The Ten Most Common Men's Fashion Mistakes
June 6th, 2005
Is it really that important to your career, romance, or influence over others?
It’s a scientific fact that people who don’t know you make up their minds about you on a subliminal/prehistoric basis in 30 seconds or less. This evaluation of you by others takes place so quickly and is so entrenched in the human brain that it is not usually conscious thought. Behavioral scientists tell us that we notice the following about another human being and in this order: Skin color, Sex, Age, Bearing (height, body language, etc.), Appearance, Direct Eye Contact, and Speech. The first three we can do nothing about, but we can take advantage of this knowledge to enhance and control how to present the best image of ourselves. Since 80% of what others see is our clothes lets look at some basic faux pas:
1. Never wear a short sleeve shirt with a tie. Short sleeve shirts are perceived as lower class apparel. Fine as part of a uniform or if you aspire to be a fast-food manager, not if you want to project a professional image.
2. Shoes are one of the most evaluated elements of men's wardrobes. Your shoes should be clean, shined, in good repair and appropriate for the occasion. If you are wearing a suit, wear lace-up shoes. Don’t wear the same shoe on consecutive days and keep shoetrees in your shoes when you’re not wearing them.
3. Trousers should be long enough to cover your socks, and socks should cover your shins even when you cross you legs. Pants are long enough if they have a slight break in the front. Pleats and cuffs are traditional and functional. Pleats let you sit down comfortably and cuffs add weight to the bottoms allowing for proper drape.
4. Never wear both a belt and braces (suspenders). You'll appear insecure.
5. Socks should match your trousers.
6. Belts should match your shoes.
7. Ties should reach your belt line. This is neither arbitrary nor negotiable. Too short of a tie makes you look like a rube.
8. Properly knotted ties have a “dimple” under the knot. Clips and tacks are out of date.
9. Suit and Sports jackets are symbols of authority. However the bottom buttons of men's jackets are not designed to be buttoned, since King Edward VII gained weight, and started a fashion trend. Single Breasted suits can have one, two, three or more buttons. Two and three button jackets are classic, one or more than three get you into the fashion forward arena, which is more suitable for social events than business. With two button jackets only the top button is fastened. With three button jackets, you can close the middle, or middle and top button. Some suits are made so that the lapels roll to the middle button. On those suits you leave the top button unfastened. Some East Coast hipsters fasten only the top of three buttons! Four or more button jackets may be designed to fasten all the buttons, even the bottom. If the bottom button of a four button can be closed without a noticeable pulling of the fabric, it’s ok to close or leave it open.
Double Breasted suits are the more formal of the two styles and can have four to six buttons with one or two “to button”. They are often identified by a two-number designation such as 4/2, 4/1 or 6/2 (also “four to two”). Translated, the first number gives the total number of front buttons and the second is the number of functioning buttonholes. It doesn’t always mean that all the buttons have to be fastened. Often only the middle or upper button is secured on a 4/2 or 6/2, but the Duke of Kent started buttoning only his lower button creating a longer diagonal line across his chest giving the wearer a thinner, more dynamic look.
Why do men never button the bottom button of your suit, sports jacket, vest or Cardigan sweater?
King Edward VII, “Bertie”, son of Victoria (1841 – 1910, King 1901 - 1910) was so heavy that he could not get the bottom button fastened on his vest or to be more historically kind, maybe he just forgot. His subjects taking it as a fashion statement followed his lead and today most men’s suits, sports jackets or vests are not designed to button the bottom button. The tradition of not buttoning the bottom button may have also come from the early waistcoats, which were very long. It may have been out of necessity of being able to walk that the bottom buttons were left undone.
10. Suit and Sports jackets should fit properly which includes showing 1/4" to 1/2” of “linen” or shirtsleeve at the jacket sleeve.