How are we with the bots?
I am very pleased that you brought up this important issue. If you ask me – which you have – buying the right shoes is about 30% of a good day. Wear the wrong shoes, especially at this time of year, and your day is like a garbage fire before you even walk out the door. That’s why you always need a pair of black boots.
Comfort and walkability are undeniable, but life is too short to wear ugly shoes, so they have to be a little gorgeous. Ankle boots instead of knee-length because now you’re wearing wide-leg jeans instead of skinny-leg pants (please tell me you’re wearing wide-leg jeans instead of skinny-leg pants), and knee-high shoes only go with skirts and dresses.
The key to boots that are both cool and comfortable is to find something bold and a little flashy. It looks like a flat, flat black boot with a thin sole or something. A powered boot with a protruding track sole and some kind of charm fastening adds attitude. My favorite boots are the ones I bought from Jigsaw the previous season, but they are basically the same as the Maldow boot (£200) and have a gold front zipper that elevates them from dog walking boots to something one of a kind from Camille’s Emily. She can wear it to the Paris boulangerie.
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Walking-style laces are another detail that can really lift a boot up. I love the Barbour Fairfield boots with silver D-ring holes for the laces and a soft padded top edge for extra comfort. I saw that a few of the sales this month are discounted. If you like the look of a lace-up boot but can’t deal with real laces, I highly recommend M&S’s chunky lace-up boot with a concealed zipper on the inside ankle. I swear by M&S for the most affordable properly made shoes on the main street, and these have a sleek silhouette that looks far more expensive than the £45 price tag.
If I don’t have a uniform, is it okay to wear the same thing two days in a row?
Obviously this is a trick question. You can wear what you want. But there are ways to remodel your wardrobe so no one notices you’re wearing the same thing four days in a row. I always do that.
I think of dressing like making soup – start with broth, then add different flavors each day. You wear a few basic pieces, ideally in dark fabrics, that act as your “suits” – then rotate the tops, shoes and accessories. For example, I have two dark colored slightly oversized jackets/blazers (one from Acne Studios via Vestiaire and one from Reformation). I prefer jackets that hang down from the butt because it can be worn with any type of trousers. To these I add dark trousers made of crepe, viscose or Tencel because they do not lose their shape – I like Ganni’s viscose trousers because they are also easy to clean. I prefer my “suit” to be navy or black, but the hues don’t have to match.
Then come the alternating pieces: a shiny V-neck T-shirt or a patterned blouse, and sometimes a belt, because that depends on where the same pants fit and whether you fold them. In terms of shoes, everything is up for grabs. One day I will wear this “suit” with black Asics. The other is that I’ll tuck the pants into the socks and wear them with heeled boots.
Avoid wearing light-colored shirts repeatedly (dirt collects on the collar) and avoid silk and linen (leave two days, they will crease in an hour). Simple things like switching your earrings from rings to studs are great for distractions. Same clothes, different styles.
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I don’t like tights, what can I wear in winter?
Climbing stairs, itching, the constant need to fit in – there’s a lot to hate about tights. Luckily the hosiery industry has started showing interest, so it’s worth trying them again.
First, sizing. Most of the tights are general S, M, L etc. uses. If you’re in mid-sizes or the upper end of a range, always wear larger. Tights are usually smaller (cheaper) and there’s nothing more uncomfortable than a slip-in waistband. Straps are a good option if you prefer to skip a waistband altogether.
Related: Tights forever? Now that’s an idea that could really have legs
There is some welcome news when it comes to climbing stairs: Hēdoïne has a no-stairs warranty; Legwear Co has tested its products to withstand 100 washes with a 60-day warranty; and Canadian brand Sheertex (£38 and XS to 3XL) come with a three-month warranty against tearing, snagging or snagging on a ladder, thanks to the fabric used in the bulletproof vests. I realize that if they make stairs you probably won’t get them back – who has the time? — but some of these brands really work.
If tights remain an absolute no, try a longer hemline. Pair a mid-length skirt with knee-length or chunky boots and wear it with a pair of Uniqlo thermal socks, or add a fleece insole for extra comfort.
What should I wear to commute to work?
Moving to Kent added an extra train ride to my day, so I’m confident when I say layers are your friend. Stuff that you can easily take off, put in a bag for travel, and re-wear at the other end relatively wrinkle-free. No need to bring spare clothes for the office.
Start with a pair of wide-leg tailored trousers (currently my favorites are from The Frankie Shop). They look good with a long-sleeved bodysuit (Everlanes are sustainable and body-long) to create a comfortable, smart/casual “foundation” for sitting during delays.
It can be layered over an oversized shirt, followed by an unstructured blazer or a slouchy bomber jacket with a soft, thick knit. The trench coat is the ideal top layer as it is light enough to be placed on the luggage rack. I also carry a large tote bag with a shoulder strap – it will stand upright on the car floor.
The biggest problem, of course, is the shoes. Try GH Bass for smart yet comfortable loafers to avoid swapping shoes, and Cos for more loafer/pump hybrids: Springcourt has a great selection of minimal sneakers that are also super comfortable – I’m a fan of heavy canvas.
A word to the wise: No matter how stylish your overalls are, it’s probably best to avoid using them on your daily commute, as you may need to use train toilets.
I hate jeans – can you change my mind?
Jeans are the cornerstone of any modern wardrobe. Find the right one and you’ll never want to wear anything else. One caveat – you’ll need to try. It’s a good idea to order a few pairs online (check the return policy) and try them on at home with your own clothes. Expand your initial search with different shapes, washes, sizes and lengths and try them out with tops you wear often. This way you can get an idea of what the jeans actually look like.
Next, consider the shoes to get the right length. Jeans should fit over a sneaker and cover your socks, but with boots they should go just below the ankle. If you’re a fan of statement socks, try a cropped length. This works for sneakers and sandals in the summer.
Skinny jeans will always take their place, but right now, loose-fitting wide-leg jeans are in vogue. Try Weekdays or Acne. A darker wash is always classic, especially on straight-leg styles. APC are the expensive OGs out there, and Uniqlo has a more affordable version: Selvedge Regular Fit Jeans – for a very reasonable price – £39.90 – often sold as they fit well and retain their color for years.
Craft denim is now a category on its own. For those with the money to burn, Japanese brand Kapital produces jeans that look like works of art made in Woodstock. Of course, you can be creative and create your own version.
Are there any acceptable non-sport trainers for a middle-aged man?
Yes, it’s still best to leave the bells and whistles styles to the kids. Keep your style classic with streamlined styles from Nike and New Balance. The latter’s collaborations with brands like Junya Watanabe and Aimé Leon Dore offer an insider style stamp while remaining fully wearable every day.
Experiment with colors, but avoid bright hues to best wear out your sneakers. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wear pink — a pop in a sneaker is pretty cool, especially if you’re wearing a lot of neutrals. Just keep it relatively thin. Middle-aged men’s style poster man Brad Pitt wore Gucci’s bold colorful collaboration with Adidas on the red carpet last year and topped the best-dressed lists. Style trick: the swamp-standard Adidas Spezials come in a variety of hues for a lower price tag (£80) and are arguably cooler.
A tip from the Belgian label Dries Van Noten is that the Francis Bacon color palette will always serve you well. By this I mean pairing two (or three) colors that are somewhat incompatible – one can be muddy and the other brighter, for example khaki and pink or rust and pale blue. Air Max Pre-Days come in some of the best color combinations, and the women’s styles are also worth checking out if you get a smaller number.
If this sounds like a daunting task, stay neutral. New Balance’s gray/cream M990GB2 model looks just the right amount of fashion, and the rust-suede 997H style with white accents (£95) is a good shrunken color version. Nike offers a customization service for the Air Max 90 for you to design your own – £152.95 for sizes 5½ to 14 in the UK.
My daughter wants a handbag. 17 years old. Help
As a bag person, I clearly remember my first handbag and how grown-up it made me feel. They are also practical, minimizing the possibility of leaving a headset, phone or wallet on the bus.
While a designer handbag for your 17-year-old may be out of reach, there are plenty of high-street replicas out there that don’t have a price tag. Monki has some great options: the £20 Y2K style padded baguette bag is trendy.
Another plus of a street bag is that it can take several different styles: a small crossbody bag for going to town with friends, and also a shopping style for work/university/college with space for a laptop.
Pull and Bear has a great alternative to the viral nylon Prada bag for £17.99. If she needs something more spacious, the newly revived Topshop (available at Asos) has a great designer-looking handbag with woven details that looks more expensive than its £25 price tag and is great for carrying books and water bottles.
If you’re looking for a slightly higher price point, JW PEI is an LA brand with styles in colors to suit all personalities: the £59 Eva bag is smart enough to go out and cool enough for every day.
Depop is the right place to look for something more unique – there are lots of pre-loved and vintage bags, like this 1990s shoulder bag from Roxy which sells for £30. I can guarantee that your friends will not be the same.
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