Above: Compliments of Chloe Grace’s excellent fashion blog.
As a college guy, I’m speaking to other college guys. Look, you don’t have to be a fashion queen in order to look well-dressed. In college, you simply need to look clean and presentable. That’s not hard.
I know your budget is shoestring. Mine is too. Even when you’re scarfing down ramen at late hours, getting little (no) sleep, and barely remembering to brush your teeth, it’s important to look presentable. But go for better than presentable — go for good. Looking good gets you attention, and college is practice for the real world out there in which ironing boards and the proper way to tie a necktie come in handy.
When you can, flip through magazines like GQ, Details, and Esquire, even if you’re broke and will never be able to afford Mark McNairy clothes — most guys never will.
The sexiest part of men is how they smell. Maybe I simply have sharp olfaction, but scent is the first thing I notice when courting a man.
In high school, I played a game with friends. We’d be at football practice, and all the guys’ baseball caps would be thrown in a corner. By sniffing each one, I could tell who it belonged to. They thought it was cool, but they had no idea it was a major turn-on for me.
If you’re going to splurge on something, spend money on good cologne. Old Spice won’t cut it.
If you already use cologne, use much less. A little goes a long way. Two squirts on either side of the neck, on the wrists, or on the shirt collar is plenty. Take it from the guy who notices when you’re wearing too much: let your cologne accent your body, not overpower it.
If you don’t use any hair product, start. If you do, use half the amount you’ve been using. Guys put way too much stuff in their hair. This is admittedly my hardest struggle. I catch myself in the morning, hoping another dollop of pomade will make my hairstyle perfect until I face the fact that I’ve used too much and have to start over.
Stop using that shitty, sporty body wash that dries out your skin and has a silhouette of an athlete on the bottle. In the shower, I only use natural products. Humans have been caring for their bodies in nature for a long time, making the current onslaught of manmade chemicals for skin needless at best, and harmful at worst.
Try Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap, which comes in a variety of scents. It’ll be the strangest bottle you own, with pseudo-Christian messages about “all-one cleanliness” printed in micro-text around the whole thing, but it’ll clean you with no synthetic preservatives or detergents.
For my hair, I use Baxter of California Hard Cream Pomade. Hans de Fuko sponge wax is also great but has less hold. I also recently discovered Uppercut Deluxe‘s line of styling products, which are excellent, and the line offers something for all hair types. Added bonus: all these products are very inexpensive.
For cologne, my current favorite is Luna Rossa by Prada. This cologne is what I imagine Daniel Craig wears whenever he leans in the doorway of his oaken bedroom, naked. It smells deliciously clean and is incredibly versatile. I bought my last bottle in London for about £45, so it’s probably around $90.
I live on the cheap. Again, you don’t have to spend much money. Drink less, run more, hit the gym, brush your teeth, and try to get enough sleep.
If you’re spending your days lounging in your dorm room surrounded by pizza boxes and beer bottles, you’re going to develop bad habits. People don’t hire slobs and professors don’t notice them.
Don’t be sad if you’re not the best at style. Not every guy is a GQ guy, and not every guy should be. There’s a popular image now of a rugged, outdoorsy man who also uses $300 cosmetics, wears distressed, worn-looking clothing that can’t be put in a dryer, and cleans himself with all-natural body bars that are hard to find and smell like lavender and hunting rifles. This image is sexy but unrealistic. We can’t all be the chic, modern man.
Wear clothes that fit from shops and brands that are higher than Target and Wal-Mart but lower than Prada. Topman offers great clothes that are fairly affordable. And while J. Crew runs a bit pricey, it’s a good place to get dressier essentials. If you’re trying to save, go to H&M, although their clothes won’t last with the same durability and longevity you get from sturdier, slightly pricier retailers like GAP, Urban Outfitters, and American Apparel.
College is a prime time to explore secondhand. Get comfortable hunting through Goodwill stores and thrift shops. Make old clothes work.
Lastly — I know this is cliché — but confidence really is the key to making any outfit work. You’ve probably mostly worn what your parents bought you, or what your peers were wearing, until this point. College is time to try new things and define your own style. Stand by it. Be proud of what you wear.