A new style guide takes the hassle out of grooming and fashion for the average man, finds Jon Perks.
If you weren’t blessed with the looks of Jude Law or have the dress sense of Jonathan Ross or Frank Gallagher from Shameless, don’t despair.
Help is at hand.
A new tome, The Chic Geek’s Fashion, Grooming and Style Guide For Men, aims to give all of us some helpful pointers to look our best, even if we’ve not been born drop dead handsome and with the style eye of Tom Ford.
Author Marcus Jaye, who edits The Chic Geek website he launched two years ago, says men shouldn’t think of style and fashion as a competition with winners and losers – it’s about making the most of what you have:
“It’s basically looking at yourself as an individual,” says Marcus, who also used to edit the Style Spy column for GQ.com.
“Say for instance you’re tall and thin and pale and blond, there’s no point in wanting to be like George Clooney, that’s just ridiculous. The idea is to look at your type and be the best of your type.
“Worst case scenario, say you’re short, fat and ugly – you can be the best short, fat and ugly guy and that guy can be really attractive and it can be attainable.
“The way style journalism is written, it can be very exclusive to the point of excluding people, and it’s all very much along the lines of ‘you’re never going to look like Captain America, don’t bother’; it’s not about that, it’s about everyone being the best of themselves.
“There’s no right or wrong in fashion, it’s just better or worse; it’s about training your eye to recognise what looks good, the confidence to take things off and know when to stop.”
The Chic Geek guide is both practical and entertaining, with sections devoted to advice on grooming, every clothing item from cufflinks to socks, what to wear, a ‘geekapedia’ glossary of terms, picture gallery of real people looking stylish and an ‘ask the geek’ section, which allows readers to email the guru for advice on how to look their best.
There’s also a handy list of never-ever fashion no-nos – medallions, bandanas, leather trousers and mankinis amongst the list of ultimate fashion faux-pas.
The whole book is wonderfully illustrated by Rich Fairhead.
“The idea is that you do have to be a geek to be stylish; Chic Geek is not about ‘geek chic’, it’s not about wearing specs and the like, it’s about somewhere along the line there has to be information to make you stylish and you have to know where to get things from, you have to know how to put things together,” says Marcus. “That’s what the Chic Geek does – some guys do not have that inside them, so they go to the Chic Geek.”
He admits: “It’s very ‘of the moment’, so it will date, but if you try and write a book that’s ‘classic’ about the nature of fashion, it still dates. It’s best to just write about the here and now.
“I’m not the Chic Geek, I just work for him,” Marcus insists with a wry smile. “The Chic Geek is a bit like Father Christmas or the Wizard of Oz – he’s this imaginary figure that is perfect; no human can be this perfect and know everything.
“A lot of guys will look at another man and say ‘I know that guy looks fashionable and cool, but I am not sure what elements there are that make him look like that’; when you look at pictures in magazines and the shops they’re very overstyled – if that guy went onto the street he’d look wrong, so it’s good to give examples of normal guys who actually left the house looking good and explaining why they look good.”
As well as ‘normal guys’, the Chic Geek guide also holds up examples of celebrity style icons – from Live Aid-era Bowie and his blonde hair and sharp suits, David Hockney and Jarvis Cocker to Pharrell Williams, Andy Warhol and Prince Charles.
“They are ultimate guys from history and fiction and contemporary times who have done no wrong,” says Marcus.
“In Prince Charles you have a man that never looks bad or wrong... that’s real style. Menswear is all about detail, and it’s just the way he does his tie knot, everything; he’s just immaculate – obviously he has the income, but even so, sometimes money doesn’t necessarily give you style.”
* The Chic Geek’s Fashion, Grooming and Style Guide is published by Carlton Books, priced £9.79 www.thechicgeek.co.uk