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The following article is written by Joe Weber of Dappered. Visit his site at Dappered.com, and follow Joe on Twitter.

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

CologneI 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

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.

Baseball Hats

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 joe@dappered.com.

Cologne image credit
hat image credit

PUBLISHED October 19, 2010


Barron is the Founding Editor of Effortless Gent and the Cladright Association. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr.


  • Anonymous
    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      heh, one spray is definitely enough, more often than not.

  • http://liveinhusband.wordpress.com Ryan Tyler

    Are you giving pleats the short shrift?

    My tailor told me to wear pleats if you tend to carry a lot in your front pocket. I tend to carry an iPod and a pretty hefty set of keys. So I went with pleats.

    Otherwise, nice work.

  • Steve

    I think that pleats do have their place in a wardrobe.

  • Ryan Y

    @Steve, I respect a difference of opinion on this but I’d like to see one guy who looks better in pleats than flat. I honestly can’t think of any time I’ve seen pleats that didn’t make a guy look poorly dressed.

    @Ryan, instead of having an unstylish lump in your pocket AND pleated pants, why not minimize the bulk and be able to wear more flattering pants? I once tried to carry everything in my pockets too. Now I use a slim card case a la http://dappered.com/2010/08/the-ultra-thin-wallet-and-card-case/ for my money and credit cards and I carry a messenger bag (http://dappered.com/2010/01/asos-smart-retro-satchel/) when I have anything more I want to carry. I also carry a knife so I began clipping it to the inside of my pocket, so that it sits on my hip, instead of letting it sit on the front of my leg in my pocket. Your solution may be to clip your keyring to a belt loop.

    • http://frjody.com Jody

      The wife says I look better in pleats, so I go with her opinion as I don’t really have a preference. Part of it is the fact that most flat front dress pants tend to be less generous around the hips, thighs and crotch–the pleats make up for that.

    • http://liveinhusband.wordpress.com Ryan Tyler

      I’ll look into the card case and I do carry a messenger bag, but I don’t think carrying keys on the belt loop is a solution. To me, this would be far more unsightly and crass than pleats. But I will look into your card case suggestion, thanks!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Ryan, these are great points. I wholeheartedly agree that pleats have done men more harm than good. They were functional at one point but stuck around even though their use is more or less obsolete.

      Gents, trust when I say that you should avoid pleats at all cost. They aren’t helping your figure, they aren’t giving you a range of motion superior to flat fronts, all they’re doing is making you look large in places you don’t want volume.

      As far as pocket storage, don’t carry too much stuff. Simple. Pleats won’t allow for more storage space, and that isn’t their primary purpose anyway. Carry a messenger bag if necessary, or wear a coat if you need pocket storage.

  • Trey B

    Yup.. Pleats are baaaadd news.. When your favorite stores start carrying only one option with pleats, it’s only a courtesy..

  • http://twitter.com/Paul_Stagg Paul Stagg

    Men with muscular builds and large hips and thighs look better in pleated pants, and the pants fit better.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      I respectfully, yet completely, disagree. Pleats are bad news. They are obsolete for the most part, and add volume when volume is often unnecessary. If you put a more built man in a pair of flat fronts THAT FIT (not talking skinny jeans here), and another built man in pleated pants, the flat front will always look better, more modern, more flattering.

  • Joe

    @Paul: I’ve heard the “large hips = go with pleats” argument before. My neighbor claims he has large hips (I think he’s mistaken) and claims that’s why he wears pleats. But to me, Pleats are extra lines. Extra lines are an attention getter. And if you’ve got some mass you don’t want attention called to, why put pleats over them? Just my opinion.

  • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

    The only way I can see pleats working EVER, is on a very very slim, and very very tall build. If you’re a beanstalk, a SINGLE pleated pant can add just the right amount of volume. Even then, the pant has to be slimmer cut and have a modern silhouette. I would never recommend those billowy parachutes most department stores pass off as “dress pants” to the uneducated masses.

    Pleats = volume = heft in the wrong places. Stay away.

  • David

    Well said Barron. I might add that most men underestimate how strong a woman’s sense of smell is, my GF can smell my cologne on me after having put it on in the morning and worked all day long. Also, if you have a favorite pair of pants, but they’re pleated, any tailor can remove them for you for a small fee. You’re right on with the shirt/tie-no jacket in sight, it just makes a guy look like a walking JC Penney ad.

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hey David,

      Just for the record, Joe of dappered.com was responsible for this fine article :) I do agree with him and you whole-heartedly, and I like the suggestion of removing pleats from a favorite pair of pants. I have never done that myself, and if I did have a pair I really loved, I’d probably go that route.

      Know what you mean about the cologne, women seem to be very attuned to that kind of thing.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Pingback: The Toilet Water Rule | The Masterful Gentleman

  • Jenniewithaxe

    Hey Barron and Joe, love this post, especially your first point. Completely agree there’s NO need to overdo it! AXE suggests one spray under each arm and one spray across the chest – that’s all you need to keep fresh all day. That being said, we’d love for you to try out some of our newest scents! Just shoot me an email at jenniewithaxe@theaxeeffect.com. Really enjoying this blog, keep it up!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Hi Jennie,

      In my experience in the past with Axe, even that sort of minimal usage was overpowering. Has Axe changed the strength of its scents since then?

  • http://twitter.com/financialsamura Financial Samurai

    I love beautiful blazers! Got a couple customed in Asia last year. Love the fabric and the fit. I could wear a blazer everywhere since it’s always so chilly in SF.

    On the weekends, I’m always wearing one of my baseball caps b/c again, it’s cold, and two, I like to go incognito always!

    • http://effortlessgent.com Barron

      Where did you go exactly? I thought of doing that the next time I go to the Philippines, I always see these great tailoring shops and I know that price is gonna be crazy cheap. I was always curious about the quality though.

      Re: baseball cap, I don’t think I’ve seen you w/o one yet my man! haha

  • BryanC

    I don’t own a suit yet, but I have a Brooks Brother navy blue blazer/sport coat I picked up recently ($25!)

    Would it be appropriate to wear this with grey slacks, shirt and tie for a job interview situation? Or should I opt for a set of nice khakis or earth toned pants?

  • http://twitter.com/iamdalea Dale Allen

    In my climate shirts and tie with blazers aren’t always feasible…I get what you’re saying but I wouldn’t classify lack of a jacket to be a fashion faux pas!

  • Darren X2

    The prohibition against pleats is hipster nonsense. I’m tall, I have big thighs and a big rear (thousands of km of cycling each year), and I look better with pleats. Period.