If it were up to you, you’d never stray from your favorite pair of beat-up jeans and college football T-shirt. But they won’t always fly with your girlfriend, or the office dress code. And if you don’t have some backup duds, you’ve got a problem. The solution: Get more options in your closet, without abandoning what feels comfortable.
To help you, we bring you the MF Overhaul—strategies designed to make you as successful in your life outside the gym as you’ve been inside it. This time we’ve focused on style and grooming. After getting to the bottom of the mountain of readers’ letters we received asking for help, we settled on Seth Hill, a 24-year-old student at the University of Washington, Tacoma.
Hill wrote in telling us how he’d recently lost 85 pounds by working out and eating right. He’d been heavy most of his life, hiding behind baggy shirts and jeans, and now that he’d worked out and built the body, he needed some help finding the right clothes to fit it properly. “My weight loss has given me a boost of self-confidence,” Hill wrote, “and I think I need a new look to go along with it.” After checking out his current wardrobe, we readily agreed, and a few months later, Hill was in our New York office meeting with our style experts.
Here, we’ll show you how MF fashion director Kimberly Keily mixed and matched a few key items to create three unique looks for Hill. Then, we’ll divulge the techniques Keily used to help Hill whiten his smile and modernize his hairstyle. All of which should help you achieve your own personal transformation.
IN THE BOARDROOM
Since he’ll be job hunting soon, Seth needed a professional look he could wear on an interview. “Because I was so overweight, I always felt frumpy and disheveled in dressier clothes,” Seth admits. “I’d never actually worn a suit before.” (MF rule No. 1: Every man should own at least one well-fitting suit.) To remedy that, we chose a charcoal pinstripe suit by Perry Ellis and paired it with a shirt and silk knit tie by Robert Talbott. Pinstripes elongate your frame, making you look taller and leaner. At the same time, buying a suit with a versatile charcoal hue will allow you to make an easy transition from the office to dinner and drinks after work. Another perk of having a charcoal suit? It can be worn with either brown or black shoes. In Seth’s case, we set him up with a chocolate-brown pair by Geox.
Contrary to popular belief, suit shopping doesn’t have to set you back a couple of months’ rent. The secret to a great-looking suit is having it tailored to fit your frame-a reputable tailor can make any off-the-rack suit look custom-made. Start with the cuffs: Your jacket sleeve should be approximately half an inch shorter than your shirt sleeve; exposing a little of your shirt breaks up the monochromatic look of a suit. Also, when buttoned, your jacket shouldn’t look boxy. If it does, have it taken in at the waist to create a slight hourglass shape for your upper body. There’s nothing worse than having a suit that fits in the shoulders and hips but leaves you looking thick in the middle. As for dress pants, a pair that fits well should sit at your waist, with the hem falling about a quarter of an inch above the bottom of your heel.
For the ideal weekend look, we put Seth in a pair of jeans by Replay, a tee by Perry Ellis, a hooded cardigan by 7 For All Mankind, and a blazer by Lucky Jeans. Though it’s a casual style, dress shoes and a quality leather bag (like the one at right by John Varvatos, and the Geox shoes from the boardroom look) add polish. Seth’s verdict: “It’s comfortable but still seems like I pulled it together without overthinking.” To emulate this casual style, try a deconstructed blazer (no shoulder pads; unfinished edges) in a casual fabric, such as cotton. Combine that with a good, medium-rinse pair of jeans. “Opt for a pair that’s a little snug in the hip and thigh area, since most jeans stretch over time,” says Keily. The rinse is key-a darker color is too dressy, while a light one is too casual. Medium-rinse blues can be worn just as easily running weekend errands as they can on an evening date.
Speaking of dates, every guy needs his own personal dating armor. So for Seth’s third look, we wanted something a little edgier that would be perfect for a night on the town. You won’t believe how easy it was: We put him in the suit jacket from his first look, the jeans from his second, and an untucked button-down by American Eagle Outffitters. After that, we added a skinny tie by Robert Talbott and a pair of Converse sneakers. Seth approved, calling it “very punk rock.” The secret to making it work was mixing dressy pieces like the jacket and shirt with casual ones like the jeans and sneakers. Choice of neckwear is also essential. “Go for something a little funkier than what you’d wear to work,” says Keily. Try ties in a different fabric, pattern, or width.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES
No makeover is complete without a slick new hairstyle and a visit to the dentist. After all, the clothes may stop her in her tracks, but a mop top and yellowed teeth will have her running for the hills. Here’s what we did for Seth and how you can do it for yourself.
The first step to looking great is to be sure your teeth are as white as possible. So we brought Seth to Jonathan B. Levine, D.M.D., founder of the GoSMILE whitening system and author of Smile! The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Smile Beauty (Warner Wellness, 2006). Levine painted Seth’s teeth three different times with a 25% hydrogen peroxide gel, then he had them passed under a high-intensity white light for about 10 minutes each time. The light activated the oxygen in the gel, whitening his teeth immediately. Afterward, Seth left with the GoSMILE Advanced Formula B1 Tooth Whitening On-the-Go system ($89 @ sephora.com). He also pocketed the GoSMILE Daily Compact ($28 @ sephora.com), a maintenance system that helps remove new stains and keep teeth whiter longer. (Using the two products together will give you the same results as Seth’s in-office procedure in just 10 days-and at a lot less money than the standard $850 treatment.)
To give Seth a new hairstyle, we turned to grooming expert Melanie Harris at Oliver Piro, who’s been styling men’s hair for more than a decade. “Seth has great hair-it just needed a little shape,” she says. Harris took most of the length off the sides and back, keeping the top longer. This cut allows him to spike it up for a trendier look or part it with his fingers for more polish. To create the latter, wet your hair and then apply a dollop of pomade, parting hair loosely to one side with your fingers. Unlike gels and mousses, pomades hold your style in place without making hair appear stiff. Harris likes Redken for Men Polish Up Defining Pomade. The spiky style was created by misting Seth’s head with water and then blow-drying his hair up in the front and back to give it some fullness and rise. To keep the style in place, use a light-hold hairspray like L’Oreal Professionnel Textureline Texturespray.
 WORK LOOK
» Perry Ellis pinstripe suit, $395
» Best of Class by Robert Talbott striped button-down shirt, $225, and knit tie, $85
» Zodiac watch, $350
 WEEKEND LOOK
» Lucky Brand Jeans blazer, $178
» 7 For All Mankind pullover hooded cashmere cardigan, $375
» Perry Ellis crewneck tee, $30
» Replay jeans, $230
» Geox “Cuoio Firm” shoes, $230
» John Varvatos “Vachetta” flat file bag, $495
 GOING-OUT LOOK
» Perry Ellis pinstripe blazer (from suit), $395
» American Eagle Outfitters button-down shirt, $37
» Best of Class by Robert Talbott tie, $125
» Replay jeans, $230
» John Varvatos basket-weave bracelet, $85