Hart Schaffner Marx
Jack Victor Clothing
Left Coast Tee
Johnston and Murphy
Raffi Linea Uomo
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DRESSING TIPS FOR MEN
Many years ago there was a very popular and comprehensive book out called “Dress for Success” and for many people, it was the bible for dressing well. I cannot begin to cover all the details of that book in a couple of page and a lot has changed since it was written.
I will try to give some of my basic guidelines for dressing well in the pages below. It is important to remember that there is no one best style, brand, color, etc. Everyone is unique and it is important to take things into consideration such as skin tones and color (see below), body type, even personality when selecting your attire. A line that I like to use when doing presentations is the following: “Fashion is something you buy, style is something you have”. And remember it is just clothes, so don’t get too bogged down in worrying about it too much. Just have fun and enjoy your closet.
There is one rule that I do try to emphasize: dress appropriately for the occasion. you would not wear a suit to a picnic, so why wear sloppy clothes such as tank tops or baggy cargo pants to a nice restaurant or concert? When in doubt, it is better to be over dressed than under dressed.
The New Cut: For the past couple of years, we have noticed the trend towards clothing being a bit more fitted. Also proportions have changed and things seem to be a bit cleaner and leaner. Even the old standard, Hart Schaffner Marx, is offering more fitted suits and coats. I think, as with most things, that is depends on your build. If you are a fuller figure, so to speak, some of these new cuts may not be the best choice. However for a lot of men, particularly in the area of sportswear, the new look is very flattering. I find myself not wearing shirts from a couple of years ago because they now seem too big to me. A lot of companies use the term "modern fit", so we will refer to that when describing the more contemporary fit.
See below in the trouser section for more info regarding this issue.
Dress: We advise wearing a straight or spread collar when wearing a suit. A button down collar is more casual and is fine with a sport coat or blazer. We recommend 100% cotton shirts because they last longer and are more comfortable than blended fabrics. We also recommend the pinpoint fabrics or broadcloth over the heavier 2x1 oxfords. While white is still the number one color, consider blues or other richer color shirts such as yellow or pale pink.
Avoid heavy starch when cleaning your shirts as it generally cuts the life of a shirt in half and makes the fabric stiff. Many companies are showing non-iron shirts and some are very nice though I still prefer the standard fabrics. The fabric has to be treated for the shirts not to wrinkle so please keep that in mind when wearing them. That said, they are much improved over what was offered years ago and are great for the traveling person. They should not be sent to a commercial cleaner but cleaned at home.
Sport: Like with tailored clothing, we are seeing a bit of a trend towards a more fitted look. Again it depends on your build and body type, so just because it is now "in-style", does not mean a fitted shirt is your best choice. If you are lean then wear them for sure. Otherwise I would stick with a regular cut.
Another question we are sometimes asked is: shirt tail in or shirt tail out? Unless you are wearing jeans, shorts, or flat front casual pants, keep your shirt tail in the pants. It does not look right to wear it out with dress pants or pleated pants.
For dress trousers we advise going with 100% wool for a better feel and drape. For the ultimate in comfort, we suggest super 100’s to 150’s which almost feel like silk because they are so light. We carry many different lines offering light weight and comfortable dress slacks, though my personal favorites are Ballin and G. Manzoni.
Trouser Rise: A lot of men are confused about the rise on a pant and what is the correct one to purchase as there are three rises available; short, regular, and long. So how do you tell which you need and how do you measure the rise of a pant?
We recommend taking your favorite best fitting pant and measure the outseam and then the inseam and the difference is your rise. To measure the outseam, lay the pant on a table or bed with a side pocket facing up so that you can measure the full length of the pant. Use a hard ruler or tape measure and measure from the top of the waist band to the very bottom of the pant.
Measure the inseam from the inside of the leg to the bottom. Let's say that you measure an outseam of 42" and an inseam of 30". Then the rise is the difference which is 12". This will help you determine what rise you need based on manufacturers specs. All specs are based on a 34"pant, so you will have to adjust from there as the rise is graduated up or down from that size.
Pleated & Flat Front:
The menswear industry has been trying to kill pleated pants for ten years, but we sell about 50% of our pants with pleats. However the sales of flat fronts have gone up tremendously in the last few years and for many men, is a great look. A lot of men, myself included, wear both. If you are in good shape and have a slender build, a flat front pant should be a fine style. Also if you wear your pants below your natural waist, it might be worth considering flat fronts. Some men may have to go up one size when buying flat fronts.
Most always, flat/plain front pants will be tighter and have a shorter rise than the same pant in the pleated model. Typically the rise is usually about 1" shorter in the flat front version. Some of the modern fit trousers are really too short in the rise for most men and would be uncomfortable. Unless you need a short rise pant, we strongly advise against buying a pant with a rise less than 10" (based on a size 34 pant as the industry standard).
Depending on the style and fabric, we strongly suggest cuffs with pleated pants as they look classy and help the trouser to hang better. Flat front pants should be hemmed without cuffs-straight bottom only. There should be some break at the top of the shoe but typically a flat front/straight bottom pant should be shorter in length than a pleated/cuffed pant. We suggest about a half inch difference.
Generally all your better quality pants come with unfinished bottoms and an alterable waistband. The only pants we sell without an alterable waistband are jeans. Many of our pants now come with a "self sizer" waistband which allows the waistband to stretch up to 2". Ballin approaches it differently with their "comfort-eze" waistband which is a built in stretch for 1" of additional give.
Suits & Sport Coats
Purchasing a suit or coat is a big investment and the three most important things to consider are the fit/style, fabric, and tailoring. When possible we advise the 100% wool tropical fabrics for the best all round use in most climates. Some blends are excellent alternatives but the nicest suits are almost always 100% tropical wool.
The fit of the suit is critical and each company has their own ideas about how a suit should fit. This can vary depending on whether you choose a two-button, three-button, double-breasted, traditional cut, European cut, etc.
Currently the main styles being offered by most companies:
- 2 button-center vent for a more traditional look
- 2 button-side vents for a more fitted contemporary look
If you have a big posterior or one that is very prominent, a single vent might be a better choice.
Tailoring is crucial and this is often the key to a suit that fits and a suit that really fits. Fitting a suit is critical and the most important consideration is how the coat fits the back, chest, and shoulders. Many things can be altered but the back, chest, and shoulders should fit right from the start. Avoid clothing that is too tight because it is easier to take something up than to let it out, and tight clothing makes a person look heavier and is uncomfortable. If you find yourself wearing out the suit trousers but the coat is still in good shape, consider purchasing a second pair of suit pants (if available) at the time of the original purchase.
Dry-clean all fine fabrics but only when necessary. Over cleaning a garment can often shorten the life of a suit or coat. Dry-cleaning is particularly hard on the coats due to the interlinings, padding, fusible, and other internal parts of the coat. Please find the BEST dry cleaners possible when cleaning your coats and clean only when actually needed.
One question we get asked a lot is how long should the coat be or what size am I: Short, Regular, Long, or Extra Long? Your decision has to be based on the cut of the jacket and your own body proportions. If you're selecting a suit, you have to take into consideration the fit of the trousers as well. As a tailoring rule, the most flattering jacket length for each individual is that length that gives the wearer the longest leg line and still covers his rear end. We recommend finding a balance between the upper and lower torso so you don't look disproportionately long in the legs or appear that you are all upper torso and no legs.
When shopping for suits, you will find three basic varieties:
1. "nested" suits: this is when the coat and pant come as a set and have to be sold that way.
2. suit separates: this allows you to purchase any combination of sizes in the coats and pants that you need. Plus more often than not, you can select from either pleated or flat front trousers. We sell suit separates about 10:1 over nested suits.
3. custom suits: this allows you the most flexibility in terms of fit, styles, fabric, etc. In many cases, we can make a customer a beautiful custom suit for less than an "off the rack" suit from Brooks Brothers or the big designer labels.
The very bottom of the tie should at least touch the top of the belt or waistband. The knot should be pulled fairly tight and tied with a four-in-hand knot for a button-down or straight collar shirt. For spread collar shirts a 1/2 Windsor knot might be an alternative. All of our ties are 100% silk which is the fabric of choice for ties. However there are many different levels of silk quality so not all 100% silk ties are the same. Yellows and golds are a wonderful alternative to the traditional red or wine colors. Woven neckwear is a great alternative to prints and is much more elegant and dressy. About 95% of what we sell are woven fabrics. Neckwear is a great place to express some individuality in your wardrobe.
There is a trend to more narrow ties but we would advise not going smaller than 3.25".
Please do not take the tie off by pulling the fabric through the knot. Instead, take the tie off over your head and then UNTIE the knot. Blot up spots when you spill something on the tie: Do not rub. Dry-clean as a last resort because ties usually do not look great after being dry cleaned.
While black is always correct, browns have been strong for many years and we highly recommend them for almost any occasion. They generally look more interesting because of the shadings in the leathers. There is nothing sharper than a charcoal gray or navy suit with a dark brown shoe. The lighter shades work great for dressy sportswear and for casual evenings out. The belt color should closely match the shoe color. Personally I find myself avoiding shoes with all leather bottoms. I think the combination of leather and some composite material works better as they wear longer and are more waterproof at the bottom.
One of the most popular questions we get asked is "should the sock match the shoe or trouser?" We recommend matching the pant if you are wearing a suit or something that is business oriented. For sportswear or a more casual look, it is fine to wear a sock that does not match the pant per se but works with it. For example if you are wearing a dark olive casual pant, you might consider a sock in a light tan, or something with some color or pattern. We sell a ton of the socks by Jhane Barnes because they are so good looking and work for so many occasions.
The business casual wardrobe has been called the third wardrobe to distinguish it from formal dressing such as suits and really casual dressing such as tee shirts and jeans. Business or dress casual is not sweat-wear, jogging shorts, old jeans, or old and worn out clothing. Business casual is a nice sport or knit shirt by Left Coast Tee, Jhane Barnes, Gitman, a pair of well tailored trousers in wool or cotton, and a classy pair of slip-on shoes by Johnston Murphy. Business casual is a French blue shirt, a cool tie, and a pair of the micro-blended trousers by Ballin. Do not mistake business casual as a license to wear anything. Appropriate attire is still important even in these more casual times.
What are your best colors? Men do not think much about what colors are flattering to them near as often as women do. Women get their colors "done" and are usually told they are one of the four seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter. That is too much for most men but I have a simple guideline which can help. Basically we divide men into two groups: warm tones and cool tones. I, for one, am definitely a cool tone person, while my brother Keith is a warm tone person. So how do you tell? by using my little dress shirt trick. Basically most dress shirts are either white, blue, or ecru (also known as cream or bone). All men can wear blue shirts and they flatter most men, so we remove it from the equation. Now ask yourself, do you look better in white shirts or ecru? If white is it, then you are a cool tone person and should wear blue, black, greys, purples, red, and teal. If you look best in ecru, then you are a warm tones person, and should wear camel, olive, brown, gold, greens, and rust. Of course there are other colors for both groups, but this is just a guideline and really only applies to the colors worn around your face. The trouser colors are not relevent to this discussion.
Ramblings and Musings
Do NOT believe all you read in GQ or Esquire or even your local newspapers about the "latest fashions" for men. Some of the silliest looking clothes are what they show as the next big thing in menswear. Most likely, you are not a New York model who is 6'4" tall and weighs 160 lb.
Just because it is "in style", does not mean it is right for you. Besides, who the heck determines what is in style anyway?
Just because somebody on television wears it does not mean you should wear it. Remember Regis Philbin and the whole solid shirt and tie gimmick? This is not a one size fits all business, and just as each of you are unique and different, so should be the clothes you wear. A good clothing consultant will help you find the items, styles, and colors that work best for you. I do not wear a bow tie or braces/suspenders, but on the right man they look great.
If you are going to advertise get paid for it. Avoid wearing "Tommy" or other designer brands across your back or chest, and unless you are on a golf course, avoid that little alligator or whale on your shirt unless you like the ultra preppy look.
Wearing Dockers or a similar type pant is not being well dressed. If you are wearing a coat and tie, you do not want a label on your back pocket unless you are being paid for it.
Just because it is expensive does not necessarily make it better. On the other hand, just because it is inexpensive does not make it a good value. As with most things there is an optimal price/quality relationship. The trick is to find out where that is for you and your needs.
I am constantly asked “will xyz still be in style next year?” Don't worry too much about it. If it looks good on you now it will look good on you next year providing your weight does not change. Men's clothing is not a “here today gone tomorrow” kind of thing. More than likely it will wear out or you will get tired of it before it really goes out of style. The Hub does not carry trendy or novelty looks, but carries clothes that will look classy for many years to come. If you want novelty, let it be a necktie or sport shirt, which are not big investments. Be willing to try something new. There is more to life than a navy blazer and khaki pants.
More comments from the peanut gallery; or things your mother might have told you:
#1 rule: dress appropriately for the occasion. you would not wear a suit to a picnic, so why wear sloppy clothes such as tank tops or baggy cargo pants to a nice restaurant or concert?
remove caps and hats when in a nice restaurant or other dressier places.
turn off beepers and cell phones when in public places or put them on vibrate.
untie your necktie before taking it off. do not pull the tie through the knot. your tie will thank you.
do not wear the same shoes two days in a row: give them some time to "relax".
use cedar shoe trees if your feet perspire a lot.
do not wear pants frayed at the bottom unless you are mowing your yard.
do not carry a big fat wallet in your back pocket; it wears the pants out, is bad for your back, and looks terrible.
avoid buying something just because it is on sale; ask yourself would you purchase this item if it were not on sale?
buy quality rather than quantity.
if you have not worn something in two years, consider giving it to charity.
if you are over 40, do not dress like you are 18. in other words, do not let your pants fall down around your rear and be neat in your appearance.
Grown men look silly trying to dress like teenagers.
when in doubt, it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed for an occasion unless you are going to the beach.
Thanks for reading.
head clothing guru and general know-it-all.