Preface: Over the past 2 years I’ve been on a personal mission to dress and look better. Not necessarily to change my life or to move in a new direction, but I realized that for a 30 year old man, I spent most of my time dressing like I was still 20 years old. As in 20 in the year 2000. Through some good friends, a few websites and the help of my wife, I’ve slowly been evolving my style. I’m no expert by any means and I’m not pretending to be. However I’ve started to notice small things that my fellow dudes can do to spruce themselves up a bit. I’m not talking going full metro-sexual or Sean Avery in the off season, but just some very simple things that I’ve learned the hard way and want to share with you guys, because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying to look your best.
Last week I stuck my neck out and did a piece on mens clothing and fashion. I was expecting to get flamed, called some unsavory names and get told I was “gay”. However, the post went over really well. So well that I’m going to make Style Tips For Dudes a semi-regular feature here on my blog.
Today’s Style Tips For Dudes is starting right at the basics of your clothes: care and cleaning. It’s one thing to go out and purchase some decent threads, but it’s entirely another to care for them and keep them looking good. Rolling out in dirty, wrinkly, washed out and stretched out clothing looks foul no matter how much time or money you put into what you wear. I’m speaking fully from experience and lessons I’ve learned the hard way over 14 years of washing my own clothes (by the way, thanks for the first 18 mom!).¬† Remember, this is 2013, not 1953. Laundry is everyone’s job and don’t trust your wife/girlfriend to take care of your clothes. Take care of your own business.
Let’s start, shall we?
All clothes have laundry labels. Read them. Follow the directions. And if they ask for dry cleaning, dry clean them. I’ve learned that one the hard way. And remember, the turnover on dry cleaning is usually more than 24 hours, so think ahead if you want that jacket clean for a date on the weekend.
Good detergent is key to keeping your duds looking sharp. For starters, don’t screw around with powdered detergent. Just don’t. It will leave a gross film on everything and make your clothes feel uncomfortable when you wear them. I don’t care how cheap it is, cut it out.¬† Stick to good, brand name, liquid detergents and I’m going to suggest two¬† separate kinds to keep in your laundry room. You’ll want something for whites/lights and something¬† for darks Personally I find Woolite works the best and they have a detergent for both. Using the right soap will keep everything looking fresh and sharp, longer, allowing your to get more wear out of your clothes before they look old and busted. Woolite Dark and Woolite Complete are a good go-to.¬† I know laundry seems simple and a little ridiculous to talk about, but just like quality ingredients make your food taste good and quality products make your car run better, good detergents make your clothes look good.¬† I prefer going cold water with everything to help prevent fading but it becomes a personal preference as some like to run hot on their whites. It’s a debate that’s never ending. Also, if you’re washing jeans and printed shirts, turn them inside out before washing. It helps prevent fades.
When In Doubt, Hang To Dry:
So you’ve thrown your favorite clothes in the wash. The cycle’s complete and now all you have to do is throw it in the dryer, right? Wrong. If you’ve taken the time & money to get decent pants & shirts, the worst thing you can do is throw them in the dryer. Get yourself a rack (if space is tight, stick a shower curtain rod up in your laundry area, that’s what I did) and hang your stuff up. Get wire hangers for t-shirts and really solid plastic or wood hangers for pants , hoodies& buttondowns. Investing in “clamp” style hangers for your pants is even better, as it eliminates any fold mars they’ll get on a hanger. If you have clothes you want to keep looking the same, keep them out of the dryer. Even on low, it will change the fit and colour of your pants, t-shirts, everything. In my house, only pajamas, workout clothes, over sized hoodies, Dickies, towels and sheets go in the dryer. Everything else gets hung. Except for sweaters. ALWAYS lay your sweaters flat or they’ll come out all weird and stretched out. I’ve learned this the hard way. Also, button the top button of your shirts when they’re on the hanger and don’t yank your tees off the hanger. Remove it through the bottom. Again, lessons I’ve learned the hard way by ruining shirts I really liked with carelessness.
Get an Iron & Ironing Board:
If your wardrobe consists mainly of tees, jeans and hoodies an iron might not be that important to you. However once you start wearing any kind of dress pants or button down shirt, an iron & board becomes a necessity. It’s not a major purchase, especially if you’re not spending a lot of time ironing and you’re not ironing crazy fabrics.¬† For 20 dollars you can get an iron and another 20 you can get a board. Use them. Regardless of how good you think a shirt might look on it’s hanger, if it hasn’t been ironed, it’s not right. Learning to iron shirts & pants correctly is a tricky process and I’m not going to pretend like I even know what I’m doing all the time, but so long as you get the wrinkles out and give the collar a good going over, your shirt is going to look x10000 times better than before. And putting in that little bit of extra time makes you look all the more sharp when you’re out and about. Again, what’s the point of laying down top dollar on a nice shirt if you’re not going to take care of it?
Lint Is Your Enemy:
So you’ve got your nice clean clothes. Your new dark denim is on, your shirt is ironed and looking sharp. But what’s that on your pants/shirt/jacket but LINT? You’ve got to kill it and the best way is a lint brush. That sh*t is cheap, so have a couple handy (desk/truck/house/girlfriend’s house) and give yourself a quick lint check before your head out.¬† Doubly so if you have a cat or a dog. Lint brushes also work awesome on making toques look new and fitted/New Era hats.
Shoe Shine All The Time:
Got a nice pair of leather boots or shoes? Learn to shine & oil them. It adds to their longevity and keeps them looking fresh. I’m no going to get into the basics of shoe shining, but I will recommend a handy dandy shine sponge. Another great item to keep by your door/desk/vehicle. Get spots on your shoes? I quick few strokes and they’re back to looking great. Shoes are pricey, so take good care of them and they’ll keep you looking good.
Well dudes, I hope this didn’t come over as too pretentious, especially as there are all things I learned on my own, often by ruining or wrecking an item of clothing.¬† I don’t want to play up the idea that men are buffoons and don’t know how to wash their clothes, but sometimes your priorities lie elsewhere. And I really just want my stuff to stay looking good, so I can look good too.