Formal Means Formal

Photo Credit: www.buzzle.com

Photo Credit: http://www.buzzle.com

Although winter and fall are my favorite seasons, this time when winter turns to spring is always quite charming.  There are those March days that are full of snow and others can be so sunny that you think you may have to put on sun block. Mostly, it is a great time for a road trip.  This past weekend I took a short road trip to New England and down memory lane.  I attended a reunion of sorts, had a blast and looked fabulous while doing it! I suppose all reunions whether family, work, or college have their dress codes.  The one I attended was pretty fancy.  I know I wrote a post regarding wedding attire already, (Please see my October 15th post, “Formal Attire Requested”), but today’s post, although possibly redundant, is on the general topic of

FORMAL WEAR

When men go to weddings, proms, bar mitzvahs, christenings, funerals, and the like, they are a little more clued in concerning what to wear.  But when the only criteria for an event is  “formal”, men try to get away with the most horrible offense of all: under dressing.  Make no mistake about it; being under dressed is the worst!  I apologize if my hyperbole is jarring but under dressing should be deemed a sin.  At said reunion this weekend it was quite clear that it was to be a formal event, yet I still saw men wearing the wrong attire.  Here is a question I pose, “Why do men try to dress as casual as possible so often?”  For most men, dressing up is rare and fun

chance to radiate charisma.  Why dull yourself down when everyone else in the room is going to look like a shiny penny?  And I don’t tolerate the, “I want to be different excuse” that is absolute bullshit and pure laziness.  Below are some observations I caught this weekend that all men should never make:

  1.  It really does not matter how nice, sexy, fancy, or expensive your jeans are.  You can not pair them with a shirt, tie, and jacket and call it formal.  (Please see my January 30th post, “Change it up Cowboy”)
  2. As far as jewelry is concerned: We’ve talked about this! (Please see my December 8th Post, “The Power of Jewelry”)   Like most things, all in moderation.  But please, if you have a nice suit on, leave the ghetto chain at home!  You would not pair a rich Merlot with your Chilean Sea Bass would you?  NO! They clash…I hope you see my point here.
  3. A sweater, (Cashmere or not) over a dress shirt and tie does not equal formal attire.  Don’t be such a hippy and put on a jacket.
  4. To segue way into my next point, you must wear, or at least bring with you, a suit jacket.  Suit pants, a dress shirt, and a tie are not enough.  This would be  equivelant to a plate of food that consisted of fries, cole slaw and a pickle.  Incomplete to say the least.  Where’s the burger?
  5. You know how I feel about funky sneakers with suits so do not even get me started.  It is time to put your grown up shoes on. (Please see  my September 17th Post, “Weighing the Pros and Cons”)
  6. Also, you are an under dressed fool if you do not wear a tie.

I know I sound harsh, but the world of fashion shows no mercy.  It is the smallest mistakes that are always the most detrimental, so for your own sake and the sake of the date that has to be seen with you, don’t make them!

“A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life.”
– Oscar Wilde

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2012 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,500 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Out With the Old

wire-hangersHello everyone!  I must begin by apologizing for being absent for so long.  It was a hectic holiday season but I am back on track.  Thank you all for being loyal readers during my blogging career thus far. Every one loves the idea of a fresh start and I have always believed that it is never too late to start over.  So today I would like to suggest to all the men out there some fashion related

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

Now is the time to let go and leave behind all of our reckless wardrobe blunders and look towards more stylish days ahead.  First and foremost, you must take some time to access every piece of your clothing and I mean everything.  Look through all garments from socks to formal wear.  Get out a box for donation and get rid of anything that:

·        Does not fit (ie. items you promised yourself last year would fit you after you lost all the holiday weight)

·        Is ripped, torn, stained, stretched out, too faded, etc. (even old ratty gym clothes need to be replaced every once in a while)

·        Was a mistake to purchase in the first place (we all have impulse purchases)

·        A gift someone gave you that you’ll never wear (Thanks Aunt Lulu for this cool authentic suede vest with fringe, I can’t wait to wear it….NOT!)

·        You have not worn in the last year and never will (be honest with yourself)

·        Reminds you of your ex like a crappy old T-shirt they gave you (*exception unless the item is super stylish, expensive, and/or irreplaceable like a nice winter coat, and classy pair of gloves, or a fancy leather wallet, some items are timeless and never worth giving up!)

·        You bought for a specific occasion that never happened. (I guess that Cowboys and Indians theme party is not going to be rescheduled?)

·        You thought would look fabulous and you wore it once and then it looked horrible on. (ie. Some items look magnificent on the hanger but we must try on at all times before purchase…golden rule, don’t fight it)

·        Hand-me-downs that never quite made it onto your body (I loved my late uncle Earl but I really just don’t see myself wearing his purple velvet leisure suit that he left me)

how-to-design-a-mans-closet-1You must make room now in your attire for the fresh and new.  Get rid of the crap and clear the space for the fabulous!  Make sure to gather all your gift cards from the holiday and those you may have received throughout the year but did not have a chance to use. (Some gifts cards have expiration dates so be sure to use them!) January is one of the best if not the best time to shop.  All of the stores have the biggest sales and you can make outstanding purchases at a great price.  Take inventory of all the gifts you got over the holidays that you want to exchange. Don’t worry about hurting Aunt Peggy’s feelings, she will probably never notice.  Exchange that ugly sweater for something you really want and will wear. If you keep the ugly sweater to be diplomatic and never wear it, that is a fashion crime.  And while you are tossing things out, get rid of all wire hangers.  They are also a crime.

“Looking good isn’t self importance; it’s self respect.” ~Charles Hix

The Power of Jewelry

Earlier this week I found myself at The United Nations working at an event.  The UN is not in all of the tour books but I would say it is a must see.  The last time I was there I was at a protest a few years ago exercising the hippy in me.  This visit was much different because I was able to speak to several people who worked at The UN.  There were people from all over the world working there of course, and each person more interesting than the next.  Most of the men looked pretty sharp.  No surprise there since America is so poorly dressed in general compared to the rest of the world.  While looking these foreign men up and down in a subtle manner I got to thinking about modern men and

JEWELRY

When it comes to jewelry there is most definitely a double standard.  Men absolutely can not get away with wearing as much jewelry as women.  When we look back at images of the earliest Native Americans, the men had silver, gold, turquoise and then some all over their bodies.  Times have really changed.  If you are a modern day professional man who wants to look en vogue then follow the regulations below.

  1. Only wear one item, if any, on your wrists at any time.  So if you are wearing a watch that is it.  If you are wearing a bracelet, that is it.
  2. When it comes to necklaces the simpler the better and of course only one at a time.  Women do not like it when men have too much going on around their necks.
  3. If you are a professional you should not have pierced ears let alone wear earrings.  In this day in age earrings are very popular with a lot of men.  If you want to wear a maximum of one in each ear out on a Saturday night that is acceptable but do not go overboard.
  4. If you can pull it off, and I mean REALLY, only if you can pull it off, only one ring.  (This is if you are not already wearing a wedding band) Men who wear rings for fun always seem to be weird to me.
  5. Never ankle bracelets or toe rings…NEVER.  I don’t care if your ten year old niece Chloe made you an ankle bracelet out of thread when you all were vacationing at the beach one summer.  Ankle bracelets=not sexy under any circumstance.
  6. Class rings, a fraternal insignia, family heir looms, military service pins, or athletic rings/necklaces are always touching but like I often warn, tread carefully.  It may mean the world to you but make sure that your sentimental jewelry doesn’t make you look like a hot mess.
  7. Stick to only one of the precious metals at a time. For example, if you are wearing gold, make sure all of your jewelry for the day is gold. It is gaudy and tacky to mix and match.
  8. When it comes to stones, less is more.  I hope this needs no further explanation.
  9. Know your color palette, if you are really fair or have lighter reddish hair, stay away from gold jewelry or anything with a pink or yellow hue.  It will bring out your worst color features.
  10.  As far as body jewelry is concerned, if you are a professional piercer or tattoo artist or if you work behind the counter at Hot Topic then go nuts.  But otherwise the answer is no.   No one will take you seriously if you have a face so full of metal you look like you need tetanus shot!

Jewelry is a very powerful thing, and always has been in almost all societies throughout time.  If you stop and think about it, we look at a person’s jewelry and very quickly assume age, sexual orientation, economic status, religious affiliation, race, gender, marital status, wealth, etc. It is a matter a personal style and all men have to decide the direction they want to go with jewelry.  I know men who find jewelry to be a burden and never wear any; on the other hand I know men who would not take off their gaudy gold chains even if they are on the beach.  Many businesses have stipulations in their bylaws about men’s jewelry.  It usually goes something along the lines of, “modest, tasteful or appropriate jewelry only” This is a good rule to stick to not only for work but for life as well. And, remember if you are a jewelry wearer; create categories such as every day, casual, dressy, super fancy.  Only bring out your best pieces for the poshest red carpet events.

Quck Aside: Never under any circumstance purchase jewelry at a deparmtent store.  Not for yourself, not for a gift, not for your worst enemy.  Ugh I’m getting sick just thinking about cheap department store jewelry.

Shades

For me, flavored coffee from Dunkin Donuts is a real treat.  This morning I decided I deserved this hot indulgence.  There is nothing I love more than hot coffee on a cold day.  As I was waiting for my coffee I observed the men around me, all wearing…

SUNGLASSES

I am truly a believer in wearing sunglasses all year long.  Your eyes are the first part of your face to age so you want to avoid those crow’s feet as long as possible.  I asked a few men I know to tell me what their take on sunglasses was.  Which are the best, which are worth the money, when to wear them, etc.  Here is the feedback that I absolutely agree with.

The sporty sunglasses you just bought for close to $200 are of good name and probably have amazing polarized lenses. Good for you. They are probably block white, or black with blue mirror lenses, and cover half of your face. Therefore, you need to only wear them when you are out on the beach, boat, playing a sport, or on patrol in Kandahar Province.

Too many guys these days think because they sprung for the awesome glasses they can wear them with their suit, or in just any situation. This is not so. If you have a facebook friend who recently got married and posted the groom’s party pictures where they do the iconic and common “let’s all line up in our tuxedos, fold our arms in front of us, and wear bulky black, shiny Oakley’s…because we are a bunch of bad-asses!!!” The shiny mirror sunglasses are OK if you are sitting at the final table at the world series of poker, if you are pitching the last inning of a no-hitter at Yankee’s stadium, or if you are Lance Armstrong. But while wearing formal wear or business wear for that matter, put on a more delicate pair of shades. The bulky Oakley’s are made in the USA and they sure are cool but not made for every scenario.

While wearing a suit, where do you put your sunglasses when you go indoors? They don’t fit right in your suit pocket. And a little etiquette here: you better take them off while inside! Even if you are dining alfresco, in many cultures, it is very rude to hide your eyes. My fashion expert learned this in Eastern Europe…the hard way.

If another pair of glasses stretches your wallet, ditch the Oakley’s and get a pair of Smiths; they are a little cheaper but just as polarized. Then you have some extra bucks to pick up a nice pair of Maui Jims which look amazing with anything and are very durable for the money. If you insist on a pair of Serengeti’s please tread lightly, it has been a long time since “Top Gun”, and the word Maverick now has a whole new meaning…just ask Sarah Palin.

 

Quick Aside:  A nice pair of sunglasses is an amazing investment and most of the time worth the money.  But, if you are anything like me and you go through several pairs of sunglasses per year due to damage, loss, or lending without return, then do yourself a favor and go for the less expensive pair.

Lasting Impressions

Personally, Holidays are not for me.  I am not much of a birthday/anniversary person either but that is a story for another day. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not one for tradition and definitely not what one might call traditional. I just can’t stand forced celebration and mandatory gatherings.  The whole thing stresses me out.  I always just want to stay home alone in my apartment and hide under the covers during holidays, but like most people I feel a sense of obligation and often wind up going to a family member’s home so that I can roll my eyes and hope the meal goes quickly and painlessly.  So, here I present the sometimes controversial topic of…

HOLIDAY ATTIRE

I have been to many holiday meals in my day and people treat holidays differently from family to family.  The thing is guys; you have to get dressed on the holidays.  Some men feel that if they are the ones hosting the holiday they are allowed to dress down, and they are dead wrong.  If you are hosting a holiday gathering you should be the best dressed one there.  Over the years many men have told me, “I just want to wear sweats and watch football.”  This is so barbaric to me and absolutely not sexy.  As much as we want to treat holidays like any other Sunday afternoon, we can’t.  So do not just toss on an outfit from the hamper that you would wear on any Sunday afternoon.  A lot of men like to wear softer pants so that there is room for more food.  Gross! Wear normal pants and don’t eat like a pig! At the very minimum, (and I really mean minimum) you should wear a fitted sleek polo shirt and your nicest pair of jeans.  Holidays are not the time for sweats, T-shirts, and white socks.  So don’t be such a lazy piece of shit and get dressed.  For some people the holidays are the only time of year that they see family.  Make a good impression that will last all year.

Quick Aside:  Holidays are not the time to be fashionably experimental.  You don’t want people saying for years to come, “Remember that Thanksgiving years ago when cousin Joey wore that outfit that made him look like he owned a chocolate factory…hahahahahaha”  Families have a way of reminding you of your most embarrassing moments and poorest choices… FOREVER, so don’t give them any ammunition.

Formal Attire Requested

Photo Credit: Taken by Alicia Hemerlein

There’s nothing like a good wedding!  I was in attendance at my fourth wedding of the year this past weekend.  (Needless to say I have heard Corinthians 13:4 enough for a lifetime!)  This last wedding was a ton of fun but once again my critical fashion critiquing sense was in full effect.  There is no better time than now for me to write a blog post about wedding fashion etiquette.  So here it is men who are not always sure what to wear on a wedding day, my take for men on

WEDDING ATTIRE

First and foremost you must look for guidance from the invitation and take into consideration the time of day and year for each wedding event.  I can not stress how crucial this instruction is.  Make no mistake; this is not a suggestion it is a rule.  If the invitation states that the wedding is “Black Tie ,” “Black Tie Optional,” or “Formal Attire Requested” you better put on your Sunday Best.  If the invitation does not indicate any of the three aforementioned options, you may want to ere on the side of caution and ask the bride or groom what they recommend.  (Do not call them up the day before or even days before and ask them what to wear, they will be too busy to talk to you!)  The most important aspect to consider is that you do not want to in any way upstage the bride and groom.  You need to dress appropriately and conservative.  If you show up under dressed or over dressed you will be directly insulting your hosts.  Below are a few simple rules to consider when preparing your wardrobe for a wedding.

  1. Don’t be afraid to match your date.  If your date is wearing a red dress maybe you want to wear a red vest or tie and so on.
  2. Unless you are the groom you are not wearing a tuxedo or black suit before 6PM
  3. No one wears cumber buns anymore so don’t even think about it
  4. Whether you are the groom or not, white jackets are only for the summer, dressing seasonally inappropriate is a major fashion Faux Pas
  5. While you never want to take away from the happy couple, have fun with vests, cuff links, and suspenders.  These pieces will allow your personality to shine through without making a spectacle of yourself.
  6. If you wear a silk or satin scarf with your suit, you are a real class act
  7. Never wear a short sleeved collared shirt under your suit jacket…NEVER
  8. If you get hot and want to take your jacket off or roll up your sleeves a bit at the reception, that is OK, but that’s it.  Do not take off your shirt or do anything drunk and funky like that.  Remember you will be looking at the photos taken that night for the rest of your life and the photographers catch everything!  Don’t do anything you’ll regret.
  9. Unless given to you by the hosts, do not take it upon yourself to wear a boutonniere
  10. Don’t even think about wearing jeans, sneakers, or hats, I don’t care how much you can dress them up
  11. Although I understand that servicemen have a dress uniform, if you wear it you are going to stand out and take attention away from the groom.  Save your dress blues for the next Military Ball.
  12. Other people’s weddings are never the time for you to be fashionably experimental.  You may not be invited to another event from the new couple again if you do so.
Formal Daytime Evening
Morning   suit; conservative shirt and tie. (Ascot Optional) Tuxedo   or Black suit.
Semi-formal Daytime Evening
Dark   suit or Dark Blazer with grey or light colored dress pants. Dark   suit.
Informal Daytime Evening
Sports   jacket or blazer paired with a dress shirt and slacks (tie optional) Sports jacket or blazer paired   with a collared button down shirt and dress slacks (tie optional)

The above chart is a short and simple breakdown.  If all else fails, get yourself over to a Men’s Warehouse, Brooks Brothers or even a Jos A. Bank and let the sales people guide you. And for you New Yorkers out there, check out this link.

Quick Aside:  Special thanks to RM and RJM for their guidance and input for this post