Fashion has fewer rules than people think.
Most of the time, the ‘rules' of men's style are merely guidelines – down to individual interpretation and adjustments where necessary.
Today, however, we're talking about 5 basic rules that are set in stone.
You can't break them, you shouldn't break them, and if you do break them – you look like an idiot. Plain and simple.
It doesn't matter if you're Dave from the office or David Beckham; no man is stylish enough to pull off these basic style faux pas.
- Wearing Suspenders And A Belt
- Incorrectly Matching Your Socks and Pants
- Popping Your Collar
- Buttoning Your Suit Incorrectly
- Mismatching Belt And Dress Shoes
#1 Wearing Suspenders And A Belt
Suspenders hold your trousers up. So do belts. Therefore, you don't need both.
More importantly, you don't want to wear both – not only is it an obvious fashion error, it creates three sides of a square around the middle of your body.
Your overall image has just become a rectangle – making your torso look wider and fatter than it is.
Even if that's your aim, it's important to understand that wearing both suspenders and a belt is always a faux pas. People will notice, and they will think less of you for it.
Frankly, it just looks a bit weird.
#2 Incorrectly Matching Your Socks And Pants
This may be the most common error made by well-meaning but clueless men. The temptation to match your socks to your shoes is an obvious one, but it's the wrong idea.
When it comes to socks, there are two ways a man can dress:
- Subtle socks that blend in with the color of his pants
- Bold socks that make a statement
Which option you choose depends entirely on your overall style and sock-wearing situation. Some guys prefer the understated look of gray/black socks with a suit, while others prefer to use their socks as a way of injecting color into their outfits.
My advice? Less is always more.
To look truly timeless and stylish, I believe a man should wear socks that closely match/compliment the color of his pants.
When in a suit, you want to be noticed for your competency and professionalism. That's unlikely to happen if those around you get to know you as ‘the guy with the really bright socks.'
#3 Popping Your Collar
Two errors kind of rolled into one here because they're related, and they're both awful. Your shirt collar should never be “popped” – the points should point downward, and the whole thing should be folded over evenly.
Wearing two collared shirts, one popped and one unpopped doesn't even bear thinking about. One collared shirt at a time, properly folded over.
The second thing to watch for is overlap with lapels if you wear a jacket – the points of the collar should never protrude beyond the edge of the jacket lapel.
If you have little points of shirt collar poking beyond the edge of your jacket, you need a smaller collar or a wider V on the front of the jacket.
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#4 Buttoning Your Suit Incorrectly
Buttons are an easy place to make an error because the rules are different for different garments.
Jackets are never fully buttoned unless they are double-breasted jackets. Two-button jackets usually button at the top button, and three-button jackets button in the middle.
You may occasionally see flamboyant dressers experimenting with buttoning the lowest button and folding the jacket into a super-long lapel, and if you do you'll notice that they look bizarre. Don't do that. Button your jacket where it's supposed to be.
Vests traditionally leave the lowest button undone. The origins of the tradition are a little silly (King Edward VII of England started leaving his open for comfort and the aristocracy obediently followed the new “fashion”), but it's been around long enough that not doing it makes you look ignorant.
If you've mastered the basic fashion rules for guys and wear a waistcoat with confidence, you probably know enough to leave the lowest button undone.
Shirts button at all points. That includes the cuffs, collar in the case of button-downs, and the small buttons midway up the forearm (called the gauntlet or placket button). If you roll the sleeves up, undo both the cuff button and the gauntlet button.
#5 Mismatching Belt & Dress Shoes
As a general rule, dress shoes must always match your belt. They don't have to be made of the same leather, but no brown shoes and black belts, or vice versa!
Obviously, this leaves bright or multi-colored belts out of the question for dressier outfits; in more casual ensembles, you should still be looking for items from the same color family or the same general brightness.
The more casual you get, the more flexible it becomes, but mixing black and brown is always going to be a beginner's mistake.
In my opinion, it's best to match up your shoes and belt where possible. Sneakers are the exception to an extent – after all, sportswear comes in a multitude of different colors that you might struggle to find in a leather belt.
However, when it comes to casually wearing boots, it's always best to match up your belt as closely as possible. If your boots are brown, wear a brown belt. If your boots are gray, wear a black belt if you can't get your hands on a gray one.