Like getting noticed for style, but not too much style

Like getting noticed for style, but not too much style

Q. I have always enjoyed dressing to look good and don’t mind standing out a bit. I like getting noticed for being stylish. But I don’t want to go overboard and do “too much.” Are pocket squares and French cuffs too much for a work day or a dinner out?

A.  I appreciate any man who has enough interest in dressing well and who is confident enough to enjoy standing out from the crowd. But, as you so wisely seem to recognize, there certainly is a cut-off point where enough is enough and too much is too much.

When it comes to dressing style, there are two different types of men: the majority who want to look presentable but do not want to stand out and be noticed for their clothes, and those, like you, who enjoy wearing clothes that are a bit special and want to be thought of as well-dressed.   

Wearing a pocket square along with French cuffs and cuff links is not too much for a work day as long as your office is slightly on the dressy side, as well as when going out for dinner in an upscale restaurant. But wearing them where jeans and chinos are standard attire would not seem logical or even make sense.  

These days, even when so many men are engrossed with dressing “down,” there still are quite a few  small, and not-so-small, flourishes that well-dressed men can add to make their individual look special. Here are several that I’ve always liked, provided you only choose a few, and you wear them in logical settings. 

  • Wearing a colored silk or cotton pocket handkerchief is indeed a nice way to dress up a suit jacket or a blazer. It should be either a color-coordinated silk square or a white linen/cotton handkerchief. These can work in an office and at social events, but may well be too much when all the other men are dressed super casually. 
  • Wearing French cuff shirts with handsome cuff links is the sure sign of a guy who cares enough about clothes to make the extra effort. Many men won’t wear cuff links; they think of them as just one more item to be bothered with. I do think of them as a step too much when you are wearing no tie and an open-at-the-neck shirt. 
  • Wearing a flattering hat (straw in summer and wool felt or tweed in cool weather) is not for every guy, but it surely can make a fashion statement on a dapper dresser. 
  • Wearing interesting braces (button-on suspenders) is another accessory that adds style to a man’s attire. They work with all dressy trousers; however, where a farmer might wear clip-on suspenders to hold up his denims in the field, high-end braces are not for casual settings.
  • Belts that are different but fashionable (a.k.a., the colorful braided cotton and braided leather belts, not a white leather belt) bring another hint of elevated style to casual dress.
  • To stand out when wearing a polo, always choose ones in pristine condition and occasionally ones with interesting patterns. Quality fabric also tends to set better polos apart from (and above) the others.
  • Being the one guy in the room whose button-up dress shirts are meticulously well-ironed. 
  • Another option is being a “sweater guy,” one who often wears different sweaters appropriate for various occasions.
  • Wearing “fun” patterned socks with appropriately casual clothes is a style designed to work with casual wear and is not really appropriate with dressy attire.   
  • Collecting smart-looking small-patterned sport shirts with neat prints (such as plaids, checks, and tattersalls); ones with yellow in the print go particularly well with versatile khaki pants. 

For all of the above, you want to be sure that the rest of your clothing works and is appropriate. Be sure that everything you wear is correctly tailored to fit you well, not too long or too short, and not too snug or too large. Here’s to finding a few flourishes that give you that stand-out air of confidence..

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