7. Getting All the Details Wrong

The devil is often in the details, and it’s always tragic when someone ruins an otherwise-sharp outfit by getting something simple and small wrong, or forgetting it entirely. Be sure to run over the details of your outfit before you leave the house – working from the feet up or the head down can often be helpful; we’ve used the latter approach here: Head-wear is one of those highly personal things that there aren’t good universal guidelines for. Nonetheless, people seem to have a real knack for choosing the wrong hat, so try to at least make sure the colors work with the rest of your outfit (remember your color wheel again here) and the shape of the hat goes well with the shape of your face. If you have a narrow face, avoid a narrow, sharply-peaked hat; if your face is round, stay away from bowlers and other rounded crowns that turn your head into a beach ball. Formality is also worth keeping in mind; only stiff, felt hats should be worn with business or formal wear. Soft caps and leather hats are more casual, and should be worn with casual clothes. Neckties can be tied in several different styles, and you should choose whichever flatters your face best. Men with large heads or broad faces will want a solid knot to support them, with the full Windsor being the timeless best choice; narrow-faced or small men may want something like the slim, triangular four-in-hand. A small dimple should rest directly below the point of the knot, centered in the middle of the fabric. This lifts the tie off the chest slightly, giving it body and an attractive drape.  

The Pocket Square: Pocket squares are an often-overlooked touch that can set a well-dressed man apart from the crowd on their own. They are an individual article of clothing, and should not match the tie or anything else in your ensemble, but they should work with the overall color scheme and not distract from the ensemble as a whole. While stylish, and often entrancing when first introduced to a man’s wardrobe, they are an accent and not a defining “look” in their own right.  

The Boutonnière

Boutonnières are another underused stylistic flourish, partly because of their association with large, formal occasions and rented tuxes (weddings, your high school prom, etc.) and partly because they only last a few hours. Like pocket-squares, however, they are a stylistic flourish that sets a man who chooses his wardrobe apart from a man who wears suits because he has to. Boutonnieres should always be worn through the buttonhole on the lapel – if your lapel doesn’t have a working buttonhole, you shouldn’t wear a boutonniere. Carnations, gardenias, and blue cornflowers are the most commonly-worn flowers, but anything in the same general size is appropriate. A good florist will usually have a selection ready to hand, but don’t underestimate the carefree effect of fresh-picked garden or wildflowers if you have access to them! Avoid poppies except on days of remembrance like Memorial Day or Armistice Day, as they are a widely-recognized sign of respect for fallen military members.

Male Jewelry

Jewelry is something best kept to an understated minimum, since it distracts from the head-to-toe effect of a good outfit and draws the eye to a specific point instead. The exception to any jewelry rules is the wedding band – as a specific and lifelong symbol of commitment, the band may always be worn, and need not match other jewelry or decorations. Other than the wedding ring, watches are probably the most common male adornment, and in many cases hardly count as jewelry at all. There are no fixed rules about styles of band, materials of construction, or face design, so simply understand that a simpler watch is more formal, and that anything very large and bright will usually be regarded as gaudy and perhaps a bit feminine. Cuff-links on shirts with French cuffs are the other common male adornment, and often invite very close scrutiny – among men who wear them, they are one of those strange touches that can make a disproportionately strong impression, so be aware that some individuals will take careful note of your choice and judge you based on it. Earrings and rings (outside of the wedding band, or occasionally a fraternal insignia or class ring) are generally seen as unneeded ostentation, particularly in more conservative circles, and should likely be avoided except as an occasional and deliberately casual gesture.

Conclusion & Summary

Seven basic tips later, most men should now be able to create a functional wardrobe with confidence – and without reliance on store clerks and advertisers (who have a vested interest in selling you anything, good-looking or not) or on friends and relatives (who are often clueless). To recap: The first Misconception is a bad fit. Garments that are too loose sag and billow; clothes that are too tight are uncomfortable to wear and bunch up unattractively. Knowing the basic guidelines for fit in suits, trousers, and shirts is the key. Dressing inappropriately is the second Misconception. Understanding what is meant by different dress codes is the first half of avoiding this mistake. Knowing what occasions call for what dress is the second half. A flexible wardrobe will help on occasions with less precise dress codes. The third Misconception is mismatching your patterns. Remember to mix the scale of the patterns. An understanding of the different levels of formality that patterns offer can help you select the right ones for specific occasions or outfits.  

Sincerely,  Charlie’s Design – Fashion House – Bangkok   

Mismatching colors is the fourth Misconception. The color wheel is your secret weapon here. Know which relationships between colors look good, and use varying lightness and darkness to create variety rather than straying from those guidelines. Dressing inappropriately for your specific body is the fifth Misconception – and in many cases is a sin of pride. Be realistic about your figure, and dress in ways that flatter it. Trying to wear fashions meant for men of a very different shape is just setting yourself up for embarrassment, so know what the classic styles for your physique are. The sixth Misconception is prioritizing quantity over quality when buying clothing. Knowing the signs of good clothing are the key to avoiding this, so familiarize yourself with the signs of good materials and manufacture. One flattering piece of clothing is more valuable than any number of mediocre options in the closet, so choose with precision rather than thriftiness. The last Misconception of menswear is missing the details. The easiest way to avoid this is to keep your outfits simple and avoid unnecessary ornamentation. When you do wear a personal adornment of some kind, be sure you understand the conventions that govern it. A coordinated outfit is an excellent way to express your personal style.