Style Advice for Men

Ricardo Montalbán is unimpressed with your efforts.

At risk of sounding like a pompous ass, I have style. I believe this because I get a lot of compliments on my choices in dress. Walking down the street I get asked for my advice a lot, or asked where I buy things, and do I always look this way? I’ve been caught on the street a handful of times by Asheville Street Style, interviewed by the Urban News, and regularly advise my friends on what to wear to meet Fortune 500 executives in China or on a first date. Fine, I surrender already – I have style.

And I’m into that, I’m into what is stylish. But – I’m not into fashion. I don’t have a well thumbed copy of the September Vogue on my night stand, and though I subscribe to the Sunday edition of the New York times, I don’t luridly gaze at the latest offerings of the major designers in the Style Magazine. I don’t care what’s in or what’s out, if it’s past Labor Day or if it was recently seen being worn by Lady Gaga at Occupy Wall Street. Those are useless ways to think about what will make you look awesome.

What’s the difference between style and fashion? Style is forever, fashion is for today. Style is accessible for everyone, fashion is passé by the time everyone identifies it. Style belongs to you, fashion belongs to wealthy hairless eccentrics in Milan that feed caviar to tiny inbred dogs.

I’m not a racist or a sexist, but I do believe in judging people by their appearance because I expect to be judged on mine. And by appearance, I mean the things people have a choice about, namely one’s choices in clothing and grooming. So I’ve written up five things to help you make choices in your clothing that will better represent you the person, rather than you the guy who hates doing laundry and ends up looking like laundry. Why five things? Because it’s my favorite number.

  1. It should fit you. It should fit you almost perfectly. If it doesn’t fit you perfectly, it should be damn close. If the sleeves aren’t the right length on a shirt, roll them up. If the pants are a little too short, get a tailor to let them out. If you haven’t used a tailor or seamstress before, it’s not that expensive. If you got a good deal on something that almost fit you, it’s probably worth another $10 to take it from “meh” to “oh meh god.” Seriously, you can see some ridiculous shirt, all sorts of weird colors, patterns, stains and tears but if it fits you like it was made exactly your size by some strangely psychic exploited Indonesian child, wear it.
  2. Brand means nothing. Brand is something invented by people who produce garments to make their product more valuable. You don’t need to showcase the brand you’re wearing. You’re not a Hollister billboard. You’re a person with style that’s advertising yourself, not the Gap. People with logos on their shirts are Nascar drivers. Bottom line is if it looks good and it’s well made from quality material it’s a nice garment. However, some brands are usually well made. Levi’s, for instance, is almost always a safe bet. And I’ve got some pants from Express that are nearly bulletproof after years of abuse. Anything that’s military issue will also stand up over time, and usually has a very handsome masculine cut that will bring out your inner Rambo. Or at least your inner Bradley Manning.
  3. Don’t demand to be comfortable. Shorts are for the beach, the gym and the tennis court. If you’re not at the Y sweating away the carbs you just crammed into your body at your fifth visit to Mamacita’s this week, wear long pants, jeans or trousers. And flip flops are right out. Your feet are hideous five headed creatures that smell like something a dog wants to roll in. Anybody who disagrees is a fetishist. Wear shoes or boots unless you’re at the beach. At least in the Asheville climate. When you’re sipping piña coladas in Havana and it’s 110 in the shade, there are other rules which don’t apply here. May we all be so lucky to explore what’s stylin’ in Havana, but so far that’s beyond the scope of my experience. Ask Ricardo Montalbán. He’s still alive, right? Oh, Wikipedia says no. Womp womp.
  4. A good outfit makes you more confident. If you get ready and look in the mirror and you say DAAMN I’d ask for my number, then you’re doing it right. Even if you’re mis-matching patterns and colors, if you do it with purpose and like you mean and it makes you feel like a rockstar, then you’re doing it right. You should feel like the clothes are wearing you, like the whole purpose of this shirt was to find you and be worn and thus fulfill it’s destiny.
  5. Overdressing is ok; underdressing is not. Always err on the side of overdressing. As Mark Twain said, “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” The other adage to keep in mind is “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” It’s true. Trust me. Not that I have a job or anything.

So please fellas, dress nice. It matters to those who matter, like yourself, your boss, and that cute girl over there. Or dude. If that’s what you’re into. But if you’re gay you already knew all of this anyway, so what are you doing, get off the internet and go be fabulous.

5 Comments

  1. Great post! I echo the sentiments regarding fit and brands. Hell, you can get a button down white oxford shirt from Old Navy for $15, take it to a tailor and have it taken in around the waist for ten bucks, and the shirt will look downright elegant. Seriously, tailors are the magic elixer.

    I also like the rule of overdressing vs underdressing. I can’t tell you how many times I have simply thrown on a tie and maybe a sweater vest or something and some nice shoes when going over to some friends for dinner, and the hostess absolutely loves that I took their dinner invitation so seriously and dressed for the occasion. It took an extra 5 minutes but they appreciate it.

    Men’s fashion is different than women’s (generally). The frayed collar on a well-fitting shirt or small hole in your favorite tweed blazer gives the item character and usually has a story attached to it. The history of garments for men is what make’s menswear interesting. In most instances, women’s wear seems to be mixing and matching lots of different cheap items – where menswear that I like tends to focus on timelessness (sic). (There are plenty of exceptions of course – I’m speaking in broad terms)

  2. “Naked peo­ple have lit­tle or no influ­ence on soci­ety.”

    And I would counter that society has little or no influence on naked people. Which party is the better for this set of circumstances is legitimately debatable.

  3. I make one comment about society and that’s the one Josh picks up on. Keepin’ it real. But you’re probably right.

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