So, I was inspired to write this article yesterday morning before meeting K for lunch. I was sitting in Specialty’s, this sandwich / salad / lunch place, the kind of quick eatery ubiquitous in downtown areas filled with corporate offices.
Since it was only 10:30, the space was sparsely occupied by late breakfast eaters, coffee sippers meeting with other coffee sippers, and restaurant staff taking their breaks before the big lunch crowd rolls out of their cubicles and into their eatery.
The restaurant wasn’t super crowded, and apparently I had nothing better to do since I found myself casually observing what my former fellow cube-dwellers were wearing. I noticed many of them making the same mistakes… style basics that the veteran EG reader has probably mastered by now (go YOU!)
I started jotting these things down and realized this would be a great start to the perfect list of things to make sure you’re NOT doing.
Hopefully you find this list helpful, or if you’re a more advanced reader, as an opportunity to review.
(By the way, this article started off with the title “Five Mistakes…”, meant for suit-wearing employees, but then I realized five isn’t a long enough list, and the list itself started to cover things other than suit-related blunders.)
Here we go (in no particular order):
1.) Your suit is too big. The shoulder pads shouldn’t double as fabric-covered awnings for your biceps. Go three sizes down to something that actually fits. Still trying to figure out how your suit jacket should fit? Start educating yourself here.
2.) Wearing a three-button suit? Fasten the middle button. Two button suit? Fasten the top button.
3.) Two-button suits should be your default. Stop buying three-button suits, especially if you’re not at least 6′ tall.
4.) Get a proper pair of dress shoes. Skechers hybrid dress / casual shoes don’t count. Neither do boat shoes or comfort slip-ons. If you’re wearing a suit, wear a classic pair of lace-ups.
5.) At the minimum, own one pair of black leather lace-ups, one pair in brown.
6.) While we’re talking about leather color… Black shoes, black belt. Brown shoes, brown belt. Common sense.
7.) Exact match doesn’t matter, but getting close enough does. Just do your best.
8.) Your socks should match your suit, not your shoes. That is, unless you’re wearing Awesome SocksTM, a.k.a. colorful fun striped or patterned socks… then I hope your pants don’t match those socks.
9.) Stop wearing black suits. Unless you wear a suit every day to work, you probably don’t get many opportunities to wear one. Don’t squander those opportunities by choosing a black suit every time. You’re not an undertaker or a priest. Go with navy or charcoal.
10.) If your jacket, sport coat, or outerwear piece has a vent in the back that’s sewn shut when you buy it, you’re supposed to clip that thread.
11.) Same goes for the tag sewn on the sleeve cuff. Remove it.
12.) Dress shirts are meant to be tucked in. Sport shirts are optional. Know the difference.
13.) Casual Friday at the office doesn’t translate to “Dress Like a Slob”. It also doesn’t mean wear your lawn mowing clothes, and it certainly doesn’t translate to Beach Day, so no flip flops.
14.) In fact, no flip flops ever, unless you’re walking in sand, within walking distance (and heading to) a body of water, or live in a tropical area that more or less dictates what you wear (Miami, Hawaii, Central America, West Africa).
15.) Even if you are in a tropical area, put on some real shoes if you’re not walking in sand or heading to a body of water.
16.) And no socks with sandals, flip flops, anything. That’s a given, right?
17.) Always choose natural fiber over anything synthetic when buying your clothing. Cotton, linen, leather, cashmere, wool… all real fabrics. Rayon, polyester… synthetic.
18.) Buy a steam iron, and use it. Learn how to iron things—especially your shirts—properly.
19.) Stop wearing clothing with huge labels and logos. Save that for the hip hop concert you’re headlining. Oh wait, you’re not a huge music star? Oh, so Louis Vuitton must be sponsoring you, since you’re wearing their logos and giving them free advertising everywhere you go. Wait, what? They’re not sponsoring you? Hmm.
20.) Same goes for Affliction and Ed Hardy tees. You don’t look like a badass biker that kicks ass and takes names. You look like a d-bag, especially with those light wash bootcut jeans and black square toed shoes.
21.) You’re not still wearing bootcut jeans, are you?
22.) Dress your age. If you’re 15, American Eagle and Hollister is fine. If you’re 30, it’s time to upgrade. Not that it’s all about brand names, but there’s an acceptable age threshold for certain brands because of the styles of clothing they carry. If you are 15, you shouldn’t be wearing Gymboree or Osh Kosh B’Gosh. If you’re 30, you shouldn’t be wearing clothing meant for high schoolers. Plain and simple.
23.) To further this point, quit it with the slogan tees and the humorous tees. Wearing it to bed? Fine. Going out in public? Stop.
24.) Dress for the occasion, and that includes your accessories. Sporty sunglasses for when you’re participating in a sport only. All other times, find standard frames that fit your face. Start with something like Ray Ban, who always has classic silhouettes (aff link). Same goes for your watch: Sporty watches like a Casio G-Shock for when you’re being active, something slimmer and classier when in a suit, and a casual watch for your off days.
25.) Pay attention to fit. Your clothing shouldn’t be lung-collapsingly tight or ridiculously loose. There’s a happy middle ground you can (and should) find if you’re an adult male.
26.) Size is different from cut or fit. Just because you know your size, doesn’t mean the cut or fit of the garment is right for your body. Learn your size, then learn the cut that works best for you (regular / traditional fit shirts vs modern / slim fit, regular fit denim vs slim fit denim, etc.)
Phew! This list could probably go on to #1000 and beyond, but I have to stop somewhere. Maybe we can do a part two of this article.
Over to you
Do you follow most of these? Or do you find yourself on the other side of the fence, violating a lot of these suggestions? Would love to hear em in the comments below.