Wear It Like You Mean It
This weekend, a friend of mine is getting married in Indiana because, apparently, this is the time all of my friends start getting married - leaving me to die slow, cold, and alone in an abyss of loneliness and insecurity. But that is totally for another article! As far as this weekend goes, I need to put together a shirt+tie+suit combo that “makes the whole world sing” and possibly make some “young girls cry.” Between now and then though, here's the code that I adhere to, not because I think it’s the only way to dress, but because it works for me.
Due to my hatred of ‘70s era massive collars that seemingly dominated the entire outfit, I typically only wear a shorter spread collar without buttons. I realize that today's point collars don't even come close to rivaling such atrocities, but when they are unbuttoned and spread out, the eerie similarity is a turn-off. Keep it classy, and keep it low key. The collar shouldn't be the focal point of the ensemble, the person that dons it should.
As much as it pains me to say this, my shirt of choice is the Express 1MX Extra Slim Fit . It’s a wrinkly nightmare to wash and subsequently iron, and to add to that, a dry-cleaner recently managed to ruin one of them for me. That being said, the 95:5 ratio of cotton and spandex is beyond luxurious in that it allows for movement but remains form fitting. Every 1MX is equipped with a small spread collar and omits the antiquated breast pocket of yesteryear. Regardless of the brand you wear, make sure it fits your body and acts as a compliment for the man inside it.
Regardless of what the magazines have to say about this year's "fashion," almost any basic style can work as long you do it right. The key here is to avoid extremes. A suit that is overly anything (super skinny lapels, super deep/shallow cuts, insane amounts of/lack of buttons) is probably "in style" because... I guess I don't know why? But these flashy styles are almost guaranteed to fall back "out of style" just as quickly as they arrived.
When I go out to buy a suit, I do so based on my tastes and my body type. The suit coat can come in many styles, but the current trend leans heavily to the 2 button slim suits. I’m not a huge fan of double-breasted suits, but I have seen men that look ridiculously classy in them. My favorite suits are of the 3-button variety; even though the fashionistas currently claim that only 2 buttons are acceptable. I love a good 2-button ensemble as well, but the proportions of the 3-button have always been attractive to me. 3-button jackets keep the top button about halfway from the tie knot to the belt, revealing the perfect amount of shirt.
While lapels, buttons, and colors are important in helping to define your personal sense of style, the biggest thing to look for with the jacket is the fit. If it doesn’t complement the shape of your body, it’s the wrong jacket. Regardless of body type, a suit jacket should make the wearer feel like a legend of confidence and valor.
I love pants, and formalwear is no exception. When I walk out in a suit, the pants have to match the tone. If I had my pick, I would always go with a flat-front pant with a medium break and no cuff. I like the feel and look of flat-front pants; they give off an exponentially more contemporary vibe than pleats. On the same note though, I don’t have one of those rage-filled pleat hatreds either. If you want to rock a classic style and pleated pants are included, go for it. Just don’t overdo it with anything like a fedora.
Continuing with the theme of any successful formal attire, the main focus should be on the fit of the pants. If the pants make your butt look like a box, and you’re stepping on them with your heel, you either need a different suit or some hardcore tailoring. They shouldn’t be too tight or too loose either - look for a perfect timeless fit. Nothing about a pair of dress pants should be described as “extreme”.
The tie is the smallest part of an outfit, but it can make or break your look. When wearing a patterned shirt, a solid tie should be worn. You may be able to get away with a subtle monochrome pattern, but if there’s too much detail, it will conflict and look hopelessly busy. White shirts are pretty much free game in the tie arena, but I still like to keep it simple, using color, not overly complex patterns to emphasize boldness. When I wear a colored shirt, I always make sure the tie matches perfectly. I can’t stand the “hey… this almost matches” look. The only time that works is with some hardcore color blocking, and even then, it’s sketchy.
When picking a tie, keep in mind the size and material. Personally I’m a fan of the matte ties; shiny ties seems so glitzy and cheesy to me. As regards the size, I’m not sure if anyone should wear a 1.5” skinny tie or the massive ‘90s ties. My personal favorite is the narrow tie. Narrow ties retain the shape of a regular tie, but are a bit thinner to accommodate a more modern look. Keep in mind the size of the lapel too. For the best look, ensure the width of the tie is similar to that of the lapel.
The tie knot is a different animal entirely. Interestingly enough, some ties have qualities that lend themselves better to a specific knot. For example, a narrow or standard tie with a lighter fabric look best with a Half Windsor - my go-to knot for almost any situation. It looks rough and ready, but still nice enough for any formal atmosphere. Every so often I will do a Full Windsor, but under no circumstances do I use a Trinity knot or an Ascot knot. Ever. Because I’m not a tool.
Stay classy, San Diego.