We were all there at one point. None of us popped out of the womb dressed in Tom Ford (except maybe Jay Z). We all had to learn the ways and we're not afraid to admit we made some missteps.
The good news is, there's nothing stopping you from becoming a sartorial savant. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Once you've copped to making rookie style mistakes, you're ready to enter treatment. Recovery and some sound fashion advice begins now.
1. Tie not done up properly
Problem: We'll skip the part where you have to choose the right tie in the first place because that's an art of its own, and go straight to implementation. We're assuming you already know how to tie a tie - ideally in several different ways - but can you do it properly? Things to watch out for include length (either too short or too long), haphazard knots that do not fill the gap between the collar, and knots that expose the narrow end of the tie in any way.
Solution: Click here for a tutorial video if you haven't yet mastered at least one knot. Aim for the tip of the tie to just tap your belt buckle. Always make sure the knot fits snuggly against the collar and doesn't leave gaps anywhere. And for the love of all that's holy, do not tuck it into anything or give in to the urge to wear a novelty tie – you will look like a tool and/or someone's visually impaired grandfather.
2. Scuffed shoes
Problem: Want to know what kind of man you are? Look down. The state of your shoes says it all. If they look like they've been dragged cross-country behind an off-road vehicle, you've got a problem. If you actually have recently been dragged cross-country behind an off-road vehicle, you've got way more problems than we can tackle here. If you can see your reflection staring back at you, give that handsome mug a smile and carry on doing what you're doing.
Solution: First, stop buying crap footwear. When replacing your cheapo shoes seems easier than performing a little maintenance on them, it's time to adjust your priorities. Spend the extra cash to get shoes that inspire you to treat them well. Second, check out our guide to caring for your shoes like a real man. Shine on you crazy diamond.
3. Putting large objects in suit jacket or pants pockets
Problem: We understand that a man of your stature probably has plenty of important things to carry with him – a bulging wallet, a top-of-the-line mobile, business cards that would make Patrick Bateman seethe with jealousy – but there are limits. You're not James Bond, no matter how well you wear that suit. There's absolutely no need to stuff your pockets with more gizmos and gadgets than Q could invent in a lifetime.
Solution: You don't want to ruin the lines of your suit, so pack light. If it's not essential, leave it at home. If it is essential, make it as streamlined as possible (e.g. get yourself a nice money clip instead of a thick leather wallet). This would also be a good time to invest in a briefcase or high-end bag of some kind. Or in this suit.
4. Limp, lifeless shirt collars
Problem: Your drinks should be stiff and so should your collars. The “I just stepped out of Saturday Night Fever” look is never the answer unless you're actually John Travolta and have just magically walked out of a television. In which case, woah, how did you do that? Maybe we should cut back on those stiff drinks after all.
Solution: When some things go limp, there's a little blue pill to fix the problem. In the case of limp shirt collars, that little blue pill is collar stays. You may already feel a plastic version in your shirts, but those are often ineffective. Spring for the metal-and-magnets version that will keep your collars standing to attention all day long.
5. You think caring about style is for David Beckham types
Problem: Do us a favour. Check your smartphone. See that place where it tells you the date? See how it says 2014? So don't you think it's about time to take your head out of that place you've put it? That can't possibly be a comfortable position.
Solution: Style is for any man who gives a damn, and it's about damn time you recognised it.
Step one: spend as many hours as it takes combing through our archives until you've brought your Neanderthal ideas up to date.
Step two: shopping spree.
Step three: find yourself drowning in job offers and hot dates.
6. Belt not matching shoes
Problem: This might be the rookiest of all rookie style mistakes. One of the first rules young men learn when they take their earliest steps into the sartorial world is that their shoes should always match their belt. If you're rocking brown shoes, a tan belt, and a black briefcase, you're not setting yourself up for that promotion (or for scoring a date to the company Christmas party).
Solution: That being said, you don't need to take this rule entirely at face value. Matching could mean matching the colours. Matching could mean matching the materials. Matching could mean matching the hardware, if your shoes have buckles. The more formal the outfit, the more closely the two should match. The more casual the outfit, the more leeway you have to play with what “matching” means to you. Just steer clear of the black/brown combo, which is pretty much always problematic.
7. Overuse of hair product
Problem: You look like you tripped and landed headfirst in a bucket of grease. Were you fixing an engine and your repairs went awry? Did your hand slip while polishing a shoe and accidentally buff the top of your head instead? Are you the victim of some kind of tragic bacon-frying accident? Where your hair products are concerned, too much of a good thing is definitely a bad thing.
Solution: There are several possible fixes for hair that's been doused in product. Run a brush or comb through it to loosen the strands for a more natural look. Massage a small amount of an oil-absorbing powder, like baby powder or cornstarch, through your roots (hair spray can also help sop up excess oil). Spritz a styling product with water to dilute its hold, then re-style. If all else fails, grab a razor and try out the Vin Diesel look.
8. Clothes that don't fit properly
Problem: No man should look like he stole his wardrobe from someone else's closet (and if you actually did steal your wardrobe from someone else's closet … well … at least get it tailored before you wear it out in public). A proper fit makes any outfit look better. It's the key to coming off as confident, attractive, and put-together. Even cheap clothes will make you look like a millionaire if you've nailed the fit.
Solution: Know what suits your body. You don't have to be the fittest guy in the gym to look good in what you're wearing – not even close. Learn how to play with proportions and dress for your body shape to accentuate all the right things. Some brands will fit you better than others, so find the ones that cater best to your body type. And, of course, find a tailor you trust. Even off the rack clothing deserves the tailor treatment.
9. Wearing too much cologne
Problem: It's not that you're wearing cologne, it's that you're wearing every cologne in the damn store. Tone it down a little, tiger. If you were meant to dump the entire bottle on at once, it wouldn't have come with that handy spritzer thing on top. Women want a whiff, not a wallop, and you should want them to have to get close to you in order to enjoy your enticing, sexy scent.
Solution: Don't. Just don't. It's that simple. If you're seriously in danger of overdoing it, spray a blast of your favourite fragrance into the air and step through the mist. If you're more capable of moderation, choose just a couple of places – like your chest and your neck – and hold the bottle a decent distance away from your body when you spray. If you accidentally go overboard, rubbing alcohol applied to the area can help cut down the odour.
Problem: Oh, you shop at Gucci-LV-Lanvin-Burberry-Lacoste-whatever, do you? Congratulations. Were you expecting a medal for your accomplishment? There's nothing wrong with being a label-lover (unless that label is Ed Hardy), but discretion is the name of the game, guys. You are not a walking advertisement. “Dresses like a billboard” is not usually on a potential partner's list of male must-haves.
Solution: Choose brands based on their style and substance, not their status. Do you love the colour? Do you like the fit? Do you like the fabric? Do you appreciate the quality of the craftsmanship? That's what matters, not how big the logo is or how many of them are plastered across the product. Buying off-brand won't kill you either, especially if it looks just as good for a fraction of the price.
D'Marge is one of Australia's most popular men's style and fashion blogs.