The way you dress has a massive impact on your life. It’s going to change how people see you, including your coworkers, your family members, your community members, and of course, your prospective romantic interests. The clothes you wear can even affect how you think and feel about yourself.
Unfortunately, men tend to avoid thinking or talking about how they dress, and there’s no “fashion” class in school to help men understand the right way to dress. Of course, every person has a unique identity and an individual sense of fashion, so there are thousands of options for how and why you wear the clothes you do. However, if you want to make the right impression, and feel more confident about yourself, there are a handful of important “general” rules to follow.
The Most Important Rules to Follow
Exceptions and personal style choices aside, these are some of the most important “golden rules” to dress by:
- Only wear properly-fitting clothing. No matter what clothes you’re wearing, what your body type is, or what occasion you’re dressing for, properly-fitted clothing is a must. Your shirts should hug your body and form around your shoulders and arms, and your pants and shorts should never sag or be baggy in areas, especially around the thighs and butt. Any bagginess or ill-fitted areas will make you look sloppy and inattentive. You can spend hours searching for clothes that happen to fit you perfectl or buy custom-fitted clothes that adhere to your measurements specifically.
- Avoid shorts where inappropriate. Shorts are comfortable, and pleasantly breezy on a hot summer day, but they aren’t appropriate for all times and occasions. If you can, reserve your shorts for situations where they’re truly appropriate, such as beach visits or picnics with the family. Otherwise, stick to longer pants and jeans.
- Choose high-quality jeans and T-shirts. The jeans-and-T-shirt look is a classic, even though it’s often associated with youth and casual dress codes, but to pull it off as an adult, you need to make the right investment. Spend some extra money on jeans, and take your time finding the perfect pair. They should be dark blue, made from quality material, and fitted near-perfectly to your legs. Your T-shirts, similarly, should be made from a high-quality material, fitted closely to your body and with smart design choices on the front and back.
- Invest in small touches. The main part of your wardrobe should be based on these foundational rules, but at the same time, you’ll want to show off your individual style and personality. What’s the best way to do this without compromising your choices? Invest in accessories, such as cufflinks, watches, and other small adornments. Go for a minimalistic look when you can, but otherwise, wear things that complement your personal style.
- Press your shirts. This should go without saying, but if you’re going to wear a collared shirt, make sure you press it before wearing it. A handful of wrinkles may not seem like much to you, but to the outside observer, it can wreck an otherwise perfectly acceptable ensemble. It will probably take you an hour or less to press all your shirts at once, so invest the time.
- Learn to match different patterns. One of the most egregious offenses men are known for is mixing and matching different patterns that shouldn’t go together. Things like bold stripes and plaid rarely go together because they’re both “strong” patterns that distract the eye when next to each other. However, this doesn’t mean that different patterns can’t be used together at all. If you’re uncertain about your abilities here, match like patterns to each other only. When you grow more comfortable, start experimenting with different pairs.
Putting These Rules Into Practice
If you’re unsure about how these rules may apply to you, such as whether a specific article of clothing fits you or not, recruit a friend with a keen fashion sense to help you make the important decisions (and possibly critique you if you need an outside perspective). The fashion world gets complicated because you can technically break any of these rules—as long as the infraction works for you and your personal style. Before you start experimenting, work on the basics and try to get them under your belt. Once you start paying closer attention to your fashion choices, you’ll develop a better personal sense for it.
Photo: Getty Images
(via The Good Men Project)