There are certain looks that yield style suicide: daddy denim, the kind that extend above the belly button and flow like a bloated river from rib cage to boat shoes, oversized suits, of the Better Call Saul variety, and hideously hued golf shirts. What drives such (un) fashion choices? Men, including my plaid-loving husband, tell me, that comfort is the prime motivator. That and perhaps treating the process of “getting dressed” as merely transitioning from nude to not nude. Whether you realize it or not, women are judging you. Without even gazing at you directly. Our minds are equipped with a twitter feed like feature that allows us to work, shop for groceries, apply lip gloss and plan a vacation to Sicily while taking in every nuance of your appearance. Wearing the same ill-fitting button down shirt three days in a row? We notice, from the water cooler. Scuffed-up, skanky loafers ruining an otherwise nice looking suit? We do not approve, no matter where we stand. Keep reading for the worst offenders and a few quick fixes.
1. Sports Jerseys Worn in Upscale Settings
I don’t care if you are going to a hockey game at the United Center after dinner. A Blackhawks jersey worn with suit pants at a Michelin Starred restaurant (or, anywhere except a sports arena) is tacky.
The Fix: Keep your jersey in the car to pop on after dinner.
2. Ill-Fitting Shorts
You may not know “nutters” by name, but you have definitely seen this loathsome silhouette masquerading as clothing from dog parks and grocery stores to weekend BBQs. I speak of Nutters, shorts so tight, so slight, that the wearer’s nut sack is flagrantly emphasized. It’s despicable. Even in Europe where Speedos are somehow OK.
The Fix: Cargo shorts and Bermuda shorts are a more flattering option and available wherever clothing is sold.
3. Ugly Golf Shirts
Golf shirts have become a universal fashion staple for men. But, not all knits are created equal. While a crisp white combed cotton top bearing the Cypress Point Club insignia is respectable, a tent-like corporate freebie with an outrageous color palette is not.
The Fix: Take a cue from golf heavyweights Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler and wear well-tailored tops, preferably in a solid color.
4. Imitating Aristocrats
Whilst being educated at Eton or Institut Le Rosey (a.k.a. “School of Kings”), aristocrats are also schooled in the nuances of class-defining style: double breasted jackets, bespoke footwear, silk accessories, vintage cuff links, the cravat, waistcoats, tweed. It’s posh with insouciance, classically defiant. Impossible to emulate without a crumbling castle somewhere in your lineage. Interlopers simply look pretentious. What does this mean for you, the guilty party? Retire upturned collars, the sweater draped just-so over the shoulder, matchy-matchy flannels, pocket squares, and other attempts at dandy-isms. Without blue blood, you will only succeed in channeling Steff McKee, John Hughes’ snotty country club villain of Pretty in Pink fame.
The Fix: Focus on classical elegance; a well-tailored suit, crisp khakis, John Lobb shoes, a stunning tie.
5. Ungroomed Feet
Sporting open-toed shoes (Tevas, flip flops, gladiator sandals, Birkenstocks) during the dog days of summer seems like a no-brainer. But, look down. Do you see gnarly, yellow talons? Nail fungus? I’m running. This is an undiluted turn-off. A rule of thumb, or, toe: Unless your feet are well groomed, women don’t want to see them.
The Fix: When swapping out footwear, up your grooming game with a professional pedicure.
6. Too-Tight T-Shirts
So, you’ve gained a few pounds. It happens. But, stuffing yourself into the same shirts that were flattering 13 pounds and seven years ago isn’t going to earn you any style currency. Nobody likes moob-revealing tops.
The Fix: Invest in new shirts that don’t strain unattractively at the chest and belly. You can’t go wrong with any of these.
7. Pleated Pants
Though certain magazines have heralded the return of the pleat, the average man should steer clear of this dastardly silhouette. The traditional triple or quadruple fold creates a voluminous abdominal puff that adds ten pounds to your frame.
The Fix: Flat-front trousers with a tapered leg are both slimming and forgiving at the midsection.
8. Sloppy, Oversized Suits
Imagine this: You are seated in a board room waiting to close the deal of your life. In strolls the CEO sporting a slovenly, oversized suit jacket (with shoulder pads channeling David Byrne) and pants so wide that he looks like a fourth grader dressing up in daddy’s clothes. How can this drip be trusted with your start-up? He can’t. You grab the paperwork and hustle out. Sporting an ill-fitting suit diminishes your credibility. And, your sex appeal.
The Fix: Seamless fit (inseam length, rise, sleeve length, pant break, a strong shoulder, jacket closure) is the key to cutting a sharp figure. Think Benedict Cumberbatch meets Prince William with a side of Clooney. Hate suit shopping? You can even do it online.
There is no excuse to wear white athletic socks with dress shoes. Or, black socks with gym shoes. It just looks moronic.
The Fix: Take the time to select socks that appropriately match your outfit.
10. Dad Jeans
A cousin to sweat pants, shapeless, high-waisted jeans are the siren song of a man who has surrendered to a mid-life crisis. There is just no other explanation. Somehow, Obama pulls them off. As did Steve Jobs. But, chances are, you can’t. What you can do is turn back the sartorial clock by simply ditching the dumpy denim.
The Fix: Upgrade to snappier jeans (slim or straight-cut with a mid-rise) that sit at your waist. You can’t go wrong with an old school pair of Levis 501s.
Guess that was an eye opener. 😀 😀