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The Approach to Fashion Faux-Pas

Our Top Five Fashion Missteps for Formal and Everyday Wear

We talk a lot on the Approach about what we feel is the right thing to do in a given situation. Our hope is to inspire, to have people ask questions and ultimately to give people confidence to try new things and explore new experiences.

But sometimes people need to be told when they’re doing the wrong thing. I talk a lot about this in my article about giving and taking advice. The problem is that no one likes to be told their approach is wrong.

I’ve never been one to think it’s best to let people continue on in ignorance. If you’re brave enough to tell someone they’re doing something wrong, so long as you mean to be genuine, they have a responsibility to hear you out and then decide for themselves if the advice is worth taking.

(You do most of what’s described here because it’s easy, comfortable, and it has become a habit. That and lots of people do it. Well let me tell you, you’ve been set up. It’s not helping you at all. Its hurting you. What Admiral Ackbar said, except it’s about fashion instead of a fully armed and operational battle station.)

That being said, we want to talk about what we’re seeing out there that just isn’t working. We’ve developed a top five list of fashion missteps in the areas we feel most confident giving advice in. None of what we’re going to say is meant to be anything but good advice and to show you that there are better ways of doing things.

Christopher’s Top Five Missteps

1.     Your Shoes

Without a doubt, the first thing I do when I see someone I consider well dressed is look down. 90% of the time I do, I’m very disappointed. The shoes are the final touch to a really amazing outfit. Tragically, that’s the area most men skip. My initial thought starts there. You say to yourself “who’s going to notice my shoes?” The answer is almost everyone. That’s not really an overstatement. I promise, everyone you want to impress is looking at your shoes.

I lay out a lot of good guidelines to picking great shoes in this article but as a general rule of thumb, your dress shoes should run at least eighty dollars. The reason being, is that the best leather is expensive and if you want to get the most time out of your shoes you need the best leather.

And you need to stop it with the square toe. Seriously. It distorts the shape of the shoe. Just like you don’t want your clothes to distort and inflate the shape of your body you don’t want your shoes to convey a monstrous Frankenstein shape to your feet. Same thing with the pointed tips. That’s not what your foot looks like. Also, wear the pointed tips around for a few days and tell me how good your feet feel compared to regular caps.

(Just scream “We Belong Dead!” And then hurl yourself in a fire, the frigid waters of the arctic or at a torch wielding mob. That’s the occasion that calls for square toe.)

The color, honestly, if you really want black go ahead. You won’t get as much use out of them as you would a chestnut or cognac type color but if you insist by all means. Just be careful what you match your black shoes with. Black really only goes with black pants. Its jarring with any other color. Brown adds a great amount of warmth to any outfit though. Also, grey is a really daring choice too.

2.     Ties

I can and will write an entire article on how to pick the right tie, the knots and what collars the go with and how to match the patterns to the suits. But for the sake of this article what I want to convey to you is this: Your tie will be the most visible part of your suit. Its where the eyes will wander first. Tie it the right way.

That means don’t leave the short end dangling free from the long end. There’s a loop on the back of your long end for a reason. Use it. Also, get the knot somewhere near your throat please. There’s no point in spending the time it takes to pick a good tie only to leave the knot somewhere around your breast bone. At least in the beginning of the day. If it gets loose as the day goes on, ok. You earned it. But to walk out of the house like that is just distracting. There is nothing edgy or hip in looking like a vagrant.

(Fuck! FUUUCCCKKK!!!)

3.     Shirt fit

We have whole articles on fit. It’s really, really, really important. The kind of fit you get with your shirt will define the way the entire outfit looks. The biggest mistake I see men make is picking shirts that are too big for their bodies. I understand the common reason is because we don’t like our shape.

(Oh, uncomfortably familiar for about 75% of the guys out there. Awkward moment?)

(all better)

Change your shape then. Sorry to be so forward about the suggestion but you look far worse than you think you do by purchasing oversized clothes.

Pay attention  to your shoulder seams. They stop AT THE SHOULDER. Not by your bicep.

After you put your shirt on, walk around for five minutes than look at it in the mirror. See all that extra shirt at your waist. Cut it out, seriously. That means you need to go in a size or two.

If you have any intention of looking sleek it starts with the fit of your shirt.

4.     Dress Pants

Some of you out there are looking like you’re after a Zoot Suit look. Fit, it’s all about fit. Are you having to put your belt at the last notch to get your pants to stay on? If so, too big. You get an ungly scrunching around the waist when you have to tighten your belt too far.

Also, Pleats. Stop it. Pleats are not attractive. They add a ham shaped appearance to the thighs and are jarring to the otherwise crisp suited look. The reason pleats exist is completely anachronistic and unless you wear suspenders on a regular basis pleats have no purpose in your pants. Even with suspenders as long as you adjust your straps properly you don’t need pleats.

(Seriously?)

5.     Travel lighter

Nothing makes a well dressed man look worse than two bags and a pair of gym shoes on. If you need anything more than a briefcase or messenger bag you need to start reexamining your life and reordering your priorities.

(Choose wisely)

If you don’t make use of every item in all your bags at least once a week drop it. I keep nothing that I don’t use every day. For me that’s a messenger bag with two folders, spare deodorant, moisturizer, breath mints, I-pod accessories, calling cards and maybe a snack or two. Maybe. And because I’m carrying less getting around is easier and I have no need to wear gym shoes and carry my dress shoes.

That way I still have room in my bag for any of these wonders! http://theworstthingsforsale.com/

If you’re worried about wearing out your dress shoes with too much city travel you probably aren’t getting off at the best stop.

Also, the pockets. The more you stuff in them the more noticeable and cluttered it looks. Keep those shirt pockets flat, keep everything out of the side pockets on your blazers and watch how much clutter you stuff in your hip pockets. All of that goes a long way to distorting your silhouette.

Nothing says “I’m not sure of myself” more than having the need to carry around ten plus pounds of miscellaneous nonsense. Trim down those fat bags, free up an arm and you’ll look the way you feel. Comfortable and confident.

Patrick’s Top Five Missteps

This is a fun post, especially since we at The Approach tend to write more about the things we like to see. For example, I’ve talked previously how easy it is to put together a casual outfit with very little effort. But now, we actually get to talk about things we hate to see, which is always on the funnier side. So without further ado, here are the top 5 fashion missteps men love to make.

1.     Tennis/Running Shoes with Jeans/Khakis/Anything Not Sports Related

Please, no.

Jacob Palmer: Are you Steve Jobs?
Cal Weaver: What?
Jacob Palmer: Hold on a second! Are you the billionaire owner of Apple computers?
Cal Weaver: No!
Jacob Palmer: Oh, okay. Well, in that case you got no right to wear new balance sneakers, ever!

– Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling from Crazy, Stupid, Love

Listen to Ryan Gosling; he knows what he’s talking about.

See, back in the old days, athletic shoes had simpler and more tasteful designs that could be easier matched with jeans or khakis. But in modern times, shoe companies have decided that running shoes need to look futuristic. Thus, they plaster them with with weird neon stripes, honeycomb webbing and metallic silver weaves. That way, we KNOW they were designed for space age performance.

There are a multitude of other options: Converse All Stars, Jack Purcells, traditional Keds, or PF Flyers, are all great options for casual fashion while still being comfortable.

Sweetness

So unless you’re playing tennis or going for a run, please don’t wear these shoes with your normal outfits. Plain and simple, it’s ugly.

2.     Wearing Socks with Sandals

Yuck

Let me preface this by saying I already dislike the way sandals look on guys. I much prefer various types of dress shoes, loafers, or solid kicks to complement an outfit. Just my personal preference.

But if you are the type of guy that likes to rock different types of sandals, by all means go ahead. Just don’t do it with socks because that defeats the whole damn purpose of wearing them in the first place! So if you’re going to wear sandals, then do the right thing and leave the socks at home.

3.     Shorts that are TOO Short

Just because you can pull it off doesn’t mean you should.

Short shorts don’t belong on men. Period.

Similar to running shoes, unless you are playing in a sport that requires your shorts to be on the smaller side, don’t do it. As a general rule of thumb, shorts shouldn’t end any higher than an inch or two above the knees.

This way, you don’t look like a little girl.

4.     Studded or Crazy Jeans

He thinks its cool but its not

Even less cool

Are you a rock star, country singer, or a pre-teen girl?

If not, then don’t you dare wear jeans with metal studs or strange swirly designs tattooed all over them. You will look stupid, immature, or both (probably both).

Always err on the side of simplicity more than anything else. You don’t need a crazy pair of pants to look good. So avoid those crystal weaves and massive rips or I will hate you forever.

5.     Anything Mesh

Hideous.

I feel like this should speak for itself.

See, even if you have the body of Hercules, you should never, ever wear mesh clothing. It’s not in the least bit fashionable, and is inappropriate to wear anywhere other than the strange BDSM places you visit.

If you want to show off your body, there are plenty of nice shirts you can wear to accentuate your hard work. And it’s too hot out there you say? Then don’t wear a damn shirt and go to the beach.

So do the public a huge favor. Just like short shorts, let’s leave the mesh clothing to women please.

And so that wraps up our top 5 fashion missteps for men. But write in, because we’d love to know yours!

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