A style guru’s guide to fashion essentials every guy needs

  • Hong Kong fashion expert James Thomson-Sakhrani, of online menswear shop Style Standard, shares tips for dressing well
  • Your teens are a great time to experiment and find your personal style
Dannie Aildasani |

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Find your style and boost your confidence

It happens to all of us. You need something to wear, so you start digging through your clothes and think ... meh. Nothing really stands out and you start wondering why you own so much stuff in the first place.

It turns out that looking good doesn’t require a lot of clothes – you can build a stylish wardrobe out of a small selection of timeless basics.

We spoke to James Thomson-Sakhrani, founder of Style Standard, a Hong Kong-based online shop for men, about dressing well, and what pieces every guy should have in his wardrobe.

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Thomson-Sakhrani, 32, grew up in Hong Kong, attending both Chinese International School and Hong Kong International School. The former English voice for Billboard Radio China said that he realised he had a massive collection of clothes, but didn’t understand the basics of style or know exactly what he needed.

This led him to do some research on how to dress well without owning too many different things.

When it comes to style, the basics are often the most important, says Thomson-Sakhrani.

James Thomson-SakhraniFor example, you need trousers “in colours like light brown, black or grey, along with a pair of basic brown leather shoes and a pair of simple sneakers,” he says.

For tops, stock up on what he calls OCBDs – Oxford cloth button-downs, or cotton collared shirts with buttoned-down collars, – in versatile colours such as white, light blue, and light pink, and some with stripes.

“You can build a whole wardrobe around these items,” he says.

Your teens are a great time to explore your personal style. When you get older, you may face certain pressures to dress a certain way, and your scope may be limited, so get experimenting while you can!

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Thomson-Sakhrani recommends stores such as Uniqlo and Muji for staples such as socks, underwear and T-shirts, while Marks and Spencer is great for more formal items. If you’re more into street style, H&M and Zara are good picks, while Cotton On is a nice middle point, style-wise.

Brands like these are part of what is known as “fast fashion” – the practice of clothes shops that replicate catwalk trends and high-end designers’ ideas and mass-produce them, compared to the more limited output of designer labels.

Fast fashion offers some advantages, especially for teen. For instance, it allows you to experiment more and figure out what styles, cuts, and colours you like to help you find your personal style. It is also, of course, far cheaper than designer clothing.

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It presents many problems though: the quality generally isn’t as good, and the fits are very limited.

“There’s also the ethical concerns that come along with fast fashion,” Thomson-Sakhrani says.

“You need to worry about where the clothes are coming from and how they’re being made.”

He added that fast fashion brands also frequently steal ideas from designers, which is why they’re able to produce new clothes so quickly.

Like everything else in the world, fashion has been affected by the ongoing pandemic. If you think about your own clothing choices since the start of the pandemic, you’ll probably notice you’re wearing more pyjama pants and athleisure. Keeping that in mind, what sort of style trends can we expect for next year?

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“It’s all about comfort, colour and pockets,” said Thomson-Sakhrani, adding that yoga clothes, especially those from smaller brands, have been gaining popularity as people spend more time at home.

Of course, since most schools in Hong Kong require students to wear uniforms, you don’t get that many opportunities to wear your own clothes. How can you stand out when you’re wearing the same outfit as everyone else?

“Fit is key and should be your first consideration,” says Thomson-Sakhrani, suggesting that you should get your uniform tailored so that it fits you perfectly.

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Fashion can be a way to express yourself, but it’s much more than that.

“How you look and dress is a way to tell the world about who you are before you even say a word,” says Thomson-Sakhrani.

“People notice what things you focus on and what things you ignore, and make their judgments about you based on that,” he says.

“One of the most important reasons to dress well is to give yourself the chance to impress people – not turn them off – before they get to know you.”

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