Help His Style

We don’t usually choose our loved ones based on their choice in fashion. When I first met my husband, he didn’t even own a pair of jeans. His wardrobe consisted of cargo shorts, random T-shirts, and a zip-up cotton sweater that said "Ireland" across the front.

It’s been six-and-a-half years and I’m proud to report that not only does he own and regularly wear jeans, but he also owns a great pair of nice fitting Calvin Klein grey pants that can be worn dressy or casual. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a control freak. I loved that man from day one, ratty cargo shorts and all. What I’m here to tell you is how I encouraged my partner to find his own look and recognize the items he likes and doesn’t.

1. Recycle your fashionable friend’s wardrobe into your partner’s. Men just don’t seem to share or pass on clothes the same way women do. In fact, the majority of the time they either donate unwanted clothes to thrift stores or throw them out. My advice? Save them the trouble and take their clothes off their hands. In my experience, most fashionable guys already have an idea of what they don’t want to wear anymore and are happy to get rid of it. Once it’s yours, share your favorite pieces with your mate. Free clothes? No pressure? Who can resist that?

2. Stick with functional classics. I really don’t care (or necessarily want) my husband to be “on trend," I just want him to look presentable. If you’re trying to infuse new items into his wardrobe, stick with lifelong basics that serve a purpose—a warm cashmere sweater, a tailored white button-up shirt, a hearty army jacket, or a black or navy fitted blazer.

3. Find one great cut of pants. This is probably the hardest to accomplish, but once you nail this down, it’s smooth sailing. Luckily, most companies offer the same cut in multiple fabrics and colors, so once you decide on the style, the options are plenty and guaranteed to fit (and look) exactly how he wants them to.

4. Help him figure out what he likes. I don’t think I’m stereotyping when I say most guys don’t want to sit around and talk about their favorite clothes. I’ve learned what clothes my husband likes in a really easy way—by asking him. If I see a look I like in a magazine or a well-dressed guy on the street, I’ll ask my husband what he thinks. This helps me pick out pieces I know he will like if I can find something similar. I think what works about this is that it’s not really a big deal—a casual flip of a magazine page or glance on the street can provide great insight into his style.

5. Encourage him to have fun. I’ve heard male friends say, “I’m just not the guy who wears cool shirts” or “I can’t pull off crazy prints." Says who? If you want to wear plaid pants, wear plaid pants (just make sure they fit well and are nice colors). I think it’s great when people wear crazy stuff, have fun with their clothes, and take risks—and I encourage my partner to do it as well. I think by breaking down the illusion that fashion is about looking a particular way all the time, you open up a world of possibilities. Having style and dressing well isn’t about wearing a boring uniform everyday, it’s about putting on an item you love, no matter how wild it is, and owning it every step of the way.

Image: JCrew