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Top Twelve Tips for Business Dress for Men As a lawyer, you will be judged on how you dress. If it matters to you, and it should, there is good news: you need to know only a few rules and you’ll be fine. The basics are simple, and can be learned in a day. After that, it’s either just for fun or personal interest. The first step: do the easy things every man can use to look better. They are free and work every time. When it comes to business and interview dress, here are 12 basic dressing tips for men: • 1. Choose a Suit with a Classic Cut. • Men’s fashion hasn’t changed in 70 years. Stick with the basic 2- or 3button, single-breasted suit. If it has a classic cut, it’s never going out of style. The most important part of the suit is the overall design, what is termed the “silhouette.” This sets the shape of the shoulders, the cut of the lapels, size of the jacket and pants, and the placement of the buttons. There are certain basic silhouettes, though, that are used again and again. One is from the United States (relaxed shoulders and the sack suit from Brooks Brothers), while the other two are from England (more built-up shoulders and narrower waists) and Italy (closer to the body, tighter fit). Know what each is and how to spot them. Once you do, you’ll never look at a suit the same way again.
2. Stick with Classic Colors. • • For men’s suits, this means gray and blue, in solid, at least for first suits. Stay away from black. Why? In daylight, black draws color from the face. That’s why it’s worn to funerals. In contrast, gray and blue make most men look better. While black suits may be popular with young men today, it’s far from a classic color. Frankly, some older men hate them, and view it as improper. Not one of the top six standard references for traditional men’s dress recommends it. Twenty years from now may be different. But understand it may be more controversial today than you think. Gray and blue also give more options (and thus more total looks) with colors for shirts and ties. With black, your options are limited, both for 1
• • • • • • 2 . quality clothing lasts. Doesn’t cost anything to know what best complements your build. Do it right. correct fit. In the summer or in southern climates. well-fitted. either. Go with Wool. Artificial fabrics are hotter. The most expensive clothes are the ones you never use. Classic men’s dress isn’t going out of style anytime soon. • 3. You will look good every time. A modestly priced suit. that is the true cost of clothes). but it’s warmer than cotton or linen. They also feel and look better. Calculated on a cost per wearing basis (after all. and don’t drape or wear as well either. If the fit isn’t right. • • • Worsted wool drapes and wears better than any other fabric. • • 4. and style. If you do it right. So does cotton or linen. This is yet another reason why quality is a good investment. Brooks Brothers didn’t even carry black suits until ten years ago. looks better than an ill-fitting expensive suit. quality fabric or construction really isn’t going to matter. If you wear a good wool suit. along with quality construction. Emphasize items that combine well and often. either. A tiny bit of artificial fabric blended in with natural fabrics won’t hurt (and may help). consistent with permanent fashion. and your clothes will wear out long before they go out of style. Silk sometimes is used.shirts and ties. most of the wrinkles will disappear. well-constructed. Consider fit before you consider anything else. Pick a few things. Plus. but anything else should be avoided. and then hang it up. It doesn’t cost anything to know correct colors. Stick with natural fibers. Cheap wool stays wrinkled. • • Quality matters. Dressing well is not about money. quality pays. Go with Quality and Insist on a Good Fit. tropical weight wool (a lighter version) works well. good wool doesn’t. quality is a bargain. There was a reason. One good piece is better than two or three bad ones.
3 . In short. but have it buttoned otherwise. Even if two suits from different makers are marked with the same size. know your numbers. you have the wrong clothes. your legs look shorter. For some people. Either way. shape. Know your measurements. This goes back to a time when shirts (and suspenders) were viewed as underwear and something not to be seen. say a 44 Long. The size. too. and jacket lengths. or even cell phones. • • A coat sets the balance between your legs and your torso. Different makers use different house styles. • • 6. You can open it when you sit down. depending on the cut of the suit. • Your first dress shirts should be white or light blue. the clothes do not wear you. passports. for a three-button suit. The same applies to shirts and pants. Get measured by a good tailor. but disrespectful. business cards. If you open it too. Why? Tradition for white. This might include storing pens. and fit of a suit is more custom than science.• • You wear the clothes. Keep your suit jacket buttoned. the top button is not always buttoned. If the clothes look like they are wearing you. On a three-button jacket. plus most men look good in blue. Another option: take key measurements from a well-fitting suit. from top to bottom. a common fashion today. or shirt from your closet. suit. and also sets the stage for the tie. it’s only going to draw attention to your stomach. If you know your measurements in advance. Not only is this more convenient. A light shirt against a dark suit also gives a nice vertical line through the front of the chest. • • 5. but it also avoids putting any heavy item on your belt or in the pockets of your pants. the middle button is always buttoned. the jackets may have different sized chests. sleeve lengths. If it’s too long. it is: o Sometimes o Always o Never • Good suits have inside pockets for all kinds of uses. jacket. and so do you. A suit coat should be buttoned and just long enough to cover your backside. Avoid Dark Shirts. you’ll be easier to fit. an open suit jacket is not only casual.
a dark tie on a dark shirt draws the eye outward rather than upward. the dressiest). (Of course. one measure of formality is the thickness of the fabric: the thicker the shirt.) • • • • 9. pinpoint (thinner. A wider collar tends to look better on a thin face. • Here. but not a suit. and the Shape of your Face. the thinner the weave. That may be fine for a sport coat. Yes. you also need one that fits your face. Show some Shirt Cuff. (Chris Matthews.) • • • • • 8.) Within these rules. • • The traditional guideline is ½ inch. the more formal. a more expensive garment. among others. and broadcloth (thinner yet. at the top of the list are those wonderful high. tends to draw the eye down and thus thin a wider face. (2) it saves wear on the suit. the rules for formality are simple: the stiffer.• • • In contrast. Then comes buttoned-down collars (higher and more controlled). Long necks need higher collars. is too informal for a suit. 7. Regis did it. and makes you look bulkier. disagrees. And he was wrong. 4 . Just don’t wear an oxford cloth button-down shirt with a suit. pointing down. regardless of fabric. the minimum for a formal shirt). Avoid Casual Shirts. and low (think polo shorts). Some men think any button-down collar. and wider the collar. and then comes stiffer collars (made so with collar stays) with points turned outward. The least formal collars are floppy. the more informal. the more formal the occasion. (What Tom Wolfe always does. and (3) it makes your arms look longer. higher. Why? Three reasons: (1) this matches the ½ inch of shirt that should be showing above your collar on a proper fitting suit. detachable wing collars used on tuxedos. often used for casual button-down shirts). • For shirts. Match the Collar on your Shirt with the Formality of the Occasion. just as a point collar. The choice between pinpoint or broadcloth is yours. The three most-widely used fabric for shirts are oxford cloth (thick.
A man who does neither just shows a face atop a sack of cloth. and the pocket square makes your chest look broader. When tied. it will never go out of style. If the person doing your alternations doesn’t check both arms. Around 3 ½ Inches Wide. The tradition goes back several hundred years. showing the proper amount of cuff is also an interesting litmus test. Make sure it’s done right. If a man does this right. Both are good things. It should also be between close to 3 ½ inches wide. If your tie is that size. our best dressed recent President. If he doesn’t. not your Shoes. black socks hovering over black shoes make your feet look huge (like Uggs for men). too. or Martin Luther King during his “I Have a Dream Speech. It’s also the easiest to tie. Classic lapels cover between 2/5 and 3/5 of the distance between the start of the lapel and the outside edge of the coat. • Why? If the color of your socks matches (or complements) your pants. The cuffs make your arms look longer. • • • • • 11.• Esthetics is at work. This means each sleeve on your sport coat or suit jacket must be measured separately. Your Tie should be Silk. 5 . • • Why silk? Good silk survives the knotting better than any other fabric. It’s not unusual to have one arm slightly longer than the other. your legs look longer and your shoes look smaller. there a 90% chance he’s doing many other things right. Your Socks should Match your Pants. If the knot is too big. It’s also something easily noticed. Together. it draws attention away from the face. all bets are off. Anything shorter and it cuts up your line and draws attention to your stomach. As a practical matter. you can get it. In contrast. A four-in-hand knot works best for many men. Look at a picture of JFK. Why 3 ½ inches (or so)? The width of the tie is based on the width of the lapels on the suit. • • • • 10.” Both knew what they were doing. they give dimension to your silhouette. and of Appropriate Formality. Ties come both in regular and long sizes. too. This one is easy. so if you need a longer one. a tie should reach to your belt. It makes him look like a puppet. they are either unskilled or lazy (and hope you won’t notice). anything longer and the tie starts to look like something else.
• 12. and be at least a blucher or probably a oxford (sometimes called a Balmoral oxford) just because it goes with either blue or gray suits. are thick. blunt toes make your feet look big (Kenneth Cole never wore those shoes he sold). • • • • 6 . too. Wide. neck. and heavy (think Doc Martens). devoid of decoration. and last longer than cheap ones. the cap-toe oxford. On a man. and hands are enough. and Alden. When it Comes to Feet. the most formal business shoe. no one wants to see any skin below the waist. Good shoes also are a bargain because makers of high quality men’s shoes often will totally rebuild worn shoes at a fraction of the cost of a new pair. The two best makers of serious men’s shoes in America are Allen-Edmonds. If done right. men do something else. the smaller the foot looks. Buy the best pair of shoes you can afford.• Your socks should be over-the-calf. and conform closely to the foot. with laces. Face. Formal business shoes are sleek. • The more formal the shoe. Smaller is Better. Your first serious pair should be black. in contrast. In the long run. Good men’s shoes look better. Women use high heels. they can last 10-15 years or more. good shoes are cheap. Later you can expand to other styles and colors. Casual shoes. An example is the classic grownup shoe. feel better. tested by cost per wearing. wide.
far and away. and o Appropriate for each other. for sure. Even more. Once you know how this is done (and it’s easy). to no surprise. in truth. A Well-Dressed Gentleman's Pocket Guide (1998). Short. to no surprise. The next best books. concise. you’ll buy your own copy. • Men’s fashion hasn’t changed in 70 years. every man looks better in a tuxedo than a suit. yet effective emphasis. Bernhard Roetzel. Flusser has three other great books. in paperback. when it may happen. When asked “Is this OK?” the answer is your clothes must be: o Appropriate for the person o Appropriate for the occasion. people will treat you (and your clients) better. about dressing is this. would be considered well-dressed today. A man well-dressed in the 1930s. you may offend (or just be viewed as clueless). too. and long limbs are points of subtle. are: • • • • • • Nicholas Antongiavanni. The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men's Style (2006). Gentleman: A Timeless Fashion (2002). Josh Karlen & Amy Libra. you may never know who in the room thinks you are clueless. almost without exception. Christopher Sulavik. Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion (2002). in order. in short form. you’ll see it everywhere. If you dress by the rules. the more the clothes emphasize this ideal form. The Indispensable Guide to Classic Men's Clothing (1999) (paperback). This is why. If you dress by the rules. Broad shoulders. Oscar Lenius. and better in a suit than in casual clothes. All the basics. The more formal the occasion. often tweak and emphasize certain features of the male form over others. you will not offend. The best advice I’ve heard. Plus. Everything. and correct. If you’re serious. and you may never know.General Fashion Tips & Facts • The best source. too. for men’s professional dress is Alan Flusser. narrow waists. you will look better. if you follow the rules. just comes down to this. • • 7 . If you don’t follow the rules. Great pictures. A lot of good advice in just a few pages. Why? Men’s clothes.
men don’t like or use mirrors. • • • 8 . to allow wearing on horseback). the polo shirt (and collar). Sport. surcingle belts. and won’t be changing any time soon. but also your face (wide.. Sport also gave us the saddle shoe. for example. or how wide my tie or lapels — are easily answered. look top to bottom. and coloring. slanted pockets on jackets (to allow easier access while riding). then spread to America and then around the world. was first taken from military uniforms. and neither is your body (at least too much). except for shaving and (for some reason) working out in weight rooms. Key parts of men’s fashion come from life on horseback 200 years ago in the English countryside. The first step: look at yourself in the mirror. the “tails” of formal white tie and tails (split. and the top hat (to protect your head. the military gave us the trench coat (worn in the trenches in WWI). short. It’s also often said much of men’s fashion derives from sport or war. plump). again. Start by knowing (and being honest) not only your body type (e. Much is simple esthetics. It also includes the use of tweed. These are not about to change. the button-down collar. vests. Sources of Men’s Clothes — Sport and War. if you fell from horseback). wide. angular. A little history here explains a lot. The basic form of the men’s suit. The US military also popularized the use of belts and attached collars after WWI. The specially-reinforced “saddle” in the middle of the shoe was first marketed as a fortified shoe for cheerleaders and other active sports in the 1930s. worked out over decades. This includes the back vent on jacket (to allow the wearer to sit in the saddle). other people will. and forced manufacturers to do away with double-breasted suits. particularly polo. Even if you don’t look. and look closely.• Permanent fashion starts with knowing what complements your body type. the leather bomber jacket (from WWII). and pleats during WWII to cut down the use of cloth. much like a modern helmet. narrow. In addition. and the khaki pants. tall. thin). as well as your neck (long.g. gave us the polo coat. and others • • • Much of the rules for proper men’s dress first derived in England. isn’t going to make it go away. short). the pea coat. It then moved into general student and casual wear. Basic questions — such as how long should my sleeves or sport coat be. features. As a rule. hair and skin color. and chukka boots. however. and wingtips (the decorative perforations in “brogue” shoes started as holes to drain water away). Not looking.
it will flap around and also slide over your wrist unto your hand. that’s what it is. The collar should be just a little loose. Better shirts use two-ply (twisted) yard rather than single. to allow your head to move without moving the shirt. Tradition. separate collars and cuffs meant the appearance of clean shirts everyday without having to wash the entire shirt. and comfort are all on your side. about 100 years ago. cotton. you should not be able to pull your hand through the cuff when it’s buttoned. Some shirts have two buttons. In contrast. too tight and you look like you need new clothes for school. the better the shirt. must be gathered together and literally tucked into the base of the cuff. If fitted right. Good shirts are sized to allow for shrinking. A good shirt tapers from the shoulder to the wrist. it will probably end up being too tight. often are sized slightly larger on the watch hand to allow for this.Shirts • Shirts are measured by neck and arm length. those big gaudy Rolexes just don’t fit right under the shirt or tend to push back the front edge of the cuff. Custom-made shirts. when detachable collars and cuffs were standard on shirts. The thread count may do anywhere from 60-80 on less expensive shirts to 200 in luxurious dress shirts. a blue shirt. Plus. parallel to the front edge of the cuff. Thus. While attached cuffs and collars are standard today (except for formal wear). The traditional measure for collar size is this: can you fit two fingers between your collar and your neck? If so. As Americans quickly found out. Why? It echoes a time. Cotton. but from the center back of the neck to the wrist. ease of use. All good shirts do this through the first few washings. called “shirring. cotton. it should be right. big watches often end up wearing out the cuff on a good shirt. If a new cotton shirt seems exactly right when you first try it on. together. to let you wear it under your cuff. Don’t be afraid to use them. If you see a white collar and cuffs on. in fact. the contrast • • • • • • • • 9 . a fitted shirt size. say. The arm length is measured not from the shoulder to the wrist. The best formal watches are thin. Too loose and you look like a little kid in his big brother’s clothes. such as 16 x 36. The number of these small folds.” and care used in making them are yet another measure of the quality of the shirt. in part. means 16 inch neck and 36 inch length. The cuff on the shirt should not be too big or too loose around your wrist. some of the fabric all loose (as it should be) around the elbow. Watches and shirt cuffs compete for the same space. At some point. If it is. This lets you adjust the shirt to the size of your wrist. both bad things. The finer the cotton. Some shirts have a “contrast” collar and cuffs. Nothing else works as well for shirts. Expect the shirt to shrink. This is a bit more formal.
Not only is this traditional. common on informal shirts.collar also has stayed because it has a certain esthetic advantage: it helps frame the face. If your pants are too low. where multiple passes are made over a single line of thread. Good shirts have single-needle construction. Casual. • Today. A typical dress shirt also has a sleeve gauntlet. use an inside pocket on your jacket instead. you get a big break • • • • • • • • 10 . The typical measure is this: is the shirt long enough so you can almost pull the front and back tails together when standing? The fewer the pockets. You won’t find any pockets on a tuxedo shirt or the very best business shirts. In a serious business setting. Double-needle construction. shirt sleeves had just one size – long. a common mistake today. leaves puckering between the two lines of thread and spoils the line of the shirt. Most American shirts are baggy (think Brooks Brothers). If you need to put your pen somewhere. This allows you to turn back the cuff if needed. Years ago. Once the cuff is fitted. but it’s also more comfortable. but also cleaner. That’s why all those Westerns and cowboy movies show the bartender wearing arm bands or garters to keep his cuffs out of the beer. Dress shirts have either one pocket or no pocket. the cuff should not move down or disappear into the sleeve of your suit if you raise your arm. This stops the shirt from pulling out when you move around. the more formal the shirt. The best shirts also have mother-of-pearl buttons. no logos — ever — on a shirt. though. and often with buttons. be sure to leave a little bit of extra room around the elbow. not below it. on older men. A good shirt has long tails. the button will feel cool. This is more expensive. This also extends the length of the legs. outdoor shirts (think LL Bean hunting shirt) often have two front pockets. Not even the pony. European shirts tend to be cut slimmer than American shirts. so you might look better in a Slim fit shirt if your body allows. If you touch one to your skin. Good shirts have also have a button on the gauntlet. When done right. Contrast collars tend to look better. to keep it closed and to avoid exposing part of your arm. about a six inch opening running up from the edge of the cuff. This allows the cuff to stay in place when you move your arm. many shirts come in Slim as well as Regular fit. Pants • Pants for suits are cut to be worn on the natural waist.
between the end of the suit jacket and the start of the pants. Good dress pants are lined in front with silk or other fabric from the waist to the knees. make your legs look shorter and your foot look bigger. A pants pocket filled with extra items ruins the line of the pants and wears the pants out more quickly. This reduces wear on the cuffs caused by the cloth moving against the shoes. While a regular rise is fine for most men. Cuffs first were used about 100 years ago when someone important started to roll up his pants to avoid getting them muddy in the then ill-kept streets. it will shorten your legs. The pants will be more comfortable and wrinkle less. cuffs are 1 ½ inches.” while in fashion in some places. Tall men might go to 1 ¾. most important. If the rise is too long (what you see on all those jeans). • In addition to waist size. Short men may want to go without. This is especially true of wallets and billfolds. A cuff should be long enough to stay in contact with the shoe when you are walking. since it may make their legs look longer. a taller man may need a higher rise. by being lower in back. which never belong in your back pocket in a good suit. Both are bad things. Good pants have deep pockets. This also makes the leg look longer. helps the pants drape easily when you stand or walk. If you must. with the same effect. but it prevents whatever few things are in your pockets from spilling out when you sit down. “Accordion pants. This helps the pants stay on the shoe better. too. try a money clip instead. Good suit pants have an extra lining around the inside edge of the cuff. a good tailor will set the back edge slightly lower than the front rather than hemming it straight across. Use your jacket instead. It also ruins the line of the pants. Keep as little as you must in the pockets of your pants. This costs more to make. This breaks up the line of the suit. Most important. it also makes your leg look longer. Cuffs stayed because they also added weight to the bottom of the pants and allowed them to hang better. This lessens wear and. The pants should be long enough to allow a slight “break” in the crease about four inches above the top of the shoe.” This is the distance between the waist and the top of the legs. On cuffless dress pants. Often it can carry all the paper money and ID you’ll need most of the time. If you • • • • • • • • • 11 . with all those wonderful inside pockets. too. Do not try to put 12 inches of fabric in the bottom 6 inches of the pants. Typically. good pants also are measured by the “rise.
” And it works. the smallest knot. but they last about 4 times longer than other khaki pants. Not cheap. khakis could be paired with a wide variety of shirts and sport coats. If a color in the tie (or shirt) mirrors a color in your face. The most authentic modern version is made by “Bills Khakis” in Pennsylvania. Wider collars. If the neck is not covered.find a couple of strips of cloth in (typically) the back left pocket of a new suit. such as the half-Windsor or even (depending on • • • • • • 12 . or hair. As a result. In everyday life. Eventually. the dirt didn’t show up as easily against the khaki color. It’s a polite way. Khakis — The Most Favorite of Casual Pants • The use of “khaki” as a color for military uniforms started 150 years ago in India. was a neutral color. and court appearances. Why is a “well-tied” tie the first serious step? If done right. everything from the traditional navy blazer to tweed and beyond. the tie and collar together frame a man’s face. and also stresses the vertical line. as used. and draw attention to it. They first ones had a button fly. the eye is drawn away from the face. This is exactly what you want in business. Pleats help this as well. that’s what it’s for. • The crease of the pants should be in the center. with clothes. That’s why “a tie” signals a more serious standard. No reason not to do it. The traditional long tie covers up the buttons on the shirt. either. If done right. Accessories — Ties • • "A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life"— Oscar Wilde. it also makes your face look better. the color spread through the British and then American forces. eyes. The original WWII khakis were high-waisted and baggy to allow maximum comfort and had abundant belt loops to support of equipment. Most men look best in a four-in-hand knot. though. right over the knee. may need wider knots. Khakis pants also flourished in civilian life because the khaki color. Khaki pants first became popular in the United States after WWII when returning veterans continued to wear them in civilian life. negotiation. when British soldiers rubbed some of the local dirt (the meaning of “khaki”) on their white uniforms to make them less visible in the field. but that quickly changed to modern zippers (seconds mattered when bullets were flying and a man was vulnerable). this extends the line of the pants. to say “Look at me.
A few solids. Grenadine ties. This didn’t please some of the Brits. The stripes from the traditional British ran from upper left to lower right when worn (sometimes described as “away from the heart”). at an outsider wearing the official tie of a British military unit or school. whether the pattern is stripes. dots. No space should be visible between the tie and the collar. or anything else. Why? Striped ties help chisel away fullness from the face. The tie should be at the top of the collar. and men would often wear that tie after they left the military. Lesson: If you wear a stripped tie in England. a few patterns. This satisfied some critics. who took offense. Golding. In response. but if too flashy it distracts from the face and lacks the serious and somber tone you want. The biggest collection of regimental ties in the US is sold by Ben Silver. just because they liked the patterns. When you untie your tie. In England. If you pull the knot through instead. consult G. in theory. Striped ties are a wardrobe staple. The smaller the pattern. This may be great for a flashy night out (or if you’re Donald Trump). Stick with classic patterns and styles. Stay away from shiny surfaces. 85 ways to tie a tie. Many Americans started using the ties. a few stripes. A solid color is the most formal of all. the more formal the tie. • • A tie well-tied has a small “dimple” just under the knot. If you’re interested in the originals. • • • • • • • 13 . ran the stripes from upper right to lower left. Scientists tell us there are. you’ll stress on the fabric and cut the useful life of the tie by half.the tie and collar) a full Windsor. a common practice. If a tie stays wrinkled. a solid color on a elaborate and delicate weave. Many striped ties were of military origin. inverted V under the face. It’s a bit of an optical illusion: the downward sloping stripes directly under the chin make you face look slightly slimmer. each unit often had its own tie. are a classic solid ties. make sure you won’t be mistaken from something you’re not. The dimple helps the tie drape better. The Americans (particularly Brooks Brothers). roll the tie up from one end and let it stay overnight. this forms a nice. You only need to know about 2 or 3. British schools and social clubs also used distinctive ties. When properly fitted. and also helps keep the knot tighter. They’ll never go out of style. probably rightly. most American sellers kept the stripes. This often removes any wrinkles. always reverse how you tied it.D. and draws the eye upward. but not all them. but changed their direction. and you’ll be fine.
and you’re done. The only difference: you tie it under your chin rather on your shoe. • • • • • • 14 . To adjust one side of the bow. Note. check out a “how-to-tie a bow tie” site or two or a movie and see what you’ve learned. slide the other end around and through. it’s exactly the same. exactly the same. or waiters. only 1 out of every 100 men knows how to tie a bowtie. should match your shoes. The good news: you already know how to tie a bowtie. Make the bow. just pull on the double. pull on both doubles (just like you did with your shoes). But once you have it mastered. Notice each side of the bow has two pieces: one single. just try tying it around your knee. it’s fun to watch these seemingly quick contortions of tying and realize just how simple it is. By actual measure. You already know how to tie a bow tie. Special bonus: untie it at the end of the evening and let it hang around your neck. while on the other side order is reversed. you just don’t know that you do. too. If you need to practice. All adjustments then are the same you used with shoelaces. in most cases. pull the two singles (just like you did with your shoes). Practice a few times. you’ll need to do it anyway when you wear a tuxedo. Lawyers and academics tend to wear bow ties. with buttons. In fact.Accessories — Bowties • Don’t count out bowties. But every man should. So do men in other professions such as doctors. If you just pretend you’re tying your shoe. The idea typing a bow tie means mastering some exotic and complex knot is a myth. you’ll be fine. Do exactly what you’d do if you were tying your shoes. on one side of the bow. the single is in front. A bowtie looks best with a vest or with v-neck sweater. To tighten the tie. proving to all you can tie a bowtie. where you must bend over in your work. Once you’ve learned it this way. Accessories — Belts • Your belt. The only reason you’ll need a mirror is to check for final adjustments. The regular long tie normally covers this. so you can watch what you are doing. Pretend you’re typing your shoe and you’ll be fine. one double. with the double in back. It’s that simple. too. Yes. Why? The simple truth: the knot for a bow tie is the same knot you use to tie your shoes. Why? You see less of the open shirt. and then tie it under your chin for real. so with a bow tie you may need some extra help. looking at diagrams or movies first may complicate things. architects. To untie the bow. get the feel of it. Just think simple.
” both the inside and outside of your cuff are covered. Not only is this more comfortable. you can have the waist an inch or so bigger. only the outside is covered. With a post. a nice look. This is just basic physics: braces “suspend” pants around your waist. it also should be buckled in the middle of holes on your belt. Tuxedo pants also have a higher rise than regular pants. Braces are standard issue for tuxedos. With braces. e. belt buckle. too. braces are better than a belt. wide belt is informal. your pants will hang better. It’s like a movie set when you see the back of a false front building. Braces can also be good in the summer. the more formal it is. silver or gold. a single link on one side and a locking device on the other) are seen more often. since the front braces buttons are put directly above the pleat on the pants.. Accessories — Cufflinks • • • • • • Shirts with French cuffs are more formal than regular (barrel) cuffs.. since you can wear your pants slightly looser than with a belt.• • • The thinner the belt. French cuffs require cufflinks. While cufflinks with posts (e. This stresses the vertical line. with the braces. right in the middle of your body. If you intend to use braces. so much the better. Your belt buckle should be lined up with your shirt buttons. If it’s the right size. drape better. Match the color of your belt buckle belt to your other jewelry. while belts cinch pants to your waist. having the shirt buttons (or tie). If you can keep it mostly the same.g. not clips. traditional cufflinks — two matched pieces linked together with a small chain — are better. Accessories — Braces • • • Don’t count out “braces. and you’ll be more comfortable. Braces keep the front crease tighter.” what the British call our suspenders.” After it’s buckled. 15 . the small end of your belt should reach to the next belt loop.g. and fly in one vertical line is called the “gig line. too. but it also helps the pants. A thick. If done right and attached to the pants with buttons. With true cuff “links. In the military. since they are older and more formal than a belt.
thus enforcing the general upsweep of the chest. If done right. you can get clothes. So did 90% of all men seen in suits in the 1930s. If you know what you’re doing (and a little lucky). Just wait until the sale time. new-withtags. Buying Quality Clothes • • • • • • Plan a wardrobe first. Silks knots cost just a few dollars. simple is better. Some are more formal and others. allowing it to stand up better in your pocket. It’s a male thing. or even metal. while others (such a points) work better with linen. either. All men’s clothing stores have regular sales at set times of the year. Instead. Some (such as the puff) work better with silk. Accessories — The Pocket Square • The pocket square. Consider it.• • On design for cufflinks. drawing attention away from your face. piece by piece. It’s bad form since this makes the eye ping-pong between the two. too. Don’t try to match the color of the pocket square with your tie. Don’t ignore e-bay. it appears to broaden chest. • • • 16 . just remember they also work on commission. Just experiment. Cufflinks don’t have to be expensive. Martin Luther King wore one during his “I Have a Dream Speech” (and French cuffs. and can be bought it just about any color or combination of colors. A shirt or tie you can use with four different suits is better than one you can use with only one. especially if the pocket square is tilted slightly to the outside. Stress quality. You have at least 10-14 different ways you can fold the pocket square. This forms tiny “tubes” around the edge of the square of fabric and gives body to the fabric. JFK never left home without one. Never pay full price. for 1/10th of retail. Then go buy it. choose a color that complements either your shirt or tie. A good pocket square has hand-rolled edges. and multiple uses. too). You need to know how you really look. and get what you want. A pocket square should be either linen or silk. be sure to wear the same type of shirt and shoes you’ll wear with the suit. When you go shopping for a suit. If a salesperson says you look good in something.
dry cleaning can change. For example. If used after each wearing. “Purple Label. What does that tell you? It’s not uncommon for a single manufacturer to have different levels of quality. amount of hand construction. A small. The big price point for men’s suits is largely determined by three things: quality of the cloth. while “Golden Fleece” is highest-end quality sold in just a few of its retail stores. • • 17 . do both the jacket and pants at the same time. Keeping Clothes Clean • • • • Dry cleaning is hard on suits. The usual price of men’s clothes includes alternations. you could end up with a slight difference in color between the two. the main source of wear on suits. Similarly. A practiced eye can tell the difference from a distance. the color of fabric. a suit with a full canvas front will look better.” is Ralph Lauren’s highest quality line. it removes excess dirt. Some lines are made only for the outlet stores. Over time. Buy a clothes steamer and save some money. Most “designer” clothes are not worn by the designer himself.• • Dress up when shopping. and whether the suit has a canvas (better) or fused (cheaper) front in the jacket. before suit is hung up. go to a tailor. If all else fails. Know what you need. If you don’t have one and need help during a trip. and wear better than a fused front. Once you are paying them. while others may be made only for high-end stores. If told a suit is “canvassed” make sure you know which version you’re buying. You’ll get more attention and better service. while others may have “half-canvas” construction. Know what you’re getting. just hang the suit up in the bathroom. tailors have incentive to find every useful alternation you need. The best suits have a “full canvas” construction throughout full length of the jacket. while “Chaps” is his lowest. slightly. portable steamer also is useful for trips. some stores either tell you the suit already looks good (when it doesn’t) or try other ways to avoid alternations. Know what you’re buying. If you do dry clean your suits. just on the top half. and insist on having it done right. “346” is the Brooks Brothers line made just for their outlet stores. Another important item is a clothes brush. and turn on the shower. fit better. If the pants are done more often than the jacket. While far from cheap. A little steam often removes any wrinkles in good clothes. Because the cost of alterations comes out of the price you pay.
pocket squares. The Brioni suits don’t hurt. This helps the suit hang better and keep its form. They protect your other clothes from any polish or dirt on the shoes. Everything you need to know is there. it also draws moisture out and dries the inside of the shoe. Flat-out.Storing Clothes • Buy shoe trees for your good shoes. since moths still like wool. Best dressed mayor: Willie Brown. TV and movies today are about product placement. You use the bags to cover the shoes when you pack for a trip. If you want to know all you need to know about tuxedos and other formal wear. The standards are so low. and always showing cuff. not fashion. But he knows what he’s doing. Watching What Other Men Wear • If you’re looking for examples of proper men’s dress on TV or in the movies today. one of the bestdressed men in America. The bags also protect the shoes from dirt when not in use. each wearing does less damage and you extend the life of the shoes. Don’t wear the same shoes two days in a row. In the 1930 and 40s. Brooks Brothers. Especially for suits and coats. Classic. • • • • • • • • • 18 . Again. Rotate your shoes. So does what he wore in An Affair to Remember. The best-dressed man on TV is Larry Kudlow on CNBC. Good clothes deserve good hangers. traditional look. and he does it every single day. cedar is best. The full weight of the pants helps removes wrinkles. This also keeps the line of the pants better. If the shoe tree is wood. For good examples of men’s dress. If you do. and just about every other movie he made. actors wore their own clothes. simulating human form. Cedar is the best. Good men’s shoes come with two felt bags. Humphrey Bogart and all the rest of the men in Casablanca aren’t bad either. it’s not worth looking. You can tell. Good shoes need time to recover after each wear. Take a look some time. look for wooden with broad ends. first read chapter 10 in the Flusser book. don’t bother. start instead by renting a movie staring Gary Grant . If you do. The suit in North by Northwest still looks good today. Hang your suit pants from the cuffs rather than folding it over the hanger. The best website on black — by far — is the Black Tie Guide. Best dressed recent President: JFK. the shoe will keep its form better and last longer. Nothing else is close. San Francisco.
in all its forms. Quite remarkable eye. too. Style Forum. Slightly older crowd. Cary Grant & Irene Dunne. Fedora Lounge. London Lounge. with the AA group. Jimmie Stewart & Katherine Hepburn. Both men and women. including many lawyers. Best Blogs on Men’s Clothes • The Sartorialist. Younger crowd. What Men Who Talk about Clothes Talk About • Ask Andy About Clothes. is from Indiana. they all star Cary Grant: o Notorious (1946). Collective knowledge is astoundingly deep. o The Awful Truth (1937). In each. But many topics of general interest. as well. • • • • dhg 10 June 2007 19 . correct evening dress. about the order. and all things associated. elegant clothes.” I may disagree. A Suitable Wardrobe. and attended Indiana University. Specializes in the classic American dress of the 1930s and 1940s. The creator now taken seriously by many in the fashion industry. Scott Schuman. though. Black suits and notch-lapel tuxedos drive them crazy. Much overlap. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. probably the best overall site. Cary Grant. Cary Grant & Ingrid Bergman. Classic men’s dress. Once again. Lovers of classic. Despite the geeky-sounding title. but these are the books. is well displayed by all the actors. By the author of “The Suit. slightly. The creator.• After that (and for fun) watch one of the following movies. Best List of Books on Men’s Dress • Found here on Amazon. varied. Capturing well-dressed people on the street. o The Philadelphia Story (1940. and quite helpful.
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