Does your missus despair of your fashion choices? Does World War Three break out every time you wear the same shirt and trousers to go out? If your shoes and socks have seen better days, then it’s time to sit up and take notice of what the women in your life have to say about your style decisions. Just because you’re in a long-term relationship doesn’t mean you should stop trying.
We’ve put together 54 top tips from women in the know (and some men that have learned the hard way) that will help you out of your sartorial rut, and hopefully make your wife or partner happier in the process. Buck up, don’t give up!
” “Did your guide dog help you choose that, darling?” Yet more ‘advice’ from my wife – who seems to have taken over the mantle of clothes critic now my teenage daughter has gone to university. I find the old Basil Fawlty line the best response. “You wouldn’t understand, dear. It’s called style.” ”
Mark Richards (bestdadicanbe.com)
- Keep tops simple and well fitted
“I think a man in a grey crew cut fitted t-shirt, pair of dark wash jeans and loafers is as sexy as it gets. So keep it simple – most women will appreciate it!”
- You can never have enough white shirts
“A crisp white dress shirt will always be in style, will elevate your jeans and instantly and effortlessly dress up your look. Not to mention that it looks good on everyone. Although they may have a short shelf life, it’s easy to refresh this look regularly. “
- Tuck your shirt in
“It’s smaller things that can trip you up with a first impression. A sloppy, untucked shirt – pants that clearly haven’t been pressed – muddy, grass-stained shoes.”
Megan – Real Men Real Style – ever the eye for detail
- Start with colour in subtle way
“Start on color with a super simple colored sweater that can go over any shirt. Then ramp it up with button-ups and ties”
- Well fitted prints
“It all depends on the print but a well-fitted printed shirt with jeans/shorts is a great look and a nice change from a plain polo. It’s all about the quality with printed shirts so don’t scrimp”
- Be minimalistic
“While it’s obvious that your shirt should be stain-free, ironed and washed, when I say clean, I mean minimalistic. Stick with solids and simple patterns. If you aren’t a stylish dude – don’t try and rock a pink or lime green polka-dot polo. The safest and sexiest colors are navy, black, white and grey ”
- Stripes are cool
“Peter has a laid back style for the daytime, it’s effortlessly stylish and his wardrobe includes the timeless basics: crisp white shirts, lots of tees, (Breton stripes feature a lot, which I love)”
- There is one style of top to suit all
“No man, however porky, skinny, lanky, squat, paunchy, thick-necked or slope-shouldered, can go wrong in a charcoal grey v-neck jumper with a white T-shirt underneath, worn with dark-wash jeans”
- Unfasten your top button
“Wearing a polo shirt with the top 1-2 buttons left unbuttoned will help frame your face better and make it look great. So when trying on a polo shirt for the first time, make sure to unfasten the top 2 buttons, regardless of whether it’s a 2, 3 or 4 button polo”
- Crew neck vs V necks
“Mrs Help tells me that my body shape suits a crew neck more, as I don’t have the bodybuilder physique for a deep V neck.”
Eddie – mrhelp.com
- Fashion fit-ness
“Got a half decent figure? Don’t hide it. My partner prefers me wearing fitted clothing rather than the loose fitting surf rags I prefer. Adopting the odd fitted shirt might also make you pay more attention to your fitness regime”
Andrew – Surfer Dad (after years of conversation with his partner…)
- A total top look for summer
“Either a crisp black, white or grey tee with something like a pair of RIDEAU terry shorts. Top it off with a statement accessory, a chain or wrist piece”
Trousers, jeans and shorts
- Don’t be a saggy trousered sartorialist
“Dress pants and wool trousers should fit perfectly around your waist with no need for a belt to hold them up. They should hit around the high hipbone area, or even slightly higher, saggy pants are a nono”
Ashley – Ashley Weston – she knows exactly what she wants to see.
- Steer clear of boot cut
“Boot-cut jeans haven’t worked for anyone in the history of the land. If you haven’t caught onto that yet we’re seriously worried.”
- Ask what trousers he prefers
“Get to know his style, what brands he likes, does he prefer jeans or trousers? Perhaps get him to show you some stores he likes to shop at online”
Amelia – Oh So Amelia – considerate in the extreme!
- All rise
“Not too low and not too high is what you should be thinking when you’re buying jeans. If they come anywhere near your belly button, the answer is NOPE. If we can see your pelvic bones, also no”
- Stretch is best
“Most jeans have a slight amount (usually 2%) of Lycra or elasticity to them which allows for stretch and comfort. For jeans you can wear all day, check the label for blends that include linen or elastic like spandex. It’ll give life to your slacks and allow for extra movement”
- Stay classic
“Sticking with tried-and-true denim styles, you can aim for and land a pair of jeans that will remain stylish for years. Here are three classic examples: original blue jeans, slightly faded blue jeans or dark denim. Flashier colours, funky washes and excessive distressing are always off-limits in terms of timelessness”
Sal Ciolfi – UK Ask Men – a big fan of the classic look
- Steer clear of denim shorts
“Jean shorts, a.k.a. jorts. Those are a huge turnoff. Thinking of them makes me cringe.”
- No short shorts
“If a guy likes to show off his pins then all the power to him but if I were a male and had skinny legs, I’d be trying to hide them where possible. Short shorts on a guy with big legs has got to be a no, surely”
- Make them longs
“ I like it when men wear longer shorts, unfortunately I’m not feeling short shorts at all. I have the same feeling with “muscly” men in extra tight skinny jeans.”
Pascal – Mainline Menswear on short shorts.
- Keep a security pant-let
“Don’t make him give up his favorite worn-out sweat pants. A man’s got to have a few articles of ‘security clothing’ to hang on to”
Marjorie – No Make Up Required – recognising the comfort zone.
- Invest in your footwear
“Consider shoes an investment. Spend what you can on a few good pairs – dress shoes in both black and brown, and a loafer or driving moccasin for more casual outfits. And be sure your shoes are outfit-appropriate – that means no sneakers or sandals with a suit.”
- Some shoes are a no-no
“Don’t wear sneakers unless you’re going to the gym”
- Colour, colour, colour!
“Color is the most important factor which is vital in choosing shoes. Wrong colored shoes look pretty awkward and do not go well with every type of clothes you wear. Imagine wearing a sky blue color shoes with white outfit. Awkward, isn’t it? While selecting shoe color just ensure that you are buying as per your personality and dress code”
- No socks, we’re British
“If you guys absolutely must wear shorts, please wear deck shoes or loafers or sandals without any freaking socks of any kind. I don’t care what your pals in Florida wear… I don’t care if you get blisters. It’s not my fault that you didn’t break your shoes in properly”
Christina – Boomerina – kind, considerate words!
- Consider something totally different
“James’ choice in footwear is on point right now! Tassel loafers are a brilliant addition to any guys autumn/winter wardrobe”
Lucie Loves – appreciating her man’s style sense
- Veer towards classic styles
“The best thing you can do when it comes to footwear is to steer him toward the classics. When he needs to dress up, Italian oxfords, brogues, or wingtips are the way to go. If you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, have him try a Chelsea boot or a wingtip boot”
- Interchangeable shoes
“[Have] At least 2 pairs of shoes that can be both dressed up and dressed down”
- Choose leather
“Women like leather. There was nothing specifically appealing about leather, per se, it was more that leather shoes look nicer, which codes to women that you are at least making an effort.”
- If you do wear sandals, look after your feet!
“The mixture of sandals/slides* and crusty looking toes—that is one big NO, NO, NO. I can’t even give any further details, just don’t do it!”
(*Slides are sandals with a strap, like these. They’re a smart and comfortable cross between a flip-flop and a buckled sandal.)
- Broaden your footwear horizons
“I’ve never been particularly fashion conscious so have always stuck to what I know while being open to advice here and there. My wife has definitely helped broaden my horizons. She introduced me to Converse”
Tom Briggs – Diary of the Dad – clearly a good listener
Outerwear and accessories
- Military style is a great go-to for smartness
“One of my biggest style investments was his jacket (see above photo). The military shoulder detail as well as the straight collar make this jacket masculine and dressy. He has worn it in a lot of our travel and holiday photos that add an element of layering that pulls together his look”
Domestic Fashionista – fashionista militarista
- A coat is the focal point of style
“I find myself frequently using the coat as the centerpiece for judging a man’s style. I like a man who is put together, but also an outdoorsman”
- Ban the bomber
“If you have a rotund, protruding stomach, you don’t want to wear anything that pulls in underneath your tummy. A bomber jacket has elastic at the bottom, so bomber jackets are a big no-no for most guys over 40”
- Kick the bucket
“Bucket hats* are great for sun protection but absolute murder on any grown woman’s desire to have sex with you”
(*A bucket hat, for the uninitiated, is one of those titfers popularised by 80s/90s indie bands and hip-hop artists)
- Match your socks and shoes
“[Look out for] socks that match his pants and shoes”
40 Plus Style – concise, but precise
- In fact, make sure all your accessories match…
“It would be nice to match your belt with the shoes you are about to wear. Your brown leather belt might not look good with your white sports shoes. So, choose wisely and match your belt with the shoes.”
- Keepy uppy
“Wear a belt, wear a belt, wear a belt. We do not want to see your butt crack”
- Briefcase encounter
If your briefcase made it’s debut at a sponsored event or is clinging on to dear life by its exploding seams, there’s no time like the present to outfit yourself with a polished upgrade. You can’t go wrong with a luxe leather style that can easily last a decade. This is definitely a purchase worth splurging on.
- Be bold with accessories… sometimes.
“Break some sartorial rules from time to time and use a strong accessory to add intrigue to your style. Add a vintage watch or antique lapel pin or accessory that provides an unexpected tone of warmth to [your] overall look.”
- Have an open mind to new trends
“One of the things that women’s magazines and fashion experts always stress is to keep your mind open to new trends. Although you may know what looks good on you, and think that something wouldn’t look good on you or fit your frame, you’ll never know how you feel about it until you try it”
- Purge your closet from time to time
“Help him purge his closet. This is a huge step towards the overall success of his wardrobe and also in helping him to dress his age. Keep the great pair of faded jeans and toss the old ribbed pullover. Kapeesh?”
- If the clothes fit…
“I just appreciate it in general when I see guys dressed in clothes that fit properly. Like, the shoulder seams on his shirt actually match up with his shoulders. He doesn’t have six feet of rumply fabric sitting on top of his shoes. He’s not using his tie to desperately cinch in the collar of his shirt (or hide that he can’t button it.)”
- Small details make a big difference
“Make a big deal of small details – Get shirts monogrammed. Stuff a pocket square into your sport coat that brings out those baby blues”
- You don’t have to spend a fortune on trends
“The whole ‘how much does your outfit cost?’ thing is so old. Your outfit doesn’t have to be the most expensive brands. As long as the outcome is nice, rock it.”
Amina Blue @UK Complex – a canny eye for a stylish bargain
- Well made maketh the man
“Your clothes need to give off confidence. They should be well made, not worn out or washed out. They should also fit you – I know that there was a temporary fad of men wearing clothes that could fit their entire posse inside, but that is out (Thank GOD!)”
- Pick clothes that are stylish, but stay true to you
While his wardrobe has not drastically changed much since we first met (shorts and flip flops for life!), I have slowly helped curate a stylish closet while still remaining true to my husband’s personality.
Domestic Fashionista – keeping it real
- Don’t try and be something you’re not
“Don’t try to turn your man into a runway model if that’s not his style. A crewneck, cashmere sweater; a tailored, wool sport jacket or a well-made, versatile button-down may be more like it”
Julia – How Stuff Works – generous with options!
- Has your skin and hair changed?
“Just like women, men over 40 have to realize that their body has changed including their hair and skin color.This in turn also changes their color palate.It is therefore important to make sure the colors they are wearing are still flattering”
- Pay attention to your missus
“Pay attention to the clothes they buy you. You might think “why did you buy me that?, I never wear anything like that!”. That is the point, they want you to wear clothes like that and hate what you wear now. Pay attention to colour, fit, style. If you hate it try and shop for something that more closely resembles their choice, as a compromise. Or if you can, ask and have a discussion of what they want and what you’re prepared to wear”
Surfer Dad (master of compromise!)
- Quality beats quantity
“Concentrate on quality rather than quantity. Men look much better in high quality clothes and you don’t want to make too many shopping trips for him”
- Consider your insecurities!
“He may be insecure about the way he looks. So speak to him first, find out what style he likes, does he like a lot of colour to keep things simple and bold? If he is insecure about the way he looks it will inflect in the way he dresses. Don’t try and change his habits without knowing what he likes first”
Amelia – Oh So Amelia – such a sensitive shopper!
- But remember, if all else fails…
“Get him new ones of what he normally wears. There is no point trying to restyle him…”
Branleuse – Mumsnet – the voice of experience?
To wrap it up…
Whatever you choose to wear here are the key messages from our esteemed contributors:
- Make sure everything you wear fits you properly.
- Concentrate on buying a few high quality pieces rather than a lot of cheaper clothes/shoes.
- A crisp white shirt and dark jeans is a smart, pulled together look for most casual occasions.
- Your outerwear is what people will see first, so invest in a decent quality coat.
- Leather shoes are a good investment. Buy two or three decent pairs, in black and brown.
You’ve read the tips from some of the women (and some of the educated men) in the know and now it’s over to you. If you’ve got any style ideas of your own then we’d love to hear them – whether it’s crew neck versus v neck, or you want to tell us how to make a pair of shorts work for you, let us know what you think.