Whether you like it or not, first impressions matter. Humans are subconsciously accustomed to forming certain predispositions about a person just by their appearance. Yes, the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” is a key principle to live by – but this is often intentional rather than instinctive.
In light of this, it’s important to care about how you look – at least in fitting situations (pun unintended), such as at work, meetings, public events, dates or even a casual day out. It’s not just about what other people think of you; it’s a lot to do with how it makes you feel, too.
As bespoke fitter Isaac Hor, co-founder of Connoisseur Bespoke Tailoring, puts it: “Your personal style can reflect your personality and it speaks on your behalf as well. You only look good and confident with the clothes that give you the right feeling when putting them on.”
With that said, here are the 5 fashion essentials Isaac believes every man needs in his wardrobe – and how to style them.
A two-piece suit
Brunello Cucinelli Prince of Wales Checked Cashmere and Silk-Blend Suit. W mrporter.com
Paul Smith Navy Slim-Fit Wool Suit. W mrporter.com
Tom Ford Grey Wool-Blend Suit Jacket. W mrporter.com
Ermenegildo Zegna Grey Cashmere and Cotton-Blend Suit. W mrporter.com
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“A [two-piece] suit is defined by having the same fabric, colour and pattern for both top and bottom,” tells Isaac. He recommends that every gentleman own a navy or charcoal grey suit, as these shades are the most versatile to be worn to any occasion. For contrast, consider getting a light or pastel-coloured suit, also known as a day suit, for daytime occasions. Otherwise, a dark suit would work well for anytime of the day.
Style tip: “You can create different styles and make it fun by pairing different patterned or coloured accessories, such as a necktie and pocket square. You can even pair the suit jacket with different trousers (a dark-coloured jacket is good to go with trousers that are 2 to 3 tones lighter) and vice versa.”
A sports jacket
Boss Houndstooth linen blazer. W farfetch.com
Kiton Puppytooh Wool Blazer. W mrporter.com
Ring Jacket Navy White Prince of Wales Check Wool-Silk. W wjandco.com
While a suit is a must-have, it doesn’t quite cater to more laid-back settings. Thus, Isaac believes a sports jacket is the next best thing. “Back in the day, a sports jacket was originally worn for outdoor or hunting activities. As fashion evolved, we can see how common a gentleman wears a sports jacket for smart casual or business casual events.” Typically, this outerwear comes in a variety of patterns and fabrics, including checkered, glen plaid and plaid designs. These help one to stand out from the crowd.
Style tip: “Unlike a suit, a sports jacket can easily pair with trousers made from different types of fabric (wool, cotton, or linen).”
“Creating a lasting impression is extremely important. As I always say, you can never buy a second chance to create a good first impression.”
A crisp white shirt
Isaac thinks every man should own at least two white shirts. “White is a neutral colour, it’s versatile and can easily pair with different outfits. Frankly, it can be worn to almost any occasion,” he says. His advice to finding the right crisp white shirt is determining the proper collar size to frame your face, as well as good quality fabric and a nice cut.
Style tip: “If I am wearing a navy suit with a white shirt and tie to work during the day and I have to attend a casual dinner after, I can just pull off my tie and wear it on its own (with or without the suit jacket; it’s personal preference).” You can pair it with jeans, khakis, joggers or linen trousers (see next point) too.
Dolce & Gabanna Linen Trousers. W farfetch.com
Ermenegildo Zegna Tapered Linen Suit Trousers. W mrporter.com
Loro Piana Linen Trousers. W mrporter.com
“If you think cotton is too mainstream, it’s time to give linen a try. Living in a tropical weather country, we need its natural breathable properties to keep us cool and fresh,” Isaac shares. Many Malaysians tend not to opt for linen shirt or trousers likely because of the texture of the fabric and its tendency to wrinkle. However, he believes that the wrinkles are part of its charm. “[Linen] even looks better when worn and as it ages,” he adds.
Style tip: “Cotton always goes great with linen and vice versa – try it! Alternatively, create contrast with a dark top and light bottoms or a light top and dark bottoms.”
Burberry Mohair Tuxedo. W burberry.com
Givenchy slim-fit tuxedo suit. W farfetch.com
Dolce & Gabbana Single-breasted Tuxedo Suit. W farfetch.com
A tuxedo sits on the highest tier of dressing formality and is worn for black tie and white tie events. It is distinguished from a suit by its satin silk lapel. According to Isaac, there are two proper types of lapel: the shawl and peak lapels (“I don’t consider the notch lapel as proper and appropriate on a tuxedo jacket”). This is the time when a gentleman would do well to follow the dress code without cutting corners as the occasion may lead to one of the greatest memories in life.
Style tip: “Black tie is all about following the rules, you can play it right with a combination of a body-tapered tuxedo, fresh crisp white dinner shirt and perfectly tied bowtie. While the cummerbund is not a staple, it shows your respect and dedication to the dress code. It must go with patent leather shoes or well-polished black cap toe shoes.”
Additional style tips
- Less is more: “Always remember to not have more than three or at most four colour categories on your outfit, or else it will look busy and complicated. Different tones from the same colour category is a great styling tip (we call it monochrome).”
- Quality over quantity: “Branded or expensive outfits do not elevate your image; what really matters is the quality. One great quality, well-fitted bespoke suit in your wardrobe is better than five ill-fitting branded suits.”
- Comfort and fit are key: “Do not follow the trends, instead, find the right dressing style that you are comfortable with and project an image that’s true to yourself.”
For more information on bespoke tailoring or image consultation services, log on to Connoisseur Bespoke’s website here.
Product images courtesy of respective brands and retail stores