It's easy to decide you look sharp enough… and settle into a rut.
Say you've got a couple weeks' worth of great suit/shirt/shoes combinations. Or a few nice pair of jeans, some button-downs and jackets, and a nice pair of dress boots.
You can feel SECURE that you look good, day in and day out –
But security can lead to complacency just as easily as it can foster growth.
If you want to make your style truly memorable, you need to be asking:
“How can I take this look from GOOD to GREAT?”
Read on for 30 tips for making the leap.
1. Add a Splash Of Color
Pocket squares are perfect for this. Go for something bright that contrasts with your jacket.
Remember – never match a pocket square exactly to your tie, unless you want to look like a kid who rented a suit for prom. Match to your shirt instead – or, if your jacket has a pattern (say, a pink pinstripe), bring out a color from that.
2. Accessorize for Cold Weather
Scarves, caps, and gloves are all great options for personalizing an outfit. Gold, blue, or red gloves liven up the often dark and drab colors winter outerwear.
3. Silk Scarves
Pairing a white silk scarf with formal outfits is a tradition that began with aviators. Black-tie dress is governed by strict rules, but this is the one unique finishing touch that's a great idea for adding a bit of flair and panache to your outfit.
4. Bright Jacket Interlining
This is a unique and personal statement – so personal that usually people will only see a flash of it. But that's all it takes to move up a bracket in terms of style.
You can look for jackets with cool interlinings when you shop, or ask a tailor to add one to a jacket you already own and love.
5. Contrast Stitching
Contrast stitching means that the seams of a garment are sewn with colored thread that stands out against the background fabric. It's a subtle detail that will look sharp on sleeves, buttonholes, or even shirts.
6. Tie Things Together…
The humble necktie, if used to full potential, is one of the safest and most reliable ways to inject your personality into an outfit.
Don't be the guy wearing cheap novelty ties with cartoon characters on them – but don't be afraid to branch out your tie colors, patterns and materials.
7. …Or Don't!
In theory, there's nothing wrong with not wearing a tie in the context of a normal workday outfit (unless your company culture is very formal). The problem is that shirt collars don't behave – they end up crooked or collapsed, and just look sloppy.
You can beat this problem once and for all with collar stays or a collar support. Go right ahead and become the guy whose clothes just magically look sharp all the time.
8. Upgrade Your Cuffs
One sure mark of style cred for men is a jacket cuff that actually works – as in, you can actually button the buttons. This is among the details that separate high-end suits and jackets from mass-market ones.
Even if you don't have working cuffs in your wardrobe yet, you can make your jacket look sharp by hemming the sleeves to show a little bit of your shirt cuff. Unless you're Tom Ford, you want to show 1/4″ to 1/2″ of shirt cuff past your jacket sleeve.
9. Hem Your Trousers
Some suit trousers are meant to have a “break” where the extra fabric rests on your shoes, but many types of trousers can bene-fit in the fit department from a custom hemming.
Use a seam ripper to take out the existing hem, then put the pants on with an appropriate pair of shoes and fold them where you want them to hit. Pin your fold to sew the new hem along.
No time? This is a quick, affordable alteration at most tailor shops.
10. Add Some Flash On the Wrist
Watches and bracelets make an outfit look more finished, and are another option for a dignified personal touch.
11. Add Some MORE Flash On the Wrist
Another great jewelry option for men is cufflinks. If you don't have any French cuff shirts, don't worry – a good tailor can convert them for you if you ask.
12. Tie Clip
Nothing shows off your taste and attention to detail quite like a beautiful tie fastened with a beautiful tie clip.
It's all too common to see men who look sharp from the neck down, but neglect their sense of style when it comes to personal grooming.
Depending on your hairstyle situation, this could be an area where you might kick it up a notch to make your look more memorable – or it might be totally killing your whole aesthetic to the point where it barely matters what you wear.
Find a style that works for your hair texture and face shape and get a routine down to maintain it. You'll be glad you did.
14. Hand & Face Lotion
Plain and simple, moisturizing makes you look younger and healthier – which affects how people view you on the subconscious level. It's another subtle boost to your looks that makes a not-so-subtle difference.
15. Wear a Vest
Back in the days before central heating, men added vests to their suits to keep the core of the body warm. Although they're not as practical today, they're a perfect opportunity to add visual interest to an outfit.
A contrast-colored or patterned vest livens up a relatively plain shirt and jacket combo, while a vest matched to your jacket creates a super-distinguished vibe.
Some artfully-done ink gives an edge to classic style. Like other style details on this list, tattoos are intensely personal and unique choices – it's a chance to wear your heart on your sleeve.
Want the subtle yet eye-catching focal points of jewelry, but not into traditional men's jewelry options? It's not out of the question to get something pierced.
A really great-looking statement pen is both a tool and an accessory. It gives a sense of old-fashioned dignity to your routine note-taking.
They're not just for weddings, and they don't need to be carefully arranged by a florist.
A high-end suit jacket will actually have a buttonhole on the left lapel (a tradition left over from the days when lapels could be buttoned to protect the neck), but if yours is lacking, you can have your tailor add one. Or you can simply pin your boutonniere to the lapel – this only requires that the stem of your flower look nice.
Just like with pocket squares, you can wear a boutonniere any time you wear a jacket. The only times they're not acceptable are those times when you don't want to call attention to yourself – funerals, for example.
20. Contrast Laces
If you only own one or two pairs of really good dress shoes – or if you own ten pairs and are just a sucker for options – contrast laces can be a great way to change things up.
If you've dismissed yourself as “not a hat person,” you may just need a different approach. The secret to wearing a hat well is making it look like it belongs.
Focus on simplicity and function. Think through your choices and don't try to mix the formality levels of your hats and outfits. On a similar note, don't wear a felt hat in summer just for fashion – you WILL regret it.
22. Leather Bag or Portfolio
If you rely on a backpack or computer bag to haul your stuff around, it's well past time to get a leather bag, portfolio, or briefcase. It'll look sharp and mature, and perhaps more importantly, it won't look out of place with businesswear.
23. Don't Just LOOK Sharp… Get A Signature Fragrance
A signature scent makes you memorable. And consistency turns a morning routine into a personal brand.
24. The RIGHT Shades!
A pair of sunglasses can add instant cool to an outfit – if it's the right pair. Just as easily the wrong pair can make a great outfit look dorky.
Pick a classic style and use our guide to make sure it works with your face shape.
25. Change Up Your Footwear
Shoes are a great place to take a chance and add a little edge – they won't be a distraction when you're talking face-to-face, but clearly integrate into your outfit when it's viewed as a whole. Try something colorful. Try something unexpected.
26. Shined Boots/Shoes
If you're going with the tried-and-true in the shoe department, do it right. Shining and caring for your shoes is easy once you learn how, and the difference it makes in the overall polish of your look is undeniable.
27. Pocket Square Fold
Even a plain pocket square can become a point of interest when artfully folded. Learn how to fold a pocket square here.
28. Ironed Shirt
There's a clear difference between a dress shirt that's simply been hung up to dry and one that's been crisply ironed. When you really need to look sharp, iron your shirt.
29. Pressed Trousers
See above. Freshly creased trousers are practically shorthand for having your outfit put together as a sharp-dressed man.
30. Pressed Suit
While you're at it? Press the whole thing.
Any one of these tips can make a good outfit great.
Speaking of great, don't forget to check out Slick Collar. Their shirt collar support takes seconds to put on – just adjust it to fit your collar size, flip your collar up, place it on, and flip your collar back down. No sewing or alterations needed.
You won't feel it, other people won't see it, and it's nearly indestructible. Plus you get two sets of collar stays and a second, slimmer collar support, which is perfect for thinner collars and polos. Click here to check out Slick Collar and use code RMRSLICK for a limited-time discount.