Men's Fashion Dos and Don'ts

So I am now in the position where I need to wear dress clothes to work. Shirt and tie most days sometimes a full suit. I have never had to do this before. I am pretty ignorant when it comes to fashion rules.

Black belt and brown shoes? Vice versa?

Never wear green and gray?

With a three button suit do you do al three buttons or is it like a two button?

I understand if this gets moved since it seems silly to refer to anything concerning fashion to be “Factual”.

I’m almost two months into my first dress-up job myself, so I’m still learning. But I know this:

Always match your belt and shoes–both black or both brown.

I’ve never heard the green/gray thing, although a female co-worker yesterday mentioned that gray and khaki don’t go well together.

I’ve never buttoned all three buttons on a three-button suit–only the middle one, or the top two at most. Someone may come along to correct me on this. However, if you’re wearing a double-breasted suit (sharp as hell), you have to leave that buttoned at all times.

Good thing I am wearing my reversible belt today.

Well, the question is very broad, so I’ll just throw out some conventional wisdom and hope it helps. I tend slightly towards a more conservative look, so bear that in mind.

Khakis are not a substitute for real wool slacks. When buying suits, seek 100% wool, not blends. You can save money by washing your shirts (100% cotton, of course) in your laundry, but you MUST iron them and you MUSt use at least a bit of starch. (Yes, there are wrinkle-free shirts, and they can be nice, but it’s no replacement for a real starched shirt.) For suits, always dry clean the jacket and the slacks together.

If you do not like to wear undershirts, do a test on your white dress shirts before you buy them: put your hand between the buttons of the front of the shirt. The more you can see of the tone of your hand (that is, the more sheer the material), the worse it will look with a suit.

Match belt and shoes (black or brown, not black AND brown). Shoes with leather soles look nicer, but can be less comfortable. I prefer them because I don’t need to walk a lot at work, and the soles can be easily replaced at your cleaners. Always put shoe trees in your leather shoes at night, be sure to shine them now and then, and they can last a long time. Ideally you’ll want two pairs of shoes.

But the most important two bits of adivce I can impart: dress for the position you wish to have, not the one you have now; and never dress any sharper than an accountant’s pencil.

Good luck.

Some of this is news to me, but I realize I have a lot to learn.

I have a couple suits, but I often wear a sport coat and khakis along with a shirt and tie. There’s no way I could afford a suit for every day of the week, and I was led to believe the blazer/khaki combo was acceptable. Is it professional enough? Is it just not as “cool”?

I just bought a new pair of rubber-soled leather shoes at Skecher’s. They look professional enough, and they’re a lot more comfortable than my narrow old wingtips, since I have very wide, very flat feet. I did not know about the shoe trees! What is their purpose?

Now do accountants use really sharp pencils, or do they prefer to write once the tip is a little dull? (I’m really not trying to be a wiseguy here; I don’t know.) I tend to favor darker, almost shiny/iridescent-looking shirts with ties that match, but is that not “conservative” like you said you dress? So far, nobody has complained, and I’ve even gotten a few compliments.

I was watching “Queer Eye…” the other night and Carson said of the three buttons… top = always, middle = sometimes, bottom = never… or something to that effect.

As I said, I tend toward conservative dress. I wouldn’t dream of showing up to work in khakis. OTOH, if I worked in, say, an up-and-coming advertising firm rather than my stodgy old profession, there might be more flexibility in dress, but as far as general guidelines for wearing a suit, I’m sticking to what I said.

Shoe trees help leather shoes keep their shape, and are essential for traveling or storage. A nicely shaped shoe of well-maintained leather will not wear out as rapidly. Your enemy is leather getting dry, cracked, and crushed. Of course, Sketchers are way more durable than most wingtips and captoes.

That last aphorism is a little joke: Accountants keep their pencils sharp, but they are pretty dull. The advice basically means dress conservatively, but focus on getting clothes that fit you. A $200 suit that is bought on sale and fits right will look better than a $1,500 Armani that’s long on the sleeves, tight on the shoulders, loose around the midriff, and falling down to your ankles.

For me, the greatest advantage to dressing conservatively is that the suits last longer. A conventional Joseph A Banks suit can easily look good for ten years, but the seven button suit that someone bought from DKNY three years ago is now starting to look kind of silly.

The color of dress shirts is a good question. I, myself, occasionally wear a bold purple shirt with various strongly colored ties, but that look is now becoming a bit dated. But I got compliments, too, when I started wearing it! Less so, now. :frowning: White, most blues, and even light pink and a mild yellow are the standard conservative colors for shirts. Blue stripes are standard, too. Button-down collars are less formal, and spread collars are more stodgy (avoid them unless you have real old-school ties that feature knots the size of a child’s hand).

I, myself, don’t wear a different suit each day of the week. I’d say I have three or four suits that I wear consistently, and a couple others less so. The great thing about being a guy is that a different shirt and tie completely changes your look, so long as you’re not wearing suits that are not cut too stylishly.

I’d say men should start off with one grey suit, add a blue as soon as they can. These two suits should get you to your first raise, and then you can go into pinstripes, tropical linens, and other colors.

Oh, and GOD FORBID, do NOT keep your jacket buttoned when you sit in a chair.

If I absolutely had to wear a tie, I’d rather wear a wool suit than the a khakis-tie-sportcoat combination. For me a suit just feels better because it’s a more classic look. IMHO khakis are just so bleh, they are to fashion what plain boiled potatoes are to cooking.

My company has a no-jeans policy during the first four days of the week, but they’re not very interested in enforcing it. I"ve been routinely violating this policy a couple days a week for six and a half years now. I know I’m in violation and I could be called on it any time. If and when that happens, I’ll just go to wearing suits more, but not to khakis.

Socks, too.

Never wear more than 1 pattern. If the suit has stripes, then wear a plain shirt and plain tie. If the shirt has stripes or pattern, then wear a plain suit and plain tie. If the tie has stripes or pattern, then all else should be plain. Sox on the other hand should always be plain. All wool suits (dark colors) are the best to wear for all executive work places. Never under dress, i.e. khaki pants and sport jacket. It just looks tacky. Never wear Jeans Suits. Also tacky. Also, keep your haircut up to date. If you must have a beard, keep it trimmed neatly.

I don’t have any fashion advice, but just wanted to stop in and say thanks for not spelling “dos” with an apostrophe.

But then it looks like the operating system.

Punctuation hijack!

A lot that’s relevant has already been said. When I was starting out I did, as suggested above, dress up (above what my how-loose-can-I-get peers adopted). Shoes, belts and ties have been addressed. The formula that worked for me was to buy the best looking cheap suits I could find and combine that with the best quality (and higher-priced) 100% cotton dress shirts (I’ve always preferred button down oxfords).

Ties should be silk, if affordable, but if not, the thinnest material you can find. You want a nice knot, and you want it to hang loosely. Also, the tie should break (angle outwards changes to angle inwards) right at the belt line. Learn to tie a Double Windsor.

A starter wardrobe might include enough dress shirts to get you through a five day week (three white, one pastel blue, and one pastel something else (yellow?), one black or navy blue suit, a pair of navy dress slacks, a pair of khaki dress slacks and a pair of grey dress slacks, and a navy blue blazer.

Add a greyish pinstripe suit as soon as that is feasible.

Good luck!

Oh yeah…, unless you’re really into it, stick with black or grey socks,

Ties can be flashy and colorful, but beware of wearing “gag” ties to work. Also, those Nicole Miller silk vests with wacky designs (like Craig T. Nelson wears on The District)? Unless you are wearing a tux to a theme party or are a bartender, there’s no appropriate situation for wearing those.

White socks? Never. Cream or yellow socks? Maybe (See: David Letterman, CBS version only).

Own at least two pairs of Oxfords: One lace-ups, one loafers. One brown, one black. One wing-tip, one cap-toe. You decide the combination. Polish them religiously.

Buy PLAYBOY for the naked women. You want fashion advice, go to ESQUIRE or GQ. Think long and hard before cribbing any fashion tips from MAXIM.

If you wear orthotics (I do), start buying your shoes 1 1/2 to 2 sizes larger.

There is no upside to dressing like your boss.

The U.K. FHM “lad mags” have some good fashion sections.

I know it’s a “don’t”, but if I’m not wearing my jacket, I absolutely must roll up my sleeves. There’s no other option for me - I can’t stand typing or doing anything manual in long sleeves. If it comes to the day where I’m told to straighten out, I’m gone. There’s no point to spending more time looking good on the job than doing good on the job.

Look, all you really need to know is:

  1. 2 pairs of nice leather shoes (Skechers aren’t going to cut it): one black and one brown. One should be a cap toe, the other can be more modern.

  2. Match your shoes and your belt.

  3. Match your socks and your slacks.

  4. The iron is your friend.

  5. Slacks and a sport coat are fine, but you also need two suits: one charcoal and one either navy or grey.

  6. One pattern at a time.

  7. When you buy a tie, have the shirt in mind.

Keep those in mind and you’ll pretty much never go wrong.

A specific question about what the majority of fashion experts recommend in a particular situation might be GQ, but this question is rather open-ended and largely a matter of opinion, so I’ll move this thread to the IMHO forum.

moderator GQ

I was going to say that I’m glad I’m not a guy, when I first opened this thread: women, when dressing for business, have much more freedom.

Now that I think about it? That’s not a good thing. You guys get suits. Nice and simple. Want to accessorize? Choose a blue or red tie. One or two pairs of shoes.

Women, on the other hand, have skirts. And slacks. Pants suit or skirt suit? Collared blouse or no? What shoes to wear? Stockings?

I am so glad the office I work in is casual (jeans, button down shirt, and modest black shoes and I’m good).

The book dress for success is pretty good.