By Leslie Marcus / Photos by Jeff "Turbo" Corrigan
In the 1995 movie "Clueless," Cher (played by Alicia Silverstone) says, "I don't get how guys dress today. I mean, come on, it looks like they just fell out of bed and put on some baggy pants and take their greasy hair, ew, and cover it up with a backwards cap and like, we're expected to swoon? I don't think so!"
If Cher lived in San Diego today, she'd add "flip flops" to that famous line. Sure, the city's got lovely weather and a laidback vibe, but that's not a pass to dress like a schlub.
"It's about raising the bar a little bit without having to be über-chic New York," says Francine Miley, style director at Fashion Valley. "Guys should integrate some elements of style without being over-the-top."
Miley and I discuss local men's fashion, or lack thereof, while sitting courtside at Fashion Valley, between Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, a location that plays host to a perfectly fitting three-piece ensemble: iced lattes, people-watching and style inspiration.
Beginnings of style for the end of the week
"You can be comfortable and still look good," Miley says. "And it doesn't have to be in a pair of shorts and a t-shirt."
That doesn't mean those beloved cotton tees have to leave the party. Instead, give them a slight upgrade. "Have a v-neck or a couple buttons down the front, and it's a more polished look."
For those who fear being labeled "metro," Miley recommends incorporating one element of style at a time, because it's less about what trend you choose, and more about being comfortable.
"At the end of the day," she says, "if you feel like you look good, you're exuding an air of confidence that will make you look good no matter what."
--Instead of throwing on a crewneck tee or sweater, try one with a "V" to incorporating something worth noticing.
--Chinos come in a variety of core colors and are perfect to throw on for a day out and about.
--Not your ordinary wingtip, this decadent shoe, featured in soft beige suede, works for brunch or a not-so-casual Friday. Instead of throwing on a crewneck tee or sweater, try one with a "V" to incorporating something worth noticing.
After dark and out on the town
Packs of men roam the Gaslamp in oversized striped dress shirts and baggy denim, an unmemorable, uniform look in need of serious refinement.
"You can find a jean that actually defines your frame, but you don't need a Euro-tight fit, just something that compliments your assets." Miley says.
She suggests pairing jeans with well-tailored dress shirts that have simple and unexpected design elements on collars or cuffs (think paisley prints, patterns and pops of color).
--Wear a statement button-up shirt on its own, or pair it with a trendy vest. This one features its very own hideaway/pull-out pocket square.
--It's the little stuff that counts. This shirt is all about the details - even its cuffs and the buttons have their own sense of style!
--Comfort with a statement, boots with classic styling and modern tweed accents.
--Done right, jeans are almost always enough in America's Finest. Dress them up for a night out, or down for the day after.
A stylish day at the office
Frumpy men have infiltrated San Diego. Instead of appearing well-to-do and business-savvy, they look washed out and awkward.
"Having a nice suit doesn't mean having to spend a ton of dollars," she says. "It means knowing where to shop and finding the right basics of what defines a good suit: material and cut."
Men's typical pitfall is sporting a look that doesn't define their figure. Don't be boxy. "If you want to attract a woman, or a job, you need to look good. Knowing what works for your body really is key."
The whole suit not suiting you? Miley recommends skipping the jacket and wearing only the vest, shirt and tie. "Let the shirt be the pattern you pair with a nice pair of chinos that actually frame your body," she says.
--Check, Mate! Suits aren't just solids and stripes, boys! Mix it up with subtle, classic patterns like this checked suit for a fresh look at the office.
--So fresh and so clean and a must-have for every man's closet: a crisp, white, basic button-down that is easily mixed and matched for many office looks.
--Plain ties work, but don't be scared to mix in flashier options - from bold patterns and florals to paisleys - to add flare and personality to your
--Don't be a square, try these on for size: buckle detail dress shoes - a classic switch from the overly (and five-plus-years-ago) square toe.
ELEVATING THE AVERAGE MALE
We smell you: Pulling that sweat-ridden wrinkled shirt out of the pile on your floor probably isn't the best idea. If you're really in a bind, spray it with Febreeze wrinkle eraser, for the sake of our noses. Speaking of noses, consider a scent to match your personal style. It will make us think of you fondly even when you're not around us. And put down the "Acqua di Gio" bottle that nine out of 10 men douse themselves with. Instead, go to the perfume counter at Sephora or any department store and ask a cute girl to guide you on a scent exploration.
Foot neglect, take 1: Please note that your shoes speak to us without saying a word. Those dusty, square-toed black-leather Sketchers you've been rocking for the past five years aren't walking the walk. Invest in two nice pairs of shoes that can take you from work to the club. Brown and black leather will do. Not too square-toed (circa 1999) and not too round. Find a good middle ground. Save the two-tone leather numbers for the bowling alley.
Foot neglect, take 2: Toenail upkeep is non-negotiable if you're sporting flip flops. This is no joke. We don't want to look at fungus-ridden, crusty, jagged toenails. If a trip to the nail salon for a 10-dollar pedicure is too fem, then invest in some toenail clippers and use them like it's your second job.
Jewelry: Keep to a minimum. Leave the accessorizing to the ladies. No need to bling out your fingers and wrists with clusters of silver chunky rings and bracelets. A man's one accessory should be his watch.
Gym shoes and clothing: Going to the gym is not a pass to look dirty. Your yellow, armpit-stained gym shirt or oversized cotton Stussy tank from 1989 is not a good look. And those Velcro high-top sneakers should be put in a time capsule. Simple kicks will do, and please wear a clean white tee and gym shorts that don't show off your butt crack.
Sports jerseys: Where do I begin? These things are cringe-worthy. I don't understand the trend and I'm sure 98 percent of the ladies out there would agree but just don't have the heart to verbalize how foolish you look. Put that thing in a frame and nail it up over your pool table or something. If you're going to drape yourself in one, do so at the actual sports game. Wearing it on the streets is killing your game.
Sunglasses: A staple piece in always-sunny San Diego. Here's a little tip: all guys look hot in simple metal-framed aviators. Non-reflection lenses, please, so you don't get mistaken for a cop. Save the plastic wrap-around Oakley shades for the slopes.
Underwear: Let me make this very clear - faded boxers with cartoon characters score serious minus points in the bedroom. Would you like it if we wore granny panties? Didn't think so. Show your thong appreciation by wearing some black or white boxer briefs.