Some men effortlessly exude style. Everything they wear looks good on them be it denim jeans, a casual jacket and trousers combination or a sharp suit. Sartorial elegance is their middle name.
Others, whom the fashion gods looked less favourably on, do not make the grade. They break the style commandments all the time, worse still, many of them do not even know that these rules exist.
They opt for styles which do not suit them, mistakenly believe that cheap always means cheerful and opt for novelty looks in the foolish belief they are making a statement (they are - one that screams fashion disaster! ).
If you are tired of being a clothing catastrophe and want to makeover your image, then this is the perfect season to showcase your new look. Autumn is a time when the shops are full of stylish new collections. Unlike summer when novelty looks and bright colours abound and it is easy to get carried away and make a fashion faux pas this season offers an easier route to understated style.
So now is your chance to make that first move and develop a trademark look. It will be worth your while. About 55 per cent of first impressions are based on appearance, such as how you dress, grooming and body language.
While you cannot buy style - it really is a mixture of what you wear and how you carry yourself - you can make smart decisions which will ensure you look good. You do not need to spend a fortune. All that is required is an ability to maximise your good points, a flair for mixing and matching which will extend your wardrobe and a keen eye for accessories which will revitalise jaded outfits or add panache to the season’s newest looks.
What are the golden rules for dressing well and what pitfalls should you avoid?
Image consultant Mary Hearne says if you ask the majority of men what is their nightmare location they will tell you it’s the men’s changing room in shops. Suddenly they are alone with a number of outfits and find it difficult to asssess their potential much less make a final decision whether to buy something or return it to the rail.
“Men tend to think only in terms of short, regular, long, extra large, large, medium or small. But to be a smart shopper and to avoid mistakes they need to consider three important factors - proportion, body shape, height/scale,” she says.
“Understanding your proportions [this is the length of your body versus that of your leg] is key to putting your clothes together and looking balanced. The Irish male tends to have a long body and short legs, relative to his all over height. The mistake is to wear turn-ups on trousers, this will make your leg look even shorter and create a total imbalance. Jackets that button low down will make the legs look even shorter, the best look is the high button and single breasted.”
She advises men to remember the golden rule - always close the middle button, sometimes the top, never the lower.
If your arms are short do have the sleeves adjusted as the most common mistake (just look at a photograph of a group of men ) is sleeves that are too long, she says.
“Ensure sleeves do not overhang your hands, they should rest on the break of the wrist not half way down the hand. For the short body and long leg just reverse the guidelines. For the long body wear trousers with turn-ups, high buttoned and tuck in casual shirts.”
Double breasted styles look great on tall men, says Ms Hearne who has 20 years’ experience styling men and women. Four to six buttons are ideal and make sure you do not button too high for your proportions.
“Many brands of suit trousers are available with unfinished hems or a choice of leg length. Jeans also come in up to six different leg lengths for each waist measurement so do get into that changing room and get assistance from the very helpful and experienced staff.”
She explains it is important to know your body type because your build will determine the cut and style of clothes you should wear. Mens’ bodies are much easier to dress than women’s because there are more variations in the female shape.
She advises against wearing heavy, bulky fabrics if you are broad shouldered and narrow hipped. Steer clear of baggy shirts and T shirts, especially striped ones, and patterned jumpers, too, says the image consultant.
“But if you have narrow shoulders and broad hips patterned tops, stripes, etc are great. Detail on the shoulder line or set in sleeve is fine but avoid raglan as so often seen in rainwear and knitwear for men. Think army uniform and all the detail they have on the shoulder line giving the appearance of broad shoulders, ie, authority and fit.”
If you are a man with a tendency to dip into the cookie jar once too often or are guilty of piling your plate too high for dinner what can be done for your paunch?
Ms Hearne says the mistake this man tends to make is he goes for hard lines, crisp fabrics and sharp tailoring, thinking this will make him look slimmer.
However, the opposite is true. “Go for the American cut, a softer style in a relaxed fabric. The best fabrics are flannel, wool and cashmere and soft woven twill. Avoid belted jackets and fitted tops, tight jeans and sharp geometric patterns.”
* Remember, you do not have to be a slavish follower of fashion. Trends come and go and if you make a habit of emulating them you will end up broke and with no identity.
* You do not have to wear a suit and tie to look well and everything you wear need not come from designer stores.
* Do a wardrobe audit before you consider buying anything new. Get rid of anything that is not flattering, fit for its purpose or does not co-ordinate with other items in your wardrobe.
* Keep abreast of changing trends. There is a world of difference between being a fashion victim and wearing clothes which are current. Looks change seasonally so it is important to remain up to date. You can achieve this by buying classic clothes which will not date or lose their appeal. Then all you have to do is update your image each season by investing in the latest accessories, such as shoes, ties, even sunglasses.