5 steps to the perfect wardrobe

Your guide to shopping online, direct from the front row

Man Style

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With everything from social media to the gender blur, sportswear and the 1970s influencing men’s fashion right now, online shopping can be tricky to navigate. Thankfully, Men’s Style Director of Matchesfashion.com Simon Chilvers generously took time out from his seat on the International Woolmark Prize Europe judging panel to share his insider tips on building the perfect wardrobe from the comfort of your couch.

Photo above: Daniel Zucknik, Getty Images
Photo top: Ben Stansall, Getty Images

E-tail therapy

1. Find your basics

Everyone's basics are different, for example everyone always says you need a white shirt. I don't own one. Clothes need to work for your life not someone else's idea of what your life might be. There is no fast way of working this out. You need to try things, you need to experiment and if you care about seasonal moods, you need to update regularly.

2. Edit the personality pieces

Whenever I buy something printed or cut in an unusual fabric or shape, I figure out what else it will work with in my wardrobe. If I can't think of anything, then it's not happening. Personally, I think one ‘personality’ piece per outfit is best, but that's just me. My rule of thumb though is that all outfits need one thing that messes them up a bit.

3. Nail the jacket

I like a blazer to be snug around the shoulders but not too tight on the middle. It's not a corset. The sleeves should hit so they're not drooping over your hands. Similar rules apply to the bomber jacket - which is essentially the new generation's blazer. For overcoats, this coming autumn, something roomy feels modern.

Photo: Georgie Wileman, Getty Images

4. Consider the accessories

I'm a fan of simple when it comes to men's shoes: oxford lace ups, in a dark colour, thick sole. Sneakers in one block colour with a contrast detail. Chelsea boots are also a sound investment. Sunglasses will add a slick edge, just make sure they're not too small across the face or so big they're swallowing the upper half of the head. Bags for me should be practical and minimal. I like a tote shape that fits a laptop and paperwork. Rucksacks are the other lo-fi alternative that make sense for busy lifestyles. Interestingly, I think earrings are having a moment in men's fashion at the minute - actually jewellery in general. And wool caps look good with a sleek bit of tailoring.

5. Do your research

Utilise the wish list function, it's a great way to keep all the things you're interested in, in one place. Read all the size and fit details to make sure there is nothing specific about the shape of a garment, for example if it's very fitted or the shape is boxier. Make sure you look at all the different angles of a piece of clothing, including the back view, before buying it. Don't just look at the handful of designers you think you like. Read the editorial, discover the new labels, see what's happening in the bigger menswear picture.

Simon’s best basics

My personal basics are: jeans, a grey roll neck, mix of crew neck jumpers, black trousers, navy trousers, a few plain t-shirts for layering, sweatshirts (I like a short-sleeved one), a lightweight bomber jacket, a tailored coat (probably in navy). I usually have a couple of pairs of trainers on the go and a few decent pairs of relatively simple black shoes. And a few pair of joggers for lounging.

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