The bad news is that it is probably unavoidable
There are countless round-ups of the worst men’s style mistakes out there. I’ve done one myself. Most of those lists–mine included–tend to focus on things that are pretty cut and dry. Suit jacket shoulders too wide. Pants too long. Wearing a button-up shirt untucked with a blazer. Easy fixes, if not very mildly subjective.
However, there’s an elephant in the room. It’s a mistake that I would say 99.9% of people make at some point. But it can’t really be packaged and tied up neatly with a bow, like the rules for wearing a tie bar. It is a mistake made with the best of intentions that always results in the worst possible outcome. And that mistake is, my friends, trying too hard.
The bad news about this mistake, is that, unfortunately, I really believe it’s unavoidable. When you are new to the idea of classic menswear, new to the idea of using classic menswear as a vehicle for something else, it is empowering and is certainly instills confidence. However, that newfound confidence can often be misguided.
The first thing you want to do is specifically the thing that should be avoided. You want to show everyone that you are “into” style. You want to show people that you are “into” menswear. And perhaps, in some cases, that you “get it” and others don’t.
This line of reasoning always leads to doing too damn much. You know the guys. Maybe you’ve been one of those guys. And, no shame, I certainly have. Three-piece suit with the tie bar, lapel flower, dub monks, boater hat, sunglasses, three or four bracelets, colored laces. You get the idea. But like I said, having been there myself, I get it, it’s a natural overcorrection, and honestly, not so easily remedied.
The confidence and swagger that “finding” menswear can instill can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it emboldens one to say, “fuck you,” to all your friends who are 15 years out of college but still dress like they’re 18 years old even though they’re approaching 40. And that’s a good thing. One has to grow up and how we dress is an important facet of growing up. But on the other hand, that confidence can lead to some pretty poor choices, including, but not limited to, the faux dandy described above.
So what is a guy to do? Be confident, yes, but realize that going overboard does not equal better style. In fact, less is often more. And honestly, it takes just as much confidence to do less. And that is the point when the quote unquote minor details come into play. I’m taking about the fit and length of your trousers. Do they have side adjusters? A cuff? How you turn up your shirt cuff. Have you replaced your steel watch bracelet with a leather strap because you know you can and know that it will draw in the color of your suede loafers?
All of these are things that, to be perfectly honest, probably not many people are going to notice. To the vast majority of people, you’re going to look really put together. They won’t know specifically why, but they will know. A small percentage of people will totally get it though. These are the folks you want to have a deep conversation with over a great Negroni and fine cigar.
The irony of all of this is that the appearance of ease and nonchalance is often carefully studied. A truly stylish man will look as if he wakes up that way. And now I’m going to be exceptionally real with you–nobody wakes up that way. It takes practice, it takes stepping in it and learning from your mistakes. Style is a journey. Style is a process. We are all students.
Thanks for reading.
He Spoke Style