Houston blogger David Yarbrough (a former KTRK 13 colleague) of Style Points blogs about the ten mental errors concerning menswear for the mikemcguff.com blog:
Freedom of expression is indeed one of the fundamentals of American life, and many a fashion statement has been made in public and private circles for generations. Some are poignant (like the tuxedo), while others, quite frankly, should not be tried at home (MC Hammer’s “diaper pants”).
For the everyday man who dresses for success, an important goal that goes without saying is to not look out of place. Here is my “top 10” list of mistakes that can turn the most savvy of men into social deviants in a hurry:
10. Not knowing how to tie a bow tie. I rated this at No. 10 only because men can use pre-tied bow ties (or perhaps rely on women) to avoid having to do it manually. For starters, the bow tie is an important part of wearing a tuxedo. Tying a bow tie, like anything else that is worth being good at, requires practice. Here’s a head’s up: If you know how to tie your shoe, you already know how to tie a bow tie. Now, prove it to yourself in the mirror.
9. Socks that expose the leg while seated. Over-the-calf socks are a surefire way to ensure full coverage when a man crosses his legs in a sitting position. Anything less is uncivilized. Who wants to see a hairy leg?
8. A lack of coordination. Not coordinating the color of your shoes with your belt. This probably is no big deal when you’re in grade school. But it counts when you reach adulthood. Same goes for the color of a pocket square matching up with the tie and/or shirt.
7. Unpolished shoes. People will quickly notice two things about you: Your head and your toes.
When it comes to the latter, your footwear conveys whether you mean business or are in casual mode. Polished shoes are the finishing touch to a professional presentation; unpolished shoes suggest that you care less than the guy who does.
6. Wearing cap-toe shoes with a tuxedo. There’s very much a regimen in place when it comes to formal wear. Patent leather shoes are the first choice, in either a plain-toe lace-up or a pump with grosgrain bow. Plan B is a polished black calfskin shoe or pump. Cap-toe shoes are more appropriate with business attire, not formal attire.
5. Excessive jewelry. Only winning sports franchises such as the New York Yankees, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys can lay claim to the “bling” dynasty, where over-the-top-looking rings are definitely for show-n-tell. Unless you’re a member of a championship team, wearing such baubles in public can distort your look. Thick necklaces also send a message of ostentatiousness. Simple, elegant pieces such as a sterling silver signet ring or a titanium watch can go a long way for men.
4. Underestimating the power of a manicure. A firm handshake says something about an individual, man or woman. A woman once commented that my hands were soft but that my nails were unusually long. I immediately went to CVS and got nail clippers. Long nails not only are not cool for a man, but dirt can get underneath more easily. Investing in a manicure (and a pedicure, while you’re at it) is money well spent.
3. Wearing patterns that compete. Guys wanting to look smart can outsmart themselves sometimes. For example, a plaid jacket may work well with a striped shirt and a paisley tie. But a plaid shirt risks clashing with a plaid jacket, or a striped tie may get lost in front of a striped shirt. Integrating solids with patterns removes clutter. In other words, less is more when it comes to wearing patterns.
2. Ill-fitting clothing. Even if you got a great deal on a Kiton suit off the rack, you will have wasted your money if you bought the wrong size. Any reputable tailor will tell you upfront whether radical alterations would work. Also, wearing trousers that are too short will result in automatic membership to the Pee Wee Herman fan club.
1. Taking “casual Friday” too far. In work environments where suits are worn every day (law firms, accounting firms, banks, to name a few), blazers and khakis for men might be considered an option. The “casual Friday” concept, however, has encountered a rather slippery slope. Jeans and T shirts, shorts and sneakers can test the sartorial sensibilities of the workplace. In the words of some dapper-looking ESPN talking head: “C’mon, man!” Common sense has to kick in sometime, where a man doesn’t have to look like a grunged-out skateboarder in his cubicle. If your take your image seriously, others will treat you accordingly.
David Yarbrough has served as a fashion consultant on various Houston television stations.
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