Money might give you access to the finer things, it definitely can’t buy you swag. That’s ok, though. You don’t need to break the bank to look your best. The key to dressing well is all in the mix. Away from the red carpets, the most stylish men in the galaxy make a habit of mixing luxury statement pieces with wholesome high street basics – need we draw your attention back to the very, very #menswear Instagram sensations that are @shiasoutfits and @jonahfits?
Nailing a high-low look is all about ruthlessly curating investment pieces that can dominate any space from the boardroom to the cabin of an A380. This could be say, a vintage Valentino overcoat, or a brash Balenciaga sneaker; add a bag, wallet, jewellery and lock ‘em on rotation. These will be your big-spend items, so make sure that they’re high quality, durable and erring on the side of classic – you want them to be wearable for like, five years. You already know this, but it bears repeating: many big tag items can be had at a fraction of their original price in end-of-season sales or on sites like Grailed.
When you go low, keep it simple. Keep a small band of high-street stores in mind and cherry-pick based on fabrication and fit. While COS will serve up angular, minimalist styling, its materials are amongst the finest you’ll find outside the top tier brands. Asics bridges sportswear and fashion with a little edge – and it’s great to avoid the usual suspects when it comes to sneakers. Topman is a crazy simple way to play with fashion-forward pieces that have runway-ish silhouettes, while mainstays like Uniqlo punch above their prices for basics that hold everything together.
Really, just like good old trig, you can sum it up in a simple mathematical equation. Take one part luxury and add two parts High Street. And that’s it. Utilise your big price items as accents to the overall look – say, a luxury Moncler puffer jacket over a well-cut Zara suit. You’ll soon realise that a little dash of ‘high’ goes a long way. We have only one rule: seriously, habibi, no knock-offs.
Coat, $9530, Berluti. Shirt, $75, Mango. T-shirt, $90, trousers, $135, COS. Crossbody bag, $750, Loewe at Matches Fashion. Sneakers, $1020, Fendi
The Anywhere Accessory
Manbags – or as they’re also known, bags – are reigning supreme at the minute. It’s a totally new era of carrying stuff around, like your phone, passport and sunglasses. And utilitarianism isn’t where it stops. A buttery-smooth leather bag like this Loewe number is a splurge piece that will just keep giving.
The Power Coat
When going high-low, putting quality pieces front and centre just makes sense – and if you need a coat to throw over, Berluti is a handsome place to start. Kris Van Assche has given the brand a steady diet of understated but characterful hero pieces…the kind that can carry an outfit on their own.
The Anything-But-Standard Trouser
As men liberate themselves from the banality of slim-cut everything, a new player has come to the fore: the non-standard trouser. They’re the easiest way to achieve what we call, a Whole New Fit. And you don’t need to spend a boatload to take advantage of the new silhouette possibilities. COS are the masters of interest-adding seasonal trouser updates, and they can usually be snapped up for around $100.
Sweater, $1675, Loewe at Matches Fashion. Turtleneck, $25, H&M. Necklace, price on request, Fendi. Excalibur automatic skeleton carbon, $65,620, Roger Dubuis. Trousers, $48, Topman. Sneakers, 120, Asics
The Undercover Layer
Down at the GQ offices, the most common response to a fit that doesn’t feel quite polished enough is the humble, handsome turtleneck. Here, it offsets a look-at-me sweater with just the right amount of sophistication. Pound-for-pound, you won’t find a better layering piece, and thrifty options like H&M and its ilk will do the job just fine.
The Wrist Guard
One place you don’t want to go too low: your hands. A drip-worthy watch will add flash that an Apple Watch or FitBit can’t hope to. Plus, they have a tendency to make everything else around them feel a little more luxe – like the wear-all-season trousers you picked up from, say, Topman.
The Big Kicks
The sneaker democracy is thriving, and that means sweet kicks at literally every price range. We know this is a personal decision, but we’re repping the Asics and Reeboks of the world as hard as the Balenciagas and Guccis. So, whatever your budget, there’s zero excuse for not giving your feet a moment to steal the show.
Photography: Efraim Evidor
Styling: Rusty Beukes
Junior Producer: Malaika Naik
Model: Cyro Cardoso
Grooming: LaLoge Salon
Fashion Assistant: Elham Safieddine