Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Coordination Tips

Having a closet full of designer clothes doesn't mean much if you can't coordinate them. It is important for a man to know how to combine different elements of fashion, like fabrics, colors and patterns, to create a knock out ensemble. The definitive guide for style has come up with some handy tips and key rules to take into consideration when getting dressed for the day.

Wear color wisely
Many men stick to a neutral color palette under the assumption that they can’t go wrong with a closet full of black, brown, blue, and white. A wardrobe devoid of color, however, can be drab. Throwing in a few splashes of color here and there can really pick up even the most basic outfit and make you seem incredibly fashion-forward. For men, less is best when it comes to color, so begin slowly. Use color as an accessory or only wear one boldly hued garment at a time. And of course, make sure you know which colors are best (and worst) suited to your skin tone.

Be pattern savvy
In order to avoid looking like you’ve just escaped from a psychiatric hospital, learning how to select coordinating patterns for your ensembles is crucial. It does take a bit of effort to memorize the definitions of the most common patterns, but doing so will help you achieve a unique look because you’ll be able to break free of the safe, solid-colors-only style rut that too many men find themselves in. There are approximately 10 popular patterns of which you should be aware of, including houndstooth, herringbone, windowpane checks, sharkskin, barley corn, and pinstripe. Along with being able to recognize these common patterns, you should also know what they pair well with and when to wear them: The window pane check, for example, is a simple pattern of plain squares that is commonly found on dress shirts and should be teamed with a coordinating blazer that complements an accent color in the shirt.

Learn how to mix prints
Though you may eventually decide you can live without incorporating houndstooth into your wardrobe, you’ll still be faced with the dilemma of how to combine a patterned shirt with a printed tie. As long as you follow four basic rules, you minimize your chances of ruining otherwise perfectly good ensembles. First, make sure that the dominant color in your shirt appears in the accents on your tie. Second, when wearing a checked shirt with a checked tie, keep the print on your body smaller than the one around your neck. Whether or not you’re wearing checks, you’ll want to vary the weights between the patterns as donning two garments with prints of the same size is visually overwhelming. Finally, when in doubt about how to combine prints, just remember that a small print next to a larger one will quickly create an elegant ensemble. If your tie has a small print, for instance, your shirt should have a larger one.

Match your shoes with your pants
Wearing the wrong pair of shoes can destroy your entire look -- even if you happen to be dressed to the nines in a bespoke suit. When selecting shoes, you need to take both their color and style into consideration in order to determine if they will complement your outfit. For navy suits or dress pants, try black, camel, tan, or oxblood-hued shoes. With gray, opt for black, oxblood or camel-colored footwear. Common styles of footwear you’ll want to brush up on include loafers, oxfords, dress boots, and monk-strap shoes. Finally, details such as whether or not your shoes have wing tips, cap toes, laces, or broguing should be kept in mind when you’re searching for the right shoe for a particular pair of pants.

Master layering
There are two major benefits of layering: it enables you to dress for variable weather conditions so that you’re always comfortable, and it lets you display your fantastic sense of style. The most important rule for layering is that every piece you’re wearing should be able to stand on its own as well as with your ensemble as a whole. Another important guideline to follow is that thinner garments should be worn closer to your body for added warmth and to create a sleek, pulled-together appearance. Furthermore, when wearing multiple layers, don’t be afraid to play around and have some fun with your style. In fact, layering is one of the best ways to sneak color into your wardrobe and mix the high with the low for a thoroughly individual look.

For a more detailed guide to style, check out the Ask Men's Style Bible or Esquire's Big Black Book.

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