Make Sure You Get This One Style Move Right For Summer

By Tan France
30 April 2019
Tan France, Style, Menswear
Illustration: Michael Hoeweler
Tan France on taking the next steps in your sartorial journey

There comes a time when you need to make an upgrade. Now, you’re a GQ reader, so I won’t condescend to you with the basics. No, I’m here to share some more advanced styling upgrades that you can work into your wardrobe.

Let’s start with suiting. When you’re just starting out, you know that fit and fabrication are the twin pillars to a handsome suit. Now that you’ve nailed the essentials, let’s focus on those tailored details.

There are three elements to tinker with. Each will give your suiting a different feel. Number one: your trouser break. Whether you opt for a neat single break, or raise that hem to flash some ankle, make sure you’re doing one or the other deliberately.

The next thing to look at? Jacket length. This is one measurement that can make a huge impact on how a suit will look and feel. If you’re taller and working in a more conservative field, opt for a slightly longer jacket. But, if you’re looking to be more fashion-forward or creative, try a more cropped length. A Thom Browne suit is a statement piece, 100 percent of the time.

Finally, sleeves are the difference between looking blah and bravo – make sure the length is exactly where you want it (maybe flashing a little extra wrist), and don’t be shy of tailoring everything a little closer to your arm. I love Theory and the Kooples for suiting: the former is a perfect contemporary fit, and the latter is a seriously underrated label for instant cool.

Tailoring to one side, it’s time to bolster your footwear. In my opinion, gone are the days where we could say, “Shoes are the only thing people really look at.” If your outfit is rubbish, your outfit is rubbish. But, I focus more on footwear now more than I ever have.

The boot, in my opinion, is the best transition piece in your arsenal. I love how a boot can make me feel cool or edgy, even when I’m wearing just a suit. If you’re ever feeling like you’re stuck in a style rut and want to shift into a higher gear, try swapping-out your simple Oxford shoes for a Chelsea boot.

The Chelsea is appropriate for everyone, anywhere. It can go from office to out, day to night, suit to jeans, and all without breaking a sweat. I have Chelsea boots in a mix of suede and regular leather, and in a few key shades: mid-brown, dark brown, black and grey. They’re usually the answer to the question: What is this outfit missing?

Kurt Geiger do a great job at these. But if you’re looking for something higher-end, Saint Laurent, in my opinion do the world’s greatest Chelsea boot. They’re not pointy, they’re not square-toed, but perfectly in-between.

Of course, we’re in the midst of the age of streetwear, and while it can be a little intimidating, you only really need one or two key pieces to elevate everything.

I love Off-White and Vetements: they both do streetwear so incredibly well, and are defining the ’90s grunge influence we’re seeing.

If you find your streetwear or casual game going a little stale, try a statement piece. Off-White trainers can elevate an otherwise simple and inexpensive outfit instantly. Vetements are pushing these fisherman-inspired vests for spring/summer, which are perfect to wear with a tee and jeans.

I’ve started belting my sweatshirts lately – favouring an Off-White belt –  and the reaction has been amazingly fantastic. It’s an advanced-advanced move, but I love it as an interest layer and finishing touch.

Speaking of finishing touches, there are two you can build upon.

Firstly: bags. For men, they are the things that are changing the streetwear game – a great bag can be a style moment unto itself. I love a crossbody, but I also love a great backpack and weekender. There are so many great brands that are doing wonderful, wonderful leather goods. Bottega Veneta do a beautiful job. Prada, too. Dior’s saddle bag is on every person for a reason.

Honestly, a bag adds something to your style that clothes can’t. Step out of the comfort zone of black and brown – I do love a leather backpack, especially for travel. I often wear a super plain outfit with a bold red, green or yellow backpack.

The final touch is jewellery. I’ve always had a handful (and wristful) of jewellery. Usually, anywhere I go, I have at least six or seven rings on. I love, love, love heavy jewellery – it can look really chic and rock and roll. (N.B. I’m not saying to layer seven gold necklaces like a gaudy, opulent thing – start with hands and wrists.)

Getting into jewellery is easy. I began with an index finger ring. From there, stack two simple thin rings, then expand across the same hand. If you’re going for four or five rings, don’t spread them over two hands – that tends to look spare and not deliberate. Remember, you’re styling your hands: proportion and layers matter just the same here. Once you get the hang of jewellery, it’ll be an addictive daily habit – mix texture and shape and you’ll have a figurative (and literal) stylish touch. Trust me: there’ll be no looking back.