Three Questions When Buying Clothes
We’ve all been through this scenario at one point or another: You walk into a store, you see a nice shirt (or fill-in-the-blank); it’s on sale! Plus, it’s the last one in stock! Lucky you! You try it on. Something about it looks, well, off. Sleeves may be a bit baggy, or the waist is a bit tight. You decide, screw it, you’ll get it anyway, it looks too good (at least in your mind’s eye it does). You wear it to the office the next day to work, and you still get this nagging feeling that it doesn’t quite work. After a few more (or maybe even less) forced wears later, you chuck it in the closet, never to be worn again.
Before you hand over your hard-earned cash on a particular clothing item, you should ask yourself the following questions to prevent wasted money and fabric:
1. Does it fit? We’re currently in the midst of the whole #menswear scene, via style blogs and other fashion sites (or is it subsiding?). More guys are conscious of self-image and wanting to look good through the clothes they wear. Almost to T, the most important piece of advice when it comes to men’s clothing is that “Fit is King.” An expensive shirt that fits too small or, for most available sizing in the Philippines, fits too big will look cheap; while a cheap t-shirt that emphasizes the wearer’s better physical attributes (for most guys – arms and chest) and makes one look damn sexy can have the illusion of looking more sophisticated and, thus, expensive. Most shirts, button-down or otherwise, should fit close to the body, tapering at the sides while not bunching up at the sleeves. For specifics, go here and here. Pants or jeans, on the other hand, should also hew close to the legs, tapering down the ankle, with no extra fabric bunching or “stacking” at one’s ankles. Look here and here for pointers. Keep in mind, close does not mean tight; a guy should always be comfortable. One should imagine and project a streamlined silhouette without unnecessary bulges or bumps. It might be difficult to get decent tailoring locally to get a fit exactly right (article for another day), but with many stores currently favoring a slimmer look it’s not that hard to go the fitted route.
2. Does it look good (on me)? Fitting well is the first and most important step. Once you pass that, you have to take a long look at yourself in the mirror and check if what you’re wearing correlates with your skin tone, body type, even face and hair. Sounds excessive, but not all clothes are made for all guys. A polka dot button down might look cool and fresh on your young, slim, fair-skinned office-mate, but it might look forced on darker-skinned, husky, verging-on-middle-aged you. Which isn’t to say it can’t work, but more than likely, there is an option out there that works better for you. Do an inventory of your wardrobe – study your pieces and ensembles carefully and ask yourself, which makes me look good, makes me feel confident, gets me some notices? What similar stuff can I find like that? If you’re fortunate (to use a driving metaphor) to find your lane, fashion-wise, stick to it, and extend it (and you) to its absolute best.
3. Does it go with the other clothes in my wardrobe? If you passed the first two, the last should relatively be a cinch. We went through the Essentials List, so even if you pick out something that might be risky or experimental, as long as you anchor it in your versatile basic wear, then the new purchase should work as, what #menswear bloggers like to call, a statement piece. For shirting, for example, you want to go floral, or paisley, or contrasting plaid, cool – it can be a risk, it can elicit “WTF?” looks from those around you – but to play it safe, wear it with navy pants or a dark wash jean, or make it pop out underneath a subtle cardigan, and own the look with confidence. Congratulations, you’re branching out and going forth into your own personal fashion journey of self expression and individual identity. If you mastered these three finer points, then you certainly don’t need any more advice, least of all from me or any fashion blog.