Shopping for men is really tricky. Wait, shopping for flamboyant men, is easy, shopping for men who happily subscribe to ‘whatever’ trend is in vogue, is easy. Shopping for men who have a classic taste, and personality that they are keen to share through their clothing is tricky. At least, it is, it seems, in Australia.
I can list ten + Australian womenswear designers that I love, covet and purchase pieces from, of both a classic and occasional variety. How many menswear labels can I suggest for my male friends? A handful, and even at that, they do tend to cringe at the prices.
So, when building a new wardrobe (for men or women) it comes down to the staples, at least initially.
Comfort, quality, value, fit and design.
The comfort part lends itself not only to fabric, cuts, size, and shape but to confidence. A good fit is more than just a size issue. A shy person who wears a bold yellow and red print is not going to feel very comfortable. A shy person in a white tee and classic denim jean, no probs. Stick to something that works, and doesn’t draw attention in a negative or confusing way. Leave the bold prints (and clashing ones at that) to someone with a natural flamboyance.
Does classic equate to boring? It doesn’t have to.
The quality aspect is something that I have found, jacks up the prices. I do not see the point in buying items that are not made to last. Men wear clothes for a long time (generally speaking). Finding good fabrics- natural, breathable fibers, is one of the first things to look for. If it feels ‘weird’ he won’t wear it. Waxed jeans, anything velvet, poly-blends, things with huge decals- forget it. If it increases sweat- forget it. Come with a list, stick to it as best you can, and find ways to mix and match. One pair of jeans to three shirts; one thin jumper, one thicker; one anorak (with a rain protective hood is a bonus) and one coat- not several coats; two pairs of shorts, not five. Seven pairs of sneakers- is not vital, three yes, seven or more, no. (At least initially the fun stuff can grow later!)
Value is where you have to shop around, which yes, takes a bit longer, but, that fairly well-fitted pair of jeans for $120, compared to the same branded ones in another store for $100 or even a sale pair from another brand (which turn out to fit better) for $50, is worth that extra 45 mins. That extra $50 buys a shirt (appreciate the 20% off sale).
It may take longer, you may be in ‘the shops’ for longer, but as long as you avoid weekends, late night shopping nights and grab a coffee as you go, tends to be worth it. If you have been there for longer than two hours with no fruit to your labor however, it’s time to get out.
The fit- you can have things altered, each body is different, don’t be afraid to try a 34 instead of your 32, (particularly when the ‘trend’ for shorts run narrow in the leg) just make sure you are comfortable.
Finally the design- printed tees which don’t ‘speak’ to you on a personal level- e.g. that just have some random scribbling or logo- are not worth buying. Really into the Mexican Day of the Dead? Sure, grab that manly floral skull tee. Not really into it? Don’t. Leave it for someone who is. Obviously I use a t-shirt as an example, translate that across to all other items.
So what does this have to do with the photos pictured? Nada, except that on this particular day, after a morning of shopping for menswear for my partner, we shot these photos (and also I look a bit boyish!). I did mention I prefer a more casual look when I am just hanging out. This fits the bill.
If you have any menswear label or shopping tips, please share them in the comments below! I am keen to hear where people shop for men.
Shots by Mario Recchia