I frequently receive emails from young men who ask about the cut and style of clothes: what’s appropriate, what’s ‘in style’, and what will serve them best over time.
My response is always, Not too tight. Not too loose. Natural fabrics (wool and cotton). Traditional tailoring of wardrobe fundamentals, by which I mean the navy or grey suit, the blue blazer, the earth-tone wool blazer, the khaki pants, the grey slacks, and the white and/or blue 100% cotton dress shirt. Brown lace up dress shoes or brown loafers. Wool or cotton sweaters in solid colors. Feel free to be expressive, but not clever, with neckties. Learn to tie a bowtie.
Shirt and jacket lapel widths for men go narrow and wide with the tides of fashion. Ignore these trends. Moderate everything. Blue, brown, grey. As your life gets busier, you’ll find it easier to dress appropriately for any occasion, easier to pack for a trip, and easier to replace worn out garments with new ones, and have everything look good with everything else. You’ll shop and spend less, save money, and look like you know what you’re doing, even if you’re a work in progress. (News flash: we all are.)
You’ll also find it easier to go from ‘dress’ to casual: lose the necktie and blazer and you’re there. People will notice you for you, not for your fashion choices. If you have money, people will not automatically assume that you do. If you don’t have money, people may suspect that you do. It’s crazy, but that’s the kind of mental rollercoaster people go on when you’re discreet, modest, and moderate with your wardrobe.
So when you’re out there this holiday season, shopping for yourself or someone else, remember (and share) these fundamentals. Let’s be civilized. Let’s dress the part.