Yesterday, I came across a post about the “25 pieces of basic sartorial knowledge” that every man should purportedly have. Since it was listed as a great post, I wanted to take a look at it myself at this guide of dress etiquette.
While the post creates some good rules for style beginners (no socks with sandals, etc.), we at the Gentleman’s Gazette know that you’ve already mastered the basics and are interested in taking your style to the next level of expression, precision, and elegance. Your clothes make a statement about you, and these simplified guidelines no longer apply. Since we pride ourselves on our attention to detail, I thought I would respond with my very own 25 Tips to Dress More Elegantly that are appropriate for the Apparel Arts-inclined. Our list will focus on our house specialty, the elements of classic style – suits, tuxedos, jackets and the corresponding accessories. While you will see a slight overlap with the original list, we hope you’ll find these useful.
25 Tips On How to Take Your Style from Put Together to Elegant
- On almost all single breasted jackets, leave the bottom button unbuttoned, unless you have a paddock jacket . On double breasted jackets, you should generally button the bottom one, unless you want to express some sprezzatura and wear your coat like Lino Ieluzzi from Al Bazar.
- Unbutton the bottom button of your vest, unless it is double-breasted or an evening waistcoat.
- Avoid wearing visible logos, especially when formally attired; you are a vehicle for your own style identity, and your choices should further your expression rather than the brand’s.
- Clip visible loose threads or labels, and open tacked pockets and vents with a seam ripper. A double edge razor blade is useful for trimming very close to the fabric surface.
- Don’t leave the house without a quick once-over with a fabric brush. Trash the tape lint roller, and invest in a good brush – you won’t regret it.
- While two or three buttons on a single breasted jacket are today’s standard, a tuxedo should have just one button and even a sportscoat can look great with just one button. Four buttons are great on a safari jacket or anything else that you want to button all the way up.
- On single breasted three-button jackets, button just the center button or additionally the top button – take a look at the mirror and wear what feels more comfortable. See Tip #1.
- If you wear a black belt, it’s standard to black shoes. Brown shoes are much more flexible; brown is always an option, but don’t shy away from more irreverent choices, such as a necktie or a multicolor belt in warmer seasons, as Fred Astaire has shown us.
- Choose to wear either a belt or suspenders, but not both. Neither may be worn if your trousers are tailored with a half belt in the back or side adjusters. Vests may be worn with the latter two choices, but never with a belt. See Roger Sterling.
- Most men look best if they display between half an inch and an inch of shirt cuff underneath their jacket sleeves. For a harmonious look, try to match the visible cuff length to the amount of collar that is visible at the back of the neck.
- Most men in the US wear their pants too long. Ideally, full cut trousers should reach the shoe and create a slight or half break. Trousers with cuffs can be worn a little shorter and the same is true for tapered trousers. There’s no cause for concern if you observe Tip #22.
- When you buy a jacket off the rack, make sure the shoulders of the coat at the sleevehead are just a tad wider than your natural shoulders. Most alterations tailors will have difficulties properly altering the shoulders.
- Ready-to-wear suits need to be altered. I have NEVER seen a suit off the peg that fits perfectly without alterations. So, even if you think you’ve scored a lucky find, make it a habit to bring every new purchase to your alterations tailor, and see what they have to say.
- It is often said that your tie should reach the waistband of your trousers. Any man with a classically oriented wardrobe has a a variety of trouser rises to contend with, and just because your wear low cut pants does not mean your tie should be longer. However, a tie rarely looks great when it extends beyond the waistband. When in doubt, I always go a little shorter.
- A tie has no functional use. It is purely decorative and therefore it should look good. A dimple or two in your tie knot will most likely improve your overall appearance.
- Avoid letting your tie knot slip – as Tip # 15 describes, this decorative accessory is a visual focal point that can put you at risk of looking – the horror – sloppy if not properly attended.
- When you wear a tie, you should always pair it with either a vest, a suit, a jacket, or a cardigan. A shirt and tie alone, especially short-sleeved shirts, looks very unfortunate.
- Black suits should be reserved for the evenings and funerals. Alternatively, buy a tuxedo and a Stroller Suit and skip the black suit altogether.
- Avoid combining a pocket square and tie made from the same cloth because it looks cheesy.
- Do not pin your boutonniere on your lapel – not only will it leave holes in the fabric, but they have an unfortunate tendency to sag. Use your buttonhole and a loop on the back of your lapel instead.
- Make sure the heels and tips of your leather-soled dress shoes well maintained and are kept in regular polish. If you bring your shoes to the cobbler on time, it will be less expensive, and your shoes will last much longer.
- When wearing a suit, make sure to always wear over-the-calf socks, since nobody wants to see your hairy legs.
- If your shirt collar has a tendency to curl, wear collar stays.
- A white t-shirt worn exposed under an open shirt collar will immediately cheapen your entire ensemble – avoid them in general, as they are visible under virtually all shirts and seem to serve little purpose as it is.
- If you wear a hat – which is great – take it off when you are inside, unless you are at an airport or a similarly public place. At places of worship, different rules apply.
Do you have anything to add to this dress etiquette guide? Do you disagree? I look forward to hearing from you!