If you’re a regular reader of my humble blog, then it probably comes as no surprise to you that I think a vast majority (read: 99%) of my generation is nothing more than a bunch of shallow, horrendous barbarians. Not only do they behave like barbarians (spitting on the street, fighting in public, smoking in people’s faces, collapsing drunk on the sidewalks, cursing around children, publicly flaunting their complete and utter stupidity like it’s something to be proud of, etc.) but they also DRESS like barbarians. Nowadays, it’s considered okay to walk around with your pants down to your knees while wearing a XXXL t-shirt that has some ugly pattern on it. What happened to the days in which people, you know, actually cared about the way they dressed? I’m a big sucker for men who take pride in their appearance, who meticulously groom themselves until they are so clean and neat you could eat off them. This isn’t bragging, but I do tend to dress elegantly, or even luxuriously, on a daily basis, and it would be an absolute dream to meet a man who can match me in that respect. Too bad they are like a rare and gorgeous species basically on the verge of extinction.
However, there is a side of me that is stupidly hopeful about many things. Maybe, if I write a post about it, some men will take notice of it and make an effort to bring some class and elegance into the mostly abysmal human race. Luckily, I study men’s fashion just as seriously as I study women’s fashion. As you can see, I don’t discriminate. So, here’s my little crash course on how to dress like a grown, mature man. Because boys, you need all the help you can get.
I know it’s silly to have to say this, but CLEANLINESS IS IMPORTANT, GUYS. It’s more important than anything else I will write in this post. Unfortunately, I’ve met quite a few boys who think showering is an option. BUT. IT. ISN’T. Shower every single flippin’ day. Use goddamn deodorant. They don’t have it in stores for decoration. It’s for you to use, embrace, enjoy.
Body hair isn’t really a big problem, because boys are supposed to be hairy, right? However, that doesn’t mean you should look like a gorilla. If you have back hair, get rid of it right now. If you have an unsightly unibrow, tweeze that thing until you get two eyebrows. It’s not unmanly to tweeze. You don’t want to be mistaken as a primate by an a big game hunter one day and locked up in a zoo somewhere.
It’s also not unmanly to take care of your nails. Nothing makes me shudder quite like seeing a man with long nails. It looks filthy. Trim all nail growth and file those nails smooth. And DON’T BITE YOUR NAILS. Do you know how much bacteria you’re putting into your mouth?!
Get a Tailor
Adolphe Menjou: sartorial elegance.
Grown men own suits, so when buying suits, make sure they are in…wearable…colors like black, grey, and navy blue. Other colors, like puke green, radioactive yellow, and hot pink are suitable for Halloween only. Every man’s body type is different, so a lot of the time, a ready-to-wear piece can fit well in some places and not so well in others. This leads men to buy suits that are a size or two too big. This is where the tailor comes in. Even though ready-to-wear pieces are cheaper and easier to get, they automatically assume that people come in cookie-cutter sizes. Men who are too tall or too short can find their suits out of proportion: a tall man’s cuffs might not come down to his wrists, a short man’s breast pocket might be too far down the suit jacket, etc. A tailor can fix all that, and help to make the suit fit you as closely as possible without it being too tight.
A suit should fit you closely, but not too close that you feel your buttons straining or your skin pinching underneath the material. A good guide to follow: if you can fit a finger or two between your body and your clothes, it is a good fit. It’s just enough room for you to be comfortable without looking you raided Fatty Arbuckle’s closet.
Clark Gable’s suits were tailored by Eddie Schmidt to accommodate his large frame
During the Golden Age of Hollywood, ready-to-wear suits were a rarity. Suits were almost always tailor-made, which is why they fit each man so well, even if his body was not the “average” male body of the time. Clark Gable, who was 6’1 and weighed about 190 pounds, was considered a gigantic man for his time (back then, the average man was about Humphrey Bogart-sized: 5’8-ish) so he had to have literally every piece of clothing custom-made to fit his body. His tailor up until WWII was Eddie Schmidt (he made both Gable’s regular clothes and the costumes for his films) and after the war, all his clothes were tailored by Brooks Brothers. Even though Gable was a big man who probably would’ve had a hard time finding his size in stores, he fit like a dream in everything he wore, and because of the necessary adjustments that had to be made to his clothes so they could fit him, he helped to start new trends like broad shoulders and tapered waists. Let’s take an opposite case: Adolphe Menjou was a shorter, slimmer man, but you couldn’t ever accuse him of “swimming in his clothes.” James Oviatt, who was Menjou’s tailor, turned him into a men’s fashion plate and a renowned symbol of sartorial elegance.
You should always know your measurements to ensure the best fit when buying a ready-to-wear piece. That means specifics, like your neck measurements, the length of your arms, etc. The most important thing to keep in mind when buying ready-to-wear shirts or jackets is the breadth of the shoulders. The seam of the shoulders should end right where your shoulders do. If the piece doesn’t do that, trash it. This is something very difficult for a tailor to adjust, so make sure it’s already right when buying ready-to-wear.
Be Picky About Your Fabrics
This is something that I learned the hard way. When I was young and stupid, I would buy tons of really cheap clothes at places like Forever 21, thinking that I was so cool for having a lot of clothes. But a week later, the clothes would be literally falling apart and the $3 jewelry would be turning my skin green where I wore it. As I grew older and wiser, I learned that it isn’t about how much clothes you have, but how good the quality of your clothing is. Nowadays, I wear a lot of silk, lace, sequins, leather, velvet, glitter, and wool. It sounds opulent, but it’s fun, I feel good, and I don’t have to worry about my clothes disintegrating in public. A few good pieces of high quality always beats tons of pieces of really shitty quality. Make sure your clothes are made of 100% fabrics, like cotton,wool, leather, and silk. Poly-blends like nylon are not as sturdy and they make you perspire more, which in turn can make you smelly really fast, since the sweat just sits there. When I shop, I can quickly tell what’s a good fabric by rubbing it with my thumb and forefinger for a second. It’s faster and easier than digging through the piece before reading the label.
Get Nice Shoes
Every time I see a man in flip flops, my eyes cry tears of blood. Nobody wants to see your big hairy feet, so cover them up. Get a pair of black lace-up shoes that can go with anything. Brown is good too. Slim, pointed lace-ups are good for special occasions. Loafers are always classy. Like your clothes, your shoes should be of good quality and of the best materials, like leather.
Ties can really make or break your suit. The tie should match your suit and your dress shirt, so don’t buy your clothes to match your tie. Buy your ties to match your clothes. So that means no ugly ties in silly colors and stupid patterns, because those look immature and will never match with anything. The width of the tie should be taken into account as well. Bigger men should gravitate towards wider, longer ties. Smaller men should go for shorter, skinnier ties. An average-sized man should wear ties that are around three inches in width.
The colors of your ties should be solid or lightly patterned. Nothing too big, loud, or obnoxious. The color of the tie should also complement your natural coloring. Fair-haired, fair-skinned men can pull off light monochromatic color combinations. Dark-haired, fair-skinned men can pull off bolder color combos that combine darks and lights. Dark-haired, dark-skinned men can pull off both, in addition to low contrast monochromatic color combos. Of course, each man knows better than anyone what colors work best on him.
Gary Cooper’ solid tie matches the color of his suit.
The pattern on Errol Flynn’s tie complements his suit yet adds color.
Always Have at Least One Tux
Tuxes are strictly special occasion wear. They’re timeless and debonair. And even though your prom has come and gone and you’re not planning to get married anytime soon (or you’re already married), you should own at least one tuxedo for formal parties, weddings, and other important events. And tuxes don’t always have to be black. You can change it up with a white tux too.
Cary Grant works the black tux.
Humphrey Bogart immortalized the white tuxedo in Casablanca.
Keep Casual Dress Clean and Simple
Don’t buy those jeans that are pre-ripped, pre-frayed, and pre-stained. Looking like the hobos I see every day on the subway is not stylish. When it comes to jeans, stick to traditional or dark washes. Jeans in those washes are classic and can go with anything. For jean fit, stick to straight leg. Like your suit, you want your jeans to fit your body well without looking like you:
a) raided Fatty Arbuckle’s closet again
b) raided the closet of a scrawny ten year-old
And by the way, the waistline of your jeans should stay on your waist, not around your thighs. Just a heads-up, in case you weren’t aware.
A great moment in jeans history: Marlon Brando in The Wild One.
How to Wear Shorts Without Looking Dumb
Wearing shorts is fuckin hard, for both men and women. I hate the summertime for many reasons, one of which is because it’s time for me to wear shorts and I. Hate. Shorts. The problem with shorts is that they’re pretty difficult to wear without looking like you’ve got thunder thighs. They pockets alone can make your thighs look double their size. And for someone with…shapely…thighs like myself, it can be agonizing torture. But wearing shorts isn’t impossible.
You should wear shorts as casual attire only. Don’t go to work wearing a suit jacket on top and shorts on the bottom, unless you’re hoping to get fired. Shorts should be worn only when the weather calls for it. That means no playing in the snow when wearing shorts, unless you’re hoping to get hypothermia and die.
Shorts should be primarily in lightweight materials such as cotton or linen. Cargo shorts should be worn only when hiking or doing strenuous outdoor activities. Athletic shorts should be worn only when participating in sports or running. The length of your shorts is perhaps the most difficult thing to determine when buying them. They should be long enough so that your knees are just visible or very slightly covered when standing still. Anything that hits right past your knees aren’t shorts. They are a highly unflattering abomination and should be burned.
You also don’t want to get shorts that are way too baggy. The baggier the shorts, the bigger your butt and thighs look. Unless you want to suffer from the Thunder Thighs Syndrome I talked about before, then get shorts that are comfortable yet well-fitting.
Aaaaaaaaaaaand that’s about all I’ve got! If there are any questions or if I missed anything, feel free to leave a comment!