The Importance of Being a Sharp Dressed Man: Appear to Be More Charming, Important, and Better Looking Than You Actually Are

I’m no fashion expert, just a guy who happens to be conspicuously clued in.

This past week, I had a job interview.  And I would say it went very well.  Plus, a few days later, word got back to me that the guy who interviewed me made a comment after I left that he really liked my suit.  People really do notice when a man knows how to dress nicely.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t actually wearing a suit anyway; it was just a good-looking ensemble.  A month ago I went to the Gap Outlet and bought a $30 black, slim-fitting sports jacket, $20 black, pinstriped pants, and a $20 dress shirt.  I already had a black-and-blue Tommy Hilfiger tie from TJ Maxx ($12) and a black pair of European style dress shoes from  the DSW Shoe Warehouse ($50).

Wearing an actual suit isn’t always the answer to knowing how to dress nicely, anyway.  By throwing together an ensemble like I did for the interview, it showed that I take enough care in my appearance, but that I don’t know too much or think too much about it.  Or even worse, that the only really nice thing I have to wear is the same suit which I wear to all “nice” occasions but then dress like Ray Romano on all other occasions.

In a world where effeminate yet culturally knowledgeable men rule the TV shows on HDTV and TLC that we watch only because our wives watch them, many of us guys have ended up shying away from knowing the basics of and the importance of dressing nicely.  We have let ourselves believe that light pleated khakis, a faded polo shirt, and Nike Shox account for “dressing up” for an event.  And if we dare attempt to push the envelope by wearing something more stylish, like a pink dress shirt, we ruin it for ourselves by wearing those same awful light pleated khakis with it, earning us a big red “FAIL” stamp.  (You should wear black, slate, or dark gray pants with a purple shirt.) A few months ago I realized that Scenic Route Snapshots was getting several hits a day from guys asking Google, “should men tuck in their dress shirts into jeans?” and “should I wear khakis to the club?” as they would click on the titles featured at the very bottom of this post.

It was then that I recognized my responsibility as an average guy who happened to have a quarter Italian blood and some distant Jewish blood in my veins (the Italians and Jews are largely responsible for leading the way in men’s fashion, like Versace who is Italian and Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger who are Jewish) to let other dudes in on what I know that they need to know.  And I’ve learned that the more I write about men’s fashion, the more that men find and read my website.  I can’t let these fashion-curious men down.

Dressing for Work: In season two of The Office, I learned this from Jan telling it to Pam: “Dress for the job you want to have, not the one you already have”.  Instead of finding ways to get by with the current dress code, find ways to slightly “up step” the expectations and your male coworkers.  For example, if you can get by with wearing “nice jeans” Monday through Friday, don’t.  Save those dark jeans for Casual Friday, but don’t just simply wearing a t-shirt then.  On Casual Friday, still wear a dress shirt, but don’t tuck it in, and unbutton the top two or three buttons.  The idea is that even on your most laid-back day, you’re still dressed nice enough to fire someone and be taken seriously.

Dressing for Weddings, Graduations, Banquet Dinners, Etc.: It mainly comes down to the belt, the shoes, and the necktie.  Rule- The color of your belt must match the color of your shoes.  In other words, it’s a sin to wear a black belt if your shoes are brown.  Which brings me to another rule- Do not wear black with brown.  While there are dangerous exceptions, like going “Black and Tan”, it’s too much of a gamble to wear black pants with brown shoes.

As far as the necktie, it’s safest to go with solid colors.  Rule: Just to be on the safe side, if your shirt is striped, wear a solid tie; if your tie is striped, wear a solid colored shirt. Regarding the shirt itself, make sure it is long-sleeved.  Last time I checked, it’s Dwight Schrute and McDonald’s cashiers that are wearing short sleeved, button down collared shirts with ties.  You don’t want to look like them; trust me.  You want to be taken seriously.  As far as wearing short sleeved, button down collard shirts, treat them like polos, not dress shirts.

Can you get away without wearing a tie to really nice events?  Yes.  Try wearing a nice vest.  Or as long as you have a good, newer suit, the matching jacket and pants will suffice.

The bottom line is this; there are certain items that every man should have in his wardrobe.  What’s not important is how much money you spend on these items or the brand names.  What does matter is that they are not outdated or worn out.  In other words, if you brag that you can still fit in the same suit you’ve had since 1993, there’s a good chance that suit is now out of style- likely, it’s too boxy and baggy.  Here are the items you need to get by:

A pair of black pants (no pleats) and black dress shoes, a pair of dark khaki pants (no pleats) and brown dress shoes, one good dress shirt, one good tie, one decent jacket that matches either the black or brown pants, a pair of nice dark jeans (not the kind that Jerry Seinfeld wore on his show), and a decent pair of casual shoes (Chuck Taylor’s, nice running shoes, etc.)  If you have these items, you can get through most situations with style.  So go to Kohl’s or TJ Maxx and buy them cheap.

I’ve got to where now I started dressing nice when I am traveling by plane.  People assume you’re more important if you’re wearing a nice jacket or a tie.  I like to think that one day my plan will pay off and I will be bumped up to First Class simply because I looked special enough to deserve it.  As for you, your quality of life will improve a small degree as you apply what you have learned today in this post and the ones I included as links.  It will be our little secret.  When you receive compliments on how nice you look, there’s no need to even bring up my name.  We’ll just keep it on the DL.

As the title implies, you will appear to be more charming, important, and even better looking than you actually are.  Your actual looks can be highly compensated for if you know how to present yourself, especially if you are consistent in your outstanding attire.  If you enjoyed and related to this post, there’s an 86% chance you will also appreciate at least one of these too, so just click the title itself to read more.

1) How to Wear Dress Pants, If You’re a Guy: Don’t Wear Them With Sneakers and Avoid Khakis

2) How to Wear Pink, If You’re a Guy

3) How to Wear All Black, If You’re a Guy

4) Sweaters are the Shirt

5) Long Sleeved, Button Downs are the Shirt

6) Are Jeans Really as Comfortable as We Think?

7) Being a Handsome Man Vs. Being a Hot Guy

8) The Perfect Haircut for a Guy: A Modern Day James Dean Hairstyle

9) Manspeak, Volume 9: Appearance

How to Wear All Black, If You’re a Guy

Now that you’ve mastered How to Wear Pink, If You’re a Guy, try something even more difficult: black.

Gone are the days of the 1950’s beat generation or the grunge scene of the ‘90’s where dressing in all black meant you were a cool in a mysterious and artistic way. Today if a guy dresses in all black it sends one of the following wrong messages to the world:

1)     “I have recorded my own album called ‘Rock Tyme Central’, featuring me on electric guitar, keyboards, vocals, and back up vocals.”

2)      “Every once in a while, I put my tongue ring back in just to keep the hole from closing up.”

3)     “I worship Satan.”

When choosing to wear a black collared shirt, whether it’s a polo or long sleeved button down, unless you’re wearing with it dark jeans, you’re making a risky move, because you must carefully plan everything else you wear with it.

And since black shirts don’t usually work well with khaki pants (just like you can’t wear brown shoes with black pants), you will ultimately end up wearing some form of black pants: dark gray, charcoal, or faded black.  So technically, that means you’re wearing all black.

But these days, the only way to wear all black if you’re a guy is to not literally wear all black, but instead, pay tribute to the idea.  To pull this off, you must incorporate a color accent, or distraction, against the uniform consistency of your “all black” attire.  Like a blue t-shirt underneath your black shirt that barely shows through.  Or a white belt.  Or really nice Diesel style shoes with color in them- but not regular sneakers.