Belt Up: The Low Down on Choosing a Belt

I thought with this post it was time to take a look at one of the unsung heroes of men’s fashion; the humble belt. We all own belts, we all wear them but how much thought do we really give to that essential strip of leather or fabric which so admirably stops our jeans or trousers from falling down and getting us arrested for indecent exposure? I suspect not an awful lot, so let’s rectify that today and shine the spotlight on men’s belts for a few minutes. Or at least until I run out of things to say about them…

men's belts

Choosing a Belt

First of all, how should you choose a belt? This depends on the occasion because needless to say not all belts are built the same and if you think it’s okay to rock a fabric skater style belt with your office suit or a shiny leather belt with a silver buckle with your cargo pants, I’m sorry to say but you’re not quite down with this whole belt thing. But not to despair because choosing a belt is easy.

If you’re looking for a formal belt to wear with a suit – be it your work suit or something smarter for a wedding or court appearance – then aim for a belt that is between 1” and 1.5” – any wider will look too casual and should be saved for your downtime.

Don’t know what colour to go for? It depends entirely on your footwear. Black shoes = black belt, brown shoes = brown belt. If you are going for brown just make sure you get the shades as close as possible. men's leather belts

If you want something casual to wear with your jeans and a t-shirt then naturally do the opposite. Pick something that is wider than 1.5” and steer clear of shiny finishes. Matt leather or fabric will be your best choices unless you want to look mix-matched.

How Long is too Long?

Always buy a belt that is one size larger than your waist. You have a 32” waist? Buy a belt that is 33 inches. Any longer and you’ll have an unsightly tab of belt to tuck into your belt loops and any shorter and you’ll be turning blue due to lack of oxygen.

As a rule of thumb, your belt should be comfortable when worn on the third hole.

men's western belts

All Leathers are not Equal

Leather-wise, you have a number of options to go for which really depends on how much money you want to fork out. Here are the basics:

  • Synthetic leather: the cheapest option – don’t expect to be able to hand this belt down to your kids as a family heirloom
  • Bonded leather: this has internal layers of waste or poorer quality leather with a synthetic leather finish on top
  • Genuine leather: again this has inner layers of waste leather but with a real leather outer – beware though as sometimes this might not be the finest quality of leather, even though it’s real
  • Full leather: the best quality you can buy. This is high quality leather through and through. The downside to a real leather belt is that it scratches easily but if looked after well it will last you for years. Naturally this is your most expensive option

The Humble Belt as Fashion Accessory

Many gents don’t like to wear a belt, either feeling that it breaks their outfit up, or for other more personal, and undoubtedly sinister, reasons. And that’s fine – nobody says you have to wear one but try thinking of the belt as more than just a strip of leather whose only function is to keep your pants up, and consider it as an essential part of your outfit as your other accessories. You pay attention to your shoes, your watch, your choice of scarf; so why not your belt? The right choice of belt could instantly elevate your outfit into something truly dapper. And when I say ‘right choice of belt’ I’m not talking about a western style belt with an oversized longhorn skull on the buckle.cowboy belts

Looking after Your Belt

No matter whether you’ve pushed the boat out and treated yourself to an expensive full leather belt or you’ve gone for a budget friendly high street version, any leather or synthetic leather belt will last longer if you look after it properly. This means not leaving your belt in your trousers or jeans when you hang/fold/throw them on the floor at night but removing the belt and hanging it up vertically.

And on that note, I have officially run out of things to say about belts so why not let us know your thoughts in the comments box below? And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for more men’s fashion related things that are 140 characters or less, and visit our website too where our new t-shirt range is available to pre-order. Thanks!

 

How to Add Colour to an Outfit

Guys, are you guilty of wearing the same old boring outfit day in day out? The same colours, the same styles?  If you have a sneaking suspicion that you could and should be upping your game a few notches and there’s room for some improvement read on as we have some tips on how you can add a splash of colour to an outfit without spending a fortune. Yes, there’s really no need to fork out for new men’s t-shirts, jeans or even suits; with a few well-placed hints of colour you can be owning the street! Or at least your house. Something like that.

adding colour to an outfit

It’s probably fair to say that many men are stuck in a bit of a colour rut and don’t like to step outside their colour comfort zone so if this sounds a lot like you, but you don’t want to do the full on colour blocking or brightly hued skinny jean trend, you can still add an accent of colour without feeling like you’re a full on fashion victim/clown. So let’s take a look at a few ways men’s fashion can get fun – in a subtle way.

    • Pocket squares: these are all over the media at the moment and definitely seem to be having a moment. And you don’t need to be over 75 years’ of age or going to a wedding to wear one. If you spend your Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm in a drab suit a pocket square is the ideal way of adding a dash of panache.  You know as Huey Lewis once sang; ‘It’s Hip to be Square’. Actually, I don’t know why I just wrote that – it doesn’t make me look good. pocket squares
    • Let’s move swiftly on to men’s ties. Bit of an obvious one perhaps but your tie is just screaming to be given a colourful make-over. So ditch that boring sky blue-navy blue striped affair and brighten up with something in red, orange, green or even hot pink. Just avoid ones with cartoon characters on. Please.
    • Shoe laces. OK bear with me here but whilst you may have thought of changing the laces in your trainers/sneakers have you ever given a thought to changing them in your formal or work shoes too? This look will work best with a smart pair of brogues – if they’re anything less than tip top condition you’re not really going to be able to pull it off, but nice shiny brown leather + bright red, orange or yellow laces will look pretty rocking. Just keep the laces thin – fat sneaker style laces will make you look…I don’t know what they’ll make you look like but they won’t work, trust me on that.colored shoe laces
    • Cufflinks are another great way of adding a hint of a hue. Ditch your usual silver ones and search out something a little more interesting and colourful instead.
  • No list of how to add colour via your accessories would be complete without mentioning socks. I’m not talking about the garishly-coloured pair that Aunty Mable bought you for Christmas (for the sixth year running) but a pair of stylish, plain, striped or even spotted pair that will just add a flash of colour under the cuffs of your trousers.

So far so good but all of these are things that work with a suit or smarter trousers and if you don’t wear suits on a regular basis and yet you still want to up the ante on your casual gear, how do you do it?

    • The simplest way is to ditch that plain white t-shirt and grab something in a bold statement colour. Men’s tees don’t have to be navy, burgundy or white so why not take the plunge and buy men’s t-shirts in sizzling orange, zesty yellow, hot pink or bright red? men's t-shirts
    • Your footwear is another way of brightening up an outfit and if you’re not quite ready to slip in to a bubblegum pink t-shirt surely you’ll be big and brave enough to attempt a colourful trainer! Whether you’re a sporty Adidas or Nike kind of guy or skater style Vans and Converse are your thing, sneaker brands are not shy in putting their best foot forward when it comes to creating some eye-catching designs.
  • Finally, a bag is always a good way of adding a little interest. Ditch that boring black or navy backpack you got free with your gym membership and style it up with an acid bright holdall or messenger bag instead –they were seen all over the recent men’s fashion shows.holdall

However you add a little colour to your outfit it’s a great way of showing that you’ve thought about what you’ve put on that morning. Or afternoon or whenever it is you roll out of bed.

What do you think? What are your favourite ways of making a unique style statement? Let us know here or come on over to our Facebook page and share it on our wall for all and sundry to see!

Men’s Hair Care Products: Just WHAT is in those Pots, Cans and Bottles??

It’s all very well getting dressed up in your favourite men’s t-shirt and expensive designer jeans but your look isn’t complete unless you’ve taken at least a little time over your hairstyle. These days it’s not enough for the stylish guy to simply leap (or stumble) out of bed and throw on whatever clothes happen to be lying on the floor; if you want to make an impact and show the world that you care about your appearance you need to pay a little attention to your hair too.

bed head hair

The state of your hair can make or break your outfit- take a male fashion icon like David Beckham for an example. OK, you might not want to be rocking a sarong this season (sorry, Beckham but we will never forget…) and the Mohawk might not be your hairstyle of choice (unfortunately we still remember that too) but there’s no denying that the guy has got his hair care routine sorted.

But with a myriad of products lining the shelves of your local supermarket or pharmacy where does the discerning gent start? There’s a seemingly endless choice of hair products out there with new ‘wonder products’ flooding the market on an almost constant basis and if like me you’ve tried virtually every type of styling product known to man in the desperate bid for better hair – often with unfortunate results – you might be wondering where to start. Well, it’s time to stop wasting your hard earned cash and time to stop cluttering up your bathroom cabinets with half used pots of gunk and find out.

The key to finding the right hair care product for you is to understand what type of hair you have. Not all hair is created equal and hence not all styling products are suitable for your mop. It also depends on what type of look you’re going for too; are you hankering after the slicked back Mad Men look or is the tousled ‘just got out of bed’ look more your thing?

mad men

Is this what you see when you look in the mirror??

Products generally break down into three different types: those that give you a shiny or wet look finish, those that create a matte or dry look and those that add texture or hold. But which one is which? Read on as we break down the different product types so you can decide which is best for you.

First off the classic gel. Now wait a minute because I know for many of us (particularly those of a certain age) hair gel was our first foray into the world of hair care and it can bring back painful memories of being an awkward 14 year old in an ill-fitting school uniform whose hair was more of a hot (wet) mess than pop-star perfect. But hair gel has moved with the times and is no longer the electric blue, chemically scented slop in a see-thru pot of our youth, or my youth anyway. These days gel is actually a decent choice if you’re looking to add a touch of the wet look to short to medium length hair. However only those with thick hair should use gel as it’s too heavy on fine hair. It should also be used sparingly as too much will likely drip of the ends of your hair. (Trust me I know this.)

Next up, wax. Wax is also a product that’s been around for years but it is great for holding a slightly more ‘engineered’ hair style in place.  It’s much more matte than gel and will add texture too. Like gel however it works best on thicker, medium length hair. Again use fairly sparingly and warm it up in your palms first before using on your hair.

If you want to add body to thin or fine hair, mousse is your savior. Again this is seen as a slightly dated hair care product but it can still be found – companies such as Toni and Guy still produce mousse – and it definitely shouldn’t be ignored if you’re trying to add a little oomph to a lifeless head of hair. Mousse works with any length of hair too.hair care products

While we’re talking old school it would be remiss not to mention pomade. The choice of dapper black and white films stars – and granddads – this is the key to getting that slick Don Draper look. Pomade works on thin and thick and wavy and curly hair so it’s a good choice for pretty much anyone who sees themselves as a 1960’s era ad exec.

If you’ve paid any attention to hair products lately you may have been slightly perturbed by the appearance on the shelves of things called ‘clay’, ‘mud’ or ‘putty’. These are this generation’s version of wax and are similarly used to add matte texture. They are a little more pliable than wax however which makes them perfect for crafting that “I spent 30 minutes in front of the mirror this morning but I look like I’ve just rolled out of bed” look. Clays and putties can be used on all hair lengths and types from thin to thick and from poker straight to wavy.

Hair creams are a lighter option if you want a slightly more subtle finish and you don’t want to look like you’ve used anything on your hair at all. They’re good for taming flyaway or wild locks and again work on all lengths and everything from thin to thick and from straight to very curly hair.

hair spray

Not just for girls!

Finally, and stop laughing at the back, but hair spray is still knocking around and whilst you may or may not want anyone to know you have a can of your grandmother’s favourite beauty product sitting on your bathroom shelf it can’t be beaten for holding your style in place. After all you’ve gone to all that trouble, so don’t let a gust of wind destroy all your hard work the minute you step out the house!

This post was brought to you by the excellently-coiffured team at Ethereal Clothing. Check out our range of urban men’s t-shirts here and head on over to facebook to like our page and see more tips and words of (occasional) wisdom.

 

What to Wear for a Wedding

It’s wedding season! Yes, once again that time of the year has rolled round and whether you love the opportunity to get dressed up, hit the dance floor and eye up your fellow wedding guests or the thought of sitting through a ceremony, listening to interminable ‘hilarious’ speeches and nodding politely to Great Aunt Edna’s ramblings at the dinner table brings you out in a cold sweat, there’s no escaping the fact that it’s a distinct possibility you’ll get invited to a wedding this year.

For most people, and that includes guys and girls, upon receiving a wedding invite, our first thought is either something along the lines of “Yes – an excuse to go shopping!” or alternatively “$@*% – I’ve got nothing to wear!” If you’re honoured to be chosen as a member of the wedding party; best man, usher, ring bearer or the like you’ll probably have the matter taken out of your hands as the bride and groom will decide upon your look but if you’re just one of the rabble and you don’t have a stylish other half to help you get dressed, you might be wondering how on earth you’re going to cobble a half decent outfit together.

what to wear to a wedding

“Noooooooooooo! A wedding invite!”

If you don’t wear suits on a regular basis you might want to grab that one that’s hanging in the back of your wardrobe sooner rather than later and give it a once over. Yes, they can cost a lot of money but men’s suits don’t last forever and if you’ve been wearing yours to every wedding, funeral and court appearance (?!) for the last 15 years it may well have seen better days. Check the seat, the lapels and the elbows in particular for the shininess that indicates, well, that your suit’s next stop should be your local charity shop.

If that’s the case and you’re faced with the formidable task of buying a new suit there are a few things to bear in mind before you set out on your quest. First of all fabric: it may be summer but if you’re investing in a new men’s suit you might want to go for a material that can be worn all year round and avoid linen, no matter how warm the weather. Besides linen creases terribly and it won’t be long before you look as rumpled and disheveled as the bride’s drunken uncle Monty. Rule of thumb: stick with wool, or if you can afford, it a wool-cashmere mix.

Fit is crucial when buying a suit; tempting as it may be don’t just grab the nearest thing that ‘looks about right’ – after all buying men’s t-shirts is one thing but a suit is an investment. The shoulder padding in the jacket should fit your shoulders squarely and if the pads are drooping or hanging down or there are indentations in the fabric, it’s too big and you need to drop down a size.

men's suits

It’s all about the fit

The cuffs of a suit jacket are one sure fire way to tell if the suit is too big for you. We’ve all seen guys in ill-fitting suits that look like school boys trying to impress in their older brother or dad’s suit. Getting the length of the cuff right is vital if this is NOT the look you’re going for. Make sure that the cuffs hang no lower than the point where your thumb joins your hand.

You’ve got your suit but what about your shirt and tie? Contrary to popular belief, you can play around with spots, stripes and checks – just don’t go overboard or you’ll end up looking like a third rate comedian. Men’s shirts in a two-colour way check will look great with a plain suit and a bold striped tie. If you go for a stripy shirt AND a stripy tie ensure that the stripes are of different widths. Likewise if you wear a patterned tie with a striped shirt if the stripes are wide make sure your pattern is smaller or more low key – and vice versa.

men's suits and ties

A tasteful clash of stripes and patterns

Getting dressed for a wedding doesn’t have to be a complete nightmare and with a few pointers you’ll be able to relax and maybe even look forward to it! After all even the dullest sounding weddings can turn into nights out to remember. Although obviously it does help if there’s a free bar involved.

Have you got any crazy wedding stories or formal menswear fashion tips? Why not leave them in the comments or come on over to our Facebook page and share them on there?