Growing up, I never seemed to adopt a specific style. Every year I was wearing something profoundly different. In the ‘90s, we were constantly inundated with conflicting brands; one marking period it was Airwalks and Abercrombie, the next it was Spitfire and JNCO. It was as though every few months, I was in the skin of someone radically different.
It wasn’t until my post collegiate years that things finally came together. But it always seemed as though there was a lack of advice for men outside of a couple usual suspects. While girls had their noses buried in an array of fashion magazines, there wasn’t much in the way of guidelines for young guys.
What essentially helped me gain the confidence to choose a definitive wardrobe was paying attention to what stylists and fashion personalities were wearing on the Internet. Not in an imitating sense but taking what I thought were all the best elements of each influencer’s style—ultimately creating my own. Finding a way to simplify an oversaturated industry.
Today, with the wonders of technology and social media, men’s fashion has made leaps and bounds in the way of style sharing. Recently, I enlisted the help of celebrity stylist and TV personality Preston Konrad to help narrow down a few easy, go-to tips for men.
Preston is an influencer I’ve often borrowed from when putting together my closet. Before launching his own consulting agency, he spent over a decade working with lifestyle brands like Ralph Lauren, handling everything from styling to visual marketing. Most recently, Preston served as style director for American Eagle Outfitters—a brand that I’ve often found as a lifeline for denim. But where his own personal style really comes to visualization is through his Instagram account. There he interacts with his audience and shows off outfits he puts together, a constant source of inspiration. When it comes to simplifying men’s fashion, in a way that will guide you to what you want to wear, here’s what Preston had to say:
1. Invest in the staples.
“Your wardrobe should be built around style building blocks, classic pieces that you can wear year-round and mix in with trend-driven items or seasonal pieces. Make sure your closet is stocked with classics such as a crisp white shirt, dark pair of slim jeans, a classic leather loafer, a white sneaker, a fitted navy blazer, a cashmere pullover sweater, and a crewneck sweatshirt. Not only will these pieces last you forever, but they will seamlessly blend in with almost everything else you own.”
2. Become friends with the fitting room & your local tailor.
“The biggest mistake I see with my celebrity clients or guys in general is that they aren’t wearing the proper size / fit. When shopping for clothes, spend the extra five minutes and jump in the fitting room with two sizes…the one you think you are and one smaller. More often than not, men purchase clothes in sizes that are too big for their frame. If the larger size is perfect in certain areas (like the shoulders) but too big in the waist, swing by your local dry cleaner and have it tailored…it will cost you around $20 bucks but have you looking like a million.”
3. Try to add a third piece.
“One of my styling secrets is to always add a third piece to a look. When styling a celebrity client in something simple like jeans and a T-shirt, I’ll make sure to add a third item to take it from being just clothes, to being an outfit. Think about adding a cool hat, killer belt, nice watch, or great bag to your look.”
4. When in doubt, go monochromatic.
“Every guy (including myself) has those days when you have absolutely no clue what to wear. When in outfit doubt, a simple trick to looking pulled together and stylish is to go monochromatic with your look. Pair a navy top with navy chinos, a chino pant with a tan shirt, or grey joggers with a grey cashmere sweater. Not only is this a foolproof way to get out the door but your outfit will be instantly Insta-worthy.”
5. Yes, you can mix patterns.
“One of the biggest style myths for men is that mixing patterns is a no-go. When putting your look together, have some fun mixing patterns! A striped tie looks awesome paired with a gingham or plaid shirt. Camo pants paired with a classic stripe button down looks effortless yet pulled together. If the prints are overly loud I say stick to solids when pairing, but consider stripes, checks, small dots and camo as neutrals when putting together your look.”
6. Don’t be afraid to show some ankle.
“Showing some ankle when pairing trousers with loafers or sneakers is an instant way to look like a chic AF Italian man and show off your effortless style. In the warmer months, go completely sockless (or stock up on no-shows) with a slightly shorter suit pant or rolled jean. When the temps begin to drop, consider the ankle your go-to spot to show off some awesome printed or colored socks.”
7. Learn about fabrics & textures.
“Do yourself a favor and become aware of classic seasonal fabrics and textures. Embrace linen for warmer months, wool and cashmere for cooler days, and cotton year-round. Wearing seasonally appropriate fabrics and textures will tell people you know what’s up when it comes to style.”