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Upgrade him: How men can look their part this spring

April 17, 2014

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Meet Will Dale. Like a lot of men, Will could use some outside help when it comes to picking out his outfits.

Dale works as the executive director of the Center for Community Outreach at Kansas University while pursuing an English degree. It's not your typical 9-to-5 job: Much of his days consist of impromptu meetings and volunteering on behalf of nonprofit agencies in town.

For most men like Dale who multitask in their professional and personal lives, shopping to achieve the perfect balance between work appropriate and comfortable isn’t at the top of their list.

"I'm essentially on-call all the time, so it's great if I don't have to change for work," he said. "My schedule is varied. In the morning, I could have meetings about funding for next year, and in the afternoon, I'll be around 60 elementary school kids."

It can be even more challenging with the constantly changing trends that come with a new season.

With help from some local businesses that sell menswear, along with some style advice from the Journal-World's Alma Bahman and Nadia Imafidon, we assembled three looks for three occasions to help give Dale, and any man in a similar situation, the confidence he needs to dress for his busy lifestyle.

"You can't go wrong with blue and gray," Alison Ogden, manager at the Jos. A. Bank Factory Store said about choosing colors for formal occasions.

"You can't go wrong with blue and gray," Alison Ogden, manager at the Jos. A. Bank Factory Store said about choosing colors for formal occasions.

Stay inspired, this season and the next

Men's fashion blogs to follow:

Style on the Hill

Put This On

The GQ Eye

Expand the shopping horizons:

• Arizona Trading Company, 736 Massachusetts St.

• The Buckle, 805 Massachusetts St.

• Wild Man Vintage, 939 Massachusetts St.

• Plato's Closet, 3514 Clinton Parkway

• Hobbs, 700 Massachusetts St.

• JoS. A Bank Factory Store, 646 Vermont St.

• Weaver's, 901 Massachusetts St.

• Urban Outfitters, 1013 Massachusetts St.

First thing's first: grooming matters

A quick trip to Ritual salon for a consultation with owner Samantha Wardy started Dale's transformation off on the right foot. Wardy trimmed the hair on the sides of his head very short, leaving the volume in the front so it can be styled for a sleek, business-appropriate do or left relaxed with curly locks falling to one side of his face. She tidied up his look, cleaned up his beard and gave him styling advice to fit his professional and personal life.

Professional

What can a man do to look more professional? That's easy: get a suit. And take the time to have the sales associates take your measurements and select the appropriate fit for your body type.

Look for lighter fabrics and colors (instead of classic black, look for navy or charcoal gray). At JoS. A. Bank Factory Store, Alison Ogden, manager, and Ella Parks, sales executive, assisted Dale with his transformation to polished businessman fit to present his case at a funding meeting.

Breaking down the look:

Lynchburg wing shoes in black, $89.99

Tailored fit suit jacket in Cambridge gray, $169.99

Tailored fit plain pants in Cambridge gray, $99.99

Tailored fit shirt in blue, $49.99

Yellow geo-linked circle tie, $29.99

Black belt, $39.99

Words of Wisdom

Blue and white are more professional colors, good for networking, formal presentations and interviews. Dress it up with color accents. "You can hardly go wrong with blue and gray," Ogden said.

Choose the type of dress shirt collar (point or spread) depending on the type of knot in your tie. Spread collars go with wider knots like Windsor and four-in-hand knots. Point collars go with more narrow and longer tie knots, such as a Pratt knot. Will's wearing a point collar to go with his half-Windsor knot.

"Shoes always match your belt, and socks always match your pants,” Parks said on color coordination.

Biz-casual

Sometimes, Will Dale meets with colleagues to talk business at the Center for Community Outreach. Other times, he's out in the community. But more often than not, he's doing both in the same day so versatility matters.

Sometimes, Will Dale meets with colleagues to talk business at the Center for Community Outreach. Other times, he's out in the community. But more often than not, he's doing both in the same day so versatility matters.

Think top-half business, bottom-half casual. Repurpose a suit jacket or blazer to maintain a chic professional look (which you can later lose for evening drinks), but relax a bit with pants, shoes and accessories. Fun patterns, colors and other details can take a look out of the conference room and into a business lunch or happy hour.

Breaking down the look:

Blue v-neck cotton sweater, $34.99

Mini-checked blue and white shirt, $49.99

Golf pant in stone, $49.99

Allegany shoes in saddle tan, $89.99

Orange-striped bow tie, $24.99

Words of Wisdom

Change it up with bow tie. People from all ages buy bow ties, Parks said, from college kids to attorneys. But they're kind of polarizing: "You either like them or not.”

Don’t be afraid to mix and match patterns, as long as the colors are compatible. Ogden grabbed a purple polka-dot bow tie to dress up the blue-checked button-up, and switched over to an orange-striped option when Dale expressed his interest in that particular color. Two completely different patterns are suitable additions.

Weekend fun

Will Dale, an English major and executive director at the Center for Community Outreach at Kansas University, likes to stay active, even during his down time. A bright colored and subtley-patterned pants make for a relaxed look with a pop of personality.

Will Dale, an English major and executive director at the Center for Community Outreach at Kansas University, likes to stay active, even during his down time. A bright colored and subtley-patterned pants make for a relaxed look with a pop of personality.

Freedom time (but within reason). T-shirts and jeans are great for weekends, but don't pull out the ones you've had for 10 years. It’s more than past time for an upgrade. Represent your favorite sports team, band or quirky graphic design, and switch out blue jeans for a new color or print. Throw a light button-up overtop and relax in pair of handmade moccasins.

We scoured the racks at Hobbs for the latest and greatest in laid-back, yet noteworthy, clothing.

Breaking down the look:

FIN T-shirt from Sol Angeles, $59

Ben Sherman button-down shirt in salmon, $149

J SHOES, Ivy dark brown leather moccasins, $179

Joe's easy fit beachwear pants, $158 (which sales associate Shauna Swanson says have been flying off the shelves this spring)

Words of Wisdom

Throw in lighter material and brighter spring colors, Cody Stubert, Hobbs sales associate, suggested. "I like florals, but keep it simple. Stay neutral on top or bottom."

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