Top Style Mistakes & How To Avoid Them
By: Kelvin Wang
So as a general rule, you’re a pretty damn stylish dude. But every now and then, I’ll see some men out there making some pretty bad style choices. As TMG’s resident menswear enthusiast, it’s my aim to make sure that you’re aware of these style faux-pas and how to avoid them.
Now before I start, some people are probably going to say, “But Kelvin! Fashion is subjective! How dare you criticize other people’s sense of style?”
And my answer to this is: yes, there are many aspects to fashion, style – whatever you want to call it. If clothing is an art, then the body is indeed the canvas. What that means is that learning to dress well is an art form. If you want to break or bend the rules, you have to learn what they are and how these “rules” speaks to the do’s and don’ts of sartorialism. Classical menswear has a rich history filled with tradition. Many rules can be broken – as I will later highlight – but you have to know what you’re doing to actually break these rules.
On a list of things most often done wrong in tailored menswear, this is one of the biggest offenders. A general rule of thumb is to have your tie end right above your belt line. Worn too long as shown by Asif, and it can make the whole front of your body look unkempt. Worn too short like Lars, and you can look like you’re wearing a tie which was made for children. For the sake of time, we’ll be ignoring the fact that Asif’s tie bar is too high or that his pocket square matches his tie. We’ll also be ignoring the fact that Lars is wearing a black suit and tie which in this case, presents two issues:
- Overly strong contrast with his skin tone which washes him out; and
- His ensemble is not business appropriate and is more fit for a funeral as covered in last month’s article.
Fortunately enough, this is a relatively easy fix as you can play with the length of your tie while it drapes over your neck. An alternative measure is to switch up the actual tie-knot that you are using. Most men tend to prefer the Windsor knot which uses a significant portion of the actual tie and the four-in-hand which uses significantly less line. For shorter men like me, the former is preferable. I personally opt not to use the Windsor knot as it’s too bulky for my tastes. I instead, choose to use the aptly named Kelvin knot which is in fact just a double four-in-hand knot. I find that it’s a much more elegant knot.
Now, is it possible to break this “rule”? My answer to this is a resounding yes. One of my favorite examples of this would be LA-based style icon, Khaled Nasr, who is well known for the exaggerated details of his Sciamat jackets. Notice how in this particular photo, his tie goes well past his waistband. The effect of this highlights a dishevelled yet elegant approach to sprezzatura. The seamless transition from shirt to trousers sans belt certainly contributes to this. Essentially, this look tells the world. “I don’t care if my tie isn’t at the proper length because I look awesome and I know it.”
As a note, I would not recommend you imitate a look like this if you’re going to the office. Khaled represents the epitome of Pitti Uomo style which isn’t exactly business professional appropriate.
Forgetting To Remove Labels
Long gone are the days where we were all walking billboards for American Eagle and Ambercrombie & Fitch. The same should apply to your suit/sports/blazer. I can’t count the number of times where I’ve seen men proudly flaunting their Hugo Boss suits (which by the way, aren’t very good quality suits). How did I know they were Hugo Boss suits? Because said men forgot to take off the labels on their jacket sleeves.
This is a huge style mistake which frankly, just looks like you just bought the suit from the store a few minutes ago. Always remember to take a seam ripper to remove said labels. You’ll also find that the vent(s) when you get them from the store have weird X-shaped stitching. Make sure to remove those as well.
In general, men tend to play it safe with patterns. 90% of men would be happy with just simple charcoal/navy suits and light blue/white shirts. There’s nothing wrong with that and some of the best outfits are limited in terms of pattern.
On the other hand, we have men who go crazy with patterns without taking into consideration two things: pattern size and pattern density. Pattern-matching isn’t difficult and once you understand this concept, it becomes very simple. It all boils down to contrast or creating balance through opposites.
Let’s put it this way. Most dress shirts come in relatively small patterns. So to balance the look, opt for a patterned tie which offers a much larger pattern. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using a solid coloured tie in this case. If your shirt comes in a larger pattern (so think large, repeating boxes instead of small, repeating boxes), opt for a tie with a smaller pattern. If you can understand this, then you don’t need to worry about the shape/pattern type.
Patterns need to contrast in terms of density. Think about a city like Toronto. It’s filled to the brim with who knows how many people. Everyone lives very close to each other. Now, imagine 95% of those Torontonians moved away to somewhere else. Now that 5% lives scattered across the city. Think of one element of your outfit as Toronto A and another element of your outfit as Toronto B. There needs to be visual space.
Oversaturated Shirt Colors
As I’ve mentioned before, menswear is all about balance. Part of that balance is achieved through the blending of harmonious colours. If you throw in one colour that’s off, it’s like throwing in a guitar riff into a Beethoven concerto.
One of the biggest issues I see is men picking dress shirt colours which just don’t work. My reasoning is that these shirts were picked merely for the color itself (in Ben’s case, I’m assuming purple is his favorite color) and not for its ability to be complemented in an outfit.
The most notable offender here is men wearing black dress shirts. Black dress shirts just don’t work with anything. No colour suit or tie will look good with a black colour dress shirt. Trust me on this. The lighter and less saturated the shirt color, the more versatile it will be. There’s a reason why white dress shirts are a classic in any man’s wardrobe.
Wearing Pants That Are Too Long
Breaks – or the number of dimples at the bottom of the trouser – are often cited by older gentlemen as being conservative. I think that’s a bunch of garbage. There’s nothing conservative about having pants that are way too long on you. The less pant break you have, the more sock/shoe you’ll show while standing.
The solution to this simple. Pay the $10-$15 to have your pants tailored to fit your body. This can have huge benefits as it can accentuate a strong, masculine silhouette. Opt for a quarter or half break if you’re not the type of the guy who likes to be too fashion-forward.