First, let me say that we are currently at a high point for men’s fashion. Some serious hipster sartorial faux pas aside, men in America are dressing the best they’ve dressed since the 1960s. We are wearing clothes which fit, the silhouettes of men’s clothes are flattering and masculine without superfluous exaggeration, and we’ve eschewed goatees, soul patches, George Michael stubble and Jason Priestley sideburns for the proud, timeless male facial hair triumvirate of the clean fresh shave, the full beard, and the well-kept mustache.
However, a recent outing to a nice restaurant in Downtown LA reminded me that, despite our advancements in fashion, many of us still have a lot to learn. Here are three quick tips.
1. Your suit jacket is not a parka. You do not take off your suit jacket or sport coat. You do not drape it over the back of your chair before you sit down to eat. You do not take it off as soon as you get in the car. In general, you don’t wear a shirt and tie without a jacket. Ever. Perhaps when you’ve retired with your buddies into the drawing room to smoke cigars and play poker you can take off your jacket and roll up your shirtsleeves, but only in that masculine arena of undress. Your dress shirt is essentially a form of underwear and your suit jacket or sport coat is the principal focus of your attire. Your jacket is not an overcoat. That’s what an overcoat is for. In particular, you never remove your jacket in mixed company. You might as well just whip it out and put it on the table.
2. Take your damn hat off. I love hats. I’m stoked that men are comfortable wearing dress hats again. Hats are comfortable, functional and stylish but you don’t wear your damn hat at the dinner table. I don’t care how bald you are, your hat comes off as soon as you’re inside someone’s house or, if you’re in a business, as soon as you start talking to an employee. And, again, never at the dinner table. Ever. What are you hiding and why?
3. Pay attention to your shoes. Look, I’m totally cool with wearing sneakers with a suit or Oxfords with jeans, t-shirt and blazer, but make sure your shoes are clean and appropriate for the occasion. Wipe off the smudges and don’t wear Converse All-Stars to a funeral. Additionally, “dress shoes” are not dress shoes if they don’t have a leather sole (or reasonable artificial approximation). Dress shoes don’t have rubber soles with tread no matter how large Hugo Boss’ name is written on them or how much they cost. Lastly, athletic shoes are meant for athletics. Your Asics with the micro-mesh are not appropriate footwear for anything other than working out. Not even going to the grocery store.
So pay some more attention gentlemen. We’re looking good, let’s keep it up and get better. If you’re curious to learn more, here are two great books on the topic:
Dressing The Man, by Alan Flusser
Men’s Style, by Russell Smith