ask yourself what to wear your cardigan, that you just bought, with, look for inspiration. And you know what? Inspiration comes from your environment, from the way you see things. If you ask yourself this kind of question, you clearly lack inspiration and, more generally, you don’t pay enough attention when it comes to the things right in front of you.

When a guy asks me what to wear with a trench, I can’t help asking myself if he has really already bothered to look at all the outfits with a trench that are found all around him.

Ok, no stress, this article is already really long, so I’ll go over the putting together of an outfit in more detail in another article cos I get a lot of questions about it.

Spontaneity really is your friend

To finish, I want you to work on spontaneity. The more spontaneous you are, the less stressed out you’ll get about unnecessary questions.

But being spontaneous about men’s fashion…what does that mean?

It simply means following your desires (nothing to do with buying stuff and totally forgetting the basic advice for dressing well)

  • Don’t try too hard to tuck your jeans into your combat boots. Simply put on your boots, do the laces, and you’re done.
  • Put on the first clothes you lay your hands on
  • Put your scarf on however it happens cos you’re in a rush
  • Don’t get obsessed with the matching up of colors
  • Don’t try for THE perfect outfit

Keep cool, guys, and make my day – when you ask yourself a question, try to find the answer by trying things out. If there’s one thing I want you to remember, it is that the best way to answer your questions is by trying things on!

Don’t hesitate to use the comments rather than emails if you have questions (that way, everyone benefits from the answers!) 😉

A cardigan with a simple T-shirt

A cardigan with a simple T-shirt, a pair of faded jeans quickly turned-up, it’s enough for Daniel when he’s going shopping. So why not for you?