When it comes to style, it’s long been dominated by women’s fashion. But luckily for all the stylish men out there, menswear is catching up big time! But with ever-evolving trends and not as much information out there, it can be a struggle for men to find outfits that encompass their personality and values, as well as exuding on-trend (yet timeless) vibes. Hitting this mark is a mystery to many, which is where ASI’s Ultimate Men’s Style Guide comes in.
With an understanding of traditional dress codes, you can use that knowledge to go forth and emulate your favourite style icons’ looks – and make them your own. So read on as we give you the fashion tips you need around what dress codes actually mean, which trends to follow and how to dress with the seasons.
Men’s Clothing Styles Unpacked
Traditionally, men’s style can be divided into 5 categories: casual, smart casual, business casual, business professional and cocktail attire. If you don’t have a dress code set out for your day/event, we recommend picking one of these styles based on your goals for the outfit. Are you trying to portray a certain aesthetic or is the outfit based more on functionality?
Here, the goal is to look fashionable, but remain comfortable and relaxed. For this everyday style, you’ll need a well-fitting set of denim jeans (dark is dressier, lighter washes less so), a handful of plain cotton t-shirts, a light jacket (we suggest a bomber) or hoodie, and a pair of classic white sneakers. With these staples, you’re sure to nail the classy yet comfortable brief.
Hot tip: if you’re tossing up over wearing a certain item, remember, it’s always better to be overdressed rather than under!
This style allows for a mature look, while being adaptable enough to suit (pardon the pun) the occasion. Smart casual at a friend’s birthday is very different to smart casual for a wedding. Chinos, long sleeve shirts and blazers are the essentials to this style. Adding this structure will set your outfit above a casual one. Some leather shoes are also a good addition to ensure the look remains sleek.
Business casual is heavily dependent on your own workplace, but usually refers to a slightly more casual take on what you’d normally wear to work. For example, if you usually wear a suit and tie, for business casual you could leave the tie at home but not the suit jacket. Business casual is about encompassing the company culture, whilst showing your employer that you care by making an effort.
This corporate look is all about the message you send to your coworkers. In a traditional workplace, you want to convey ambition, intelligence and efficiency, so this style will do just that. To achieve this, you will need a versatile business suit (garments made from the same cloth), tie, buttoned-up collared shirts and dress shoes. This look is best personalised through your accessories and tie.
These are all pieces you should invest in as they are made to last, which includes extra-wide shoulder hangers and shoe trees to keep jackets and dress shoes in shape.
Cocktail attire is all about looking neat and elegant, whether the event is a business function or a social party may determine a slightly different interpretation. A suit is a good call here, with either a tie or bow tie. Often a cocktail suit may be one that has more structure (for example a three-piece suit featuring a vest) and heavier fabric, since it’s not a daytime suit.
What is Currently Trending in Men’s Fashion?
Now you have the basics down pat, incorporating current trends into your wardrobe is the next step. If you’ve got a celeb that just always seems to hit the mark with their fits, grab a couple of photos of your favourite guy to use as inspiration for each of the dress code styles.
Here are a few of our examples:
We have one warning when it comes to shopping the trends. Some looks are in all the magazines because they are the trends of the minute, but others are there because they’re just timeless. Make sure to focus on garments that are timeless and are sure to get you your return on investment. Any trendy statement piece is a riskier buy, should it go out of fashion or become overused, so ensure you’re buying it because you love it and that way it will always be timeless to you.
Check out our wrap-up of the top 6 sustainable trends that blew up in response to a more mindful approach to styling.
Top Male Fashion Advice
Before getting into the nitty-gritty, let us impart one piece of advice that is valid year-round – neutral staples first.
Whilst a statement piece might get you all the compliments, you’ve got to make sure you have plenty of the basics to begin with. Neutral colours like black, white, grey or tan are easy to work with and style – together or with your statement pieces. Once you have this covered, you can venture into purchasing some luxury items with a bolder fabric or colour.
Summer Fashion Advice
Your clothes need to be functional as well as stylish, so there’s no escaping the fact that weather can play a huge part in this.
A trend that has been so helpful to men’s fashion is the introduction of linens, so you can escape the heavier materials in summer. There are linen tops, bottoms and even linen suits! Having linen items in your wardrobe (and a steamer on hand) will mean you can breeze into summer in style.
Spring Fashion Advice
Any Spring fashion advice can go for Autumn as well – it’s common to struggle with these tricky transitional seasons when the weather is unpredictable. The key to solving this is in a capsule wardrobe. This will give you versatility and pieces that can easily mix, match and most-importantly layer well together. Even your Summer linens can be incorporated into a new, layered look for Spring.
Winter Fashion Advice
Winter leans a little more to the practical side of things. Here, we’re looking for hardy, quality materials that are going to withstand the elements. When most people hear ‘quality’ they also hear ‘expensive’, and sometimes this can be true so it’s best to find pieces from brands you want to commit to.
Here are our top 5 favourite labels that have eco-friendly initiatives and great sustainable menswear:
Tips for Men’s Style Accessories
Accessories, whilst often overlooked, are one of the most important parts of an outfit. They hold the power of either elevating a casual outfit, or tempering an intense look.
Owning a variety of simple and statement belts, watches and sunglasses will cover all your bases, no matter the look you’re trying to achieve.
We are all about Body Positivity for Men
Whilst there are different levels of dressiness that may sway your choice in clothing, the most important prerequisite is that you feel confident. No matter your build or height, all of these looks can be ‘pulled off’. It’s just about finding the balance between colours and styles you like, and ones that achieve your goal and aesthetic.
Always remember that clothes are made to fit you, not the other way around. So if you focus on personal preference and fit first, you’ll be amazed at the confidence an outfit can inspire.
Found diving into menswear interesting? We cover all that and more in our Certificate of Personal Styling course.