About the author: Dave I. has been a Dappered reader for several years. His interest in fashion started with shoes and expanded to encompass watches, suits, and general mens style. When not thinking about his next purchase he can be found enjoying a pint of locally brewed craft beer.
There’s no shame in knowing what you like, and sticking to it. That said, sometimes you want to mix it up. Try something new. And that can be tough when you’re on a budget. But like putting a fresh, new coat of paint on an old and tired wall can make the place look totally different, small (and cheap!) tweaks to your look can make a big difference. Here’s seven of them, with a spending cap placed on $20 a pop…
#1. Update those socks
Tried and true. Still wearing those classic black socks from your college days? Now might be the time to cover your kickers with a more kicked up pair of socks. This trend started years ago, and still looks good. Striped, colorful or funky socks can all look terrific when worked into rotation. They’re a bit of usually hidden color that can liven up an otherwise conservative outfit. Don’t want to go big and bold with patterns? Try a deep burgundy red instead of your usual charcoal socks. Remember to be aware of your situation. Polka dot socks to a funeral or job interview probably isn’t a good play.
#2. Give pocket squares a try
And something other than the white linen or cotton pocket squares that Mad Men made so popular. A patterned or chambray pocket square is a simple and inexpensive addition to any men’s outfit. The dash of color on an otherwise monotone suit jacket helps break up the drabness and is easy to add when rushing out the door in the morning. Heading out on a date or to grab drinks with friends? Why not a throw on a sportcoat and add a white pocket square with a colorful edge to it?
#3. Change your shoe laces… or how you lace your shoes
Lots of casual shoes are coming with an extra pair of colorful laces these days. But neon yellow or baby blue laces might not look quite right on your dress lace ups. One way to clean up the look of your dress shoes would be to use bar lacing (seen at right), instead of the ol’ criss-cross method (at left) we learned in kindergarten. Makes them look much more uniform. Here’s how to do it. (Shoes shown above: an old pair of Allen Edmonds Fairfax Wholecuts in Chili)
#4. Change your Tie’s Texture
There is a world beyond woven silk. And especially around this time of year, when it heats up, a cotton or linen tie looks right at home up against even the most stoic of suits. Still love your silk? More than okay. Try a knit silk tie instead of the standard smooth woven options. It worked for 007.
#5. Change out that watch band
Just like painting a room to make it look new, changing out the band on your watch is a simple way to making an old & forgotten time piece look like a new investment. Best of all, the variety of bands is extensive and the amount of effort needed to change the band is minimal. New bands can be had for as little as $12.00 and come in a variety of colors and materials. While you’re at it, don’t forget to pick up a spring bar tool to help with the band changes.
#6. Let the scruff grow
This one’s a freebie. Stop shaving for a few days and let the scruff go. Most men look good with a little scruff, and it’s an easy way to change up your look without having to spend much money. Well, any money really.
#7. Sample a variety of colognes
Some just don’t like it. And that’s fair. But stores will frequently send customers home with sample bottles of different cologne for free. If you’re in a cologne rut and looking for a new signature scent, or are new to using cologne, stop by your local department store and ask to take a few samples home. Just be careful how much you apply. It can get unfortunate in a hurry.
BONUS: Wear your nice stuff more
This assumes you’ve already spent some money (most likely over $20), but hear me out. A lot of us are guilty of this. We buy something nice, whether it’d be a good dress shirt, a nice suit, or even a favorite polo… and then we don’t wear the thing. It sits in our closet, waiting for just the right occasion to get worn. And multiple weeks go by and it sits dormant. You don’t have to be Jack Donaghy and sport a tux for your weekly burrito bowl night, but what about picking it up a notch on a lazy Sunday? Instead of joggers and a t-shirt, wear some washed chinos, white sneakers, and the aforementioned favorite polo. Still casual, still comfortable, but way more put together. You might even be inspired to get out of the house, or have people over now that you’re in better looking duds.