Good style advice—let alone great style advice—is hard to come by. That’s why we headed out to the Gentlemen’s Expo in Toronto, Ont., where some of Canada’s greatest minds in menswear were hosting a panel addressing questions every guy has, whether he’s only just starting to dress more consciously, or he’s a veteran looking for the right tailor.
How to start upping your style game
Jeff Colt: You need to want to change, and then you go to a store and you run into [certain people] who are going to be able to push you in a certain direction but not push you too too far, because I think a lot of guys when they see a guy in a super slim suit, they say “That’s not me, fashion’s gone too far now for guys.” And it’s like, “I don’t even want to do that.” You have to take baby steps.
Les Minion: I was in New York last week and the only thing I brought back with me was this little book called Why a Man Should Be Well Dressed, and this book was the only book that was for sale at a delightful clothing company called Hudson Street Clothing Company on Crosby Street. What’s fascinating about the book is that it was published in 1929… flipping through it, a lot of things haven’t changed. Ironically, a lot of the concerns they had then are the same concerns we have now about suits and dressing for the occasion. I think it’s a question of communication… it’s a learning process. The information’s out there.
On finding the right trend for you and developing your personal style
Chris Turner: I think that everyone is trying to be successful, and successful can be determined in many different ways. But what’s really important when you’re getting dressed is trying to develop your own personal brand. That’s a real issue for men… It’s really important to have your own personal brand when you’re putting yourself together, and clothes are really important for that. The right clothes can create [the] personal brand [you] put out in the world, they’re as important as every decision that you make.
Shawn Hewson: I think what’s important is I’d say if you can resolve the trends out there, there will be one that works for you. You have to let people be comfortable in what they’re wearing. So when people are telling you skinny jeans are in, and you’re a big guy, you have to wear something that’s suitable for your body type or your personality and you’re comfortable. You can’t sort of slap on whatever trends are happening, because if you’re not comfortable you have to find that thing that works for you.
Jeremy Freed: Two things: the first thing is fit. You’re clothes are probably too big. If you’re a man who doesn’t really care about clothes and wants to care about them a little more, your clothes are probably too big. We see this all over the place: men wear suits jackets two sizes too large. So try something smaller, it may not feel totally comfortable and natural immediately, but if you need to get some advice, ask somebody you trust and get some professional advice. The other thing is colour. I think that men we can wear a lot more colour than we do, and I think that men can look good in colour and can get away with wearing a lot more colour.
Chris Turner: Know what works for you, and absolutely get a good tailor. Clothes that you can wear with confidence: it shows right through if you’re confident in the way you look.
Jeremy Freed: I’m a big fan of Top Man, a big fan of J. Crew, [there is] lots of good stuff at The Bay. There are so many options, I feel like if you’re man and you want to up your style at the end of the day, the best thing you can do is have someone take you shopping that you trust, is well-dressed and is preferably a man. Women have a certain way that they want men to look that’s not necessarily the way men want to look.
Melissa Austria: Here in the fashion industry, you’re on [social media] sites all the time seeing what’s happening globally. You have to connect yourself because the world’s getting smaller and smaller everyday. [I prefer] all of them.
Shawn Hewson: I think Tumblr is a great a resource, there’s so many men’s style and men’s fashion types floating around there and you can go through and see all the different things people are using. There’s so much going on.
When to retire, bring back, or get rid of something in your closet
Les Minion: There are two different approaches. One of the best dressed, iconic men in the world—who’s the chairman of Fiat—wears his grandfather’s suit coats with modern jeans and that’s his own personal style, and he’s been doing it for quite some time. But the reality of it is, if you feel like you haven’t’ worn something for a season, you should retire it. My wife and I have a rule in our house: every time you buy something new, it has to go on a hanger of something you have right now, which means you have to get rid of a piece. How you do that is you can give it to a charity, give it to a church, gift it to someone. It keeps you current, it forces you to be wearing something frequently and frankly the whole purposes is if you’re going to put money into something, get some use out of it. Rather than buying an expensive piece of clothing and leaving it in your closet because you’re too scared to wear it, wear the hell out of it.
Jeff Colt: You want a tailor that understands what he’s looking at. The first time I found a good tailor he kept telling me “No, no, no, the sleeves have to be shorter.” He had a strong opinion which is usually a good sign that someone knows what they’re talking about.
Melissa Austria: You have to be careful, too, because if you have a tailor that’s more old school, who wants to put you in more of a relaxed suit and doesn’t’ understand some of the trends that are happening, you might want trimmer, trimmer, trimmer, and he’ll say looser, looser, looser.