Admit it guys, men are creatures of habit. Especially when it comes to style. Guaranteed your wife or girlfriend doesn’t have a favorite t-shirt that’s more than ten years old, and she’s probably changed her hair style more in the last six months than you have in your entire life.
Bad male style inertia is a difficult force to overcome, and even some of the best dressed men on the planet probably have a few sartorial skeletons in their closet. Now I’m not saying George Clooney rocks a pair of Zubaz on Lake Como, but what I am saying is that everyone (me too) should take a step back and assess every once in awhile. Here are five of the most common bad habits that many men can fall victim to.
Wearing too much cologne
I shouldn’t be able to smell you if you’re sitting across a table from me. I shouldn’t be able to smell you in the next cubicle. I shouldn’t be able to smell you on the next machine at the gym. When you stand up and leave a room, you should be gone. Your scent shouldn’t linger behind. Use the arm-rest rule. Unless you and I are forced to sit so close that we have to share an armrest (say in coach on a plane), I shouldn’t be able to smell your chosen cologne. Consider that humans and their senses naturally adapt to constant stimuli. Habitual cologne users are therefore almost surely nose-deaf and drastically underestimating their scent radius. I work with a guy who wears so much cologne that as soon as you turn the corner and start walking down the hallway towards his office, you can smell him. Cut your usage in half just to be safe. Or better yet, embrace the fact that your deodorant and hair product probably mix to make a scent that’s entirely your own, and you can then get away with wearing none at all.
Pleats are the appendix of the clothing world. Made useless through evolution and now the source of nothing but trouble. Even though men aren’t built like Christina Hendricks, our waists are in fact smaller than our hips. And back in the rat-pack days when men wore their pants halfway to their nipples, pleats were necessary to taper the top of the pant so it didn’t bunch when belted.
Now that we wear our pants on our hips pleats have become unnecessary. But since most guys have identified pleats with dress-pants since they were knee high to a clearance rack, that’s what most reach for. What happens when you wear pleated pants on your hips? They accordion out in a faux spare tire because that extra cloth has to go somewhere. Flat fronts are just as formal as pleats. So jettison your old pleated Haggars and stick with flat fronts.
Wearing jeans, all the time
I’m just as guilty as this as the next guy. Blue jeans go with everything. You can even successfully wear a knit-tie and blazer with them. I knew I was a little too hooked on jeans when one 105 degree afternoon this past summer I was sweating my tail off while, you guessed it… wearing Levi’s.
Start to break away by wearing blue versions of the alternatives like cords. Also look for chinos that are thicker, still tailored through the leg, but have patch pockets on the back like jeans.
Shirt, tie, and no jacket
When American offices went business casual, the expectations for outside-of-work formal situations were understandably lowered. The result for men was the near death of blazers, sport coats, and suit jackets. But a well-tailored, almost natural-shouldered jacket will give you a ridiculously athletic shape, even if exercise isn‘t one of your high priorities.
Wearing just a shirt and tie, no matter how well tailored, will leave you looking mushy. When in doubt? Wear a jacket.
Easily one of the most difficult habits to break for guys who haven’t really tried their hand at dressing more grown-up. Most of the baseball hat addicts hate their hair and are embarrassed that they even think about it. Their solution is to wear a hat all the time and it becomes a head covering security blanket. This is one that’s best to quit cold turkey.
Bury your hats in the back of your closet, go get a great haircut and some new hair product, and don’t look back. By the time you’re due for your next haircut, wearing a ball cap will feel foreign and strange.
Joe Weber is the founder and director of Dappered.com. Focusing on affordable men’s style, Dappered is a source for men who want to look good, but also value not going broke in the process. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.