How To Curate a Closet For The Not-So-Stylish Man in Your Life

A driving force in many people’s lives, fashion occupies a space that is unique in its ability to be creative and commercial, a hobby and a career, superficial and intellectual, all simultaneously. This being said, it’s understandable that one might have a desire to share this force with those around them, especially an individual as important in one’s life as a significant other.

However, the lust for expressing one’s self through apparel does not come naturally to everyone, leaving some people with the responsibility of guiding their loved ones through it. In demystifying the fashion world for those who may not be privy to its nuances, you are not only providing an opportunity for someone to discover their own style or interest in clothing, but you are also advocating for the dismissal of many common misconceptions surrounding fashion as a whole. This process can be smoother for some than others, however this guide will hopefully assist any of you hoping to make a change in your partners’ wardrobe, to do so without running into too many roadblocks.

As a disclaimer, I would like to mention first and foremost that fashion is not meant to make anyone feel uncomfortable in their own skin or uneasy about their appearance. So in the interest of keeping the style-vibes positive – control freaks beware – assure that you allow for some creative authority on your partner’s behalf.

On this note, the first, and arguably most important tip in your mutual fashion pursuit would be that comfort is key. Choose an aesthetic that shares some elements of your partner’s current stylistic preferences. For instance, if your partner is a band tee and jeans kind of person, veer towards a more fashionably disheveled look such as a good quality pair of distressed jeans that are well-tailored. In choosing casual pieces such as denim, your partner will still maintain the same comfort level as they’ve always enjoyed, however the cut, wash, and quality of their new pieces will lend a finer eye to the importance of such details.

A frequent issue that many people run into while attempting to style someone who is reluctant to embark on the fashion train is that of “over-couture-ing”. As one might gather from the term I just used (and just made up, if I’m being quite honest), this refers to the act of trying to style someone in a piece or an outfit that is simply too “out there” for said individual. With something as personal as one’s style, you never want to rush your significant other into wearing something that is too loud or too inaccessible to them at that time. While those of us who are veterans to the dressing game can appreciate the sartorial pleasure of a man who shops at Dubuc or Duo, sometimes Frank & Oak is closer to the pace they’re comfortable with (for now). As your partner’s knack for style and general understanding of clothing progresses, they are likely to warm up to some more modern looks.

Once your man (or woman, or however they choose to identify) has developed a knowledge, or perhaps even a liking for some of the stores you’ve taken them to, or some of the cuts, styles, colours, materials, etc. that they’ve discovered through you, this is a good opportunity to have them shop for themselves.

Think of fashion as a seed that you’ve planted in them. It’s there, you’ve watered it a few times. Now you have to give it some time and room to sprout. Whether this means giving them full liberty to shop wherever they please and buy whatever they want, or making sure that they keep the receipts so that you can always return the mistakes they’ve made, it’s vital that you don’t drown them in dos and don’ts. As much as we all know it’s coming from a place of love, all this will do is deter them from fashion as a whole. 

This is the point at which you can evaluate, recalibrate, and focus your efforts where they’re most needed. If you see that they’ve chosen pieces that have amazing fits, textures, and patterns, but don’t match with anything that they actually own, perhaps this would be the time to lecture them on building an outfit that matches. Or if they’ve chosen everything exactly right except the size (which is an issue that even the most avid fashion-lovers run into), then try to explain to them how to properly evaluate whether or not something fits the way it should. Using small explanations of individual difficulties that one might have, your loved one will be able to retain the information better because they are learning in very small tidbits rather than the whole textbook at once.

There’s one chapter of the aforementioned textbook specifically designed for the tiny fashion devil sitting on your shoulder. While this section isn’t exactly what you should reference as your set of go-to moves, it’s definitely a good hail Mary type of situation. For instance, say you accidentally shrunk your significant other’s favourite sweater that happens to be the most heinous article of clothing you’ve ever laid eyes on. Is it the end of the world? Maybe for them, but for you, this is the perfect chance to gift them a more suitable (and dare I say presentable?) version of the now-ruined abomination *ahem* sorry, did I say that? I meant to say sweat-stained, thousand year old hand-me-down rag. The same little “mistakes” can be made via red wine stain, iron burn, pet dog or cat mishap, and the list goes on. All that you need to keep in mind when playing the “oops” card is that these excuses become less and less believable the more frequently you use them, so choose wisely my friends.

From here, I cannot stress the importance of independence enough. Allow them to steer the ship, choose its course, and navigate the rough waters of style for themselves. After all, fashion is worthless if its being forced upon someone who is too uncomfortable to appreciate it. So, whether this means watching your love fall into their old habits of complete and utter nonchalance toward what they wear, or having them embrace every thread and bangle that the fashion world has to offer, try your best to give your bf/gf some space, offering up small pieces of advice or your own opinion only when it’ll kill you to keep your mouth shut. Using these tips as your bible, you’re all set for what may very well be a fashion love of a lifetime.

By Karyna Evangelista

About the author:
Karyna is a Montréal native with a penchant for all things artistic. Whether it be fashion, music, visual arts, or literature, you can find her all up in the latest happenings around the city. Her affiliation with fashion comes from a desire to see a primarily female-focused industry take on a more conscious and empowering stance in the struggle towards equality, as well as the desire to compile every so-called “rule” of fashion, only to consequently break them and see what happens. When she’s not busy tending to these preoccupations, she’s probably hard at work on her Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies at Concordia University, or hanging with her other half, Biscuit (who happens to be a tiny poodle). Legend has it that if you ask her real nicely, she might even whip you up a batch of her ever-tasty veggie chili in exchange for some stimulating conversation over a few (more) glasses of red wine.