It’s a question that comes up time and time again. In fact, some people know how to choose a pair of jeans, a shirt, a pair of shoes, but don’t think about how to put all of these items together to create an outfit… How to put them all together in a harmonious ensemble. As if ‘putting an outfit together‘ were something particularly dark and complicated.
As I mentioned in earlier about overthinking, there are some questions that just don’t need to be asked, such as ‘what can you wear with a pair of raw jeans?‘, for example.
However, ‘how to put together an outfit?‘ is often not the right question to ask, as it needlessly overcomplicates things. As you know, men’s fashion is simple and isn’t meant to make you lose your mind (just to remind you!).
Ok, that’s all really nice, but I just got out of bed…how do I go about dressing?
The question you should be asking yourself is rather:
‘What do I want to wear today?’
I’ve often repeated it, too: if you don’t take pleasure from it, you’re never gonna get very far in your style apprenticeship. And that’s why I put the enjoyment you get from wearing an item at the heart of the way you should be putting together the items in your wardrobe.
It is much easier and much more fun to create an outfit using items that we want to wear than items that have a rational thought process behind them! In all honesty, it’s awful to have to say to yourself, ‘ok, so I’ve got a checked shirt there, I should take a jacket with fine lapels, and given the color, the jacket should be on the lighter side…ah, but then…I don’t have THE jacket I need…’ Don’t you think so?
Putting outfits together for enjoyment and not because they’re rational is nothing at all like that. But I promise you, in the long run, we’re talking about a huge change of mindset that will prove to be enormously beneficial.
But in concrete terms, what do I do?
It couldn’t be more simple.
You see it looks a bit chilly outside, you think to yourself that now is the time to start wearing your super cardigan with the thick woollen shawl collar. There you have an item that you like and that you want to wear today.
That will be our starting point.
But you also want to be laidback today, so you put a simple T-shirt underneath it, detailed or not, because it’s a completely laidback item.
I’m purposefully skipping the question of what jeans to wear because you already know the answer: if it’s chilly, a pair of raw jeans in selvedge denim that have just started to fade is essential.
Then we’re left with the question of shoes. We’ve seen it already, today you want to be laidback…so it’s time to get out your sneakers. And as you know it’s really difficult to go wrong when it comes to the color of a pair of sneakers, whatever you have, whether they be grey or white or more original colors, will go with your outfit without fail.
If you have high-rise sneakers, and you want the jean to fall just behind the tongue, you just need to wear a pair of jeans that are slightly fitted – there’s nothing complicated about it.
Add a scarf to the mix and – ta-da! –you have an outfit that matches your current desires. Quite simple, don’t you think?
Let’s say now that today you want to be a bit more elegant. All you have to do is replace the T-shirt with a nice shirt. And as you’ve followed our advice to go for shirts in basic colors, you’ll have no problem finding a shirt in your wardrobe that works well with your cardigan.
But as you know you’ll be walking a lot today (shopping spree, walk around town, etc) and you want to be in a pair of comfy shoes, you’ll keep the sneakers! Simple!
So there we have it – cardigan + shirt + jeans + sneakers = a coherent outfit that meets your daily needs. Easy, isn’t it?
Ok, now let’s say that today you have an insatiable desire to be elegant. You want to be manly and classy. Great. We’ll keep the shirt and the raw jeans and we’ll simply replace the sneakers with a nice little pair of boots, or a pair of Derbys. And then we’ll add a grey jacket (the same that we recommend all the time) and there you have your outfit. Why overcomplicate things?
Ok, ok, ok, you want your outfit to look more worked. He who says ‘an outfit that’s more worked’, also says ‘items that are more worked.’
You want to be elegant AND laidback, in balanced proportions. There is a rule though: you DON’T want to wear your raw jeans today but the little woollen suit trousers that you found last weekend. You just have to create a contrast of style that the readers of the Kinowear Bible know all about: a more formal item worn with a more laidback item.
In this case we have two elegant items in our outfit: the shawl collared cardigan and the suit trousers. We therefore have to fit in two more laidback items to make the contrast work: a simple T-shirt and a pair of sneakers.
And here’s the result you could have:
Classy and laidback, we say! (decoding of Alexandre’s coaching to follow!)
I repeat: men’s fashion is so so simple when we get into the habit of following our daily desires…In any case, take an item that you really want to wear on the day as your starting point…you’ll see how everything suddenly becomes a whole lot easier.
What’s more, contradictory to women’s fashion, men’s fashion is full of items that go with everything. If you choose an abundance of this kind of item, there should be no trouble finding what to wear in a morning…
The items that go with everything (an essential reminder)
You will have noticed that in this blog I insist a lot about a lot of things and not enough about others. With this in mind, I’ll take the time to go back to the items that go with everything and that you don’t even have to think about (if you do, you’re overthinking things.) No, seriously, wear these clothes and everything will be fine:
- Raw/grey/faded jeans. Really, they go with anything. I’m just starting to realise that even a nice faded pair of jeans (i.e. fairly high-end) is super-versatile. So don’t hold back when it comes to this item and don’t lose your mind when it comes to it either. We can definitively be very elegant OR very laidback with the same pair of jeans.
- The grey jacket. Ditto, whether you put it with a hoodie, a T-shirt (simple or with motifs), a shirt (simple or with motifs), a cardigan, a chambray shirt, there is zero risk. You really have to try to mess up with a grey jacket. So here, too, no questions to be asked.
- The trench. A quality trench also goes with everything. If you wear it over a checked shirt, a grey jacket with a white shirt, a simple T-shirt, a jumper, a vest or whatever else might take your fancy, the result will always be a good one. At most, there might just be some thinking to be done in terms of matching up colors but we will come to that a bit later on.
- The simple, basic V-neck T-shirt from the supermarket. Whether you put it with a jacket or under a shirt if that’s what you wanna do (as long as you undo two or three buttons…) you’ll never have to worry about what to wear your stock T-shirt with.
- A nice cardigan. Whether it be with a nice checked shirt, a chambray shirt, a white poplin shirt, a T-shirt, everything will be great with this item on your shoulders. If you can, though, go for a shawl collar (but this isn’t obligatory, eh!)
So the next person to ask me what he should wear his new pair of raw jeans with, I’ll make him go and do his shopping in Walmart. 😉 (it’s a joke)
Julien, Kinowear reader (we also suggested the National Standard sneakers to him)
There’s only one condition…
In order to have items that go together easily, you really need to have good quality items with a good quality design, with just the right amount of everything and too much of nothing.
It sounds stupid to say it like that but if you only knew how painstaking it was for me to tell my mates how to dress when all they had in their wardrobe was poor quality stuff…
The majority of items found in PAP stores are definitely a nightmare to mix and match: the collar of a shirt is too imposing to put inside the lapels of a jacket or, on the contrary, to lax to hold well, the canvas of a pair of jeans shows far too much its age and the effects of several times through the washing machine, the shoes are neither classy nor laidback, the colors aren’t great, there are slogans pretty much anywhere, useless details, etc, etc.
Believe me, these problems don’t exist in a balanced, quality wardrobe.
A nice cardigan (= a good material and a simple design) goes with everything. A bad cardigan doesn’t go with much at all.
How to wear a tie with -literally – class and casualness, by the excellent Dan from TSBmen.com
A nice shirt also goes with lots of items. A cheap shirt with square buttons doesn’t go with much
at all (even if I keep in my wardrobe an old ivory low-cost shirt that I’ve had for six years for evenings where there’s a risk of spillages)
Nike Vintage sneakers can be easily integrates into your outfits. A pair of Nike Air Max is only good for playing footie, speaking of the style.
It’s even more obvious for a leather jacket. A good leather goes easily with a good amount of items. But you’ll struggle to wear a bad-taste leather with fancy edges.
Yes, creating a great contrast of style between a very well-chosen leather with more formal piece of clothes. And that comes from the club Simon Crompton at Permanent Style.
That’s why we insist a lot on you buying quality items…they’re a lot (and I mean a lot) easier to mix and match…
That said, I’d like to dedramatize the subject a bit…
Huge mistakes a very rare
Yep, you do need to know how to look at things relatively speaking. To mix and match clothing really badly, you need to really try hard (glaring colors, see-through materials, big slogans, cheap faded jeans). In the worst case scenario, your style will pass completely unnoticed (=an absence of style), nothing more.
Unless the result is really catastrophic, nobody will cross you in the street and think ‘I’ve rarely seen a guy so badly dressed’. So, keep cool guys! And remember, men’s fashion is simple and isn’t meant to make you lose your mind (yes, I said it again).
Keep in mind that you’re not risking much by making a few mistakes.;-)
Yes, but how do you mix nice colors?
Here, too, it’s really simple. Go for items that are in really simple colors to mix and match.
I won’t go further, because I already wrote an article on the subject: the underestimated importance of colors.
But how do you go about putting outfits together for your clients in their relookings?
Good question! I had a fair few things to say on the subject but the word count on my document says 1777 words, which is twice as much as I wanted to write. Therefore I will write an article on the topic where we will explain our reasoning (you’ll be able to try and do the same if you want).
About this, as usual, I invite you to post a comment for a question, or to share this article if you think it could help one of your mates who always asks for your advice on what to wear. 😀
For more ideas, we invite you to read the Kinowear Bible, which can be found here.
Just with some basic items: simple, youthful, relaxed and spontaneous (Thablarock aka Arthur)
What are the difficulties you face when putting together outfits ?
You talk a lot about premium vrs. low-end jeans. Where do levi’s fit on this continuum?
Levi’s jeans are not premium that’s for sure. Check this post on high-end finishes to get yourself an idea http://www.kinowear.com/high-end-jeans
On the other hand they aren’t the worst jean ever at all. I would say that the quality is average and that you have t be carefull with the style, fabric and cut since they’ve got so many different designs, not all of them being nice.
I need your opinions on waistcoats. The clothing is hardly discussed and it holds a lot of potential.
Hi Sagar Mishra
I believe it’s not discussed a lot because it’s not easy pull it off and most men fashion advice tackle “beginners” issue.
In any case, my advice is to play safe. Light gray is the easiest color to use in any outfit. Also make sur to go for a plain one without much flourishing. I believe on without any lapel is the best.
I think it can really look nice as a layering piece.
Does this make sense? Let me know.