Are there certain “rules” you should be following when it comes to men’s fashion?
Yes and no, from our perspective. Seasons come and go in the world of fashion and honestly, if we were all rigidly sticking to the same rules, we’d probably still insist upon “dressing for dinner” in a tuxedo every evening.
That said, we get a lot of questions about men’s clothing and how to wear it, so here we’re answering some of the most frequent:
#1. How many buttons should I have on my jacket?
People often wonder how many buttons they should have on their jacket and which ones to fasten – some or all of them?
To start with, wear the jacket that you are most comfortable in, whether that is one, two or three buttons. We generally recommend the two-button as this tends to be flattering on most people.
It might sound like an overly fussy rule, but yes there are certain norms for buttoning suit jackets and no, you don’t button all buttons on two or three-button jackets. (One-button jackets should always be fastened when standing.)
Interestingly, the trend for leaving the bottom button undone on the classic two-button jacket originated with Edward VII. The King was overweight and had trouble buttoning the lower button, so left it undone. This caught on with his subjects and has been a rule ever since. Both two-button and three-button jackets have a “never button” rule for that bottom button. Except for sportscasters on TV who listen to a higher authority despite what they look like.
When sitting down, it is recommended that you undo the buttons on two or three-button jackets. This helps to avoid creases.
#2. What colors should I choose for business wear?
This is a great question and we can see why people get confused! There are a lot of different colors and patterns that come and go in suiting, and with dress codes often leaning toward being more relaxed, you might wonder if that green suit is really okay…
Honestly, if you’re in any sort of business environment where a certain level of decorum is expected, we would stick with the classics. Most often, navy and grey are the more prevalent choices for suiting, but different shades of blue and grey have become acceptable in the less structured business environment. If you are unsure or want a “safe” choice though, stick with navy or grey.
The color you choose for yourself should be a good match for your facial and hair coloring. This doesn’t mean “grey suits for grey hair,” but that you should look to coordinate your accessories with the best shades for you. The key is accentuating what looks best on you – what colors won’t wash you out but rather accentuate the positives.“Classic” colors for business suiting are navy and grey Click To Tweet
#3. How do I choose the right tie?
The right tie for your outfit depends on the latitude you are comfortable taking in coordinating your accessories. White and light blue shirts allow you the most flexibility.
Ties should express your personality. There are no more limits on putting check shirts with striped ties for example. Just make sure the colors all coordinate well. If the suit has a subtle added color, bring that out in your shirt and/or tie.
Today, the old rules no longer apply. You can mix patterns and colors as never before, depending on the business environment you are entering. Shoes, belts and other accessories should also match.
There are two main tie sizes to know about: the standard (3.5”) and the skinny (2.75”). If you want a classic look that doesn’t tend to change, go for the standard size. Skinny ties are trendier.
In terms of materials, a good quality silk is one of the best.
For added flair, you can choose to wear a tie in more casual environments too. Dressing down doesn’t mean not being well-coordinated and well-dressed.
#4. How long should my trousers be?
There’s a fine line when it comes to trouser length – literally within an inch or two. When your pants are too long they bunch at the bottom, look sloppy and you run the risk of damaging the hem by scraping as you walk. When they’re too short, you can look like a growing school boy!
The point at which your trousers touch your shoes is known as the “trouser break.” There are three basic ways to look at the trouser break, each flattering men of different proportions:
- No break. This means the trousers just barely rest on top of the shoes. This length tends to suit shorter men better because it avoids cutting height off at the ankles. It’s also the preference of men who like a straight, starched presentation.
- Medium break. This is the traditional standard for dress trousers. The hem of the trousers reaches the shoe and covers the highest point of the back of the shoe. This style tends to be suited to any situation or stature (so it can come down to a matter of preference).
- Full break. The trouser hem has a fold that runs all the way around the leg. The cloth of the trousers rests firmly on top of the shoes and the opening of the shoe is hidden. This style is usually better on taller men or men going for a more casual look. (On taller men the extra folds appear smaller due to their longer legs).
#5. Should I wear a belt with a suit?
This question is debated with relative regularity among the sartorially-inclined. We feel that there are some times to wear one and some times not to…
When should you not wear a belt? Usually with a very formal suit such as a tuxedo. In fact, usually, tuxedo trousers don’t even have belt loops. We would also avoid a belt any time the emphasis is on sleek tailoring with emphasis away from your waistline.
Speaking of tailoring, another time to avoid a belt is as an accessory to hold up overly loose pants. This will only create a bunched up look in the middle (get those trousers fitted!).
Wear a belt when you’ve got your shirt tucked into a pair of dress trousers with visible belt loops. Of course, a belt serves a practical purpose if your suit is just a little loose (not “a lot” loose, as above!). Match your belt to your shoes for a classic look.
#6. Are tie clips still a thing?
Yes! If you like them, then wear them. The universal rule is to wear the tie clip between the third and fourth buttons of your shirt.
Another thing to note is that it’s generally recommended you avoid other embellishments such as pocket squares if you’re going to wear a tie clip. You can ruin your tailored look by overdoing the accessories.
#7. Are jeans acceptable for business casual wear?
That’s a solid “maybe!” We’ve written about what business casual means previously and have found that overall, the definition is very open to the interpretation of the business and people in question.
That said, if you don’t know whether jeans are acceptable as business casual attire in your workplace, the best thing to do is to ask. (And owners or managers, it’s up to them to define what you mean by “business casual” and ensure that your employees understand!).
In many workplaces now, it’s not uncommon for the regular dress code to involve jeans with a dress shirt and nice shoes. If you’re going to do jeans for work, wear a tidy pair that are well-fitted and in a dark wash. This helps to ensure that your look is stylish rather than sloppy!
#8. Is it okay not to wear socks with my suit?
Hmm, this is another question that can be hotly debated. You’ll see stylish men without socks in many fashion magazines or celebrity write-ups, and it really comes down to preference and the situation.
If you’re in a highly conservative profession, then the sight of your gleaming ankles might raise eyebrows. On the other hand, if it’s hot and if no one is really bothered, then maybe doing without socks is an option for you.
The right way to go without socks is not to go without them completely though. Your feet sweat and you can end up not only having an odorous pair of shoes, but you might damage them too. If you want the “no sock” look, buy some no-show or loafer socks. These will help to protect your shoes!
There are many questions that frequently get tossed around when it comes to men’s fashion. While there are some “rules” that are worth observing, we’re also believers in doing what feels right for you.
It’s good to express your individual style and add your own stamp to things. Wear what is comfortable to you, but also be aware of what suits you.
Your tailor can help you to get the look you’d like.