Don’t worry, we’ve all made them.
So you’ve embarked on that transcendental journey known as sartorial improvement. In laymen’s terms, you’re ready to start dressing well. Not testing the waters with one foot. You’re in, head first. Except there is so much damn information out there to digest, you feel like your head is discombobulating. You need some direction. Something streamlined. Often, knowing what not to do makes the load less travelled far easier. With that said, here are our ten style mistakes to avoid so that you are well on your way to dapper-dom. Wait, is that a word? Now it is. Enjoy!
Mistake 1: Fit
This should be considered a no-brainer, especially for you aspiring dapper gents. But wearing clothes that fit you well is by far the most important consideration you can make when overhauling your wardrobe and upping your fashion sensibilities. With your shirts, pants and jackets, go for a tapered, streamlined look that fits from your shoulders all the way down. Avoid excessive, baggy clothing or extremely tight clothing. Tapered, well fitted clothing will always leave you in good stead and have you looking put together and dapper.
Mistake 2: the Oversized Jacket
An all too common occurrence with aspiring dapper gents, oversized suit jackets can make a man very quickly look out of place. The most important thing to get right when choosing a suit jacket or blazer is the fit around your shoulders. While a tailor can alter things like how a suit jacket fits around your sleeves, your torso and even the jacket’s length, there is little that can be done if the shoulders don’t fit right.
So, how should the shoulders fit? You want your suit jacket / blazer width to be as wide as your natural shoulder width. The jacket sleeve should meet where your arm meets your shoulder. Avoid jackets that have a divot or bunching in the arms, as these are signs that the jacket doesn’t fit properly.
Mistake 3: Shirt Sleeve Length
Looking to enter dapper-ville? A hallmark of a well dressed man is wearing shirt sleeves that are about ¼ to ½ an inch longer than your jacket sleeves. This shows clear attention to detail, allowing the layer closest to you to be visible past the jacket sleeve.
Mistake 4: Improperly Hemmed Pants
Does this style mistake make you highly culpable in the world of dapper-ville? Sure it does! When we dress well, we want to wear clothes that fit well, which also includes wearing streamlined pants. Not having pants adequately hemmed results in wearing trousers with a half break or full break – definite no no’s when we are trying to put our best foot forward. Pay a small fee and have your pants hemmed so that you look put together the next time you step out of the door!
Mistake 5: Pattern Matching
This can be especially problematic when you start layering. For example, a striped tie can be worn against a striped shirt, assuming that the patterns are different in proportion – which is to simply say that the space within the patterns varies. Hence, a wider striped tie will work fantastically against a narrower striped shirt. When in doubt, start with smaller patterns closer to your chest, and work your way out. While a smaller checkered tie could work with a larger checkered shirt, as both tie and shirt are different in pattern proportion, this will bring focus to the shirt rather than the tie.
Similarly, when wearing a shirt with pants, or a jacket with a shirt, difference in pattern proportion is more critical than difference in patterns. Hence, you are better off wearing a larger checkered (plaid jacket) against a micro checkered shirt, than a medium spaced checkered jacket against a medium spaced polka dot shirt (notice here that the patterns differ, but pattern proportions are the same, creating a less visually appealing look).
Mistake 6: Matching Your Tie and Pocket Square
When looking to elevate your style game, opt for a pocket square that complements, as opposed to exactly matches, the color of your tie. After all, who wants to dress looking like we just bought a pre-designed combo set at the local street vendor! Using a discerning eye to find colors that complement each other can really elevate our suiting ensembles to another level!
Examples would include wearing a pink or red pocket square with a navy tie as part of a triadic color scheme (refer to color theory at the following article), or a navy pocket square with a blue tie to form a monochromatic, elegant look. Either way, not exactly matching your pocket square color to your tie color will enhance your look considerably and make it look like you have really put thought into dressing up!
Mistake 7: Mismatching Trousers and Shoes
A crucial mistake that absolutely must be avoided! Choosing shoes that match your pants is of high importance! Here are common shoe colors and what options they provide you with:
Black Shoes: Probably the most restrictive of formal shoe colors, it pairs well with a black suit, navy or grey suit. While black does technically go with everything and is a highly compatible color, the goal when wearing a suit is to create a harmonious, streamlined look. Wearing black shoes with a brown or other lighter colored suit breaks up that silhouette without creating a unifying look.
Brown Shoes: While some may argue that black and brown can go together depending on the situation, I would emphasize that brown and black are a definite no-no in formalwear world! Aside from black, brown will complement virtually every other trouser color. Deeper, richer tones of brown and tan shoes will complement most pant colors better than black shoes.
Oxblood Shoes: While oxblood shoes have been growing in popularity, they still may be considered bold for the aspiring dapper gentleman. However, these are highly versatile shoes that can be worn with virtually every trouser color. These shoes can be utilized in a similar fashion to brown, and are an even bolder choice!
The below infographic by Real Men Real Style perfectly illustrates which shoes complement which suit/trouser colors:
Mistake 8: The Wrong Knot
Learning to tie a tie is a rite of passage into adulthood. Knowing what knot goes with which collar is a rite of passage into dapper-dom. How often do you see men with a spread collar, while strutting a four in hand knot! Or the inverse, where one is wearing a full windsor knot with a narrow spread collar. Either way, proportions are being abused. Knots that are either too small for the allotted space, as in the case of the former, or too large, as in the case of the latter, simply do your sartorial tendencies injustice. Plus, they throw off your body proportions.
If you are wearing a narrow collar, opt for a four in hand. If you are wearing a medium or wide spread, opt for a half or full windsor. It will keep your look synchronized, and in check!
Mistake 9: Buttoning Too Many Suit Buttons
Why should we even be bothered regarding what buttons we fasten? Almost seems trivial right. Well, just like with anything else style related, there are reasons, even if they may appear negligible. There are several reasons to pay attention when buttoning your suit jackets:
- Sending a message that you pay attention to detail. Firstly, and as circular of an argument as it may seem, this shows others that you pay attention to detail.
- An improved aesthetic. Now we’re talking! Fastening the right amount of buttons will create the right, streamlined aesthetic.
- Prevent buttons from popping. When seated, having your buttons undone will create a cleaner, less bulky look, and will prevent them from popping.
- Many suits are tailored with the assumption that the bottom button will never be fastened. Contemporary suits are often cut in a manner that doesn’t allow the fabric to drape properly when the bottom button is fastened for a two or three button jacket.
Single Button Suits – While less common, they are worth covering. With a Single Button Suit, you always want your button to be fastened while standing up, providing a streamlined look. Conversely, you want your suit button to be unfastened while sitting down, so as not to create an unflattering look.
Two Button Suits – With a two button suit jacket, the top button should always be fastened when standing, to create a more streamlined look. Unbutton the jacket when sitting down to avoid creasing and billowing. Never keep both buttons fastened!
Three Button Suits – Always button the middle button when standing, while the top button is optional. Ensure that the bottom button on a three piece suit is never fastened. Unbutton when sitting down to avoid bulking up.
The following infographic by Real Men Real Style provides a great snapshot of this topic:
Mistake 10: Over Accessorizing
I see it over and over again. Men, who have firmly planted both feet into sartorial land, going overboard on their adventure and wearing too many items all at once. Sure, it feels great knowing that you have access to a whole new world out there, but tastefully choosing items that will complement each other without creating clutter is key here.
On their own, ties, pocket squares, tie bars, lapel flowers, pocket watches, bracelets and the like are all fantastic. Too many in one ensemble though, and you’ve gone overboard. Excessive accessorizing (try saying that over and over!), will detract from the elegant look that you are trying to create, and instead leave you looking unnecessarily cluttered.
And that’s a wrap for this one. I hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it!
This guest post was written for Gents Lounge by Rishi Chullani. Rishi decided to take on entrepreneurial flair in the fashion world after 10 years in the corporate realm. Originally from Hong Kong and having lived in the US for 10 years, his broad travel and life experiences have provided him with depth in perspective that has contributed to his men’s accessories and style platform The Dark Knot. Rishi’s goal is to help gentlemen dress better, and believes that his vision is wholeheartedly reflected through his e-commerce site and blog, The Dark Knot.