Achieving Jermyn Street Style - 5 Tips for Sartorial Success
David Evans is the lawyer turned fashion blogger behind the cult menswear blog Grey Fox. Since 2011 he’s been sharing invaluable style inspiration for the mature gentleman based on his own experiences. We caught up with him on Jermyn Street, one of London’s most renowned and chic districts, to discuss how to achieve sartorial success in five easy steps…
You know style when you see it. A man or woman walks past oozing well-dressed elegance. Can any of us achieve style, or is it something you have to be born to? I’ve been telling the story of my search for style on my blog for over five years now and have learned a thing or two about the secrets of the very stylish. With a little effort and knowledge, any of us can dress well.
Here are my five tips for sartorial success. Follow them and I guarantee you’ll start to receive compliments from friends and family.
Buy less and pay more is a fundamental rule. Quality clothes look better and last longer than cheaply made ones. Remember also that, with very cheap products, the workers who made them are rarely well-paid.
Try the clothes on, do they fit well and feel comfortable? Are the materials they’re made from soft and substantial to the touch? Is the stitching neat and strong? Is the cut generous? Saving on cloth and other materials shows in mean, skinny and cheap-looking clothing.
Far better to have fewer well-made clothes that you really like, feel good in and which last well, than a large wardrobe, most of which you seldom wear.
Complement your well-fitting clothes with little details that show your taste and style.
For work, a colourful silk tie with your suit can be paired with a pocket square. They mustn’t match - better to take one colour or pattern from the tie and echo that in the pocket square. A watch from a good maker, vintage or new, brings sophistication to a look. Carry a quality leather holdall or briefcase and match the leather to your shoes and belt. Select socks to match your trousers - you can be bolder with colours when you’re built confidence, but to start with go carefully when choosing socks.
Casual needn’t mean messy. A good pair of jeans or chinos with a well-fitting chambray and knitwear, a quality belt and a good pair shoes such as loafers or brogues will look relaxed and stylish.
If you wear a tie, do it up - much better to remove it than wear it loose with shirt button undone. Always wear a double-breasted jacket buttoned up. With a single-breasted jacket it’s normal to do up the waist button (the middle of three) and possibly the top button, but leave the bottom one undone. Jackets and blazers are constructed for this buttoning convention, so anything else won’t look as smart.
Remember clothes and accessories are only part of the picture which is you - is your hair clean and well-styled? Are your shoes polished? Grooming is very much part of the style equation.
If your clothes don’t fit properly you’ll find it very hard to dress with style. Many of us aren’t sure how to choose well-fitting garments and buying online doesn’t always offer help. Shopping at menswear stores where you can be guaranteed expert and impartial advice is important. I know from my experiences at Hawes & Curtis that you will find such help in their stores, but this sadly isn’t a universal experience.
With jackets, if the shoulder pad overlaps the end of your shoulder, the jacket is too big. Sleeves should be no longer than the wrist-bone with a half inch of shirt cuff showing below that. The best jacket length allows you to curl your hand under the hem of the jacket with arms hanging loosely by your side.
You should be able to do up the middle button of a suit jacket or blazer without it feeling too tight (an X-shaped crease across the front and buttons is a sign of over-tightness). Neither should it flap loosely around your chest. These are signs that they’re the wrong size.
Trousers are often worn too long. A small break, or fold, of cloth above the shoe is enough. If the trousers don’t touch the shoe at all, they’re too short. Make sure they fit well at the waist without having to use a belt and aren’t too baggy around your backside.
Know your shirt collar size and ask to be measured if you don’t. Too large a collar looks wrong and too small is uncomfortable.
If minor alterations are needed, pay to have them done either by the store or by a local tailor. The end result will look much better and is worth the small outlay.
USE OF COLOUR AND PATTERN
Select an anchor colour to run through your outfit. If you wear a tie with blue in it, echo that blue in accessories like socks, belt, pocket square to pull the look together. Experiment with different colours, but I suggest you lay out what you’re planning to wear on the bed, or check the look in the mirror before finalising your selection. Sometimes a small change, using a different tie for example, can make a huge difference.
Be cautious about mixing patterns. Too many will give a confused look, so tone it down with plain areas of colour. A boldly striped shirt with a patterned tie may look best with a plain suit. Consider colour when you choose pattern - you may get away with different patterns if they are the same colour. Again, always check how everything looks together before you finally decide.
The true stylish man will always look good, whatever he’s doing. Being stylish isn’t just something you do for work or for going out. It should never take over your life, but a few moment’s thought is all that’s needed to put together a stylish look. This isn’t vanity; how we appear to others is a fundamental part of being human. Looking smart gives the man of style huge advantages when it comes his relationships with work colleagues, family and friends.
We tend just to throw on what is to hand when we dress in the morning. The man of style will apply a little more thought to what he’s going to wear, whether for work or to walk the dog.
Build up a stylish wardrobe slowly, using the tips I’ve set out. Experiment and you’ll find that, as you build confidence, you may begin to take small risks - maybe trying a check suit instead of plain grey or a paisley tie instead of a striped one.
It’s important to look comfortable in what you wear. Relax into your clothes: wear a suit as if you’re wearing jeans. Both you and the suit will look much better as a result. It helps to work within your comfort zone - don’t wear anything you feel self-conscious or uncomfortable in. As you become more experienced at the style game you’ll become bolder in your choices. The most stylish will take risks, but it’s not obligatory to do so.
As you progress you’ll find, as I did, that family, colleagues and friends noticed the change and begin to compliment you on your appearance. The result is that you wear your clothes confidently - the ultimate sign of the successful man of style.
Read David's blog Grey Fox for more sartorial advice.