A Quick Guide To Get Your Wardrobe Up To Scratch this Spring/Summer.

I hate those instructional “WHAT TO WEAR RIGHT NOW” or “10 TRENDS FOR SUMMER” articles (always written in screaming block letters, with exclamations). Wear whatever the hell you like; whatever you’re comfortable in.

But it turns out that a lot of people do wear what they like and what they are comfortable in, and look a hot mess. So when I say “wear whatever you like”, I mean follow these directions and try to look a little something like the fellas in this article.

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Those in the biz call it the “silhouette” of an outfit: the effect created by juxtaposing lengths and shapes of items on the top half of your body against the bottom half. So: prolonged bottom against short or truncated top; skinny bottom, loose top; boxy against round and so on. That is all too much esoteric information: bottom line is that what you want for this summer is a tailored/slim look at the top and wider/more volume at the bottom.

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Here is a big secret I’ll let you in on: stop wearing skinny jeans. It’s done. Do not misinterpret that as an excuse to keep wearing those Jonty’s chinos you bought for Casual Friday on your first job; no. You should’ve gotten rid of those years ago, anyway. Tailored volume shorts and pants is the next big thing. The length of the pants does not touch your shoes, exposing a fair

bit of sockless ankles. You won’t believe me because Zara will not have many items with a flared silhouette yet, but listen to me: I know things; I am right.

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This photo perfectly captures the essence of summer dressing: because you are wearing less clothing, each item has to pack a punch in order for the whole to make an impact. See how the shorts are not tight to the body, instead slightly flared. They are the exact length you want to go for in shorts: just above the knee but below the thigh (between 7 and 9 inches long, if that means anything to anyone). And the golf shirt is the perfect snug fit – you do need good guns, though, to pull off that cut on the sleeves.

Lastly, sandals: if you have feet like mine, battered by years of competitive sports or if yours are just sort of ugly, probably best to steer clear of them, otherwise: there is nothing wrong with well-designed leather sandals (not the ones from flea markets, no).

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Everyone needs a navy blue blazer; it’s just one of those things. If you’re cool, you wear it with a white t-shirt and plain low top white leather sneakers or brogues (white leather sneakers and brogues, like the ones from Common Projects or Adidas’ Stan Smiths, are a major trend in their own right). If you’re really cool and a big fan of the new Balenciaga, you forego the traditional shape and length and instead go for a boxier shape – sharp shoulders, slightly raised at the hem to around your waist.

If you’re Tinie Tempah-cool, you wear your navy blue blazer with white leather sneakers, without socks and a plain white tee as part of a perfectly tailored suit. That’s where you want to be.

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I already allude to this, but seriously, you cannot have enough good plain white t-shirts and plain white collared shirts. There are a couple of things you have to do get both t-shirts and collared shirts right:

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-the fit has to be tailored and close to the body, but not too tight; like a wholesome hug from an affectionate ex-lover;

-the cotton would be of a high quality, finely-woven premium cotton that will not shrink or discolour after a single wash and in summer, probably soft and fine. In the case of t-shirts, these are not the t-shirts your momma bought at 5-a-pack from Edgars. These are t-shirts designed by someone who appreciates the singular importance of this item of clothing for your wardrobe;

-the sleeves (and this is surprisingly important) end only slightly beneath your shoulders, on or above your biceps and not anywhere near your elbows; and the length stops at your waist. Done.

I get all of mine from Acne (stocked at Loading Bay in Cape Town), but watch this space for Marvin’s own rendition of the perfect plain white tee.

The fit of a collared white shirt you want is usually the one that is labelled “slim” (ask the shop assistant for the slim or tailored cut of shirts) and often times you’ll be able to see these shirts by two darted lines at the back where the fabric has been cut so as to curve into your torso. If you want to notch up the “trend factor”, then button the shirt all the way to the top button, without a tie – it may feel strange at first, but soon enough it will be your signature (but make sure the collar is not overly high; a simple cut-away collar is just fine).

There you go – all my secrets to the building blocks for a wardrobe that is modern, cool without trying too hard and completely doable. Stay cool.

Words: Lithemba Velleman