Although it’s liberating to get out of bed and pull on certain clothes simply because they’re comfortable, sometimes you have to look good. And not just good, like a kid at a christening: you need to look Pulled Together. Switched On. The Man. Basically, to look the way that, in the past, would have had you turning away from the mirror and calling, ‘Honey, is this okay?’
Thing is this: she was no better qualified to answer that question than you are. Honestly. Having a way with scarves does not make her a fashion expert, any more than being able to put up a shelf makes you an Amish. It’s a big, fat fib that women are somehow mystically gifted at picking out clothes, or that shopping is somehow difficult and complicated.
Why do you think that George A Romero set a zombie movie in a mall? However, while it’s not hard, it most definitely can be time-consuming and exhausting. If you’re sensible, you’ll want to get as much stuff as possible, all at once, so you don’t have to go back for a very long time. And this is going to take planning…
Take the pain out of your trip by researching the territory. Maybe you could even turn covert op and ‘grill’ one of the ‘natives’ – AKA asking a female friend where her family shops. (Warning! Do not tell your female friend why you are asking, upon pain of death.
She will immediately want to take you under her wing and come with you, and you will end up swapping one woman who always thought you ‘should get that jacket, like Tom Cruise wore in Top Gun’ for another.) The female in question will not realize that she is being skillfully pumped for information, and will talk happily, possibly for hours, about great stores for great clothes.
Many malls also have websites, listing the shops and the kinds of clothes they sell, so try looking online to get the lie of the land. Next, take a pen and paper up to your closet. What you’re going to do is look at not so much what you need, but at what you don’t need. Blue shirt? If you already have ten, then please do not waste money on yet another. Once you’ve jotted down all the things you have ten of, the next stage is to ask yourself why you like them so much. If the blue shirts make you feel confident, and you know that they suit you, consider using them as a launch pad to more adventurous attire: you could get the same style or make of shirt, but with a pattern or in a color you don’t often wear.
Crossing enemy lines
As soon as you enter the mall, you will be at the mercy of one of the most powerful and irresistible forces in the universe. That’s right: advertising. Millions upon millions of dollars are spent each year on advertising, and the men and women earning these dollars leave Obi Wan Kenobi sitting on the subs’ bench.
Within half of an hour’s exposure to advertising, it’s easy to believe that you too could look like Owen Wilson if you just purchased enough leather thong necklaces and artfully distressed t-shirts.
But luckily, you’re not gullible. You’re aware that buying stuff that isn’t really ‘you’, that will be out of fashion within minutes, that looks great on someone a different size or age, will be a waste of money. Say what you like about the French, but they do have it right on this occasion: it was Coco Chanel who said, ‘Fashion fades; style remains’, so take a page out of her book and buy what suits you, and, more importantly, what fits you.
Infiltrating the bunker
So, you’re in your chosen store. You’ve just walked past the leather thong necklaces and the blue shirts. Well done. Now what? Remember what you’ve learned: shopping isn’t an innate skill – anyone can learn to do it. It’s logical. Think about those blue shirts. If you look good in blue, you’ll probably also look good in a green that has strong blue tones (as opposed to a yellow-green).
So, find a shirt that’s cut like your blue ones, in green. Next, pants. Rich chocolate brown or even more of a beige would go with green or blue. Make sure that they’re the right length – they should skim the part of your shoe, at the back, where the heel meets the upper – and don’t be tempted to buy anything that feels too tight, especially if it’s more of a business cut (as opposed to jean). Would a white t-shirt look good at the neck of the shirt, if you want to dress down? If so, grab one of those, too, making sure it’s a round-neck, not a ‘v’. Hang on, you just chose a stylish outfit! By yourself! Claiming victory Now you know how easy it is, you might want to go shopping again. Follow these golden rules, and you may even enjoy it!
* Reddish hair and pale skin looks great in strong greens and blues, but should avoid red.
* Dark hair, with blue eyes, can take strong, jewel-like colors, such as claret and emerald, but will look washed out and ill in pale colors.
* Blonds can look stunning in gray.
* Darker hair and skins can wear some fantastic, strong colors. Unleash your wild side with oranges and yellows! Stylish to the max
* If you’re ever going to spend money on any kind of an outfit, make it a suit. A well-cut suit can take pounds – and years – off you.
* Three-button jackets lengthen the body, so if you’re on the short side, opt for this; one or two if you’re tall.
* Don’t be tempted to buy baggy to hide a gut. Instead, find garments that draw attention to the top half of your body and broaden your shoulders, such as spread collars. Avoid patterns, go for solid color instead.
* Skinny guys, avoid tapered trousers and clingy, synthetic fabrics. Instead, opt for good-quality cotton, linen and wool, and opt for straight leg trousers, maybe even flares if you’re feeling brave! Style disasters waiting to happen
* Don’t wear smart black shoes with jeans; wear brown, casual shoes, or, even better, brown boots.
* Don’t wear training shoes unless you are playing sports. The only exception are classic Converse baseball boots.
* Socks with open-toed shoes are never, repeat never, acceptable.
* Neither are denim jackets. Throw it away – the 80s are over. Looks and prices Classic casual
* Ralph Lauren does classic style, but isn’t the cheapest. Sweaters start at around $100.
* You really can’t go wrong with Gap. It’s not terribly exciting, but it is fool proof and their stuff is well made. Sweaters start at around $35. Funky
* Look quirky and on-trend with Original Penguin. Sweaters start at around $100.
* Carhartt does fantastic streetwear. Sweaters start at around $50. Business
* Good looking, business clothes that won’t break the bank – Liz Claiborn, good-looking pants from $100.
* Want to push the boat out? Calvin Klein formal pieces are elegant yet razor-sharp. You can get probably find a complete suit from around $600.