Back To School Style Mistakes Men Make

You’re headed back to campus and we’ve got some style tips to help you look your best this Fall. We see a lot of these common mistakes young guys make by either trying too hard or not trying enough. You want to find a balance between effort and casual dress, all while staying comfortable.

The good news is a little birt of effort in the style department goes a long way, so all of these back to school style mistakes are easily avoidable.

 

Socks and Slides

There’s no excuse ever. Pick up some Vans slip-ons, they’re just as comfortable and low-maintenance, plus they’re much more stylish.

Slip-On Picks:

Vans

SeeVees

Sperry

 

Too many logo tees

Leave that for all the annoying kids who are decked out in their logo tee, pants, and socks. They look ridiculous, don’t join them. Stick with the basics and go with something from H&M and Uniqlo, they make our favorite t-shirts that Ashley uses all the time with clients.

 

Not Putting In Any Effort

Your wardrobe doesn’t have to be fancy but you should care about what you’re wearing.  That’s why we made it easy on you and put together a list of all the essentials you need for a stylish back to school wardrobe.

 

Basketball Shorts All The Time

Why? Unless you’re on the court or on the couch you shouldn’t be wearing basketball shorts.  Grab some dark joggers instead, they’re just as comfortable and look a lot better.

Jogger Picks:

H&M

PacSun

Gap

Mack Weldon

 

Too much hypebeasting

It reeks of trying too hard. If you want to sprinkle it in here and there, totally fine. But don’t jump in with both feet and wear all the trends at once, all the time. Again, we did a back to school essentials article that sprinkles in just the right amount.

 

Not caring about grooming

Look, there might be days you don’t want to style your hair. Fine, no problem, throw on your favorite baseball cap. But, here’s no excuse to have overgrown, unwashed hair or neglected skin. Your overall appearance, especially when it concerns hygiene, will be a huge make it or break it situation when it comes to people wanting to hang out with you. Check out all of our grooming tips in our grooming section. From haircuts to skincare, we’ve got all the tips you need.

 

Wearing only workout gear

Unless your an athlete and it’s absolutely necessary because of your schedule, then there’s no excuse. It’s lazy and looks like you might be hiding a less than desirable physique. You wanna feel just as comfortable? A pair of some Adidas Ultraboosts, black joggers, a tee or a hooded sweatshirt, and a bomber jacket will look 100 times sharper.  All of our picks are right here.

Men’s Back To School Essentials

You’re headed back to campus and we’ve got some picks to help you look your best this Fall. We know that school can be stressful and the last thing you have time for is thinking about what to wear. However, we can all agree that you still want to look your best which is why picking up these pieces will take the guesswork out of what outfit you should wear because they all can go together easily and stylishly.

The key to solid back to school items are ones that are comfortable, stylish, inexpensive, and versatile, and these back to school style essentials will have you covered for the entire year.

 

 

Sneakers

You need a good everyday sneaker that’s comfortable, stylish, and affordable. We’re huge fans of the Vans Old Skool sneakers which come in a bunch of different colors and patterns, though I love the black and white ones the most. If you’re going to get a pair of white sneakers, I’d opt for leather like the Stan Smiths which are easier to keep clean than canvas kicks.

Picks:

Vans

Stan Smiths

More Sneaker Picks

Jason Markk sneaker cleaning wipes

 

Well-Fitting Jeans

Some well-fitting slim jeans in dark indigo, black or dark grey will get you through the entire year and beyond. Remember you only need to wash them every few months if you let them air out every day on the back of your chair or on a hanger.  Want some fit tips? Check out our jeans fit guide.

Picks:

Levis

Uniqlo

J. Crew

 

Pull-Over Hoodie

A pull-over hoodie is super comfortable and versatile. You can wear it on on its own or you can layer underneath your jacket when it gets cold. Definitely skip the logos here, leave that to the kids who look ridiculous in their all logo fits. One note, we’re not fans of the zip-up hoodies because they tend to look sloppy and have this weird bunching in the front when you sit.

Picks:

Champion

J.Crew

Uniqlo

H&M

 

T-Shirts

Pick up 5 or 6 of these since you’ll pretty much be wearing this every day and stick with basic colors like black, white, navy, and grey. Remember fit is king. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-fitting t-shirt and jeans outfit – it’s unbelievably attractive and that simple knowledge on fit will instantly set you apart from everyone else.

Picks:

Uniqlo

H&M

Amazon Goodthreads

The Best Budget-Friendly T-Shirts

 

A Versatile Jacket

Our favorite being a bomber jacket – whether it’s leather, nylon or cotton. It doesn’t matter what your size or build is, this jacket looks great on every guy and it’s super easy and comfortable.  It’s really easy to add layers, like a hoodie, underneath when it gets cold. Also, it just looks cool-as-hell so wear in and out of school.

Picks:

H&M

Gap

J.Crew

Bonobos

 

A Casual Button-Down Shirt

Versatility is key here and you want one that you can wear untucked or partially tucked in the front. Casual button-downs are shorter in length then dress shirts so they should hit around mid-crotch. Pair this with your jeans and sneakers, maybe throw on your bomber jacket for the ultimate, “Oh this? I just rolled out of bed and threw this on.” It looks cool, stylish, and like you put in zero effort in the best way possible. We recommend solid oxfords and darker, fall plaid casual button-downs.

Picks:

J. Crew

H&M

Uniqlo

5 Shirts Every Man Should Own

 

Crew Neck Sweatshirt

We like sweatshirts because there’s a casualness that compliments your on-campus fits and you can throw them in the wash instead of having to have them dry cleaned.  As with hoodies, skip the logos and keep them clean and simple.

Picks:

Champion

Everlane

Uniqlo

Todd Snyder

 

Backpack

Like everyone, you need something to carry your notebooks, laptop, and gear every day and just like your clothes, it’s important to pick up a backpack that keeps you organized, looks sharp, will last you all year, and won’t break the bank. We’ve discussed the ins and outs of our favorite backpacks before, and the key is finding the right size and style.

Picks:

Incase

Herschel

Aer

Everlane

More Backpack Picks

 

Sunglasses

The right shape can instantly up your style game, but the wrong shape can really work against you. Stick with a classic style that compliments your face shape.  Check out this article for more on how to choose the right sunglasses for your face shape.

Picks:

Ray-Ban

MVMT

Crap

Warby Paker

Additional Picks

 

A Second Pair Of Pants

A man can’t live on denim alone so it’s wise to consider a few more options. We definitely recommend chinos, they’re comfortable, stylish, and affordable. If you go for chinos, go with navy or charcoal grey as that’ll go with everything. If chinos aren’t your style grab some sharp jogger pants for a different option. Go with black or charcoal as they’ll not only look the best but it will keep them from looking too much like your workout gear.

Chinos:

Bonobos

Uniqlo

J.Crew

Gap 

Joggers:

H&M

PacSun

Gap

Mack Weldon

 

Worth It? Cashmere Sweaters

Now that we’re headed into Fall it’s about time you start thinking about your sweater rotation. While cashmere is expensive, it’s no longer just a true luxury item, and you can now find cashmere sweaters at multiple different price points. We get asked about cashmere sweaters a ton so we thought it was time we gave you our opinion on whether or not cashmere was worth it.

Pros:

-Very light, soft, and warm.  Cashmere is the ideal material for sweaters.

-They are extremely comfortable and layer easily.

-Have a nice finish that can be dressy or casual.

Cons:

-Expensive to very expensive.

-Delicate and require extra care. Not as durable as merino wool or cotton versions.

-Cashmere sweaters now come at a huge range of price points so it can be tough to know the quality.

Verdict:

Ashley: Worth It
Dorian: Not Worth It

Picks

Designer:

Rag & Bone

Burberry

Theory

Brooks Brothers 

Budget Friendly:

Nordstrom

J.Crew

Naadam

Uniqlo 

3 Boot Styles Every Man Should Own For Fall/Winter 2018

Boots are a fall/winter staple and the right pair (or two) should be versatile enough for a variety of outfits and occasions. I think Chelsea boots are more of a spring/summer style so we’re focusing on shoes that will get you through the colder, wetter months of the year and work better with heavier clothing.

One thing to remember, look at boots as an investment, good ones aren’t cheap, but properly taken care of they can last you many years. There are a ton of options out there and we’ll include our picks, but we’ve narrowed it down to three basic styles that you should have in your closet.

Desert/Chukka Boots

The most versatile and least seasonal, you can wear these nearly year round. They’re light and comfortable and work well with both casual looks (jeans, chinos) and more dressy looks (with sweaters and blazers).

Picks

Zegna

Allen Edmonds

Clark’s

Budget-Friendly Clarks

Johnston Murphy #1

Johnston Murphy #2

Work Boots

What you probably think of when you think of boots, these are more rugged and have thicker/chunkier soles. The look great with jeans and chinos and will get you through the colder months and weather with ease. They can come in a variety of styles, some very casual, others a bit more dressy.

Picks

O’Keefe

Red Wing Beckman

Allen Edmonds #1

Allen Edmonds #2

Wolverine 1000 Mile

Danner Jack

Dress Boots

Yes, you can and should dress up your boots. Just make sure you’ve got the right styles. Think of these like the hightop versions of your dress shoes. They should have a thinner, dressier sole and nice leather. Look for them in cap toe or wingtip versions. Formality note: some dressier styles come with a bit more tread (called a lug sole) which can still look good with dressier clothes, but it will make them slightly less formal.

Picks

Edward Green

Brooks Brothers Peal & Co.

Grenson

Mezlan

Allen Edmonds #1

Allen Edmonds #1

Aldo 

Calvin Klein

How To Wear Patterned Shirts

Whether you want to level up your business casual and weekend wardrobe or complement dressy looks, the right patterned shirt can do wonders. No matter if I’m dressing my clients formally or casually, I rely on patterned dress shirts to add both style and visual interest to whatever they’re wearing, and I’m going to show you how to do it so you look great – every time.

First, a quick word on formality.  While it’s not a hard and fast rule, in a basic sense, the bigger or bolder the pattern, the less formal the shirt is. For most of you dressing casually or in business casual, you’re home free, most patterns will definitely work. But, for some of you guys that work in more formal office environments or if you’re dressing up for a fancy wedding or evening event, keep in mind that the more subtle patterns will be much more appropriate. So now that we’ve got that established, let’s get some patterns in your life.

Stripes

Stripes can come in all manner of widths, from wide (sometimes known as Bengal stripes), to medium (pencil stripe), to thin (pinstripes) and since they tend to lean a bit more conservative, they’re also an easy place to start if you’re new to the game.

How Best To Wear Striped Shirts

As a general rule, the wider the stripe, the bolder the statement, and just like matching colors, the bolder the choice, the more simply you should approach the rest of your look. For casual and business casual looks, a simple pair of chinos or dark denim is a great option.  I also like stripes when worn with solid-colored or textured suiting and under a solid v-neck sweater with dress pants, denim, or chinos.

Checks

The world of checks is a wide one, but there’s no better way to add some instant personality to your shirt arsenal than with a few carefully chosen checked shirts.  There are many different options available, but, in my opinion, the three with the most versatility and style are windowpane, tattersall, and gingham. Both windowpane and tattersall feature types of graph patterns that can range in size and thickness and gingham goes one step further with a bolder, thicker check pattern that often combines a base color like white and one other color.

How Best To Wear Checked Shirts

As with stripes, the level of statement can vary, but my go-to rule remains, keep the rest of your look simple.  Dark-colored denim, chinos, and dress pants are the ticket, and if you’re going to dress them up, I recommend solid-colored suits and solid or subtle ties. On the tie front, I think geometrically patterned ties can look a bit too matchy-matchy with checked shirts, so be wary. Protip: for a less formal tie option, try a knit tie in a solid, complementing color. The texture and slightly less formal nature of a knit tie work really well with blazers, chinos, and denim for a dressy hybrid that’s great for business casual or a dressed-down Friday.

Geometric and Floral Prints

Now more popular than ever, print shirts are a great way to add a cool, modern edge to your casual looks and even suiting and dress clothes. Small-scale geometric prints are a great place to start if you want to keep it subtle but, I definitely recommend trying a bolder floral print too, it’s an easy, fun way to add a bit of stylish personality to your vibe.

How Best To Wear Geometric and Floral Prints

The printed shirt is all about letting the shirt do the talking, so I highly recommend denim or dark chinos in navy, tan or gray, especially if you’re going with a floral print, and finish with sneakers or loafers (I like driving mocs). Don’t be afraid to dress up a printed shirt too, pair it with a slim dark suit and some penny loafers or dressy leather sneakers for formal-but-not-stuffy settings like a cocktail party, fun summer wedding or night out. For a black belt-level move, try rocking the air tie (top button buttoned, no tie).

Plaids

When you’re talking plaid shirts, usually the pattern involves multiple colors and lines/boxes and the more things happening with the pattern (color, width, etc) the better suited the plaid will be to casual dressing. Be warned, though, it’s a slippery slope to full lumberjack hipster, so chop firewood at your own risk!

How Best To Wear Plaids

Ultimately these patterns are busy, and I recommend keeping plaids casual and subtle, so try them with denim, chinos, and shorts in solid colors, and finish them with shoes like sneakers or chukka boots. You can always “turn down the volume” of a plaid by layering it under a solid-colored sweater, lightweight jacket or pairing it with a dark-colored blazer in dressier situations.

Now that you’ve got some know-how and a few tips in your pocket, have confidence and make these patterns work for you! Your shirt rotation (and your wardrobe in general) are about to get an upgrade.

Men’s Denim/Jean Jackets & How To Wear Them

After I released my Top 5 Fall Essentials article/video, I received a lot of questions about how to style different washes of denim jackets. I heard you loud and clear, so here’s some of my favorite ways to style them.

Light Wash

To avoid looking like you’re wearing a Canadian tuxedo, wear light wash denim jackets with chinos. You can pretty much get away with any color, but my favorites are navy, green, brown, and burgundy. My classic go-to formula is a t-shirt, chinos, and chukka boots. Crewneck sweaters or oxford button-downs are also good options as well.

$230 – Allsaints denim jacket – One of my favorite denim jackets currently available. I love the lighter wash and distressed touches and the slim fit is incredibly flattering, which is really hard to find in denim jackets. It fits true to size.
$20 – Topman striped t-shirt
$68 – J.Crew slim-fit stretch chino pant in green and brown (click here for their straight leg chinos)
$128 – Brooks Brothers suede belt in brown
$295 – Allen Edmonds plain-toe chukka boots
$318 – John Varvatos sunglasses
$5 – Perlon Watch Strap

Alternate Denim Jacket 

$90 – Levi’s denim jacket (in Queen) – You can never go wrong with this iconic denim jacket. Go with the next size down for this one because it’s not as fitted as the AllSaints one above and you always want a snug fit in the arms and body for all your denim jackets.

Dark Wash

If you only have the budget for one denim jacket, a dark washed one is what I’d choose. I love how dark the wash is because it’s easier to dress it up or down and it also has a slimming effect. I would avoid wearing jeans with a dark wash jacket unless they’re black because I don’t think it looks great and typically most men don’t know how to pair different washes of denim well. You can never go wrong with a pair of chinos and a crewneck t-shirt or sweater. If you want to dress the jacket up more, than pair it with some wool trousers and a collared shirt like I did in my fall accessory essentials article/video.

$118 – J.Crew denim jacket – Definitely go a size down than normal because you want a snug fit. Otherwise, the fit will be boxy which looks unflattering on every man regardless of your body type.
$24 – J.Crew t-shirt
$225 – J.Crew striped sweater
$40 – Uniqlo chinos in navy
$179 – Johnston & Murphy chukka boots
$415 – Tom Ford sunglasses 52mm

Alternate Denim Jacket 

$90 – Levi’s denim jacket (in Rinse) – Go with the next size down because you want a snug fit.

Grey Or Black Wash

Tall, dark, and handsome is how I describe the outfit you’ll be wearing with a grey (or black) denim jacket. Keep it all black – t-shirt, jeans, and boots. You can also go with a white t-shirt but I love how sharp an all black outfit looks with a gray denim jacket adding that perfect pop of monochrome color – it’s especially perfect for a night out.

$285 – AllSaints denim jacket
$75 – AllSaints black t-shirt
$168 – Diesel jeans
$750 – Prada chelsea boots
$415 – Tom Ford sunglasses in black

Alternate Denim Jacket 

$98 – Levis denim jacket

Men’s Leather Jackets & How To Wear Them – Bomber + Motorcycle

In this article/video, I wanted to do an update to my (4 year old!) men’s essential leather jacket story. A lot of the information in my previous article is still valid, so think of this as more of a supplement for why you should own a leather jacket instead of completely replacing it. As for the types of leather jackets I’m featuring in this video/article, you’ll likely notice that some are missing and that’s for a specific reason – I just don’t like them and they tend to not look great on most men. See the video below for an explanation of what styles I don’t prefer and why.

For the best ways to wear your leather jacket(s), check out the new video and my previous article and video here.

Biker Jacket

In my previous story, I mentioned that I didn’t like the biker style very much because they have a lot going on and should only be worn if you have a very specific rock and roll style. I still think this is true if you go with the traditional or classic-style biker jacket with the belt, chrome hardware and shiny leather. But, over the years, I discovered a slightly updated version that does away with the belt and replaces the shiny hardware and leather with matte options. Basically, this style of biker jacket removes all the things I disliked about the traditional versions, and now I’ve got to say, I’m much more of a fan.

As for how to wear them, I’d style with a t-shirt or sweater in white, black, or grey, dark wash or black jeans/chinos, and a pair of black boots. If you want to “dress it up” a bit, then pair with a casual collared shirt (leave untucked) in black, green, or burgundy, and some chinos or wool trousers.

$2395 – Burberry leather biker jacket – Burberry consistently makes some of my favorite leather jackets. You’ll pay for it, but if you can swing it, they’re totally worth the price and the fit is incredible. Remember, leather jackets are a BIFL piece.
$420 – AllSaints cargo leather jacket – all the hardware on this jacket is completely blacked out which I always prefer, but is tough to find. AllSaints’ leather jackets are worth the price and for the quality and construction, they’re a steal!
$420 – AllSaints leather biker jacket
$133 – AllSaints dark green shirt – this is the shirt Dorian wore throughout the video. The dark green color and cut of the shirt is super flattering for all shapes and sizes, especially if you’re thin or huskier.

Leather Bomber Jacket

I’ve said it a gazillion times and I’ll continue to say it, over and over again (all these articles feature bomber jackets) – regardless of your age and body type, from super thin to more rotund gentleman, every single man should have at least one bomber jacket in his closet because it’s a super versatile year-round item that can be worn a myriad of ways. Now whether you go with leather, suede or fabric options, that’s up to you. Frankly, I’d have each option, if your budget allows.

As for how to wear a leather bomber jacket, I always like to keep it simple. Pair with a crewneck sweater or t-shirt, dark wash jeans, and sneakers or boots. To make it more formal, I would pair with a white collared shirt, black tie, and wool trousers. The beauty of a bomber is that you can pretty much wear it with any kind of shirt – just pair with chinos, jeans or trousers on the darker side and you’ll never go wrong.

$500 – AllSaints leather bomber jacket – classic, classic, classic.
$500 – AllSaints leather bomber jacket in greyish blue – if you already own black, mix it up with this neutral-like color. Wear how you normally would with a black or brown jacket.
$465 – AllSaints leather and wool bomber – Dorian wore this in my Fall Shoes video and it’s such a sleek take on an all leather jacket. Super timeless and stylish.

Fall and Winter Boots & Shoes 2017

In this article and video, I wanted to show you some of my favorite boots and shoes for this Fall & Winter. If you missed my big men’s Fall & Winter Essentials series, you should definitely check that out first, since this is more of a supplement to that instead of the other way around.

Suede Boots

Although you can certainly go with leather boots, I am a huge fan of these suede ones by Allen Edmonds. Everything from the superior construction, to the neutral taupe grey color, which I’ll often use in place of black or brown, easily makes this boot a winner in my eyes.

$350 – Allen Edmonds taupe suede boots
$620 – AllSaints bomber jacket
$24 – J.Crew t-shirt
$118 – Banana Republic slim-fit jeans

Alternate Suede Boots

$285 – AllSaints suede boot

Suede Chukka/Desert Boots

Another favorite of mine are these suede chukkas (aka desert boots) which lend a very Autumn feel to any outfit. Again, just like with the boots I mentioned before, you can certainly go with regular leather Chukka boots, as well. But I love these, specifically because they have a slim profile and a comfortable crepe sole which will feel like you’re wearing sneakers. Pair them with jeans or chinos for a put-together casual look.

$295 – Allen Edmonds chukka boots
$230 – Allsaints denim jacket – One of my favorite denim jackets currently available. I love the lighter wash and distressed touches and the slim fit is incredibly flattering, which is really hard to find in denim jackets.
$20 – Topman striped t-shirt
$68 – J.Crew slim-fit stretch chino pant in green and brown (click here for their straight leg chinos) – I’m shocked at how spot on the fits and materials are.
$128 – Brooks Brothers suede belt in brown
$318 – John Varvatos sunglasses
$10 – Perlon Watch Strap

Alternate Chukka Boots

$168 – Banana Republic suede chukkas

Double Monk Strap Dress Shoes

Dress them up with a suit of down with jeans and a blazer. Double monk straps are timeless and will forever be a Fall (and Spring!) favorite of mine.

$120 – Johnston & Murphy double monk straps
$62 – J.Crew merino wool cardigan (currently on sale for 30% off)
$49 – Brooks Brothers navy plaid shirt
$358 – Brooks Brothers green sportcoat
$168 – Diesel slim fit jeans

Alternate Double Monk Straps

$150 – Aldo double monk straps

Grey Sneakers

Outside of white sneakers, grey is a Fall favorite of mine because it’s another neutral color that compliments the darker, more jewel-toned colors you’ll be wearing this season. You can go with suede, leather, or a fabric material, but just make sure to keep the design simple like these ones.

$215 – AllSaints Low Top Sneakers
$80 – J.Crew cardigan bomber (currently on sale for 30% off)
$24 – J.Crew white t-shirt
$118 – Banana Republic slim fit jeans

Alternate Sneakers

$80 – Converse Jack Purcell suede sneakers (or fabric option here) – I also like these suede sneakers as well.