Being seen as a well-dressed Southern Man is easier than you may think. Sure, fabrics, cut and fit are major factors but here are seven tips on how you can look like a million buck by following these basic rules.
Style rules. Sometimes they can seem…what’s the word?
Stupid – Arbitrary – Pointless.
Anything with rules must be questioned why, right?
Absolutely. Today’s article is going to go over the most common rules that, on the surface seem incredibly dumb, but when you look at why they were put in place are actually pretty darn smart.
Rule 1. Never Button Your Bottom Suit Button
Button up when you are standing. Jackets are designed for a slimmer silhouette when they are buttoned. Your chest and shoulders will be built up and the waistline is slimmed. Think of it in terms of a tent. The way it’s designed, a tent that has its “door” unzipped will billow from the wind, but when closed serves its purpose perfectly. It’s important that the jacket is buttoned correctly.
- Always button the jacket of a one button suit
- Two button suit jackets should only have the top button fastened
- The middle button should be secured with three button suits. The top button is optional.
Notice that the bottom button is never buttoned. This is for functionality and comfort. You will have restricted movement near the hips and chest when all of the buttons are buttoned. The same goes for double breasted jackets. The bottom button that is closest to the edge of the opening should be left unbuttoned.
Remember that suit jackets are (often times) the highlight of the outfit. A jacket that is improperly worn can ruin the look.
Rule 2. Never (Ever) Match Your Tie and Pocket Square
Inherent in this rule is to always wear a pocket square. Pocket squares polish the look off and are timeless. It breaks up the monotony on the chest of the jacket. From the shoulder to the pocket is about 6 – 8 inches of fabric that can use some adornment. Pocket square and tie combinations should complement in color scheme but not be the same pattern.
Department stores such as Macy’s and Dillards are known for offering tie and matching pocket square combinations: and they should know better.
Doing this forces you to dig deep and be creative. For example, the pocket square can have a subtle color that’s in the tie. When placed in your suit pocket that infinitesimal color will be brought out when paired with the neck tie.
It does take some trial and error to get it right so consult a stylist at your local menswear store for some assistance.
They can guide you on the proper scale of the design and fabric weight. Pocket square are made to be seen so choose one that will not sink and disappear into your pocket throughout the day.
After consulting a professional about how to properly sport a kerchief, you might not be sold. A tip that will help you if this is the case is donning a white – straight fold pocket square. There are others ways to fold your pocket square.
Rule 3. Spend As Much on Your Shoes As You Do Your Suit
Shoes are the focal point of a suit. They round off the look with class and elegance. When you are wearing a great pair of shoes, people are able to see the suit better.
The natural inclination when looking at someone is to start at the head. Classically stylish shoes will catch the eye and make onlookers scan you from top to bottom. This why the entire suit (and all accessories) can be seen.
More importantly, the shoes must be of stellar quality. Just as in suits, price can be an indicator of quality. It’s not a guarantee but it does usually point you in the right direction.
Shoes with a steeper price tag are generally constructed better. Ideally, you want to purchase a hand cobbled shoe. There is greater attention to detail and craftsmanship when a shoe is hand made. Some handmade shoes may not be in the budget so do your research and find a quality shoe brand that will last. Style is an investment in you and your confidence. So don’t be afraid to spend a little.
Rule 4: Never Wear a Suit Jacket without the Matching Trousers
This rule is specifically for the man who is just starting out so it can possibly be broken.
Suits are designed to be formal; not as formal as a tuxedo but formal nonetheless. A suit is defined as a jacket and trousers that are made from the same material and have the same design. It’s like a menswear marriage. The two have to go together. Wearing a pair of suit trousers with an odd sport coat or another suit jacket is a no-no.
Sporting them separately will give each piece a different level of wear. If your wear the jacket more than you wear the pants (other the other way around) one of the items will deteriorate faster than the other.
If you are a guy who does not have multiple suits and something happens to the trousers or the jacket when you’re wearing them as separate – then you would be short a suit. Be wearing both items together you can maintain them better.
Rule 5: Never Wear a Backpack with a Suit
The utility of a backpack is undeniable but it’s used for a specific purpose and environment. As an adult, I am comfortable in assuming that you are passed the school yard days that require you to carry school supplies.
Backpacks will damage the shoulders of your suit on the inside and outside. By now you know that a quality suit is a financial investment. If you are wearing a backpack it would stand to reason that you are carrying a lot of things. This can get heavy and the weight of the contents of the back will weather the shoulders of the suit over time.
Instead of using a backpack to carry your things you can use other stylish yet functional options such as:
- Messenger bag
If there is no avoiding using a backpack because of your lifestyle, then make sure it is a quality and stylish one such as the products from JL Rocha. The work around that will protect your jacket is folding it properly and placing it in your bag. The proper way to fold a jacket or blazer can be found here.
Rule 6: Proper Placement and Length of Your Necktie
Neckties should not be too long or too short. The bottom of your necktie should stop at the middle of your belt buckle. Another way to guarantee that your tie is the right length is that is should cover all of the exposed buttons on the placket of your shirt (and should still stop at the middle of your belt buckle).
Stopping at this point will help you achieve proportionality. Some men’s torsos are longer than their legs and other guys are the opposite.
Still, you have others men whose torso and legs are very close to being the same length. When a tie stops above your belt buckle it shortens your torso. When it’s below, your legs are shortened. Having the right length keeps you balanced.
Rule 7: Match Your Belt to Your Trousers
A belt is more than a piece of leather that holds your pants up. It is an essential style element that adds sophistication to the outfit. When you wear a belt it should match your trousers. It could be spring time and you want to wear light pants with a light shirt. The perfect belt would be a light one to create continuity.
If it contrasts too much, the belt will cut you in half – making you look like one of David Copperfield’s assistants. Earlier in the article, I talked about neckties creating proportionality. Belts help to form this as well. A stark difference in the belt and pants color can have an effect that makes you look blocky. This will section you off and stunt the length in your look
Trends may come but they will also go. As such, I am an advocate of the classic and timeless elements of menswear. By investing in these items and wearing them the classic and intended way – you can guarantee that you will be pleased with the outcome. You also will not have to worry about looking at yourself 10 years down the line when a fad has faded and wonder why the hell you wore that!
This article was written by Antonio Centeno at Real Men Real Style.