Dressing well and knowing how to choose clothes that look good – in a retirement community

Dressing well and knowing how to choose clothes that look good – in a retirement community

Q. I have always been interested in dressing well and knowing how to choose business clothes that look good. But I am now living in an independent living retirement community where no one wears a suit. What do you suggest for day-to-day wear that makes sense?

A. Some of the same rules apply for casual clothes that look good, just as they do for the business trio of suit, shirt, and tie. The most important element is the choice of color. Since it has such strong visual and emotional impact, color makes a tremendous difference in how you look. Using it well is an easy and effective way to look good. 

If you notice someone who is especially well-dressed, you may turn to see what he has done to catch your eye. Almost always he will be wearing only two colors, where the color of one garment is repeated in another. With a suit, it might be a classic example, such as a navy suit, pale yellow shirt, and a blue-and-yellow patterned tie. With a blazer, it could be a navy blazer, gray trousers, a white shirt, and navy-and-gray sweater vest. This reliable two-color way of dressing is a sophisticated look. 

The same concept also works for a more casual approach to dressing. These days, when you are not likely to wear a tie, you must introduce items that make the colors you wear appear intentional, rather than merely an accident. Quite honestly, in your casual setting, this is not so easy to do . . . without a tie. Even so, if you follow the concept of limiting yourself to two (or, at most, three) colors and repeating them in more than one item you are wearing, you will find it soon becomes an easy-to-follow habit. One versatile way to do this is with well-tailored khaki pants and a cotton or linen shirt in a handsome pastel-and-khaki plaid. The khaki color in the plaid repeats the color of the pants and the pastel hue adds the second color. Wearing a brown belt and tie further repeats the brown color family.          

Which items are the expected basics in a casual wardrobe? Dress trousers, khakis/chinos, button-down collar shirts in solids, stripes, and patterns, sport shirts, knit polos, socks, slip-on shoes, sandals, and sneakers. Accessories such as belts, hats, sweaters, and jackets should not be an extra non-matching color; you need to keep in mind the two-color rule for everything you have on.  

Some items on the dressier side are logical and can make sense in an at-home wardrobe, if they fit your lifestyle. After all, there still are special holiday gatherings (and church) that call for a jacket (and maybe a tie). These might conceivably involve a navy blazer or a tweed sport jacket, and a silk or cotton breast-pocket handkerchief. Much less dressy and more likely to be worn on a regular basis are every manner of wool and cotton sweater. These range from turtlenecks, V-necks, and crewnecks in pullovers, cardigans, sleeveless vests, and zip-fronts in varying colors and patterns. Shirts, too, range widely from solid-colors, stripes, and plaids, to knit rugby shirts, polos, sweat shirts, and even a few non-message Tee-shirts. Don’t overlook the newer athleisure garments that will take you through the day from exercise times to dinner. Shorts also work, especially when they are not too short and are color coordinated with the top.       

If you put together an outfit that your mirror tells you does not quite make it, check to see how many colors you are wearing. Generally, you will have added a heavy dose of an extra color. Not that you can never have a third color in a plaid or a small pattern, but in effect your eye should see two colors.  

Of course, color is not the only element for you to consider. All your clothes should fit you well and should be in good condition. And never overlook or underestimate the importance of meticulous grooming from the top (a good haircut) to the bottom (clean shoes in good condition). I can assure you that the man who pays attention to how he looks, will be noticed!

Please send your men’s dress and grooming questions to MALE CALL: Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

Categories: Male Call