This post has been percolating for a while. It boiled over when I got an email from our Marketing Director at my law firm. We are having new bio pictures taken and she sent an email around telling the attorneys what to wear. I thought that’s crazy why does she have to tell grown men and women what they should wear for a professional picture? After about a milisecond it came to me. We have some men here who simply need some help with their wardrobe selections. Maybe you have them too but I thought I would come up with a few rules for them. By the way, I may or may not have had some help from some co conspirators in my office.
- Pants that are too short. When women wear pants that come to their ankles they are called capri pants when men wear pants that come to their ankle it’s called call your tailor and make sure you ask for the medium break. The medium break is industry standard; it is the classic look for all men’s dress pants. Ask your tailor to adjust the length of your pants to hit midway between the top of your dress loafer and the top of your shoe sole. There you go. We really don’t want to see your ankles.
- Socks. I don’t care if it is a 100 degrees, men must wear socks to the office and no white tube socks. I’m serious, socks are not to be forgone no matter the temperature. No one wants to see your bare ankles or your gnarly feet.
- While we are talking about the footwear, let’s talk shoes. Please don’t try and be JCrew, in other words, no white bucks. A simple loafer for when it is a casual day or nice lace up shoes when you are heading to court. This is not rocket science men.
- Ties. I’m so jealous that all men have to do to change up a look is to change their tie. You have it so easy so please don’t go messing it up with the selection of your tie. This means no animals on ties and no loud colors. Am I being too harsh? I’m sorry but it just needs to be said. One of my favorite brand of ties is Robert Talbott. I love the look, conservative but not boring.
- An undershirt under your dress shirt is a “yes”. Not to sound like your mother but please wear an undershirt. It makes your dress shirt wear better and plus if you are sweating you won’t see it come through your dress shirt because your under shirt caught it. But do not be confused and think you should wear an undershirt under every shirt. When you wear a polo, no undershirt is required.
- Sweaters. Now I’m not against sweaters but a couple of don’ts. First, please do not tie your sweater around your neck. If it is too hot for a sweater, simply take it off and leave in your office. Second, be careful of pastels. You don’t want to look like you are going to an Easter Egg hunt at the country club. Finally, no Coogi-esque sweaters aka Bill Cosby late 80’s sweaters.
- Belts. If you are going to tuck your pants in let’s utilize a belt but it needs to be a classic belt like black or brown. Please if you have to ask does this look ok it probably doesn’t. I noticed in the Wall Street Journal this past weekend there was a debate whether the belt should match the shoe. I’m mostly Team Match because I’m a basic black or brown shoe and don’t think one should venture too far off this path.
- Finally, some men as they get older tend to put a little weight on around the middle. If you fall in this category, then go ahead upsize your shirt. No one wants to be hit by a stray button because your shirt is too tight.
Too harsh? Maybe, but if you know me you know I’m going to tell you like it is so let me end on this note. We have a few men in my firm who are excellent dressers. If GQ was doing a spread on the “ordinary” (ie not professional model) man they would be featured. I just wish they would share their tips with those of you who are on the “Not” list.