You’ve got your suit, you’ve found your jeans, there’s a classic shirt or two in your virtual closet, and you’ve got three jacket demos, four of boots and shoes, and ten of hair (because c’mon, that’s a tough one to get right) ready to go through. Your capsule wardrobe is almost done, and you’re all Deadwool-ed and Cold Ash-ed out. For most blokes shopping IRL is trial enough, but in virtual it can be a royal pain in the proverbial, even if you have the assistance of a more seasoned shopper helping you out.
But once your wardrobe is done, are you done? Nah, not quite. Let’s look at how you can go from well put-together to absolutely bloody knock-out.
1. Accessorise (but don’t overdo it)
A classic watch peeking out from beneath a shirt cuff. A long necklace that perfectly fits the deep v-neck of an open shirt. A couple of rings. An elegant brooch pinned to the lapel of a suit. A thong bracelet and/or necklace with beachwear. Or even ears full of piercings.
Accessories can really make an outfit when used in moderation. And moderation is your keyword here. Think you’ve accessorised enough? Now take a virtual step back, look at yourself, and consider removing one accessory. Would it ruin the outfit to do that, or improve it? Getting the balance just right can be a tricky beast, especially if you’re new to accessorising, but a good rule of thumb for things like jewellery is to mentally divide up your avatar into sections and see how many of them contain adornments. If you’ve got earrings, face piercings, three layered necklaces, a bracelet and watch combo, plus fistfuls of rings all going on at the same time, then – unless you’re aiming for what I once dubbed taking ‘less is more’, setting fire to it, and then defenestrating it – you might want to consider toning it down juuuust a tad.
Heavily tattooed? Watch out for ‘busyness’. If you want to wear a necklace or bracelet, pick one that is simple and will stand out against your tatts. A single chunky curb chain will show up better against a detailed tattoo than something more delicate. Better still, if you’re wearing any other jewellery about your person, why not let the tatts stand alone?
If you want to really take it to the next level, keep an eye out the next time you’re dragged around the weekend sales by your significant other. See those ornate dangly women’s earrings for L$50? With a new attachment point and a couple of minutes of position editing, one of those could be the perfect lapel accessory to ascend your new Ascend suit into the stratosphere.
Earrings as brooches? Have you gone stark, raving bonkers, Skell?
Maybe, but I never laid claim to sanity in the first place, and I do love a good cheap sartorial accent. Maybe it’s time to look at things a bit differently, eh?
2. Take the time to make it fit
Mesh can be a minefield. You’ve tip-toed around the vagaries of Gianni/Jake/Legacy/Slink/Aesthetic/Lelutka/Catwa/JustGiveMeOneBloodySizeThatFitsDamnIt, you’ve wrestled with manual body HUD alphas, auto alphas, and BoM/system alphas (do not get me started on BoM; I’ve already written scads on the subject, and I’m sure there will be scads more to come…), and you’re finally suited and booted to your satisfaction.
It’s a shame that the sideburns of your hair have decided to mate with your cheekbones, and your neck is chomping on your necklace every time your AO makes you step to the left (to the left).
Take the time to go through that hair folder. Does it contain different sizes? Try them all on. Which one comes closest to fitting? Next, figure out the resizing options. Manual is always best, as you can fine-tune it, but few creators offer that anymore. Directional (X/Y/Z) percentage resizing is the next best option, once you’ve got past figuring out which one is up/down, which one is front/back, and which one is side/side. Then, get that hair fitting perfectly. Five or ten minutes of fiddling now will have your cheekbones thanking you later.
Necklace getting eaten when you move? It’s probably attaching to the chest point. Attach it to the spine instead. You’ll need to practice your edit-fu to get it into place, because it’ll probably be hanging out somewhere above your arse having a great time in thin air, but at least your neck will be going on a bling-free diet after that.
One of the worst culprits for us blokes is footwear. I could write a whole blogpost bitching at virtual bootmakers who don’t offer the option to hide the pull tab on the back of their boots. Yes, they’re realistic (even though we don’t need them in SL for their actual purpose) and they look great in the ads, but if you’re like me and prefer fitted legwear then it’s possible to go through something like 40 pairs of jeans and not find a single one where the pull tab doesn’t stick through the fabric. Unless you buy a combination of legwear and footwear from the same creator – ones that are intended to work together – those pull tabs could be the bane of your Second Life.
I could expound the basics of a good capsule wardrobe for SL (and likely will at some point on the blog) but you will need at minimum a good pair of boots (preferably sans pull tab), and an all-round pair of shoes that will work with both jeans and casual trousers. If you’re likely to wear a suit at any point then a pair of formal shoes (Oxford, monk, or wingtip; brogues are a little too casual and could be considered for your all-rounders instead) are going to be necessary, then – depending on your personal style – some sports footwear (be that the latest Yeezy or a classic Vans style), and if you’re someone who likes to visit the beach a lot in SL then perhaps consider a pair of sandals, flip-flops, or slides.
3. Don’t forget those details
The details of an outfit are those little things that don’t necessarily hit you at first glance, but that really bear fruit upon closer inspection. Matching your metals is one that I can be very persnickety about. Some metals work well together. Rose gold and silver, or black metal with either silver or gold. But put yellow gold with rose gold, or yellow gold with silver and it just doesn’t work as well.
Matching metals isn’t only important when you think about jewellery. You probably have other metals about your person without realising. The buckle of your belt, certain details of your footwear, your cufflinks, your tie clip, some buttons or eyelets on clothing. Pay attention to those forgotten metals and watch your outfit quietly nudge up a notch when you fiddle with their colour HUDs to bring your metallics more into line with each other.
Other details can include things like bringing out a theme that you’re using elsewhere in the outfit. Do your shoes have a subtle embossed skull on the toe cap? Add a skull earring to top-and-tail yourself with that detail. Only the sharpest of eyes might catch it, but believe me those sharp eyes appreciate such things.
By contrast – and as an extension of the “don’t overdo it” in the accessories department – unless you’re aiming for it deliberately, have a care with overloading on patterns. If you’re suited and booted with the latest gorgeous pinstriped three-piece from Deadwool, don’t choose the busiest patterns from the tie and pocket square HUD. A subtle pattern, or better still a bold but solid colour, will work better with a pinstripe. Your shirt – in this instance – should also be subtle. If you’d never dress in a suit like that in real life, and you have no idea what’s de rigeur then there is a wealth of men’s style advice to be found online at your search engine of choice.
4. Use colour echoes
Your final bit of advice could, I suppose, have been smooshed in with the bit about details, but colour echoes show that you have really paid attention and gone to the next level with your outfit. I will admit that the ladies have it a lot easier than the gents in this department (at least, than those gents who – unlike me – don’t occasionally wear things like makeup and nail polish). A colour echo would be matching the colour of your nail polish to the colour of your shoes or your makeup or a small accessory such as an elegant neck scarf.
Men have fewer options for colour echoes, but you can still achieve them if you shop with an eye for them. The smaller and more capsule your wardrobe, the easier it will be to consider what will perfectly ‘call out’ a colour in something that you already own the next time you’re standing in front of that rack of shirts in Tori Torricelli and wondering which one to buy. You know that you can’t go wrong with classic white, but that can get a little boring at times, so if those pants you like to wear to the club have options for different coloured stitching, or your hat has different headband colours, or your boots have the kind of colour customisation HUD that brings you out in hives of indecision, why not dig out those HUDs while you’re there looking at the shirts, add them, page through the colours, then consider which shirt will best match a colour that you like from the HUD.
Colour echoes can be small, subtle, and – like those other little details – almost indistinguishable at first glance. Oftentimes they can be one of those little things that you don’t even realise someone has done, but they really do kick an outfit up a notch into the <chef kiss> department.
My final bit of advice – and you can consider this as a bonus point, although it relates to colour – is to pick a small signature colour palette and stick to that when you’re shopping. In real life you very likely have colour preferences when buying clothes, so why not carry that over into SL? My own colour palette has always been black as the base colour, with red, teal, and emerald as my brights, and gold as my metallic (although if I’m using black and red I’ll occasionally dip into silver as the metallic). I have a more limited secondary autumnal monochromatic palette, with brown as the base and shades of burnt orange and gold as complementaries, but I tend to save that one more for historical and steampunk looks, for obvious reasons. As someone who adores fashion I’ll sometimes sidestep out of those palettes when something really catches my eye, but it’s far easier to shop – especially if you’re no fan of the activity – when you know what colours you want.
So there you have it. Four small and often overlooked things for you to consider when you’re putting together your next outfit. Most of them only require an investment of time and patience rather than money, and those that require money can often be found at bargain prices during the weekend sales events. Take those minutes to do the work, and then go out and knock ‘em dead, my sartorial darlings.