Friday, November 05, 2010

Top 10 fashion mistakes men make - and how to avoid them

Houston blogger David Yarbrough (a former KTRK 13 colleague) of Style Points blogs about the ten mental errors concerning menswear for the 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:

Black Satin 1 1/2" Mens Bow Tie10. 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.

Dockers Men's Gordon Cap Toe Oxford,Black,10 M US6. 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.

Classic "I'm With Stupid" Tshirt, Small Ash1. 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.



  1. Tuxedos, pocket squares and cap toe shoes? Where does this guy work, a factory that produces charity galas?

    These rules seem better suited (no pun intended) for the top 5 percent of money earners, not the masses. For those guys, things like no pleated khakis, no jorts and make sure your t-shirts don't have stains on them are probably more appropriate.

    Pocket squares? Seriously?

  2. Men's fashion works best when guys learn to enjoy shopping rather than viewing it as a chore. Everyone should pride themselves on looking their best. It doesn't matter if they buy their clothes at Target or Neiman's.

  3. Seems the biggest mistake is when men try to not be themselves. Looking good is important, but also staying true to your own personality and taste/preferences!

  4. Well written and that is part of our problem today...we dress like kids and we have left our professional look somewhere in the past...

  5. It's an old maxim that you dress for where you want to be rather than for where you are in business! Good points all: dress for success.

  6. Great points David, you don't have to be in the top 5 percent of money earners to dress appropriately.

  7. These are all valuable pieces of information. As a professional Image Consultant I see men from all walks of life who strive to feel more confident when shopping. David Yarbrough is "spot on". Nails that are too long and socks that are too short can indeed put a man at a disadvantage both professionally and socially. Salesman that won't help a client find the right cut of pant is my pet peeve. Just because it zips does not mean it fits and flatters. What's excessive and expensive is not buying clothes that fit. I have worked with David before and he is a wealth of valuable information.

  8. I want to see McGuff dressed in nothing but his watch and some plaid socks!

  9. John Ryan Clothier11/09/2010 08:53:00 AM

    Well-written David. I feel that you covered many areas that men err in judgment. I think in most respects, we all want to look our best and feel comfortable with our sartorial decisions in all situations of our lives. It’s unfortunate that men have very few examples to glean beneficial knowledge and inspiration from. The information you presented is applicable to any man, regardless of their station in life. It wasn’t that long ago, when our fathers and grandfathers wore a coat, tie & hat everyday (even to a ball game!). Pocket squares? Seriously? Yes, very seriously.

  10. Frankly I'm amazed at the number of male anchors who can't tie a decent knot in a necktie.

    Meanwhile, Garanimals for adult men wouldn't be such a bad idea.

  11. I hope I am tying my ties right!

  12. Thank you for this article! I will share this to my husband so that he will not become a victim of of these fashion mistakes.


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