Guys, don't be a fashion disaster

Fashion

When it comes to looking good, little things can make a big difference. If only we knew what those little things were.

Men, I'm talking to you.

It appears that many of you could profit from a list of small things that every man should know — but might not.

We're not talking about anything radical here, just some basics that could genuinely turn your look from pathetic to passable. And if you've already graduated to the "presentable plus" category, consider these gentle nudges to help you keep up the good work.

A recent survey by Mintel, a market research company, found that among men who've bought clothes in the past year, 25 percent overall (and 40 percent of younger men) say they would dress more stylishly if only they knew how.

That's where I come in.

After talking to experts, I've compiled a list of 10 danger areas with suggestions for navigating them.

And to all the women out there who are dedicated to helping their men look their best (or at least not awful), I hope this helps.

1. Pants

Ideal length? They touch the top of your shoe heel. Never ever should they drag on the ground. Too short (showing socks at the back) is just as bad.

"Pants that are too long do not make you look taller," says men's fashion expert Joe Lupo, co-founder of visual-therapy.com. Trousers with cuffs make you look shorter too — as do rolled up jeans.

Pleated khakis are so over. Flat fronts are more flattering, even if you're overweight.

2. Shirts

A tailor is your best friend for sleeves that are too long or a shirt that's too big and blousy. With a jacket, show one-quarter inch of shirt cuff, one-half inch if you're wearing cuff links.

Gaps between buttons over your gut? Donate the shirt and buy bigger, "but it shouldn't be too baggy because that actually makes you look thicker," Lupo says.

Button all the buttons on your button-down collar. Yes, if a button is missing or hanging by a thread on any of your clothes, it will be noticed. So DIY or take it to the dry cleaner.

3. Jackets

The loosely stitched basting threads that hold the vent (slit) at the back of the new jacket or suit coat in place? They're meant to be removed. Immediately.

Pay a tailor to nip in the jacket waist slightly. "It makes a regular suit look $500 more expensive," says Lupo. This is true for big guys too. You should be able to pull the jacket out only an inch or two when buttoned.

Button up the jacket when entering a room; unbutton when sitting. If it's a three-button jacket, never button the bottom one, says Bloomingdale's Joyce Sobczyk, a style expert and personal shopper.

4. Shoes

Shine them; replace worn laces and heels. And take a hard look at your toes. If they're gross, sandals are a terrible idea.

Shoes you wear to the gym or for running are not a good choice for street wear; more fashionable sporty shoes are what you need.

"Those clunky chunky sole shoes from 1980 do not go with today's more streamlined trousers," says Sobczyk. Check men's fashion magazines to figure out current styles.

5. Jeans

Forget about your old college jeans. Even if you can still squeeze into them, they're almost certainly out of style.

Dark blue denim is the classic, best choice

Jeans that bag at the seat, waist or thigh do not make you look leaner. "When in doubt, not tight but straight fit; relaxed but too relaxed can look droopy. Casual does not mean schlumpy," Lupo says.

6. Underwear

Your whites should be really white. No grayish, pitted-up T-shirts. Replace them frequently.

When unbuttoning your shirt's top two buttons (maximum), it's better to show a crisp, very white T-shirt than some nasty gorilla chest hair.

Below the waist, there are many good, colorful options — boxer briefs anyone? — in addition to the old standby tighty-whiteys.

7. Belts

If pants have belt loops, wear a belt and make sure you haven't missed a loop.

Want to shout out loud that your waistline is expanding? Wear a belt with worn out holes to tell the world that you keep moving it to a bigger size. Belts are cheap: Buy a new one.

They don't have to match your shoes exactly but a decorative casual one is no good with a suit. And white is almost always a bad choice.

8. Accessories

Update your eyeglasses. They're the first thing people notice. And make sure they're smudge-free. A timeless pair of sunglasses, Ray-Ban aviators, for example, can upgrade your look without much effort.

Check to be sure that you're not wearing your socks inside out. (Yes, socks do have a "wrong" side.)

Jewelry should be kept to a minimum. Never more than three pieces, and two is better.

9. Grooming

Go easy on the fragrances. Less is more. And those body sprays do not cover up BO.

When shaving, make sure that you didn't miss a spot; don't leave the house with traces of shaving cream in your ears.

No deodorant streaks, please, on your dark polo (a moist towel corner will remove them).

10. Maintenance

The single most useful tool for dressing done right? Your mirror. Check that you're zipped, tucked, have no hairs growing where they shouldn't.

Don't skip the dentist.

No clothes last forever. Check items frequently for stains, holes, worn spots, and don't be afraid to toss.

shopellen@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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