Style flourishes men can use to stand out

Style flourishes men can use to stand out

Q. A few weeks ago, you wrote about “flourishes that a man can use to stand out.” Recently I saw a morning anchor on TV who seemed ridiculously dressed. He wore a three-piece/vested suit (in a brighter shade of blue than navy), with a patterned silk tie and a silk pocket handkerchief. He had a fake flower boutonniere in his lapel, and a gold watch chain that draped across his vest.

A. I happened to see the same show. While I’m usually impressed with his general interest in clothes and in being well-dressed, that day his white shirt was the only item he wore that could be called “standard.” And there were even more noticeable items than the ones you mentioned. Just as I was thinking that he surely could not add one more flourish, I saw that his socks were a very noticeable bright pink-and-white argyle pattern (they could have been a fun look if worn with a simple pair of khakis or jeans and a casual pink polo shirt, but they were far too bold and attention-grabbing to go with a suit). While each item might have been fine had it been his only indulgence, as you suggest, combining them all at once came off as blaring and much too much.  

Overdressing is not the only mistake that some men make with their clothing choices. In the world of menswear, there are long-established and accepted dress “rules” that people have followed for years. Many men often make what I (and fashion-aware men) consider to be major errors that should be avoided. Some of the mistakes that I see are:

  • Buttoning the bottom button of a suit jacket, a blazer, or a sports jacket
  • Buttoning the bottom button on a vest
  • Wearing a fake (plastic) boutonniere 
  • Wearing a necktie and pocket handkerchief in an exactly-matched pattern, rather than a color-coordinated pairing, looks as if you were dressed out of a kit. (If someone gives you a gift of such a set, you can wear them both, but just not together.)  
  • Wearing a belt, rather than the correct braces (button-on suspenders), with black-tie attire
  • Wearing anything with a too-large or inappropriately-placed logo or monogram, such as on the cuff of a long-sleeved dress shirt    
  • Wearing jewelry (such as rings and cuff links) with clear, glittery precious stones (diamonds, emeralds, sapphires) has a mobster connotation. On the other hand, opaque stones such as black onyx, white mother-of-pearl, and blue lapis-lazuli are considered in good taste.
  • Wearing large, showy gold chains
  • Wearing clothing that is too casual in a business setting, such as athleisure wear, message T-shirts, shorts, sandals, and sneakers.                                                                                     

Celebrities or performers can dress differently and so, too, can people who are okay with knowing they have pushed past the envelope; but if you are not in a field where all publicity is good publicity, you do want to make the right choices when adding flair, and not add too much.

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