The Foundational Basics
This is not just a conversation we need to have before moving onto more exciting things. This is a conversation we want to have because everything rests on the foundational basics of style. Everything you wear—everything you are.
There are some very basic ideas and elements of men’s style that are often overlooked, or perhaps not even known in the first place. This is not okay because style actually matters – not because of what other people are thinking (although this can be important at times), but because style is a way that a man can accurately communicate any message he wants – an idea, an attitude, an image. Style is an effective mode of communication.
We’re going to address some foundational elements of style upon which any man can build his wardrobe and image:
-When dressing, shoes should always match one’s belt and watch. For a classic look, one’s socks should match (or be a shade darker) than one’s pants. However, the “sock rule” has kind of been disregarded as of late and bold, colorful socks are widely accepted as well. Never wear white socks or sneakers with a dressy combination.
-If you’re wearing denim, make it dark, and simple. There are some exceptions to this rule, but dark denim is much more versatile and can often times be worn with dressier combinations whereas light denim cannot. Make sure your denim is free of white stitching (on the back pockets especially). Simple, fitted, dark denim should be a wardrobe staple because of its versatility. White-stitched, jewel-bedazzled jeans should be left on the rack at the store, reserved only to be purchased by the husbands of the Real Housewives of New Jersey.
-If you are wearing a dress shirt, you can never go wrong with simple white. It goes with everything and can be worn under suits, sweaters, or solo. A nice, fitted, white dress shirt should be owned by all men.
-A watch is often seen as a sign of being “grown up.” If you don’t own one, get one and go with a classic watch with a simple band and not many (if any) additional dials and numbers. You will be taken more seriously, you’ll be able to wear it a lot, and it won’t be distracting. A gaudy watch is worse than not wearing one at all. Watches should also be worn securely around your wrist.
-Suits: Navy is the most flexible color you can buy. After the purchase of a navy suit, charcoal and medium gray are good options as well. These colors are great as whole suits, and can easily be “pieced out” for different ensembles. NEVER button the bottom button of your suit coat. If you’re in a three-button coat, you can button the top two, or just the middle one. Two button coat? Just the top button.
-Ties: Don’t ever match your shirt and your tie. For example, if you’re wearing a solid red shirt, don’t wear a solid red tie. Allow your tie to be the ‘pop’ of your ensemble. Knit ties are (in general) considered to be less dressy. One can still wear it with a suit, but they are also great to wear with more casual outfits. Don’t underestimate the power of the ‘knot.’ There is almost nothing worse than a poorly tied tie. We always tie the ‘Shelby’ knot. It’s perfectly triangular, it works with all collar styles, and it provides a perfect dimple each time. Give it a try!
-Last, but certainly not least, keep well-groomed. This goes for your face, hair, and any facial hair. By the time you realize you need a haircut, many other people have as well. Find a stylist who knows your hair and develop a haircut routine with him or her. Oh yeah, don’t let your beard or scruff get out of control.
A good overarching theme for the foundational basics of style is “fitted.” Your clothes (shirts, dress-pants, suits, jeans etc.) should be fitted; not too tight, and not too loose. “Fitted” does not mean someone needs to be ‘fit’ to wear it. Extra fabric hanging off one’s body makes men look bigger than they actually are. The flip side is true as well. Skin tight clothes are not forgiving, and often make men look heavier than they are. A few years ago, “slim fit” shirts and pants were reserved for slim guys. This is not the case anymore because “slim fit” garments are made to fit most men, not just the skinny ones.
Also, with the “fitted” rule, do not hesitate to take things to a tailor. Many misconceptions exist about tailors, like they’re overpriced and unnecessary. That is completely false. We are going to dedicate an entire column to tailoring, custom clothing, and all things “fitted,” but until then, do yourself a favor and take that baggy suit to a tailor and let him or her work his or her magic on it. It will be worth the price to avoid looking like you’re wearing a parachute.
So there it is. We’ve had “the talk.” We’re passionate about the foundational basics of style because we follow them every day. They are the foundation of everything that we wear and everything we are communicating to everyone we come into contact with.
Feel free to ask us any questions you have about these style basics or anything else style-related. We’d love to help you out. email@example.com
Kenny and Danny King are twin brothers, style consultants, and co-founders of King Brothers Clothiers in Minneapolis – St. Paul. Look for their line of neckwear, hitting shelves in 2013! Visit http://www.kingbrosclothiers.com for more information.
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