As we journey on this path to sartorial enlightenment, there are always going to be bumps in the roads. Times where our fit was off or our outfit could be better. Nobody is perfect, but the key is to acknowledge where you can improve, so you don’t make the same mistake again.

As we get older we experiment less with clothing and become more confident in knowing what works well. We have learnt to understand what fits, brands or styles work best for us and we can rinse and repeat to always look our best.

Unfortunately, there are still some men who haven’t quite hit the top of the mountain. Not to worry, we are here to pick you up and get you back on the right path.

This guide will give you a hit list of style mistakes to avoid. Give these a wide berth and you’ll be on your way to style nirvana.

1. Trousers Are Too Long

No matter whether you wear formal trousers for work during the week or jeans at the weekend. This style rule applies to all trousers.

Unfortunately, it is common for a lot of men to be in-between sizes for trousers bought on the high street. Not wearing the right length though can result in your trousers collecting over your shoelaces or jean hems fraying. Both are unsightly but easy to fix.

Visiting a dry cleaner can efficiently solve this one. They will happily pin and alter trouser length to your desired finish. So, rather than ditching those ill-fitting trousers spend a bit of money to get them altered and you will get a lot more use from them.

2. Formal Shirt Is Untucked

We know, as men there isn’t always the occasion or the desire to be dressed to the nines in a suit and shirt.

At weekends or in the evenings a more relaxed, untucked style might be wanted. In this case, look for a shirt with less formal connotations like an Oxford shirt.

Just remember when you have decided to wear a formal shirt, it needs to be tucked in. Material from a nice shirt hanging over your waist screams a lack of effort.

3. Belt and Shoe Colour Doesn’t Match

An easy rule to follow, you should always try to match your belt and shoe colour as closely as possible

This style mistake though can be a result of bad shopping on the behalf of men. Ill-prepared purchases mean you are not buying with your wardrobe in mind. Shopping on impulse can lead men to have a new pair of shoes without a belt to match.

Why not ditch the belt. Investing in trousers with side adjusters can remove the need for a belt altogether. 

 Read our view on the belt or no belt with suit debate here.

4. Shoes Are Dirty

The state of a man’s shoes says a lot about the person in them. It can present a lack of preparation and ignorance of the finer details. There is no point wearing a great suit only to be let down by dirty or scuffed shoes.

Keeping your shoes in good shape by using the right products and regularly caring for them will also help them last longer. A good pair of shoes should not be a cheap investment and looking after them properly will help make your money go further.

It’s said one of the first things a woman notices about a man is his shoes, so make sure you are making a good first impression.

Read our guide on how to shine your shoes here.

5. Bottom Button Is Done-Up

Follow the rule of ‘Sometimes, Always, Never’ when it comes to three buttons on a suit jacket or waistcoat. For two buttons always keep the bottom button undone.

A key element of stylish men is how they master the silhouette. Stripped back from texture or colour, the silhouette is simply how the clothes you are wearing fit and drape on your body.

When the bottom button is done-up, it can alter the overall shape of the piece. Movement is restricted, the material will bunch at the waist and there will be a visible pulling of the jacket or waistcoat towards the centre. All of these will ruin the silhouette of the outfit.

6. Wrinkled Clothes

Preparation is key with this one.

You need to take the time either the night before or at the weekend to organise your wardrobe and even plan your outfits. That way you will know that all your clothes are laundered and in top condition to be worn.

A dry cleaner can be your saviour if you are a busy man. Giving them a bulk of clothes to launder at one time can set you up for the week.

We know ironing can be a bore, but it is imperative should you want to look your best. If consistently using a dry cleaners is going to be too expensive then maybe a handheld steamer would help. They can be fairly inexpensive and mean you can speed up the ironing process by ironing directly on the hanger.

Looking after your clothes the right way will help them to stay relevant in your wardrobe rotation. Following the correct care instructions will also make them last longer. So, you will look better, for longer.

7. Too Many Shirt Buttons Undone

Leave a little to the imagination!

A style sin more prevalent in the summer, but none the less, something that should be squashed. It seems as the temperature rises so do the number of buttons that men undo.

When you are cruising from the beach to the bar on your holiday, it might be able to get away with more buttons undone. But, walking down your high street is not the place to be flashing the flesh.

If you have decided not to wear a tie with your shirt then undo the top button and if you feel the outfit supports it then undo the next button.
Then stop there! Refrain from the urge to unleash your chest hair any more than that.

Obviously, the need to undo buttons can be because of the heat. So, look at the material and overall fit of the shirt as an alternative. By switching to a shirt in a linen or a linen/cotton mix it will help you stay cooler, removing the need to undo buttons.

8. Overly Branded Clothing

Hopefully, this is something that you grow out of. When we are younger, branded logos can be a status symbol, a way to show that we have money or taste. As we mature, our tastes refine and we no longer chase the need to impress others.

Our appreciation of clothing should go further than the name glorified on the chest. Understanding how quality clothing looks, feels and fits is the sign of a stylish man, not the ‘G’ on his belt buckle.

Chasing the latest drop from a designer brand can not only leave you drastically out of pocket but also with a lack of appreciation for what you have. The next piece will be perceived as ‘better’ than what you already bought while in reality, you might never be satisfied.

Take the time to learn about brands that honour traditional craftsmanship and care about every individual product they create. These are the brands and pieces that will stay with you for years.

9. Pockets Are Bulky

Bulky pockets can be a curse of using the wrong wallet as much as it is about not having a place for our phone. Either way, we bang on about the silhouette of our outfits a lot and bulky products are a surefire way to ruin this. 

Firstly you need the correct wallet. An overflowing billfold wallet is always going to look clumsy stuffed into formal trousers. Have more than one wallet, remove the crap from inside it and learn when and what type to use for each occasion.

Read our guide on buying the right wallet here.

Secondly, as technology advances, every smartphone seems to be getting slimmer and slimmer. Payment plans are not that expensive, so there is no excuse for still using your old Nokia. 

But, that doesn’t mean a smartphone can always fit snugly into your trousers. If it is still bulging, then transfer to a chest pocket or even stick it in your bag if it is non-essential at that time.

Polyester is a cheap, manmade material used by brands to drive the cost of manufacturing down. You can see polyester a mile off. It gives that shine to items, especially suit jackets.

If you have a limited budget, then you might be confronted with a lot of items that have polyester in them. But, remember for stylish men it is about quality over quantity. Yes, you might be able to get two polyester mix suits for the cost of a wool one, but which one will look better?

As we get older, in theory, so does the disposable income we have to spend on clothing. Additionally, we have learnt that investing in our wardrobe, will not only make us look better but prolong the life of our purchase.

Understanding materials and investing in versatile clothing is key to a foundational wardrobe. This means looking at how clothing when made sustainably in simple colours can integrate together. The more clothing that can seamlessly be paired with each other, the greater the different outfit choices available. Then you can layer bolder, individual pieces on top.

Sticking to this focus on the quality instead of quantity should remove the need to end up buying polyester.

Sam Brady

Sam Brady is a menswear and grooming specialist and the founder of A Gentleman's Row.

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