It’s an interesting time to be into menswear right now, as more and more men seem to be casting off the old “who cares?” attitude and start putting effort in their appearance. If you’re one of the many guys who are making that step, I have to commend you. there are, however, a few things I see that you have to be careful of. Avoid these pitfalls and you’ll be golden.
For guys who wear almost exclusively t-shirts and jeans, stepping outside that comfort zone can be quite terrifying. For those past the neophyte stages, I’m sure you can remember the trepidation you felt when you first put on a tie to go out with your friends. And if you are starting out, you probably know that nervousness all too well.
So you want to dip your toe into a new style, without coming off as stuffy. There are plenty of ways to do this. The fabric, the style of shirt or tie, even something as simple as rolling up your sleeves can alleviate the stuffiness of an outfit. An untucked dress shirt, depending on the length and style, can also achieve this. But if you’re going to wear a tie, sweater, or blazer, you have to tuck that shirt in.
I’m sure we’re all familiar with these looks. If you’ve seen American Idol or a sitcom in the last 10 years, you’ve seen it. You think it comes off as casual, or rebellious, but in reality, you just look sloppy and lazy. If you took the time to tie a tie, you surely have the time to tuck in your shirt.
2) The shoes don’t matter
Like it or not, How I Met Your Mother has had a decent impact on guys wanting to dress better. NPH has led a generation of t-shirted individuals towards putting on suits voluntarily for the first times in their lives. The problem, though, is that “suit up” should really be “suit and shoe up”.
I knew a guy who asked me about good quality suits. After narrowing down his likes and price point, I told him that J. Crew is probably his best bet. He actually went out and bought a Ludlow suit, which even un-tailored fit him really well. Then I noticed his shoes: Square-toed, made of that leather than looks more like rubber than something organic.
I understand that shoes can be a hard sell for a guy getting into clothes, since a decent pair of shoes can easily equal that of a suit. While I know that you may not want to plop down that money, I have to say that a bad pair of shoes will easily undo anything you do up top. I highly recommend using second-hand stores and eBay to shoe hunt, since you can find some amazing deals. At the very least, find some nondescript, round-toe shoes and keep them polished. Use those until you can save up for some old stock Florsheims or Allen Edmonds.
3) Suit up and Coast
The reason I love wearing suits is the way it makes me feel. There’s something powerful about a suit. I’m not of the time when everyone had to wear a suit to work, so I don’t associate it with the daily grind. A suit makes me feel like a million bucks, and I think a lot of guys feel the same way.
And because of our casual culture, putting on a suit when you don’t have to will get attention. Your HR manager will ask if you have an interview, your friends will ask you if you have a date. Someone’s probably going to call you dapper.
But don’t rest on your laurels. It’s a sad fact, but even a bad suit will still get positive comments. If you really asked someone, they might tell you “well, it is a little big here…” or “that doesn’t match…”. Instead, ask yourself:
- Does my pants bunch up a ton at the bottom?
- Is this too long, making me look shorter than I really am?
- Is this too big, making me look like a kid wearing his dad’s suit?
- Does this fall off the shoulders?
If you turn a critical eye on yourself, you’ll pick up on things a lot quicker than if you depend on others to tell you where you’re falling short. Developing a keen eye is one of the most important skills in dressing better.
This little list isn’t meant to insult anyone. These are just little pitfalls that people fall into while improving their style. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that some of these (particularly number 3) have applied to me in the past. Hopefully this will help you avoid those same traps.
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