Men’s style and grooming by Yatan Ahluwalia: Dressing up the creative men
If you are an artist, designer, writer, poet, singer, performing artist or any other creative talent, you look should reflect what you do and who you are.
Being artistic does not mean choosing offbeat fashion, or wearing out of the ordinary clothing, but reflecting your creativity through your personal style. Individualism is the key word to follow. Some of history’s greatest artists have also been some of history’s best dressed men as well.
Without diving into the world of radical trends, a creative professional can easily shape a wardrobe to stand out in the crowd and get noticed.
My tip: Universal rules of fashion don’t apply to everyone. Find a style that reflects who are or what you do.
Mandarin collar shirts
Just as button down shirts are associated with corporates, Mandarin collar shirts (sometimes also called Chinese or Band collar shirts) are identified with men who are artistic or have a distinct style of their own.
Tuck these shirts into your lowers for a more formal feel or leave them out for a more relaxed or laid back look. Always button up all the way to the top to allow the collar’s shape to become more pronounced and distinct. A Mandarin collar shirt should speak for itself, so go easy with your styling and limit the number of accessories you wear with it.
Given how they fasten, a Mandarin collar shirt has to be worn without a tie, but that does not mean that you can’t wear them under a smart jacket or with a snazzy suit.
You can also layer your Mandarin collar shirt underneath a full sleeve top (or a fitted sweater in winter). Button it up all the way up to your neck, then pick a matching pair of trousers for the perfect weekend or leisure look. You could also wear these shirts over knee length shorts.
Style tip: Make sure that the collar is properly adjusted: If you can slip two fingers between the collar and your neck, then the fit is perfect.
Choose a shirt that you do not have to button up completely. Alternatively, leave the first few buttons open to lend a more casual look and feel to your overall look.
A spread or round collar is ideal and will compliment almost all face and body types. Some men like to choose a camp collar, but I often find that these collars make your body and shape look rather boxy and wide.
Depending on the season and your personal comfort, you can choose between a half or full sleeve shirt. I normally find it easier to ask men to roll up a full sleeve shirt as and when they want to. That way you can always wear the same shirt two ways – full sleeve for a more dressy occasion and rolled up when you want to look and feel more easy.
Style tip: Plain shirts are more versatile than printed ones. You can always mix and match a plain shirt with trousers, jeans and even shorts and make them look different each time you wear them.
There’s no rule that says creative men can’t wear jackets or suits. Regardless of who are, a structured and fitted silhouette is always recommended. Suits should look as custom made as possible.
You may want to tweak your jacket with an interesting set of buttons, contrasting coloured or textured lapels or just dressing the look with an eye catching pocket square or tie.
Style Tip: Jackets must end just over or above the hip.
Always choose your lowers based on the occasion, time of day, season and your mood. Obviously more formal and dressy occasions demand a pair of smart trousers or dress pants but you can always experiment with the style, cut, colour, fabric and pattern.
I recently came across a very dapper business suit which had a contrasting coloured fabric band that ran from the waist till the ankle. Not only, did this give the (rather short) wearer a longer silhouette, but also made people notice him in the crowd, where everyone else wore plain and staid corporate wear.
Jeans have come a long way from being industrial wear and aren’t always considered casual dressing, unless of course you course you wear a pair that has been textured, treated or ripped. I rarely recommend a weathered pair, as they have an extremely street look and feel to them. If you are hung up on wearing jeans, try experimenting with unusual colours instead, breaking away from the conventional blue, black and white.
You can variate between a snug, straight or comfort fit. Snug fit will work if your legs are slim or athletic and the lower part of your body isn’t either too skinny or too heavy.
Style tip: When in doubt, choose a comfort fit.
The trick with wearing prints is to choose a pattern that compliments both your body type and your lifestyle. This applies to ties, shirts, jackets, suits and socks.
Some creative men like to wear unusual prints. I have seen just about everything possible: floral, geometric, abstract and unusual prints like bees, images of popular paintings, oriental patterns and even cartoon characters!
The problem with unusual and distinct prints is that you can’t repeat them too often as they get noticed and people will easily recall the print whenever you wear it again. In the age of fashion recycling its important to pick prints and patterns that can look different when you wear them.
I always find small and subtle prints both easy on the eye and a safe option for almost any body type. The golden rule: the larger the print, the wider and fuller you are going to look.
Style tip: As prints make a statement, even before you speak - choose a pattern that reflects what you want to say!
Some creative and artistic men I know sport some really well put together ethnic looks. These include, kurta’s, achkans and bandhgalas. If you are opting for some of these garments ensure they are either custom made and give you a smart silhouette. Oversized dressing isn’t even an option when you are opting for a more traditional look.
Fusion clothing (a mix of two different styles) like Asian – western or Indian – Western can look very aesthetic, provided of course you don’t experiment to the point where you start looking out of place or over the top. Japanese design influences are very strong this year and for good reason – their clothes are well structured, often simple and normally very subtle.
Style tip: Carefully tread the fine between festive and traditional clothing.
Shades of being, brown, grey, black and white are instantly associated with being creative. Having said that, so are some bright colours which make a bold and strong colour statement.
Always choose colours based on your skin tone. Men with dark or dusky complexions look great in white, beige and warm colours, whereas men with pale or light skin tones should opt for pastels or bright colours.
Fabrics like cotton, linen, jute and those made with natural fibres are ideal. Some men also carry off metallics very well, but of course there’s always a time, place and season to wear them.
Scarves & stoles
India has a rich handloom tradition and with fashion going local over global, I suggest investing in a few handmade scarves or stoles with interesting weaves, embroidery or embellishments.
Support our weavers and craftsmen by buying hand spun traditional scarves. If you look out for them, you will find some very beautiful modern (and practical) pieces that no luxury or mass market brand will ever be able to make. You can wear these with just about everything – from casual to formalwear.
There’s been enough talk about coloured or printed socks and I personally feel this was a trend that has thankfully now faded out. At the end of the day, its best to match your socks with your clothes.
Not wearing socks is neither hygienic or a trend. Do not attempt to wear leather loafers or formal shoes without socks. If you are wearing sandals or slippers, you may choose to skip wearing socks, provided of course your feet look clean or you do regular pedicures to keep them looking good.
An artistic eye knows that one prominent accessory speaks more than many! Keep that accessory simple for the day and eye catching for the night.
Handmade neck pieces that have a natural look and feel will always draw attention. Alternatively you may opt for a jewelled brooch with a formal or evening look. Vintage designs and antique pieces will always be a conversation starter.
Author bio: The author is an image, style and grooming consultant and trainer.
From HT Brunch, May 24, 2020
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