You Gotta Have Style

Continuing the conversation about finding and keeping a mate from here.

You gotta have style… 

OK. first thing you are going to want is my bona fides to speak about style. I don’t have any, which puts me on a par with every expert in Whollyweird and New Yawk City plus all the blithering idiots covering the runways in Paris, Milan, and all the other places where jerks who think they are important hang out. Yeah, i got a beef with most so called experts on style. Bunch of gossiping old busy bodies. Now that we have established that I am as unqualified as they are, let’s talk about style.

The-Rat-Pack-Couldnt-be-Serious-for-LongYou need one, seriously you do. You also have one, especially if you think you don’t. If your clothing is chosen to make you fade into the background your style is what used to be called Wallflower. Not very distinctive and says to every one who sees you that you are trying to hide and are easily pushed around. If you are fine with that click on another link and I apologize for wasting your time. A little note here. Men’s style for at least the last 150 years in this country has often been about being an idealized mannequin. Everyone needed a Tux and a brown suit and the other social uniforms. The guy with style was the one who managed to come closest to the ideal store window with some minor quirks like cuff links to say that you didn’t come out off a cookie cutter. Truth is clothing was a uniform denoting your place in society and making you blend in. That old regime has mostly disappeared in the last fifty years. It has been replaced by costumes (look at styles inspired by movies) and the unisex uniform of  T-shirt and jeans.

Style today is saying I “look good and am an individual” without offending the majority of society. Some of us do this well, some are horrible. We all can do better. A personal style will always be in flux. What I wear today may not pass muster in a decade or it may indicate that I am an old fogie that doesn’t understand modern society. Even today it does to some extent indicate age and class. A man or a woman who dresses in a style more suitable to their grandchildren is going to look pathetic. A teen who dresses like his grand parents looks like an idiot to his peers, so any advice I give must be filtered by your individual situation.

Noir Man bullseyeAn example of this is my style for cold weather. I wear clothing a little more formal than average and with a touch of militaria and a bit of Brit thrown in. On me it looks like an old cosmopolitan vet with lots of experience and a slightly mysterious background. On a twenty something it would look like he was trying to play army or something, claiming expertise he could not possibly have. Being in my mid fifties if I tried for the casual look of a twenty something I would look like an old creeper who was trying to pretend he was his own child. I would look awfully silly with a huge gold dollar sign hanging down my chest saying bling. Wait a minute, the guys wearing that looked awfully silly any way.

the_man_has_style_cary_grant_style_icon_1943So the first thing you have to do is figure out a style that works for you. If you are a thin narrow shouldered guy with a nice sports shirt and slacks you might be able to wear a trilby, assuming you are clean shaven and give no other signs of hipsterdom. If you are even average weight you can’t, it will look ridiculous. The same is true in the other direction of a wide brimmed man’s hat, it will look decent if you are a solid, even portly, man; but like a clown hat on the guy that wears the trilby and looks good. The same works for shirts, slacks, and shoes: they must fit your body style. No pockets and belt and narrow legs can work on a smaller man, they look horrible on a hippo. Being closer to hippo than skinny I should be able to get away with saying that. No accusations or fat shaming please.

A lot of what I am getting at has to do with fitness, clothing fitness, not how often you hit the gym. Get someone you trust to go shopping with you. Try on endless lines of clothing. Get their opinion of how they fit. If a pair of pants looks like a potato sack on you you won’t look good in them. I don’t care if they are the “right size” they need to suit your body, not just waist and inseam measurements. An example: Levis jeans has about 30 different lines of pants. The “standard” are the 500 series. I look like hell in them. I have the dreaded disease Noassatall and they are baggy in the seat. On the other hand, god may have given you a butt made to sit upon. If so you need relaxed fit jeans. The relaxed fit has nothing to do with waist size and everything to do with a baggy butt. Now the line I wear is called trim fit and it is cut narrow in the sit downer which de-emphasizes my lack of anything to sit on. Similarly shirts need to fit as well. It doesn’t matter that the buttons button if the pocket is under your belt. nor does it matter if the sleeves fit if the buttons are acting as a girdle.

Get clothing that fits. It is worth extra money to wear something that looks like it was bought for you, not someone’s cast-offs. A slight digression for the ladies (guys skip a few sentences if you are easily embarrassed). Ladies the bra must fit. If your boobs have muffin tops it looks terrible. I am aware that hormones etc. can cause size changes during the course of the month, that means you need a selection to match. The ones you only need to wear a few days a month  will last a lot longer and will not add that much to the expense. Similarly if the chest band is loose enough to let the bottoms of your boobs hang out this is neither stylish nor sexy. If the cup is enough larger than your breast that you can drop a roll of quarters in the gap the cups are too large, I don’t care what cup size the manufacturer says it is. Well fitted always looks better than ill fitted, even if guys are peeking down your neckline. Final item on choosing clothing fit for today, ignore whatever hemline is in style, ladies. If you are one of the 17 adult women in the United States that actually looks good in a mini, wear one whether it is in or not. For normal humans choose a length that showcases the best of your legs. If your thighs have enough cellulite to build your own cellular network wear a dress length that brings attention to your calves or ankles. Got great knees, wear dress that lets them peek out when you sit. Avoid granny length dresses if at all possible, they have too many connotations in this country. The same can be said for denim dresses.

Color,  color, colors, what can I say about them. We hold these truths to be self evident, all hues are not created equal. Gents, get rid of a lot of your drab browns and blues. ladies if opening your closet reminds one of a goth party you need to get rid of some of that black. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t wear these colors but, most Americans have too many of certain colors based on lousy advice. Blue and brown are not safe neutral colors, they are blah if they are all you do. Black is not slimming, it is a scream of “I am fat!” Look, go out with friends that you would like to be more than friends with and get them to help. It won’t help you attract them but it will give you a feel for what colors you look good in. And just because you look good in royal blue doesn’t mean you will look good in pastel blue. Pale blues and browns have become the color to hide in among men, they probably are not good color choices for you. An example: I avoided bright colors for years. Wound up wearing a bright orange shirt an ex had bought for me. I hated it because it was so loud but, hey, it was clean. On me, it acted like a chick magnet. This was where I started to learn that my taste was less important than the tastes of those who I wanted to attract. A little experimentation helped me discover that it had to be the “right” shade of orange. Other orange shirts didn’t do as well.

Finding your colors is something that needs experimentation, and you cannot be the judge. Nor can a single friend, no matter how much you like their tastes. Try some things, different colors different styles. See what brings a positive reaction and what makes people look at you like a goof.

That is the tip of the iceberg, I’ll come back to this topic again but meanwhile, work on what I’ve told you so far. And unlike the style mavens, I honestly hope some of you call me out and explain where you think I’m wrong. I’m willing to admit I’m still learning too.


20 comments on “You Gotta Have Style

  1. Bowling shirts can be good, too, if they are loose. Simple as t-shirts but look more grown up, and you can get geeky patterns.


  2. Guayabera shirts in the summer!


  3. The guys in the top photo, identified for those of us who didn’t know the Rat Pack.


  4. I usually go for a fedora & business suit myself, but sometimes it’s good to shake things up a bit…


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