Rules of Style: Topman Design Director Gordon Richardson

Topman design director Gordon Richardson on the importance of a good haircut, holiday dressing, and how to develop personal style organically.

Photo Courtesy of Topman.

After he joined Topman as design director in 2002, Gordon Richardson took the company from a midtier operation with just two designers to an international fashion authority with twenty. And with the brand's wellreviewed Spring/Summer 2014 collection at London Fashion Week, it doesn't look like Richardson is slowing down any time soon.

Here, he reveals his saleshopping strategies, lends his tips on sweatpant chic, and offers some advice on developing personal style.

1. Style to me is all about not trying too hard to look fashionable. Most stylish men aren't dressed head to toe in the latest trends, but have adopted clothes and ways of wearing them that have surpassed fashion.

2. To build an appropriate, stylish wardrobe you have to have patience. Style doesn't happen overnight, but through trial and error. Start with a great pair of well-cut pants and build from there. Your wardrobe should evolve organically, paying attention to any favorable comments about how you look along the way that you can use as style guides.

3. A good haircut is the starting point to looking your best. Always make sure you have it cut before embarking on a shopping spree as a poor cut will affect how the clothes look on you.

4. I can't shout loudly enough about the importance of proportions in clothes. The wrong proportions—however good the actual garment—will never make you look stylish. As a rule of thumb, a baggy pleated pant works best with a shorter, slimmer top while a skinnier pant works with both a longer, wider shape and a slim, close-fitting top. Proportions effect tie widths, lapel widths, jacket lengths, etc. If in doubt consult a personal shopper or shop with a friend you trust.

5. It's never a bad idea to "fashion follow" someone you think looks good in magazines or online and emulate their style. After all, they're inadvertently giving you all the fashion answers to looking good.

6. Let's talk sweats and sweat pants. They're good for sporting activities, but are harder to pull off with any style outside of the gym. Apply the same sartorial codes you'd apply to other ways of dressing. Fit is key to style here. A well-cut, non-cuffed, slim sweat pant can make for a great blazer-and-pant combo if worn with a slick high-top. Keep it minimal and you'll be back in the style camp.

7. Being branded head to toe won't win you any style awards. Mix it up a little and add personality. A good mix of brands keeps your look contemporary.

8. Sale shopping is an art in and of itself. I find the best way is to know what you want rather than be tempted by all that glistens on the racks. Do research beforehand and get to know the store staff, as they'll tell you about upcoming sales and may invite you to a private sale evening, when you can browse without hoards of shoppers. If something's been on the racks for several months it's likely because it looks wrong on, but there are stylish bargains to be found as long as you keep that sartorial mantra of "will this go with the rest of my wardrobe" at all times.

9. Holidays are always where the biggest fashion mistakes occur. To avoid them stay true to your style and pack lightweight versions of clothes and colors you know already suit you. Holidays are no excuse to be kitted out head to toe in prints if you don't dabble in prints in your day-to-day wardrobe. If you want to reflect your holiday mood it's better to experiment with deeper, more saturated colors than suddenly get Hawaiined up.

10. The secret to good style is good manners and sensitivity to those around you in how you dress and behave. It's inexcusable not to make an effort to dress the best you can.

—Caroline Main.

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