Spending way too many hours at the local department stores this past weekend, I was appalled to see so many fashion faux pas. And no, I’m not talking about my fellow females, but rather our, shall we say, less–fashion-savvy other halves. Like many of you ladies out there who have not-so-fashionable men (cute as it may be how they do try), I would like to take this opportunity to give you five quick and inexpensive ways to improve his image this holiday season. What better way to quietly give his look a makeover then by wrapping it up in shiny paper, disguised as a selfless present? Worry not; it’ll be so subtle that he won’t even suspect your well-intentioned gifts are slowly but surely turning him into that handsome, well-groomed model in those Dolce &Gabbana ads. Best of all: don’t worry, no ties are mentioned in this article.
Let’s start from the top. Headwear can be quite a head-scratcher for most men. If he does opt for a hat, he will most likely put on his favorite faded baseball cap that you have to fight off his head to wash, if you’re lucky. As one man in my life so adamantly believes, baseball caps should never be washed, as their very purpose is to get just the right worn-out look and, err… smell. While I have always had a soft spot for (clean) baseball caps, even the trendiest team won’t cut it at the office. So let’s look at a couple alternatives suitable for the workplace .
The fedora had a celebrity run that was celebrity worn-out a couple years ago. Those tacky reinventions in unconventional colors, patterns, and fabrications, eek! Yet, I believe it is a classic and capable of making the grimiest man dapper with the right pick. Widely worn in the early twentieth century, most men considered this part of their suits, not just an addition to. And oh how suave it made them look. You can’t go wrong with a brown wool fedora, Steer clear of any pinstripes or overtly bold feathers, unless he is in fact a member of the mob, in which case he probably already has his own fedora and 8-ball tipped cane (Oh, what to get for the mobster with everything?!). Keep the colors neutral and let the silhouette of the hat dominate. A subtle plaid or herringbone is as far as you will need, pattern-wise. If he downright kicks it to the curb, go for a newsboy cap following the same color/fabric rules above. Sure, it’s a bit less “notice-me,” but still gives him style points with that most important audience: You!
You can find a very nice fedora or newsboy cap at your local haberdashery for as little as forty dollars. Ok, I just wanted to say “haberdashery.” In lieu, most department stores will stock options. Next, the scarf. As a couple of my girlfriends scoffed, they absolutely will not give a man who wears a non-functional scarf a second glance. That is, of course, unless it’s simply to point and laugh. A scarf is for the cold weather only and it’s never acceptable when he’s wearing shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops, even if it is pouring rain. Yes, I did see that very ensemble on a dripping wet, rain-soaked man last week on Hollywood Blvd… enough said. Yet, I do find scarves on men to look very fashionable, when worn with the proper accompanying attire, and we will have a few cold nights this winter when he will be able to pull off some non-tie neckwear. Again, keep it simple, especially if he doesn’t own one already. Choosing solid colors and avoiding anything too frilly will do the trick. And don’t go for a slim scarf; it just isn’t masculine.
Overall, the best tip I can give is to go out and buy a collared shirt that actually fits your man and doesn’t make him look like a scrawny adolescent wearing his father’s dress shirt. Many designers are offering “slim fit” collared button-ups nowadays. Whew, finally! Many burly men may be turned off by wearing anything deemed “slim fitting,” imagining all of the mockery by their fellow manly friends. But if they are brave enough to give it a try, surely they will be pleased by the just-the-right fit it gives them. I promise, they won’t mind all of the new female eyes that better notice their once hidden physique either, and a well-tailored shirt certainly never goes unnoticed by these prying eyes.
Now that we’ve snagged him a spiffy tailored shirt, let’s drift our eyes below the belt. You know those mom jeans that you cringe in fear upon seeing on a victim, um I mean other woman? They just don’t do her body justice. Who wants to look puffy in the thighs? Well, meet its match: the dad slacks. Slacks, also referred to as trousers, with thick front pleats and tapered legs are a no-no. Slacks are often seen as mundane; a staple in his workwear. It’s no wonder he doesn’t brim with delight upon picking among brown, tan or black in the morning. Good news–just like collared shirts, pants now come in more fits and patterns that stand out from the crowd. If his silhouette is long and lean a slim-fit pant with straight or just slightly tapered legs will show off his lengthy gams. Avoid front pleats unless they’re subtle, but with his physique, there’s really no use. If he is on the shorter side choose a wider leg pant with subtle pleats, preferably a single front pleat. The pleat does the job of freeing up room for movement without looking gawdy. The wide leg doesn’t draw unwanted attention to his thighs. Also, for any man, go for slash pockets in the back avoiding flap pockets that can add extra weight on his bum. Trust me, guys are just as concerned about that as we are. As for patterns, go for a simple plaid or checkered pattern that blends in with the main color of the pant. Plaid works well for lighter hues as checkered patterns blend well into darker more saturated colors.
Finally, what is a great outfit without a pair of slick shoes? Men’s shoes are really coming on trend, enough to compete with our sexy patent heels and stiletto boots. Like that will ever happen, psh. Yet the selection of shoes for him have evolved into quite the proud pinnacle. I believe every man needs the following classic in his closet, or at least in the little corner of it you give him. What? It’s not your fault those cocktail dresses and winter coats take up so much space. Anyway–oh yes, classics in his corner. What else than a swanky pair of loafers. Stick with black or a neutral brown. The kind he can easily wear at the office, the opera, or with a pair of denim jeans. Think of those leather boots you have that you’ve worn out both to the market and your friend’s art gala. When he unwraps them though, don’t exclaim how wonderful they are explaining the versatility with “look how you can dress them up or down!” followed by squealing. Most men will not appreciate. Especially a man like yours. Just let him chose to wear them with whatever he wants, he’ll figure it out. Now you can go out together no longer fearing the embarrassment of wearing your gorgeous stilettos alongside a pair of his duds. Also, another step towards making him think he’s styling himself. Points for you.
Buying one or all of these fashion-savvy items for your significant other this shopping season might just sway his own fashion ability for the new year, and it doesn’t hurt one bit that a little sharpening up won’t break the bank. That combo will indeed be a wonderful gift for him…and for you!
-By Maria McDowell