So, you’ve decided to improve your style. You’re motivated. You’re ready to turn heads at the bar or while walking down the street. You’ve gone through your closet, donated clothes that didn’t fit, and checked out our free style upgrades. It feels nice. You’re starting to look like a grown up.

That was the first step. But that only gets you so far. You know that, for the best results, there are still at least two more things to tackle. First of all, you know that you’re probably going to have to buy new clothes at some point. In fact, maybe you already have (kudos to you). You’ll walk into a Dillard’s or Banana Republic or Boston Store, but the idea is so overwhelming. A salesperson will walk up to you and ask if you need any help. You already know the script: you’ll respond “I’m just looking” while thinking “homie, you have no idea.”

But it’s not like you’re going in blind. You know the basics: check out the mannequins and actually try the clothes on. You’ve got enough of an idea of what to do that you can put together one or two stylish outfits. But that leads to your second problem: what about everything else? After all, those burgundy chinos looked good with the plaid shirt you found, but what on earth do you wear with burgundy chinos otherwise? Obviously, a red tie will work with a white dress shirt, but which other shirts will work too? You start to realize that there’s a difference between having stylish clothes and knowing how to use them. Once you have the first taken care of, what do you do about the second?

One simple (and free!) answer is: use Google. You’re  familiar with Google because you’re alive and use the internet. In fact, you probably already use Google and Wikipedia to answer every other question you have about life. What you may not have known, though, is that you can use it here too. Allow us, gentle reader, to show you the way.

Using Google Images to Improve Your Sense of Style

Back to the dreaded chinos. Their main problem is that they’re different, which is the same thing that makes them so cool. They stand out, but they aren’t as simple as you’re used to. After all, everything goes with dark blue jeans. Ditto for black jeans (except for maybe a black shirt, unless you’re part of a Cure cover band).

Black and white photo of all four members of AFI looking at the camera.
Yes, we know AFI isn’t the Cure. We’re not entirely sure they do.

But burgundy? Which colors go with burgundy? Can you wear these to somewhat formal events or are they purely casual? Or wait…maybe you have it backwards. Are they actually dressier and not that casual at all? That’s a lot of questions. This quickly became annoying.

For the millionth time, Google comes to the rescue. In a matter of seconds (and that’s if you have a slow connection), you can have hundreds of combinations presented to you for free. Here’s how to use it effectively.

Choose One Clothing Item at a Time

So, you already know one shirt that works with your chinos. You’ve worn that combo, felt great, and strut down the street like you owned it. But now that shirt is dirty and it seems like a waste to have a pair of pants you can only wear once. So, let’s see what else we can pair it with.

Go to Google and click on “images.” Type in something simple like “what to wear with burgundy chinos for men.” Press “enter” and you’ll be hit with something like this:

Google image search for burgundy chinos

Boom! Right off the bat, you see several examples of men in different outfits, all with burgundy chinos. You don’t have to have their exact outfits (and probably shouldn’t) but a quick glance will tell you a lot. For example, you can clearly see that grey, white and blue all work well with those pants. You’ve already got an idea of which clothes you already own can now be worn with your new pants.

Notice the Details

Okay, so you know which colors match, but there’s still so much you can learn. For instance, what kind of shoes do people wear with the pants? Are the shirts tucked or untucked? What color belts are they wearing? Are the outfits all casual or are there formal ideas as well?

Take this man, for example:

Man in white shirt with the sleeves rolled up, sunglasses on, light brown belt and burgundy chinos.
Ignore the tragic event that led to the loss of half his face

In this outfit, he’s paired his chinos with a brown belt and shoes and topped it with a white button down. This gives you a good idea of color combinations. At the same time, though, notice how he’s rolled up his sleeves and legs of his pants. This gives the look a casual, warm-weather feel.

Compare it with this man:

Man in burgundy chinos, grey suit jacket, tie, sunglasses and white button down.

In this outfit, this man keeps the brown shoes and white button down that the previous man was wearing. However, he leaves the sleeves and pant legs down and adds a tie and grey suit jacket. This gives the same type of pants a more business casual look.

Just by comparing a few pictures, you not only have color combinations, you now know you can wear your new pants in a casual outfit or a semi-formal one. The magic of the internet is that others have already done the work for you.

Your Assignment

Today, go through your wardrobe. Pull out at least one item that you rarely wear or wear with the same few things. This can be a tie, a pair of shoes, a sweater…anything. Once you have this, do a Google Image search for what to wear with that item. Note the color combos and different styles and pick at least one or two to try out. Tomorrow, put together an outfit using the clothes that you have and the examples you found for inspiration. Make sure it’s an outfit you haven’t worn before. Wear it out and notice how you feel.