In the summertime, men challenged by fashion often wear the following uniform: jean shorts, either hemmed or chopped violently from an old, ill-fitting pair of jeans (ick), a faded oversized golf shirt without a pressed collar or a hole-ridden, oversized tee, and either sneakers without socks or mangled flip flops. Sometimes sweat shorts are involved. Fellas, this is not an attractive look. Typically, this outfit is accessorized with a beer gut and flat ass. Sexy! Occasionally, a short-sleeved button-down is involved. I hate those shirts, but that's just me. Hmmm. Allow me to specify: A silk camp shirt and cargo shorts, hot. A poly-cotton plaid with an unpressed collar, not.
In the fall, these poor souls change into pleated chinos, a wrinkled button-down from 1993 or a hooded sweatshirt, and white sneakers with black socks or scuffed tasseled loafers. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.
Now that winter is firmly here, I would like to offer the following suggestions to men regarding what to wear in the cooler months.
- No. Stonewash. Jeans. Ever. Seriously, dark jeans all the way, in a slightly slimmer cut. They hold up longer (even when they fade a little bit) and immediately make you look like you know how to dress yourself, at least a little. Also, if the jeans are too long, for the love of all that is good in the world, have them hemmed. Jeans that pool up around the ankles look terrible.
- Pleated pants are the devil's handiwork. NO PLEATED PANTS. A flat front chino (in grey, navy, camel) or wool slack, on the other hand, is slimming, polished and simple. Dress 'em up or down - they're always a win.
- Just remember this: no woman will ever want to be with the dude in sweat socks and Tevas/Birkenstocks. Keep the sandals to summer. And, while we're on the subject, no Tevas EVER.
- Grooming is important. An unkempt beard that could nest small furry creatures is gross. I don't know when beards came back into fashion - they seem to the the goatees of the 2010's. However, avoid being excessively groomed. I prefer my men a bit more relaxed. Stubble is sexy. Cro-Magnon facial hair is not.
- You need your own suit, something that fits well (I prefer a slim fit) and makes you look and feel like a million bucks. I'd go with gray or black, not navy. Wool only. No polyester blends. As far as a tie: Slim ones, in muted patterns, elongate the chest. On the other hand, a fat tie with a bad-ass knot works too as long as it isn't too loud. Just dress like Don Draper, anywhere, anytime, even at the gym. You'll look ridiculous, but impeccable.
- You can't go wrong with slim-fitting cotton, linen or other natural-fiber button-down shirts (white, blue, gray, black, etc.) Just make sure they don't have weird embroidery or epaulets on the shoulders or anything. And long sleeves only. You can roll them up to show off your manly forearms if it gets warm.
- No Ed Hardy, Affliction, or other tattoo-inspired clothes. End of discussion.
- Also, gym clothes belong at the gym. Sweat shorts, tee shirts, sweat socks and (most) sneakers should remain in the confines of the locker room or running path. I applaud you for working out. But your body-odor scented outfit in the deli is vile.
- A classic leather jacket, fitted but not tight. No pimp coats or anything with tons of pockets and zippers.
- Some sort of bag besides a backpack. A plain leather messenger bag in black or brown leather works fine.
- Shoes: Chuck Taylors, any color. Suede dessert boots. Simple, flat heeled boots. Unadorned polished leather shoes. Dark brown or black are more versatile than saddle or cordovan.
- I'm personally a fan of the chambray/denim shirt on men. It looks rugged and autumn-appropriate. It doesn't hurt that Jon Hamm and Sam Worthington both look devastatingly handsome in them either.
- A dark green army jacket, without much embellishment (such as zippers or grommets) or too much bulk. Simple, masculine, comfortable and chic. Swap for a substantial navy peacoat in colder weather - as long as it's made from a non-piling fabric and is somewhat fitted, it'll work.
- Sweaters can be sexy. V-necks in thin cotton or merino wool are good. Chunky, half-zip sweaters are very attractive.
- Scarves! Trust me, men can wear them and not look all creeptastic daytime-wear-for-weird-discotheque-guy. Keep them somewhat short. No fringe, obnoxious patterns, or floor-draggers. No suffocatingly chunky knits either.
- Hats: baseball caps belong on frat boys, dudes at baseball games, and Little League coaches. Cowboy hats belong on...cowboys. Driver caps and fedoras work. Personally, I dig a man in a tweed or canvas drivers cap.