Get It Together: Dressing Like A Grown-Up
We asked Arthur, our Men's Senior Corporate Merchandiser, 'How do I dress like a grown-up without being boring?' Seeing as how he has a beautiful girlfriend, an adorable puppy, a picture perfect house and is one of the best dressed people we know, we thought he'd be more than qualified to answer.
How should a suit fit?
The most important fit is the shoulders. The shoulder seams should land at the apex shoulder bone. As an illustration, if you were standing next to a wall, and slowly moving closer to it, your bicep should touch the wall before the shoulder of the suit does.
Some other signs of a good fitting suit include at least a ½” of shirt cuff showing out of the jacket sleeve when your arms are at your side and that the fabric doesn’t pull too much in the chest (a little is ok) when you button the front buttons. Remember: never button the bottom button!
As for details like the length of the jacket body, the width of the lapels, darts, pockets, the amount of padding in the shoulders, where the vent(s) are located, etc. are all a matter of taste and fashion. There are traditions that dictate all of these details but my general advice here is the more expensive the suit, the more the traditions should be followed.
Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion by Alan Flusser is the definitive book on this subject.
If you can only afford one suit, what color should it be?
Navy blue is somber enough to wear to a funeral, cheerful enough to wear to a wedding, and complex enough to be taken seriously in a board meeting. Charcoal is a good second choice. Avoid light gray, brown, or black unless you already have the first two, and avoid stripes/patterns unless you really know what you are doing.
How do you pick out a tie?
When worn with a suit or a sport coat, the width of the tie should relate to the width of the lapel (i.e. if the widest part of the lapel is 3” then the widest part of the tie should be between 2 ¾” and 3 ¼”) but matching the width exactly is a little predicable so some variance shows that you’re not trying too hard. As far as color and pattern go, I would recommend the tie be lighter than the suit, but darker than the shirt. Avoid repp ties (bias striped ties) unless you know what they mean (for example a navy and orange striped tie means you went to Princton). Most ties are silk, but wool or cotton can be worn in winter and summer respectively.
What about bolo ties?
Hell yes. Don’t forget the matching silver collar points.
How often can I wear the same thing in one week?
It depends on the item. Something like a suit or a pair of classic dress shoes can be worn everyday (though eventually you may want to add to the rotation), and a new pair of raw selvedge jeans are almost expected to be worn everyday (without washing) for a couple of months. But other than that, basic items like oxford shirts, tee shirts, and chinos can be worn every other day with out anybody noticing. Generally speaking, the more memorable the item, the less frequently it should be worn (unless you want to be known as “the red pants guy/girl” or whatever).
What's an accessory I can wear that will make me see more mature?
A “Life Alert” necklace. Or just a wristwatch (for men and women). Either/or. Up to you.
Honestly, When it comes to dress shoes vs sneakers, you pretty much have to man up, take the plunge into adulthood, and wear a grown ass man’s shoes. I recommend a classic cap toe blucher or oxford in black or burgundy. Avoid square-toed shoes.
What's one thing every guy should have in his closet?
A blue oxford shirt.
What's one thing every girl should have in her closet?
Her ex-boyfriend’s blue oxford shirt.
For guys and girls, what should be 'investment pieces' and what can be bought on the cheap?
As your personal style develops you will find yourself wearing some things more than others, and over time these things would be the best candidates for investment pieces. I recommend buying the affordable version of something first, and over time (if they work for you) “buy up” to investment status replacing items as you go. The only items I can really recommend as investment pieces right out of the gate are a decent suit, good jeans, good dress shoes, a good daily handbag/briefcase, and a decent raincoat. Everything else can be scaled to fit your budget.
What are a couple of things that are totally inappropriate to wear when you're over 25 (ie, tutus, unless you're a ballerina)?
Chunky skate shoes, face paint, cut off shorts when the pocket bags come out of the bottom, side boob shirts, neon anything, fedoras, anything with a kitten on it. These all go for guys and girls.
Oops! Looks like I didn't make it home last night! Do I call in sick, or is there a way to salvage this mini-dress and heels and make it office-appropriate?
Maybe… Borrow/steal one of his button downs or sweaters and toss it over the dress.
Woo-hoo! Casual Friday! That means I can wear my fraternity T-shirt and these flip-flops, right?
Shit yeah brah.
I got a neck tattoo. Am I screwed?
Totally, unless you're the creative director for a major fashion company. In the meantime, here’s an application for McDonalds.
What are some general style tips you have:
• Be honest with yourself and own your measurements. The foundation of style is fit; everything else is secondary. This means learning what looks best on you regardless of your size.
• Try and wear things that you feel represent your lifestyle, your interests, your heritage, colors you like, etc. this is called “keeping it real”. Trying too hard or following some trend you have no real connection with also has a name; “poseur.” Trust me when I say people can tell that you don’t have a “Native spirit-space Gypsy-Gothic French-witch" all at the same time background.
• Lastly, “Wear the clothes, don’t let them wear you”. This means confidence is king, and ultimately you can feel good in anything you wear as long as you believe in yourself. Duh.