Most Western men I see, and particularly Australian men for that matter, are not very good at dressing themselves. They’re not good at dressing for the office, or smart casual, or formal wear, or anything really. Maybe they’re good at swimwear, but they often fail that as well. I used to be a very average dresser, although at least I knew that I had style issues and I tried to do something about them in a lame sort of way. But it wasn’t until I moved to Italy that I got my sartorial act together. You have to when you’re constantly surrounded by superbly dressed Italian men.
A couple of weeks ago there was an article on Taki’s Mag called ‘An Idiot’s Guide to Getting Dressed.’ The problem is that it was written by an idiot. The writer spent the first few paragraphs describing how he berated some young schmuck on his cheap and tacky dress sense, but then spends the rest of the two page piece outlining how to dress as cheaply as possible. I mean, pocket squares made out of tissue paper anyone?
I, of course, am not bothered by this imbecile and his terrible advice, but then I thought that guys out there might actually take him seriously. Oh, the horror. So let me deconstruct his article for you so you don’t fall into any of the terrible fashion time-bombs this guy has lain down. Original quotes are in italics.
Do not buy a suit at Men’s Wearhouse. The suits from there look like they’re from Men’s Wearhouse. They’re for security guards and weddings where you hate the bride. Real suits should have pants that you’d wear alone as pants. My tailor will make them for under $1,000, but I was shocked to see the same quality of suit at J Crew for $600. Go black or very dark and you only need one.
I agree that suits from places like Men’s Warehouse are probably good for security guards and cheap weddings. Do you know what else is good for these two things; the color black. Do not wear a black suit. Wear a black suit if you are going to a funeral or a wedding. But black and brown for that matter are taboo for any type of business encounter. You want a dark blue or dark grey suit. I think Paul Smith is doing some of the best value suits around. And notice that the vast majority of the suits in that link are, surprise surprise, blue or grey. The orange and sky-blue are for gay black men who, quite frankly, are allowed to wear just about anything they damn well please.
Your pants should fit close to the leg and should end abruptly at the shoe with maybe one wrinkle.
It depends. Are you tall or short? Smaller men should definitely avoid wide pants as they make them look short, but pleated pants on a tall man give a better sense of proportion. Tapering the hem of the pants by making it shorter at the front can also be helpful. Italian men wouldn’t be seen dead if their pants touch their shoe, but the English favor a a slight crease on the shoe instep which then falls to just above halfway at the heel.
Young men today should have a suit that is almost too small for them — not quite Pee-wee Herman but close.
This may be very fashionable right now, for say the next fifteen minutes, but unless you want to be constantly forking out money for a suit to keep up with the latest trends you need to get an excellent suit that fits correctly. You can determine this by putting on the jacket and fastening the top button. Then carefully pull the button away from the body. A gap of about an inch is correct. Any more and you have width issues. The fabric should lay flat on the back and the collar should be firm. If the jacket is tight on the stomach then it does not fit. There are many more details here, but it is obvious from just this small amount of information that buying a suit that is close to ‘Pee-wee Herman’ is plain dumb.
Which bring us to what makes the man: shoes. In the action flick Kingsman, the password for the Bond-type character is “Oxfords not brogues.” I don’t know why. Oxfords are boring. Brogues make you look intellectual and they age beautifully.
He doesn’t know why because he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. Brogues have a double leather sole which look obtuse with a quality suit.
Another fantastic shoe is the tasseled loafer …
The tasseled loafer is fine in America where it originated. You couldn’t get away with it in Europe. The color is the most important thing. If you are at all unsure just go black. The Italians love wearing brown shoes with dark suits, and they look great. I love doing the same, but it takes some doing.
If you’re really on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Clarks desert boot.
And look like the guy that he mocked at the beginning of his piece.
Speaking of getting wet, get wet. You can wear a trench coat and maybe even a fedora but no man should ever be seen with an umbrella under any circumstances. Being afraid of water is about as unmanly as it gets.
I struggle to understand what he is thinking here. Perhaps it is better to walk into a meeting with your hair plastered flat to your head from the pouring rain, who knows? Not only do you need an umbrella, take pride in having a good one. Check out London Undercover.
Gays have heavily influenced the price of men’s clothing and it’s hard to find a tie in New York under $100. If you go to theTiebar.com, however, every tie there is around $20. Their socks are also cheap, running under $10.
Twenty dollar ties and ten dollar socks. Who’s cheap now, you miserable fuck. Look, you get what you pay for. There are two ways you can purchase clothes. You can buy cheap and what will happen is that you will have to replace your clothes on a regular basis. Cheap clothes do not survive being washed. Buy classic items, buy quality items, and you will end up saving money. As for cheap ties, just don’t do it. You will look, well, cheap, which is exactly what this guy was railing about in the first place.
Pocket squares are also available at the Tie Bar and I get mine from Michelsons, but the bill is mounting here and I understand cheapskates wanting to tap out around now. Here’s a tip I still use regularly: You can make a perfectly good white pocket square using toilet paper. The friction grips your pocket nicely and if you ensure only a slim line is showing, nobody will notice. Do not use paper towels for this. I tried it once and the intense ridicule I suffered after the textured pattern gave me away was tantamount to being raped.
I wasn’t kidding about the toilet paper advice, which quite frankly, belongs in the toilet. How to match a pocket handkerchief is more interesting. If in doubt just go for white. Otherwise, the handkerchief should match the tie, not the shirt. It should also contrast the tie. Large pattern tie means small pattern handkerchief for example. The shirt color provides the neutral background for the tie and the handkerchief.
You’re almost finished, but we need to make sure your head isn’t hard to look at. My colleague with the floppy hair was only a comb away from looking decent. I recommend the most old-fashioned barber available. My barber charges $25 for a trim, but if you go to a barber school, the most they’ll charge you is $5.
You know what a five buck hair cut looks like? Yeah, you guessed it – five fucking bucks.