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How To Dress Well
I don’t normally accept guest blog posts, but this article Darius sent over is so content-rich and real-world applicable, I’m making an exception. It’s written by Darius of sexystyleforjoe.com. The comments I added are in italics. -Blackdragon In his article Success Advice For Younger Guys, BD very accurately stated “Your physical appearance is YOUR FAULT”.
-By Caleb Jones
Your skin in the long run is a reflection of your grooming and lifestyle habits. This is something I personally can identify with very closely as for the longest while I was sure that “well, I just have bad skin”, when in fact I just had really hideous skin care habits.
The hairstyle and facial hair you’re rocking is a choice. You could go for something stylish that looks flattering on you or you can keep that same hairstyle you got in middle school, except now with a receding hairline it looks like someone ran over a cat on your head, but hey – it’s your look.
Most of all, you choose to stick with the same style of clothes that your mom bought many, many years ago, reasoning that “well, I’m a simple blue collar guy”, “everyone dresses like that here” or I don’t want to look “gay” (“metrosexual” is also a popular excuse word here.) But all of the above is not the actual problem, just its symptoms.
The real problem is that being unattractive or even ugly has become part of your story, part of your identity. From working directly with clients, you’d be astonished how many good looking guys have no idea that they are actually attractive (well, could be, if only they made minor adjustments to how they groom and dress).
This is why, for many men, making those changes seem so difficult. However, like every other negative mindset like “I will always be poor” or “I just suck with women” it can be improved as long as you’re aware there’s an issue. Luckily for us, changing appearance starts an almost immediate positive feedback loop as you’ll notice women checking you out and just being friendlier all of the sudden. People in general will start treating you better (whether that’s objectively correct or just your subjective perception is irrelevant.)
This article in turn, is here to help you make those first crucial steps. Fit Before Everything Else Even if you fail at all other aspects of dressing well, as long as you master this section you will look better than a big part of your competition. Before we get into best practices for achieving this “great fit” on all worn clothes, let’s discuss what are the biggest mistakes men make? Picking clothes that are too small. Considering it’s extremely uncomfortable to wear clothes that are too small, most guys realize they need to replace them sooner or later. Especially problematic for tall and chubby guys.
Few indications that your clothes might be too small:
When your hand is in default state, your shirt’s sleeves barely reach the wrists. Your tees don’t cover your belt line. Note: making your belt visible is a stylish move, however, even in those cases your tee should be resting on the belt instead of not being long enough to cover it. Shirt is so tight you’re unable to close all the buttons without getting awkward stretches around chest and torso. You can barely close the button of your trousers. Trousers are not long enough to comfortably rest on your shoes. Note: last few years a shorter cut became popular for trousers, especially for summer, these special cuts are perfectly fine to wear sockless with a pair of loafers and is a very stylish alternative to shorts in hot weather.
Wearing clothes that are too loose. A painfully common problem and unfortunately most men don’t even realize that the amount of fabric they are wearing would be enough to dress two guys properly.
Wearing loose clothes might seem comfortable but it visually makes you appear sloppier, fatter and shorter – not the sexiest combination. BD Note: I was hugely guilty of this for about two years before I was educated on it. Few indications that your clothes might be too big:
Your shirt’s sleeves heavily cover your palms.
If tucked in, your shirt forms awkward folds around the belt line.
There’s enough space for more than two or three fingers between your arms and the shirt / tee. Same applies to the space between torso and shirt.
Your tee / shirt is not firmly pressing against your chest and shoulders.
You can put your smartphone or wallet into your pants without any resistance.
When worn with shoes, your trousers form heavy folds above your ankles.
Your trousers are not pressing against your thighs.
Chances are, many of you already identified with a least few indications of a bad fit for clothes and that’s fine, “bad fit decease” is very common among men.
Now then, how great fit looks then?
For Shirts, Tees, Sweaters, etc.
The shirt should tightly and firmly mold your chest and shoulders. Almost no extra fabric around your hands (if your hands are underdeveloped there probably will so some extra fabric). Sleeves cover your wrists and slightly cover your palms. Nicely visually shapes your torso (if it starts looking like you have “tires” around your torso, you’re going too tight). For length, it should end below your belt line. If you have a truly great physique, you can go even tighter – don’t be shy and share your physical achievements with the world.
The fabric firmly molds around your buttocks and thighs (it should be a bit difficult to put a phone or a thicker wallet into your pockets).
Next to no extra fabric around thighs.
Fit around your calves will depend on the cut, so it‘s okay if it‘s a bit looser there.
For length, when worn with shoes, trousers should comfortably rest on them.
There are plenty of formal rules for fit that are unnecessary anywhere outside formal events. As long as you follow the guidelines above – you’re good to go!
Different brands have different standards for fit – “Slim Fit, Size M” of one brand can look and feel quite different than other brand’s “Slim Fit, Size M”. Experiment with different brands until you can find one whose clothes fit you best. This is also very important when ordering clothes online. Clothes will slightly change their form after being worn for a while. Jeans, for example, tend to stretch, so that pair that’s just a little loose for you now might become unwearable in a month or two. Shirts will often slightly shrink. These tendencies especially common in cheaper clothes.
If your physique is far away from the average (very skinny or chubby), chances are high you’ll need to look into having your clothes tailored for them to fit you just right. BD Note: I’m going to be more forceful on this. I’m a big guy even when not chubby, so every time I purchase a button-down shirt I assume I’m going to have to get it tailored no matter how well I think it fits. At a bare minimum, I force myself to bring it to my tailor and show it to her while I’m wearing it to get her opinion. You can find very inexpensive tailors near your home using Google Maps or similar. Unless you were blessed with a body that is 100% average in size and shape, you must get your nicer clothes (suits, button-down shirts, nice pants) tailored, period.
One objection I often get when introducing men to proper fit (especially those, who are used to baggier clothes) is that they feel such clothes feel less comfortable. One reason for this is that baggy clothes don’t restrict terrible body language, while perfectly fitting clothes will keep you straight, looking your actual best not only because of clothes but improved posture too. Keep in mind that clothes designed for day-to-day wear should be used exactly for that and not for moving furniture, doing garden work or playing basketball (and vice versa – running shoes are for running!)
Picking The Right Colors
Now that we have fit covered, time to address another big topic for building great looking outfits – picking the right colors.
When picking colors we have few things to consider:
Our skin tone.
The contrast between our skin tone and our hair color.
The rest of the outfit.
What visual effects we are trying to achieve.
In an ideal world we could code our exact skin tone in a system similar to CMYK or RGB and using same system pick colors that perfectly complement our complexion. Unfortunately, at least for now we’re stuck with “if you have paler skin, avoid bright bold colors like red or blue and instead pick lighter or darker shades of these colors”, we even have ridiculous names to explain these colors like “bittersweet” and “copper red” (no, you don’t need to know any of these.)
What this means is that a lot of experimentation goes into picking the right colors. However, there are some tools available that can help us out on this journey.
My favorite is a simple chart made by Barron from Effortless Gent - Dress For You Skin Tone Chart, simple but mostly accurate.
Remember, these are helpful guidelines, not hard rules and we’ll discuss other variables that come into when picking the right colors.
Another important thing to consider is how strong the contrast between your hair and your skin tone is. For example, if you have pale skin and blonde hair the contrast is weak, if, on the other hand, you have pale skin and dark hair, it’s strong.
What you need to know about this is that strong contrast is very attention grabbing and for the most natural look it’s best to match contrast in your outfit to contrast in your complexion.
If you have weak contrast in your complexion, in most cases you’d want weak contrast in your outfit too (like light grey & white or dark red & black). If you have strong contrast in your complexion, in most cases you’d want strong contrast in your outfit too (like black & white or black & teal).
Note the “in most cases” part, we can use this attention grabbing quality of high contrast to camouflage some of our less awesome qualities or focus on our best features and this is something we’ll be discussing later in the article.
Thinking in outfits
Advantages and disadvantages of picking certain colors based on skin tone or contrast are rather subtle and debatable, making colors work in the outfit, on the other hand, can be very impactful.
In most cases stick to 3 different colors/shades per outfit. For most non-monochromatic outfits you’ll have two main colors that go well together and another color that stands out and makes the look more exciting. For monochromatic outfits it’s best to mix 2 – 3 shades of the same color. White and black are difficult colors to wear right, but definitely doable.
Great “main” colors to use:
And various shades of these colors.
Colors to use for adding “boldness”:
And various shades of these colors. BD Note: This is great advice I have used to great affect in the past with my business outfits. I usually wear muted, dark charcoal suits but with a shocking tie that’s a sharp blue or red. It looks fantastic. If you’re not sure what color go well together – here’s another helpful graphic.
As long as you stick with these guidelines, you should have no problem creating nicely color coordinated outfits for yourself.
Making The Most Out Of What You Got
The reason why I’m so fond of using clothes to improve appearance is that we can make instant changes not only to how people perceive our social status (think tailored suit vs basketball shorts and tee) or our personality (think rocker look vs preppy look) but we can also visually look taller, leaner, more muscular. We can camouflage our less awesome features and emphasize our stronger points.
And now that we covered Fit and Colors to build a strong foundation, I’d like to share some practical tips how to do exactly that!
Stick with mostly monochromatic looks. Avoid high color contrast between upper and lower body.
Spot on fit – baggy clothes make you look shorter.
Avoid clothes that cover your legs (coats, jackets, etc.)
Don’t tuck in jeans into your boots.
Pick lower waist jeans.
Stick with slimmer belts.
Use neck accessories to draw attention away from your height.
Boots (Chelsea for classier looks, work or combat boots for casual / edgy looks) with sizeable heel are your friends.
Stick with darker colors.
Avoid unnecessary layers and thick, puffy clothing.
Spot on fit.
Avoid clothes that have unnecessary details around torso (for example pockets).
Use color contrast to draw attention to your chest / shoulders and away from torso (for example dark vest with a bright shirt.)
Avoid big prints around your torso.
Fitting blazers are great for hiding beer gut.
Looking more muscular
Go for slim cuts.
Pay extra attention how clothes fit around your hands (there should be as little extra fabric as possible)
Stick with brighter colors.
Use additional layers to add volume to all the right places (jackets, cardigans, vests, sweaters.)
Accessories like scarfs are great for adding volume and drawing attention to your upper body.
If you’re really skinny avoid skinny jeans, on the other hand if you do have some muscle on your legs skinny cuts can look very flattering (only for guys in their 20s!)
Remember, you don’t need to use all these points to get results. Be subtle, overcompensation screams insecurity.
So What Do I Actually Wear?
Well, it’s up to you. Really.
As long as you follow the tips and strategies discussed in this article you can build attractive outfits for every occasion. My personal recommendations would go something like this:
Unless you’re at the beach, doing garden work or playing sports – avoid shorts. Linen trousers will keep you just comfortable in hot weather but also will look much more flattering on any physique. BD Note: Never, ever wear shorts when in the context of trying to attract women, i.e. doing daygame, on a first date, etc. Avoid sandals. Shoes in general is the easiest way to get compliments from women and if you’re not getting any your shoes suck.
Keep it simple. Avoid elaborate designs, big prints and unnecessary details (like zippers, pockets, etc.) unless you really know what you’re doing. Invest in a good leather jacket. Honestly, no other piece of clothing can be so versatile and look amazing with many different looks. It also only gets better with time. BD Note: I strongly second this. If you spend $300-$400+ on an in-style, quality leather jacket, it will last over 10 years and still be in style. Massive bang-for-the-buck. Use accessories but use them sparingly. Unless you really know what you’re doing. Try to be at least slightly better dressed than most guys (very easy in most venues.)
Now, are you plan on staying unattractive or is it your time to make a better choice?
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Jean 2014-11-06 05:28:47
What about your book?
ObeyX 2014-11-06 07:21:11
Exquisite Post! Definitely gonna check out this guy's website, Still waiting on that book big guy, got 15 saved up for an ebook copy.
Blackdragon 2014-11-06 09:45:57
What about your book?What about it? 🙂 News is coming, I promise.
Ken 2014-11-06 09:46:02
You forgot to mention that the shirt sleeve seam should rest right on the shoulder and not partially down the upper arm. This is one of the most common problems I see, and is not easily fixed by a tailor.
Nathan 2014-11-06 10:45:24
I've been reading all sorts of clothing style posts throughout the manosphere, trying to apply the things I read, but I quickly realized every clothing suggestion leaves me balls deep in sweat. Then it hit me- pretty much every writer lives in a cooler climate, whereas I live in Texas where 9 months out of the year it's in the 80s or above, plus it's humid. Plus I sweat very easily and it's very noticeable. What can us southerners wear? I was prepared when the temperature hit the 50s for the first time this year the other day- in fact, several girls commented on how much better than normal I was looking (so thanks for the tips). But I simply can't wear those clothes for more than about 4 months out of every year. Pretty much my only summer outfit that looks halfway decent is khaki shorts, boat shoes, and a polo (this outfit is popular here), but it doesn't get me the same results as any cold-weather combo does.
rgz 2014-11-06 12:59:08
What do you estimate to be a reasonable amount to spend per year on clothes? If possible, try to make separate estimates for work and personal as the work requirements will very greatly depending on your job (suit every day, casual, uniform provided) but the personal should be more consistent. Warm climate people will be a bit lower though.
Blackdragon 2014-11-06 17:59:27
What do you estimate to be a reasonable amount to spend per year on clothes?Darius can chime in, but I'm a cheapass so I spend as little as possible. At any given time, my entire wardrobe consists of: 2-3 suits 6-8 nice button-down shirts 2-3 decent pairs of jeans 1 very nice leather jacket 1 casual pair of shoes 2 nice pairs of business shoes various cheap T-shirts (long and short sleeved) and shorts The suits, the jacket, and the business shoes all last a very long time, as in years. My suits easily last 10 years. So I only buy things like this once every many years. So in a given 12-month period I might buy 1 pair of jeans and maybe 1 or 2 shirts. That's it (other than cheap stuff like workout clothes, socks, underwear, etc). One pair of jeans might cost me $50-$80. One button-down shirt might cost me $60-$250 (I like nice shirts), but that's all I'll buy all year, at the most.
I’ve been reading all sorts of clothing style posts throughout the manosphere, trying to apply the things I read, but I quickly realized every clothing suggestion leaves me balls deep in sweat. Then it hit me- pretty much every writer lives in a cooler climateHaha! That's probably right! Most guys I've seen write about this stuff either live in the northern US, or places like England where it's cold. I'm in the Pacific Northwest. Nice and cold up here pretty much 9 months out of the year.
What can us southerners wear?Other guys living in warmer climates can give their opinions, but if I lived in a warm area and was in sarging mode, I would be wearing some very breathable slacks with a nice button-down shirt (again made from loose, breathable fabric) with the sleeves rolled up. I do this when I travel to Asia, which is often warm. If you have a nicer physique, you could go with a V-neck T. Not my style at all, but it works for many guys.
Infantry 2014-11-06 21:17:45
@Nathan When I was in Thailand I also went with the khaki shorts and boat shoes. On top I would wear (untucked) light button down shirts (cotton etc) with the sleeves rolled up the forearms. The shirts were designed to be worn untucked with the hem ending just below the waistline. Almost the same coverage as polos but more stylish.
Darius 2014-11-06 23:09:37
@Ken, Good catch! @Nathan, Both extreme heat and cold are frustrating when trying to dress stylish. Few tips for dressing in hot weather: -Thin, linen (or linen-cotton blend) trousers are just barely less comfortable than shorts but vastly improves your look. -Cotton / linen casual buttoned shirts with an extra open button and sleeves rolled up is a great alternative to polo shirts and tees. -Stick with brighter colors overall, be subtle with accessories. @rgz, BD summed it up quite nicely. From practice, excluding business attire (I specialize in helping men look attractive, not professional), for most guys I worked with the initial investment is about 750$ - 1000$ because we usually need to get some of those expensive, long-term items and replace clothes that actually should never be worn in public. After that, it's mostly about buying a few items every year (like replacing a shirt, adding a new accessory, etc.) @Infantry, Great point!
POB 2014-11-07 07:18:57
Very good post! My tips for an informal look on hot places: 1) As I've been living my whole life on a hot climate, special attention should be put on fabrics. I'll reapeat what Darius said: Light Cotton, Microfiber and Light Linen (or any combination between those)should be your main choices. Avoid most sintect fabrics like the plague because they'll retain your body odor. 2) Never, ever use black during daytime! You'll look outta place cause everyone else will be using light colors. Also you'll cook inside your clothes if you stay under the sun for more than one minute. 3) Unless you're extremely short, use a lot of long cotton-made shorts (just above or below the knees). They should be white, beige, light brown, dark-green or dark-blue and be used WITH a light fabric belt (don't use leather). Save the surf shorts for the the beach. 4)Combine nº3 with colorful polos/short-sleeved shirts and T-shirts and a good pair of snickers/casual shoes (again no leather). 5) Combine nº4 only with SHORT socks (the ones that you barely see). 6)Jeans. You should use them. Not washed, not with resin, the straight ones with little to no details. Today there are light variations that are really thin and confortable. Don't forget to pick the right cut for your body type. 7)Acessories: mandatory: sunglasses optional: casual watch, hat (and be VERY carefull if you're going with a baseball cap) Avoid or use with caution: jeans jean shorts, leather, large rings and earrings, long haircuts, any shorts cut above the lowest section of your thigh, long socks, any sock or underwear that is not made of cotton, common flip-flops.
David 2014-11-07 08:53:42
Hey Darius, thanks for the guidelines, especially for those of us in the Southern states. While I'm a fan of wearing shorts during the hot months, I'll have to give the linen trousers a shot. Quick question in that regard though: Say you have an interesting tattoo on your lower leg, or just have nice calves from working out...would it not be beneficial to accentuate that attribute by "showing it off"? Or do the pros from wearing trousers generally outweigh the potential ones from donning shorts?
Nathan 2014-11-07 12:36:51
Thanks for all the suggestions everyone. I think I will need to give linen pants a try. I used to wear khakis a lot way back in the day, albeit poorly. Khakis aren't what people are recommending though, correct? I've never really given much thought to fabric choices, which may explain why I'm always hot in the summer (besides the fact that it's like 110 degrees). I am tall and very thin, so I feel like pants would hide my slenderness.
rgz 2014-11-08 16:48:05
What are some stores and brands that are good?
Parade 2014-11-08 17:28:11
Nathan, look for 100% linen pants, NOT Khakis, though they'll look similar. Also watch out for linen+cotton blends, linen is a relatively thick fabric compared to cotton, and a bit more expensive, so you'll get blends sometimes (to be anti-wrinkle, for price, etc) For shirts linen+cotton can sometimes be better than pure linen (mostly due to fabric weight + cost) A couple more things to watch out for with linen: The fibers in it DO NOT like to be repeatedly creased in the same spot (so don't iron+press your pants with the crease in exactly the same place), and it doesn't stretch as much as cotton, though it's stronger in general (harder to rip).
Darius 2014-11-09 03:29:50
Wow, some great replies, especially for dressing in warmer weather. Cheers @POB, @Parade! @David, overall your legs will always look more impressive in trousers over shorts. Just avoid baggy cuts (in most cases even straight cuts) and it will be very obvious that you weren't skipping "leg days" in the gym. @rgz, the only brand that really stands out to me when it comes to helping men look attractive is Zara - season after season they offer some solid designs, quality could be better though. Guess also has some good looking clothes, but their tendency to emphasize their brand name on clothes is frustrating (in my opinion, if you're not being paid to advertise a brand, you should not look like a walking ad). Other than that, I don't have favorites, so I highly prefer stores like Nordstrom (in the US; Nordstrom Rack for those on the budget), Asos (for online shopping) that offer selections from various brands.
David 2014-11-10 09:52:09
Thanks Darius. Come the warmer months, I'll be revamping my wardrobe with many of these guidelines.
Parade 2014-11-10 20:54:22
Similar to Nortstrom's Rack is Saks Off 5th. If you're looking in the 75-120 range for dress shirts, there are a few places online you can order them from (you send in measurements+fabric choice, they send you back a shirt). Zara has some decent looks but I'm with @darius on the quality front...it leaves something to be desired. Your specific style will determine where you should shop / which brands to look at. For example, if you look a really traditional preppy look, Zara is not the best place for you.
CJ 2016-10-25 21:44:01
BD/Darius, what about shoes, mainly their color and how to match with outfits? For example, regarding the general rule of sticking to three colors/shades per outfit, does this include the color of the shoes?
Darius 2016-10-25 21:54:48
Hey CJ, By far the easiest (and nearly foolproof) way is to match shoes with jacket, belt, gloves (in winter). For example: black leather jacket, white shirt, deep blue jeans, black shoes, black belt. Another example: brown leather jacket, blue denim shirt, black jeans, brown shoes, brown belt. There are two more ways to wear shoes in terms of colors that are a bit more nuanced: -As the standout piece. Going for shoes in a bold, attention grabbing color that you can't really match with any other piece (outside of accessories). This could be in white, red, blue or something like this. -Use different neutral colors. This means that you pick shoes in a different color than the dominating neutral one. For example, your jacket, accessories, maybe trousers are in black but you go with shoes in brown/grey. This approach looks less deliberate and it done wrong can look kinda random but it can be done and can look really cool/stylish, it's just a bit more nuanced and depends on the specific shoe/outfit. If in doubt, always go for the first strategy. Hope this helps, Darius
PK 2017-11-28 12:26:04
I've been fairly stylish with my clothes for a good while, and figured that area didn't need much work. Then I lost 15 lbs. I'm 5'9" barefoot and went from about 175 to 160. Suddenly all my oxfords looked and felt too large and billowy, some worse than others. And my pants became too baggy; again some worse than others. I've slowly but surely been replacing articles of clothing. I'm now wearing oxfords with a slim/trim/athletic cut. Manufacturers use these terms interchangeably (Brooks Brothers calls it a Regent Fit). These are shirts that are a little more snug under the arms and taper down toward the waist. I'm also wearing slim-cut chinos and jeans. The difference has been HUGE for me both in terms of looks and self confidence. Take it from me, don't overestimate the importance of wearing the right fit.