The Dapper Man

I will be the first to admit how much I love the look of a man in a suit, tux or jacket and tie. There is something inherently sophisticated about a man who knows how to properly dress himself for a formal occasion. Today, it's almost appalling how casually people dress in situations which traditionally dictate a more formal approach to dress (like church, a nice dinner out, live theater, a wedding, a funeral, office events, interviews, etc.) The not-so-polite part of me wants to walk up to said offender (wearing jeans, more often than not), thump them on the head, make them watch Casablanca and take them to buy a decent suit, shirt, tie and shoes. By the way, those are four items that every man above the age of 25 should own -- not a hand-me-down version from your dad, but a suit that fits you properly. I care not if it's new or vintage, but it must fit. Nothing kills the look quicker than an ill-fitting suit. And for the love of above, please learn how to tie a tie! Clip-ons are deplorable.

To make things a bit easier, here's a list of must-have items for every man's wardrobe. Print it and take it with you, along with the visual aides provided. I promise it will make your shopping experience more efficient and less painful (as I sympathize with the commonly male disdain for shopping.) Of course, there are many more fantastic ways to customize your look, but these are simply the foundations to help one get started. Consider this your shove in the right direction, dolls. The ladies of the world will thank you!

A Well-Fitting Suit in a good neutral color, such as black, dark gray navy or a subtle pinstripe. Dark brown is gaining popularity but should not be a replacement for a good black or gray suit. Additionally, very few men can pull of a double-breasted suit. Best to stick with a 2-3 button, single-breast cut, but look into more modern 4-5 button suits if they appeal to you. As for trousers, please avoid front pleating. Unless you are tall and thin, they simply do not flatter.

2. A Dress Shirt - If your shirt has french cuffs, make sure you have a pair of cuff links! Don't go for crazy colors or patterns if you don't already own a white or similar light-colored dress shirt. Keep it simple and change it up with different ties if need be.

3. An Undershirt - Acts like a barrier between your new dress shirt and sweaty skin. Also helps to create a smoother line for your shirts. If you don't want to wear a short-sleeved version, wear a tank version (aka 'wifebeater'.) Also, please make sure that it is plain white, pocketless, the collar is not fraying and it fits you well (read: not too big, bunchy under your dress shirt.) Additionally, normal crew cuts or v-necks are fine. Some folks debate whether or not one should see the collar of a crew-neck style. Not me, I care way more that you just have one on. I'm going to be brutal here. No one wants to see anything -- sweaty spots, tufts of hair or lumps and bumps of any kind -- please just wear one. Don't ask why, just do it. It's for the greater good, trust me. You think you can get away with not wearing one and think that people won't notice ? Wrong. We notice everything.{Courtesy Fresh Pair}

A Tie - This can be of the bow or straight tie variety, depending on personal preference, and both can look dapper with the right ensemble. Crazy novelty ties do not apply here. If you aren't sure if it looks nice paired with your suit and dress jacket, go for a nice solid silk tie. You simply cannot go wrong there and nearly any color will work. Subtle tone-on-tone color prints look nice, as well as bright "college" diagonal stripes if you're going for a more preppy and less continental look. If you aren't sure how to tie your new necktie, check out Gentleman Joe's walkthrough on several classic tie options.

{Courtesy: Black Tie Guide}

5. Dress Shoes - Black is a safe place to start. Avoid patent unless you're wearing a tux (which is an entirely different post.) Go for something with a bit of shine, that looks nice polished. Black calf skin is a personal favorite and hits many different price points. Slip-on, tie or bootie - you can throw a bit of originality into your look with a funky shoe or complete a classic with a great wing-tip. The choice is yours.{Courtesy Shoes.com}

6. A Dress Belt or Suspenders (or Braces) - Some men prefer one over the other. If you tend to never wear belts, suspenders are a viable alternative and can look fantastic. Now, I'm not talking the elastic Mork suspenders with the little metal clips, here gents. Suspenders should be worn without a belt, be made of silk and have button holes. Subsequently, your dress slacks should have buttons (any good tailor can add buttons, so it's really a non-issue.) Keep in mind, the color of your suspenders should compliment your dress shirt and tie, but not match them exactly. (Very few things get my heart aflutter like a suit with suspenders. Completely dashing!)

{Courtesy CTM via Amazon.com}

Fancy a belt instead? Go with a simple, medium width leather with a basic buckle in your preferred finish (silver or gold-tone) and color to match your shoes. Again, if we're talking a black or gray suit, a black belt and shoes make the most sense. Beige or brown suit, brown shoes and belt. Navy suit? Go with black shoes and belt. It won't be as distracting as brown. A great investment is a reversible dress belt. Calvin Klein makes a great one (shown below.)

{Courtesy Calvin Klein}

Dress socks. Please, save your white athetic socks for the gym and go with something with a bit of style. Dark dress socks look great with a dark suit and make it an "non issue." Feeling like you want to make a sock statement? Try a snappy argyle!
{Courtesy J. Crew}

8. A Handkerchief. Every gentleman I know has a handkerchief. Just when you don't think you'll need it, you will. The teary-eyed dame you're sitting next to will appreciate it, too -- just be sure it's clean before you offer it to her!

{Courtesy J&R Designs}
Happy shopping!


hennhouse said...

When the husband needs a new suit (which is about once or twice a year), he goes straight to Brooks Brothers, finds someone JUST LIKE YOU and comes home with a new ensemble. Although, he has never, ever shown an interest in suspenders. But, I'm with you all the way--I love the look of a guy who can dress himself in a well-fitting suit.

MSM said...

My hubs wears suspenders and is tres GQish. Loves the look!

There is nothing like a well dressed man.

Been watching an incredible BBC series on Netflix called BRAMWELL - it is set in Victorian era about a woman doctor in London. I can't get over how well dressed her father is. OH, and how they dress for dinner! This series is to-die-for well done and accurate, highly recommend to all!

We live in an age where lounging casual comfort is the norm, even while dining - YUCK! Let's get back to dressing up people! We all look like slobs in jeans all the time! :-) or we could at least TRY!!!

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