Clothes make the man. This mantra has been drilled into your head time and time again, but many of you out there are still not listening. When it comes to fashion know-how, most men are 1) too cheap, 2) too clueless, or 3) simply don't care (these are the men whose mommies laid their clothes out for them).

You can no longer continue walking around looking like a mess, so for some help, we turned to our very own fashion guru, Stan Williams, the fashion editor of MAXIM magazine, for some tips on how to get your wardrobe in shape so you can start stepping out with style.

Stan makes a compelling case on the importance of a well-dressed man:

"I think that women recognize a man who dresses well - they can pick that guy out of the crowd. He's not necessarily dressed expensively or crazily, he's a guy who's dressed well and looks neat. If a man cares about the way he looks, it is obvious to other people that he's got something going on for himself and that he will probably be a better date."

-Stan Williams, Fashion Maven

In other words, man + good wardrobe = dates with women! Got your attention now? Thought so.

And if you're lucky enough to have a business casual dress policy at work, many of our tips can be applied to your office wardrobe as well. (By the way, if you're in the market for a suit, you must check out "SYW Buy a Men's Suit?" And excuse our occasional plugs. We're shameless.)

By the way, this article is for beginners who want some simple secrets for building a basic wardrobe and improving their general appearance-it's not meant to turn you into a trendy hipster overnight. So you'll find no references to long fur coats, shiny shirts, or updated cowboy hats. Who do you think you are, *NSYNC?


Your body is a temple that deserves to be worshipped. But first, it's time for a spiritual awakening. Before you even begin to think about revamping your wardrobe, you first have to perform some basic grooming. Yes, we know you bathe on a daily basis and wear (relatively) clean clothes, but the following items are notoriously (and wrongly) ignored by men:



Think waxing and plucking is just for women? Not true. There are many men out there who suffer from the infamous unibrow - when two eyebrows appear as one because of a continuous bridge of hair. (For an example, look at this picture of a unibrow victim). If this sounds a little too familiar, then it's time for you to tame those babies. There are two ways to alleviate this problem:

  1. Go to a professional salon and have them wax and shape your eyebrows. It will cost around $10-$15. After you get your eyebrows initially waxed, you can maintain them at home by plucking the hairs as they grow back with a pair of tweezers. WE RECOMMEND THIS METHOD! If you accidentally go tweezer-crazy, who knows what kind of damage you may inflict?

  2. Wax them at home. This method is a little risky, and you will need a trusted friend to help you (and we do stress trusted). But at home waxing can be done. We recommend watching this at home waxing video for step-by-step instructions on how to wax your eyebrows yourself.

  3. Pluck 'em yourself. We don't advocate this method, but if you refuse to cough up the $10 or are afraid of salons, it's better than nothing. Just be sure to pluck the middle (that is, any hairs growing on your nose bridge).

Whatever you do, you must not-we repeat, MUST NOT-shave your eyebrows. Not only will the hair grow back faster and thicker, it will also be pretty obvious that you took a razor to 'em. Plucking is the only way to go.


People notice your hands-they are a part of how you express yourself when you are communicating, so you need to take care of them. So here's how to make your nails look nice:

  1. If you are a nail biter, stop immediately. There is nothing grosser than a pair of gnarled, ragged fingernails that have been chewed down to the knuckle.

  2. On the other hand (pun alert), long fingernails on men are equally disturbing. So it's important to keep them short enough so that you don't hurt people during handshakes.

  3. Get a professional manicure (more manly than you think!) or invest in a pair of fingernail clippers and a fingernail file and do it yourself at home. Pay attention to cuticles and hangnails.

  4. Toenails are also important. Whether the ladies are seeing your feet on the beach or in bed, nasty toenails are a complete turnoff. Keep them trimmed and keep them clean.


Basically, hair is easy: don't be afraid to get haircuts, and make sure you comb it before you leave your house.

Most men don't get haircuts frequently enough, which contributes to an overall sloppy look. So after you get one, ask your cutter when you should come in next, and make an appointment. (Our recommendation is once every five weeks.) If you like the unkempt rock star look, keep the length to a minimum and make sure your hair isn't greasy. At the other extreme, the crew cut military look is no good (unless, of course, you are in the military).

For men who use styling products in their hair, they are often fall victim to SFS, or Shiny Forehead Syndrome. This is when the styling product you are using in your hair gets all over your forehead leaving a shiny film. The solution is simple. Wash your forehead after you are finished styling your hair.


In the wild, animals are able to identify others by scent. But they also smell each other's asses to sniff said scent. The moral: be careful when selecting and applying cologne. Here are our tips:

  1. You should never wear a brand of cologne that you can buy in a drugstore (translation: cheap cologne).

  2. Go to a department store and get a quality brand.

  3. Ask your sisters and chick friends to recommend one. They would know best.

  4. Don't rely on what smells good on a friend; different colognes smell different on different people. So test a small amount on your forearm, give it a minute to seep in, and then smell it.

  5. You shouldn't mix one brand of aftershave with another brand of cologne. You'll smell like a mess.

  6. The most common error: don't pour too much of it on. You don't want your scent to arrive in a room before you do. And neither do we.


You've graduated from college. You're out in the real world now and it's time to trade in your T-shirts and Tevas for a sophisticated, stylish, adult wardrobe. Yes, we know it's hard to let go of that worn-out flannel shirt you wore during finals in school, but what looked good in 1993 just doesn't cut it now, Cobain.

If you have a friend (male or female) who is fashion capable, have him/her help you go through your closet and toss out anything that is outdated and/or objectionable. Of course you can keep that trusty old flannel shirt for sentiment's sake, but refrain from wearing it out in public.

Just in case you need some additional help, we feel compelled to tell you that the following items in your closet must be burned immediately:

  • Anything that is neon, stonewashed, or acid-washed.
  • T-shirts featuring the words "Big Johnson," "Co-ed Naked," "Whassup," or any popular catchphrases.
  • Tapered-leg high-waisted pants that are heavy on the pleats (Cavariccis, anyone?).
  • Tie-dyed garments with dancing bears. You're living in the past, man.
  • M.C. Hammer pants. You're living in the past, man.

A word about fit

Stan, our fashion expert, preaches that one of the biggest fashion mistakes men make is wearing clothes that don't fit properly. From casual wear to suits, clothes that are too tight or too baggy are big fashion gaffes.

  • Even if you can bounce a quarter off of your stomach, wearing tight clothing just looks tacky. Some men think that if they wear pants that are too small, it'll make them look skinnier. Rather, it's just an effective method of damaging your intestines and gonads. So use the two-finger test: if you can't easily stick two fingers (sideways) into the waist of your pants, they're too tight.

  • Unless you're an extra in a Puff Daddy video, wearing big, baggy clothes looks sloppy and gives the impression that you don't care about your appearance. You know your clothes are too baggy when they continually get caught on doorknobs or small children. You should never have to continually hike your pants up throughout the day.

Most retail and department stores will do alterations, so seek out a professional to make sure you're buying clothes that fit properly.

And if you don't already, you should consider subscribing to a men's fashion magazine such as MAXIM (not only do we plug ourselves, we plug our gurus). If you don't want to pay for a year's subscription, at least grab an issue off the rack at the start of each season just to see what's new in fashion. Don't forget to pay for it.


You want to look good from head to toe, but there's a good chance that you're on a budget. So we're going to start you off with a few "must-have" basics to get your wardrobe rolling. Then, as your wallet expands, so can your wardrobe.

Where should you go to buy your fancy new duds? Department stores such as Bloomingdale's and Macy's offer one-stop shopping for those of you who loathe shopping. Trusty retail stores such as Banana Republic and J. Crew are always safe bets (especially if you don't mind the "preppy" look). If you prefer a hipper look, check out stores such as French Connection and Club Monaco.

Here's a big tip on how to save money: Everything at retail stores eventually goes on sale, usually at the end of a season. For example, summer clothes will go on sale in late August. Be careful though. Sales are good for items that are basic staples (e.g., khaki pants, dress shirts, T-shirts), but not for trendier items that were popular at the start of a season but not appropriate to wear the next year.

Once you've determined where you want to shop, it's time to start building your wardrobe with these basic items:

Accessories (belts, ties, watches, jewelry)


  • Stan insists that you must own at least one crisp, white, high-quality, cotton shirt-you just can't go wrong with it. Buy one with a full-fashion collar that you can use with a collar stay and that can be worn with a tie. This way you can wear this shirt to work or out at night. Button-up dress shirts are generally good choices, as long as you buy one that is high-quality and a nice color. And since you're building the basics, stick with colors like blue and white.

  • You also can't go wrong with a high, V-neck sweater made of a quality material. Try Merino wool, or if you're really in the mood to splurge, cashmere says class and it feels great against the skin. V-neck sweaters look great for dates and dinners, and for casual dress days at work.

  • Also, be sure to wear a short-sleeve, white T-shirt under your shirts and sweaters. Not only does this protect your tops from sweat and deodorant stains, it makes you look adult-y and fashion-y.


If you're on a budget, there are three pairs of pants that you must purchase: a pair of dress pants, a pair of khakis and a pair of blue jeans.

  • Dress pants. Most men don't own dress pants unless they are suit pants, but even if you own suits, you need a separate pair of dress pants. You might be tempted to go for a standard black pair, but navy blue is very modern while still being non-flashy. Stan says, "Black is a safe bet." Exactly. A safe bet, but Stan also notes that navy says that you might know a little something about style.

    If you wear suits to work, go ahead and splurge on a really nice (that is, expensive) pair of dress pants and get them professionally tailored. You will wear them all the time and it will be worth the investment. It's better to have one nice pair of pants instead of five cheap pairs.

  • Khakis. For a more casual look, you need to have a nice pair of khaki or light-colored pants. It's a good idea to have a couple pairs of these pants because you can just wash them and iron them at home (or if you're particularly lazy, get a pair of wrinkle-free khakis). Then if you're in a hurry, you will always have a clean pair to toss on.

  • Blue jeans. When purchasing jeans, Stan suggests buying a nice pair of dark wash jeans with a clean cut and style. Make sure they fit nicely (that is, don't buy ultra baggy jeans or jeans that aren't a standard length). Dark jeans will always look good and can be dressed up at night.

A general rule of thumb for any type of pants you purchase is not to buy pants with pleats-stick with flat front pants. They have cleaner lines and just look neater. Also avoid anything fancy, so that your pants can be stretched throughout your wardrobe without anybody noticing. For instance, if you only own one pair of khakis and they are really flashy, people will notice if you wear them all the time. The horror! However, if you buy a standard pair of plain khaki pants, no one will notice if you wear them all the time; they'll just assume that you have five pairs of khakis.


Whereas women are required to have at least two dozen pairs of shoes, men usually own a measly two pairs: a pair of sneakers for bumming around and a pair of dress shoes for work. But, can you guess what one of the first things a woman notices about a man is? It's not your charming personality, it's your shoes.

  • If you want pointers on buying the perfect pair of sneakers, we've got you covered with an entire SYW on the subject.

  • Buying dress shoes is slightly more complicated. First off, you should be prepared to pay at least $125. Sounds hefty, but remember, quality over quantity. You can wear the best outfit in the world, but if your shoes suck, you might as well be wearing a potato sack.

  • Stan tells us, "There is absolutely no excuse for wearing shoes that are not polished or one where the heel has worn off or the leather looks worn." He also says, ideally, your shoes will match your belt which will match your briefcase. Nothing looks worse than a brown belt worn with a black pair of shoes and a tan briefcase. Except if all three are covered with hearts and unicorns.

A few dressy-ish options:

  • Boots. If you can only afford to purchase one more pair of shoes, Stan prefers that you go with a black leather boot. We don't mean a cowboy boot or a pair of Doc Martens; we're talking about a boot that is an inch or two above your ankle with a nice heel and a conservative, round-capped toe. This way you can wear them both for work and for going out at night.

  • Slip-ons. If you are morally opposed to boots, Stan's suggested alternative is a pair of nice leather slip-on shoes. These shoes are sort of loafer-ish, and they have a high vamp that covers your socks.

  • Tied. If you prefer shoes that tie, look for a nice pair of leather shoes with a toe that is more square than round. Try to find a pair that is casual enough for khakis, but nice enough for dress pants. Avoid dress shoes with tassels or buckles.

  • Slides. Even if you practice good grooming, most men have unattractive feet. So, in the summer, while you might be tempted to wear sandals, it's best for men to keep their toes covered at all times unless you live in Rome and carry a shield. For the two men on this planet who have good-looking feet, you are allowed to purchase a nice pair of leather slides if you are dying to flaunt your toes.

Accessories (belts, ties, watches, jewelry)

While there isn't a lot of variety in men's clothing, accessories are an opportunity to individualize your look. Belts, ties, watches and jewelry can sometimes be even more expensive than the suit you are wearing, but you don't need many of them, and you don't necessarily have to spend a fortune. Here's the lowdown on how to put the finishing touches on your outfit:

  • Belts. You need two belts: one for dress pants and one for khakis and jeans (never wear your dress belt with your casual pants or vice versa). Also, your casual belt should be wider than your dress belt.

  • Ties. You can have fun with your tie collection, but keep up with the trends. If skinny ties are in, then take a gulp and go buy a skinny tie for that season-but that season only. Try to avoid cartoon ties or polyester. They're dorky. And learn to properly tie the thing by watching this video on How to Tie a Tie.

  • Watches. Buy the nicest watch you can afford. If you only buy one watch, buy a simple, classy watch that will match with anything. Avoid bells and whistles. Don't buy a diving watch or a sports watch, unless you are a diving instructor or an athlete. In that case, buy a second watch.

  • Jewelry. Aside from wearing a watch and the occasional pair of cufflinks, jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Unless you are married, you shouldn't wear rings unless it's a class ring (and even that is questionable). If you wear a chain, keep it simple, and only wear one (or a group of rogue disco dancers may start to boogie around you).


OK, so you have your basic clothes. So now your job is to find a look that works, stick with it, and milk it for all it's worth. Stan recommends that the best way to take advantage of your new fashion savvy is to assemble a "uniform." This is a foolproof method:

  • Once you find a style of pants that work for you, buy five pairs. Buy them in colors such as black, navy and khaki that can be easily mixed and matched with a variety of tops.

  • Once you find a type of shirt and V-neck sweater that looks good on you, buy several of them in different colors.

If you have a business casual dress policy at work, assembling a uniform will make your life much easier in the morning. Plus, a business casual policy means you can stretch that work wardrobe into an evening wardrobe, which should encourage you to splurge a little (since you don't have to invest thousands of dollars on suits).

But what will people think if you wear the same type of outfit all the time? Consider this: What did Joe Co-worker wear last week? Can't remember, right? Men are lucky. They can get away with wearing the same suit all week with a different tie and no one will notice. However, you DO remember the yellow suit Jane Co-Worker wore last week and wore again the following Tuesday. The slut. And besides, women won't care if you have a limited wardrobe; they're just happy you're presentable and not drooling on yourself. That comes later.