It is important to know that, with menswear, taste comes before splashing serious cash.
Katie Trotter: Men, get back to basics to find a style that suits
Affordable style, luxury for less; we talk about it all the time - looking sharp and spending smart. Yet most publications still fill their magazines with style advice for men that focuses on big brands for big bucks.
However, it is important to know that, with menswear, taste comes before splashing serious cash.
Start with learning what the high street does best. H&M does some wonderful dress shirts at low prices, and Topman - although young in its branding sensibilities - has a fast-changing stockpile. Look out for slim-cut cashmere and Merino wool suits for the office. Zara also does some fantastic tailoring in wool blends, but make sure to focus on the fit. Fit is everything when it comes to looking sharp. If you are overwhelmed, ask a sales assistant to help pick a good selection of differing styles, as we often bypass what is best for our shape by sticking to an old favourite.
A great place to start is an outlet mall. Dubai has one worth a look around (www.dubaioutletmall.com), but just because it is designer doesn't mean you need or want it. In any case, accessories are a good first stop as you are more likely to find the size and colour spectrum you want, and less likely to run for the hills in such unknown territory.
If you really don't want to invest, you would be surprised at what you may find in your wardrobe that can be adapted. An old jumper or shirt that looks a little past its sell-by date can be reworked and transformed simply by getting suede or fine leather elbow patches sewn in. If you are unsure, call a department store and ask staff who they use or, better still, ask someone whose sense of style you admire. An old, good-quality suit can also easily be remodelled - just clarify instructions on what you want. Normally, the overall look of a slightly out-of-date suit will need to be narrowed in order to modernise things. You will want to end up with a narrow sleeve that hits the break of your wrist, and a narrow leg that falls straight to your shoe (there should be no break here), which means the hem should just about touch the shoe. The top button of a two-button suit (or the middle button of a three-button suit) should fall about a centimetre below your naval and you should be able to fit the flat of your hand comfortably under the lapel when the suit is fastened.
Remember, with menswear, things are a lot less trend-driven, so it really all boils down to the right proportions. Learn your body type and what suits it best. For a tall, slim frame, try adding some horizontal elements, such as broad belts, stripes or wide jacket pockets that keep the eye at mid-body height, and remember everything should be closely fitted.
For a short, stockier shape, you should try to draw the eye upwards to give the impression of height. Plain, dark colours should dominate, and stay away from the use of layering as it will only add unnecessary bulk. Sometimes, of course, expensive is better; shoes are a good example of this, but try to think in terms of fabrics, not labels. Natural products such as leather and wool are built to last, so start thinking of your wardrobe choices as investments, not just as whims or fillers for a weekend trip away.