Monthly Archives: July 2016
Just over a month ago, I ran into a friend at a CES event. While I see this friend around town once in a while, this was the first time I’d seen him in a non-casual setting since Blogworld 4 months earlier. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, he asked me an odd question: “Is this like your conference party outfit?”
Indeed, I was wearing the exact same clothes I’d worn to the event four months earlier. Since he doesn’t usually see me dressed up, it stood out enough for him to remember. But that’s not the real point, here; the real point is that I have few clothes suitable for “adult” gatherings.
I have a suit, of course, for weddings and funerals. (I haven’t had a job interview in 9 years, but if I did, it would be suitable for that, too.) And I have my day-to-day clothes, which aren’t awful but which aren’t anything to brag about, either. Functional casual, basically: jeans and khakis, an assortment of button-front shirts, some cotton sweaters.
As a college professor, there’s not a lot of pressure on me to dress up. If anything, it’s just the opposite. For one thing, I interact regularly with younger people, mostly teenagers (I teach 100-level courses), and being too formal creates a barrier between my students and me. That might be ok in business or law (think John Houseman in Paper Chase) but for my classes and my teaching style, some level of rapport is crucial. For another thing, my fellow professors don’t exactly set the sartorial bar very high – and there’s a certain sense of bohemian “me-against-The-Machine” attitude expressed by violating “corporate” standards of dress.
But mostly I dress the way I do because I’ve never really learned how to dress otherwise. Like a lot of my fellow geeks, fashion just wasn’t on the radar for me. Fortunately I have a brother who has always been very fashion-conscious, and he’d take me in hand every few years when my fashion sense got too out of touch with reason and social acceptability.
Well, my friend’s off-hand comment was a wake-up call for me. I mean, I’m a grown man – I should have more than one pair of slacks and one shirt nice enough to wear to an industry event without embarrassing myself! So I set out to educate myself on some fashion basics – what shoes go with what kind of trousers, how to distinguish various sorts of dress shirts, and so on.
I did what any true-blooded geek does when he or she wants to find out about a new topic: I googled it. But what I found was scattered, often contradictory, and for a newbie like me, downright confusing. A lot of the information out there is tied to specific social contexts: the workplace, the nightclub, and dating, mainly. And a lot of it’s quite vague – the answer to most questions is “it depends on your personal style” which I’m sure it does, but what if you don’t know your personal style yet?!
With some perseverance, a few trips to department stores, and the help of friends on Twitter, I managed to assemble the following rules. As with all rules, they’re meant to be broken – but only by people who know how to break them. For the rest of us, this is a pretty good primer on basic men’s fashion.
1. You eventually want to own three suits. Your first suit should be either navy blue or gray, possibly with a light chalk stripe (like a pinstripe, but softer), and in an all-season, medium weight. Either of these colors will fit into most social settings. Your second suit should be the one you didn’t get the first time around. Your third should be black – not for funerals, but for black tie affairs. If you work in a field where suits are the norm, you’ll probably want more than three; once you’ve covered the basics, you can move on to more distinctive suits (pinstripes, different weights, unconventional colors, etc.).
2. Suits are made of wool or cotton. Higher thread counts signify higher quality, but are ironically not as durable, so stick with something mid-range. Ask the salesperson to help you with this. (Yes, ask the salesperson. Suits are not self-serve.) Synthetic fibers need not apply.
3. You never button the bottom button. Apparently, Edward VII got fat and couldn’t button his vest over his belly, so now nobody does. On a three-button jacket, you button the middle; the top button is optional. If you have a jacket with 4 or more button, you obviously know what you’re doing already.
4. A gentleman carries a handkerchief in his front breast pocket. You don’t have to get fancy, just fold it square to fit and have 1/4” to 1/2” sticking out the top. Then proffer it as needed. And wash it after.
1. Don’t wear your sleeves too short or too long. 1/4” to 1/2” of cuff should show beyond your jacket sleeve.
2. Shirts with button-down collars are not dress shirts. They’re sports shirts, so wear them with a sports coat. Polo players used to button their collars down so they wouldn’t flap up in their face while they played. (Are you beginning to sense a theme here? Fashion rules are largely dictated by what English gentleman and nobility did generations or even centuries ago. Sports coats? You wore them during sport, i.e. hunting. Regimental stripes on ties? They indicated your regiment in the British military. And so on.)
3. If you unbutton your collar, remove your tie. You can wear a suit or sports coat without a tie – just ask Obama – but wearing a tie with an unbuttoned shirt looks sloppy.
4. You can unbutton the top button always (provided you’re not wearing a tie), the second button usually, the third button only on disco night at the Rollerama.
15 Must-Have Items For Men To Look Fresh And Professional
1. Wear your pants at your natural waist. Too high and you look like Grampa, too low and you look like a high school kid. Your waistband should sit 2-3 inches below your belly button.
2. Pants should almost touch the ground without your shoes on. Jeans can be a little longer, since they shrink a bit when you wash them.
3. One pleat, maximum. If you’re a big guy, like I am, you learned somewhere along the line that pleats are slimming. They’re not. At best, they look like you’re a big guy trying to look slimmer; at worst, they actually make you look heavier because they pull out across you, broadening your appearance. In any case, the job of a pleat is to maintain that crease sown the front of your pants. For pants without that crease (and many with it), pleats are unnecessary; for pants that need the pleat, they only need one.
4. 1” to 1 1/2” cuffs. Or not. There’s nothing wrong with cuffs, there’s nothing wrong with no cuffs. They are understood, however, to be an older man’s style – not in a bad way, think sophisticated, experienced, distinguished, and conservative. For younger men, a cleaner line is generally preferred.
5. A useful piece of trivia for the American abroad: in British English, “pants” are underwear. So if, for instance, you are in London and get invited out and maybe your trousers are dirty from work, don’t say “I’d love to go out, I just need to go home and change my pants first.” And if someone should ask, “Why, are your pants dirty?”, don’t say, “Yeah, I always get my pants dirty at work.” You will be laughed at. Er, I assume.
1. Pay attention to your shoes. Everyone else does. It’s hard for the non-fashion-maven to tell a more expensive suit from a less expensive one, a high-quality shirt from a medium-quality one, and so on. But everyone can tell cheap or poorly cared-for shoes. Buy the best ones you can afford, and take care of them. Polish them regularly (a few swipes with a wax-infused polishing cloth is often all it takes) and store them covered if you won’t be wearing them for a long time. Shoe trees, it turns out, are important: they not only hold the shape of the shoe but the cedar ones absorb moisture (and thus odors) which helps preserve the leather. (Aside: women tend to pay a lot of attention to men’s shoes. Keep that in mind when a) dating, and b) interviewing for a job.)
2. Shoes are made of leather (besides sneakers). Anything not made of leather you can consider a non-shoe. Leather breathes and adapts to the shape of your foot. The soles don’t have to be leather, but the uppers do. (True story: as a young man, my brother was a car salesman here in Vegas. In the summer, the tarmac could get well over 150 degrees F. Standing out there with leather-soled shoes could give you second-degree burns! So they wore rubber soles, which melted after a month or two and had to be replaced.)
3. You need more than one pair of shoes, but not too much more. Black oxfords (lace-up dress shoes), black loafers (slip-on shoes), brown oxfords or loafers, and you’re set (not counting your athletic shoes, of course). A pair of ankle-high boots in black or brown can substitute for the loafers. Ox-blood (burgundy) shoes are harder to find but in theory go with everything. You can pretty safely ignore white shoes.
4. The shinier the shoe, the dressier. Matte-finish shoes – nubuck (that pebbly leather), suede, and distressed leather shoes are automatically compatible with jeans or khakis; shinier shoes might still go with jeans but it depends on the rest of your outfit, the dressier you are the shinier your shoes can be. If you can wear them with a suit, you probably can’t wear them with jeans, and vice versa.
5. Shoes should be the same tone or darker than your pants. This is all the rule you need to know when trying to figure out what shoes to wear. This is why you never wear brown shoes with black trousers, but you can usually wear black shoes with brown trousers. When in doubt, wear black.
The most basic and most worn piece of clothing in a man’s wardrobe is surely a pair of blue denim jeans. Its popularity is because of its comfort, style and colour. The number of outfits that can be worn with a pair of jeans is infinite, which is why it is also the most versatile piece in the wardrobe too.
A pair of denim jeans can be worn in so many different ways that most outfits are incomplete without it. Whenever you run out of options, a pair of denims is the only thing you can fall back on and it will never fail to impress. Having said a lot about the popularity of blue jeans, it is only right that we tell you how it is a must-have for most outfits.
Top Outfits That Are Incomplete With A Pair Of Denim Jeans
1. Plain White T-shirt + Blue Denim Jeans + White Sneakers
2. Green Half-Sleeved Henley + Blue Denim Jeans + White Sneakers
3. Black Polo T-shirt + Blue Denim Jeans + Brown Formal Shoes
4. Navy Blue Henley T-shirt + Blue Denim Jeans + White Sneakers
5. Grey T-shirt + Waistcoat + Blue Denim Jeans + Burgundy Formal Shoes
6. Plain White T-shirt + Checked Shirt + Blue Denim Jeans + White Sneakers
7. Plain White T-shirt + Black Bomber Jacket + Blue Denim Jeans + Brown Boots
8. Plain White T-shirt + Denim Jacket + Blue Denim Jeans + Red Sneakers
9. Grey T-shirt + Black Leather Jacket + Blue Denim Jeans + White Sneakers
10. Checked Half-Sleeved Shirt + Blue Denim Jeans + Brown Formal Shoes
11. Blue Denim Shirt + Blue Denim Jeans + Brown Formal Shoes
12. Printed Shirt + Blue Denim Jeans + Brown Sneakers
13. Checked Blue Shirt + Tie + Blue Denim Jeans + Burgundy Formal Shoes
14. Plain Sky Blue Shirt + Tie + Blue Denim Jeans + Brown Formal Shoes
15. White Shirt + Brown Checked Blazer + Blue Denim Jeans + Brown Formal Shoes
16. Black T-shirt + Blue Blazer + Blue Denim Jeans + White Sneakers
The summer season is slowly coming to an end. However, that doesn’t mean you should store your warm-weather essentials just yet—some of your favorite staples can seamlessly transition from summer to fall. To that end, we picked out three of our favorite pieces from the closing season—the slip dress, T-shirt, and printed skirt—and asked Jodi Arnold, Eloquii’s creative director, to share her expert tips on what we should buy for fall to mix with these lightweight faves.
1. ADD ANOTHER LAYER TO YOUR SLIP DRESS
We love the stark contrast of a lightweight slip dress paired with a warm separate. Arnold suggests layering a fine gauge turtleneck under your dress. For an alternative look, layer the sweater over the dress for a sweater-and-skirt look.
2. TOUGHEN UP YOUR T-SHIRT
A T-shirt is a classic that will forever be a year-round staple. The possibilities are endless but for a perfect fall look, Arnold suggests mixing the casual with the luxe. “Try knotting the tee at the waist and drape a cropped moto jacket over your shoulders,” she says. “Pair with a skirt that either hits at or just below the knee.”
3. ADD TEXTURE TO A PRINTED SKIRT
Whether your summer print of choice is a gorgeous floral or bold stripes, you can count on a crewneck sweater to ground the airy piece. “Taking a skirt into fall is a breeze when paired with a fisherman sweater,” Arnold says. Tuck it in or wear it out and belt it at the waist. This sweater in particular comes in more than 10 shades and can pair nicely with the busiest of motifs.
Nothing to wear to work? Never again. To create the perfect 9-to-5 wardrobe, we assumed the role of sartorial scientists and grouped all workwear essentials by category before setting out to figure out exactly how much real estate they should take up in your closet. Behold, a percent-by-percent breakdown of everything you need. We suggest investing in a healthy balance of office-friendly staples and building that up with layering pieces and style statements, so that you’ll get out the door in minimal time with maximum polish. Study up on each category and scroll through to shop out your dream work wardrobe.
20% OF YOUR WORK WARDROBE: STYLE STATEMENTS
Dressing for a job doesn’t mean you have to leave your fashion savvy at home. Your outfit is an integral part of your professional brand, and mixing in a few personality-packed pieces not only will make you feel more like yourself but also can make a distinct impression. The trick is to strike a balance that says you’re uniquely chic but doesn’t provoke side-eye from your boss. Classics with a twist never fail—think a new silhouette in the form of an asymmetric skirt, or a classic blazer made a bit less conservative with an updated floral print.
40% OF YOUR WORK WARDROBE: BUSINESS BASICS
There’s truth to the saying, “Dress for the job you want,” and nothing looks more put-together than smart pieces that fit you like a glove. You don’t have to spend a fortune, either—just seek out solid dark-hued items in breathable fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily (test them out by sitting down in the dressing room for a few minutes, then stand up to check for any crazy creasing). The most important thing is that you take pretty much all of your off-the-rack finds to a good tailor who can transform them into custom-crafted treasures.
25% OF YOUR WORK WARDROBE: LAYERING PIECES
These are the building blocks of your wardrobe—the background players that work overtime so you can mix and match separates with ease on hectic mornings. The goal is versatility: Shopping for them shouldn’t feel exciting but more like the retail equivalent of opting for a salad instead of fries. Stick to simple shapes and colors with very little print, and buy across all seasons. That means stocking up on everything from cozy sweaters to lightweight tees. And if you find a piece that fits you perfectly, don’t hesitate to snap up three.
10% OF YOUR WORK WARDROBE: COCKTAIL ATTIRE
Sometimes your 9-to-5 wear just won’t cut it for client dinners or office parties. Pick up a few items that put an elegant twist on your everyday uniform, such as satiny, pajama-y black pants or a silk top to wear under a blazer. Statement heels also pack a punch, along with delicate (yet impactful) sculptural earrings. When you really need to go for it, bring a knock-’em- dead dress and change in the bathroom.
5% OF YOUR WORK WARDROBE: OUTERWEAR
Common pitfall: You put together a bulletproof ensemble only to ruin it by layering a puffer jacket or schlumpy coat on top. Save yourself from this fate by investing in a long number to wear with suits and a sophisticated camel wrap style to cinch over skirts. And if you don’t own a trench already, get on it. It does wonders to compensate for frizzy hair and a grumpy attitude during a downpour.