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October 31, 2012

Sarah Stright on Fashion: Starting over after a divorce? Try these looks

NEW CASTLE — Happy Halloween!

In honor of this scary holiday, I wanted to answer a question about a "scary situation"— starting over after divorce.

Q: I'm a recently divorced man, and I have no idea where to start with getting a new wardrobe. What are some things that I should have in my closet?

A:  First of all, I'm sorry for your situation. Having had several friends and family members go through a divorce, I know how hard this can be. The best thing to do is look at this as an opportunity to start over, to figure out who you are and what you want. Clothing can help you get there. If you're wanting to relieve yourself of the baggage of the past years, think about emptying out your closet and starting over (if your funds enable you to do so).

Having new items that aren't tied to past memories, such as "I wore this sweater on our first date," may help in moving forward. So I've put together items that I think are must-have items for every man.

Most of these are classics, ones that will get you a lot of mileage — especially if you're able to invest in higher quality pieces.  

(If you look to the right, I've shown several examples of the following pieces.)


T-Shirts: Solid ones, ones without your favorite cartoon character or questionable sayings. Incredibly soft, comfortable T-shirts that can be worn under anything and everything. Ones that fit you nicely.

Solid sweaters: crew neck and V-neck sweaters will be the most flattering. In cotton or cashmere, these sweaters can take you just about anywhere you need to go. And they're so versatile — wear them layered or on their own — with jeans or with trousers. And don't just stick with black — try brighter colors to give life to your outfit — and maybe even to your mood.

Dressy sweaters: Think sweaters with a simple pattern (like argyle) or a shawl collar. Something that can be dressy for work, or a first date.

Dress shirts: Solid and patterned. Ones that fit you perfectly, that look just as great with trousers as with jeans. Ones that can be worn with a suit and tie, or a bit unbuttoned for weekend plans.

Polos: Short sleeve, solid polos can be worn with most anything.


Trousers: Look for either solid or a subtle pattern (like a pinstripe or checked pattern). Make sure they are unpleated and are hemmed to hit you at the right place. (It may be a pain to have your pants hemmed to fit well, but it is often inexpensive for a simple hem, and nothing will make you look more put together than well-fitting clothes.) You should have a few pairs of these.

Khakis: A darker khaki (or even gray) and a lighter khaki should serve all of your needs. As with trousers, make sure they fit well.

Jeans: The most flattering jeans will be dark and boot cut. You might have those ultra comfortable, torn up jeans hanging around that are great for doing work around the house, but you need a couple pairs to be able to wear out. Dark, boot cut jeans will look great with everything from a blazer, to a simple T-shirt.

Suit: One thing that you'll never know when you'll need is a great fitting suit. A dark gray always looks modern and put together without looking as serious as a typical black suit. Invest in several if your lifestyle calls for it, otherwise one perfectly fit suit is all you'll really need.


Blazer: A great black blazer is something that will take you ANYWHERE. Though it is also something that you may need to have altered to fit perfectly, it will be worth it.  If you wear it with a T-shirt and jeans, you'll look put together for a night out with friends. If you wear it with trousers and a dress shirt, you'll be ready for more formal events.

Black or Gray casual jacket: Though this could be interchangeable with a blazer, consider a second, more casual jacket to wear on the weekends when you don't need to look quite as dressed up.

Leather Jacket: Is anything cooler than a leather jacket? I think not. Whether black or brown, guys always look cool in a leather jacket and they work for most occasions.  Just be sure that it's a modern jacket. There shouldn't be a lot of details to it, and definitely no writing on it! It should also fit you well and not be too oversized, otherwise you look less tough and more sloppy.

Shoes and accessories:

Nice tennis shoes: I'm not talking about the Nikes that you wear to work out and mow the lawn in. I'm talking about clean, mostly solid tennis shoes that can be worn with jeans and a sweater.  

Casual dress shoes: I know that sounds weird, but think of these as shoes that you would wear on a first date. They're not tennis shoes, and they aren't the types of shoes you wear for a wedding. They're somewhere in between. You should have a couple pairs of these — a pair in the black/gray family, and a pair in the brown family.

Dress shoes: These ARE the ones that you'd wear for more formal events like a wedding, or an important business meeting. Always have a great black pair hanging around.

Brown and black belt: Simple, plain leather belts. If you can find one that is black and brown reversible, score!

Ties: These are like necklaces for guys — they can change up an entire look. Get ones in different patterns and styles, but try to steer clear of ones with cartoons or more juvenile scenes.

Watch: A great watch in silver, or with a brown or black leather band can always elevate a look.

So now that you have a good list, it's time to shop! My favorite places for inexpensive, but high quality men's pieces are Gap, American Eagle, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Express, and Macy's. Keep in mind that even if something doesn't fit you perfectly off the rack, you can always have it tailored.

All of the pieces I've listed above are made to be worn for many different styles and many different occasions. They're the pieces that will get you the farthest so if you spend a little extra money, they'll last you a long time.

I hope this helped. If you have any questions about this list or any other fashion questions you'd like answered, please email me at

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