Get Yourself Some Snazz.

In this part of the country (Pittsburgh) it’s easy for a man to stand out visually.  Around here, most guys’ idea of dressing up for a night out consists of throwing on their good Steelers jersey, putting on clean sneakers, and maybe ditching the ball cap.  Women often tell me things like, “You should teach my man how to dress.”  While I’d be up for that, there is the tiny little issue of consent.  If I go over and start rattling off unsolicited advice, I’m going to irritate him and look like a dickwagon in the process.  This subject might make a good class, but I doubt it’d be well attended.  So for those interested (or those who want to drop a few hints in someone’s direction) I present to you roo-roo’s Semi-Official Guide to Dressing like a Big Kid™.

  • One of the most important factors is fit.  A lot of men wear shirts that are one or two sizes too large.  Wearing clothes that fit properly makes you look more in shape and put-together, and less like a little boy playing dress-up.  You could have a $3,000 Armani suit and a $30 suit from the thrift store; if you take that $30 suit to the tailor, it will look much better on you than the suit that cost 100 times as much.   Even if you (and the store staff) think something fits well, try on the next size down anyway; you might be surprised.  At the other extreme, if you can’t move easily while wearing it, or if you feel like you’re going to bust some seams, it’s likely too tight.
  • One specific example of fit:  On most shirts there is a seam where the sleeve meets the body.  The top of this seam should rest on the “corner” of your shoulder.  If the seam is further down your bicep/tricep, it’s too big.
  • Also in regard to fit:  Know your measurements or have them written down somewhere.  Any tailor will do this for you for free or very cheap.  It makes buying clothes much easier, especially when you buy online.
  • Adding a blazer makes almost any outfit sharper.  Even if you’re wearing a plain shirt and jeans, if you throw a blazer on, people will ask, “Why are you so dressed up?”
  • Try swapping out the sneakers in favor of leather shoes or boots.
  • Darker jeans don’t look quite as casual as lighter jeans.  If you’re going out, this is a good thing.  Darker jeans are also less likely to show stains.
  • While we’re on the topic of pants, swap your jeans out of the rotation occasionally.  There are the old standbys of chinos or corduroy, but manufacturers are now creating pants that are a hybrid of chinos and jeans.  Leave the running pants or sweatpants for the gym.
  • Small touches like a pocket square or an odd tie knot will catch peoples’ eye.
  • It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  • Keep your clothing vaguely appropriate for the event/venue.  Wearing a suit to a barbecue isn’t the way to go.  Likewise, putting on slick leather shoes with no tread for a metal concert will most likely make things much harder for you in the mosh pit.  Tossing on a blazer before running Tough Mudder probably isn’t the best idea either.
  • Don’t conflate quality with high prices.  If you know where to shop or are patient enough to wait for markdowns, you can afford clothing that you normally wouldn’t be able to.  Dappered is a terrific resource for this as well as for general advice on looking sharp.  Hit secondhand stores too- They often have solid offerings for excellent prices (but be sure to inspect for damage before buying.)   Buy things out of season: get sweaters in summer, shorts in winter.  Sign up for the email lists from stores and manufacturers; most will send out frequent coupon codes.  Sell crystal meth in your spare time to make extra cash.
  • Don’t concern yourself with the latest fashion trends on the runway.  It’s all horribly overpriced and looks odd.  Classic mens’ looks, on the other hand, never go out of style.
  • Feel free to emulate others’ looks.  Some may take ideas from celebrities.  Others see gay men as being more stylish and try to absorb some ideas from them.  Even magazines and catalogs can provide inspiration.
  • Get a watch.  So many people have ditched watches because they use their phones now for telling time (kids these days, with their newfangled technology.)  A watch is faster, looks more elegant, and you can wear it to BDSM events where phones are prohibited.  It can also be an effective conversation starter at events like that, since the cell-phone-reliant people will be phoneless and ask you for the time.
  • Forget about all the old “rules” you may have heard- No white after Labor Day, no brown in town, belt must be exactly the same shade as shoes, socks have to perfectly match shoes, etc.  These rules are outdated and are no longer relevant.
  • Ask for help.  Getting started in dressing better can feel wobbly at first.  Ask multiple people you trust for their opinions on what you should change, keep, or upgrade.
  • Pay attention to compliments.  When someone compliments you on what you’re wearing, remember what they’re complimenting.  Maybe it’s the color, the fabric, or the way it fits.  If you get multiple compliments on that particular thing, you now have a solid starting point for something that works well for you.
  • Likewise, pay attention when other men get compliments.  Then steal their ideas.
  • If you live in a larger metropolitan area, you most likely learned all this in elementary school.  In that case, you just wasted three minutes of your life reading this post.  I will now proceed to point and laugh at you.
  • Ha ha.

One Response to “Get Yourself Some Snazz.”

  1. Stan Says:

    Having moved back to the Pittsburgh area after a hiatus of 41 years, I was surprised by the lack of what I had been taught was appropriate dress in an upscale restaurant in Mt. Washington. Times have changed. Your description of the well dressed Pittsburgh male fits my brother to a T. Regards Stan

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