Men’s Fashion & Style Dos and Don’ts

Fashion: Don’t.1

Just wrong

This outfit is what happens when people watch too much television. Or substitute fashion for style. Everything save this gentleman’s shoes is two sizes too small—and on purpose! It looks like the suit his mother bought him for high school graduation dug out of the closet for his first job interview after college. We know it is an interview because he clearly has no job otherwise he could afford to buy socks. The shoes he evidently had to borrow from his Old Man.

Never, unless you are doing a guest stint with the Blues Brothers or are wearing a tuxedo, have black in your tie. Purple neither. If you must have black, have all black. Black in a tie is depressing, not to mention ugly and cheap looking.

The flat, rectangular belt buckle is also from high school, perhaps left over from his Boy Scout days. Not much wrong with the shirt, except that for a man with a neck like a giraffe, it should have a taller collar. The beard is either Hipster Chic or pure laziness. Either grow the damn thing out and trim it properly or learn to shave!

And did you notice his right hand is missing? Photoshopped into oblivion. It was supposed to be nonchalantly resting in his trouser pocket, but his pants were so tight he couldn’t squeeze it in.

From J. Crew, The “Ludlow Suit” in wool flannel.

Style: Do.

Just right

This an instance of facial hair done properly. This look is not for every man, because not all of us can grow a moustache as luxuriantly thick. But on this young man it is particularly apt, especially since he, too, is obviously on his way to an interview and the moustache gives an air of maturity instead of frivolity as in the example above.

Which man will get the job? If the position is as a staff writer for the New York Times on the Tech beat, of course it is man number one. Another victory of style over fashion (the second man gives the air of not needing a job, and so it likely to secure a better one).

The suit here is classic and never out of place. Adding that “extra breast” turns an ordinary jacket into something twice as dressy. The lapels might, just might, be an inch wider, and the sleeves removed of a shade of extra material: but these trivial “flaws” are a matter of opinion after all. Notice the soft but still structured shoulder, and the—finally!—cinching at the waist. For too long have men been unthinking slaves to the sack suit. Time for a return to shape!

Whenever you see a plain tie, like this one, snap it up. They are surprisingly difficult to find. They are the easiest to match and are a reminder that ties are decorations for our necks and not for our bellies or crotches. Modern ties are long because men often (inexplicably) go jacketless.

Hands in the pockets again, but this time they have been spared the knife. The pocket square is a better match here too.

From Bergdorf Goodman.


1These images appeared as advertisements in the Wall Street Journal; I haven’t a scanner, so I photographed them.


  1. ddh

    I didn’t know that Iranian President Ahmadinejad did a modeling shoot for Pee Wee Herman.

  2. Django

    The rectangular buckle in the first photo is probably an engine-turned plaque buckle, which is not only acceptable but basic, though I wouldn’t buy one from J. Crew. Purple ties are fine.

    DB’s are less formal than SB’s. One shouldn’t wear them to a job interview. The sleeves pictured do not have any “extra material”, that look is because the shoulder is con rollino. The vast majority of suits today have at least some waist suppression, men wearing sack suits usually are doing it on purpose.

    Keep in mind that Mr. Grant’s suits were made for him by Savile Row’s finest tailors. While a man can look effectively businesslike in a moderately priced single breasted, be prepared to spend a lot for a DB that works.

  3. Rich

    Bloke 1 looks like a stick insect. I can’t believe any form of clothing short of a burqa would change this.
    Bloke 2 does not look like stick insect and would be, I suggest, similarly unaltered in this regard by clothing.
    Is our judgement actuall about the two blokes natural appearance and otherwise unrelated to their clothing? Photographs of them wearing each other clothes would, I think, be conclusive.

  4. SteveN

    Wearing a double-breasted suit in a business setting tells me that you do not wish to be taken seriously.

  5. I’ve been seeing the same ads.

    I also first saw the jacket-that-looks like it doesn’t fit in one of the fashion show displays. I thought: Wow! Are they really going to try to sell that look? Eyeballing carefully I noted that the jacket fit the model through the shoulders and arm. It’s the cut of the front that give the impression that the jacket is two sizes too small.

    This jacket ‘style’ (if you can call it that) looks bad on young men with trim ‘slim’ figures. It’s going to be a really, truly awful look on anyone with a less-than-trim waistline. (That would be most American men including many young ones.)

    I don’t think it’s going to look good on trim but muscular men either.

    My 5’7″ 120 lb husband has the sort of build who might be able to wear this sort of thing without having a gut bulging out. He is not going to buy one. He thinks they look ridiculous (as do I.)

    I have to disagree with you on the pants. They look like they fit. The wearer could move in and sit in them, it looks like he could zip with ease. If they have pockets he could put a slim wallet in the pocket. I don’t know if the pants are tailored to be flattering. Most pants currently called skinny jeans are not flattering they look awful through the crotch and butt. But they do look like the fit.

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