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”.
The most obvious proof of that is physique. Despite what you keep telling yourself about having “slow metabolism” or “I just can’t put on any muscle”, your physique is a reflection of your eating and exercising habits – simple as that.
But the former statement goes well beyond physique.
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.
Few things to keep in mind:
- 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?