When people in men's fashion talk about change, they usually talk about little things. Fits, fabrics, finishes — you know, little things that, depending on whether you are familiar with the oeuvre of Martin Margiela, may or may not matter to you all that much. But the kind of change we're talking about here, it's something different. Because in case you haven't noticed, the world as we know it is ending — politically, culturally, and, oh yes, economically — and a new one is aborning. One that demands the kind of ballsy style that was familiar to our grandfathers but lost for a generation; one that calls for renewed efforts to make a statement and get the details just right; one that requires that we dress every day as if we were going to get hired or fired or handpicked from obscurity to become a vice-presidential candidate, because, hell, that's just the kind of world we're living in now.
Fashion has always been a state of mind — an attitude that expresses itself in the details of how a man gets dressed — and with the ground shifting daily, it's time for a change of mind. It's time to embrace a new ideal, a new approach to dressing, and a few guidelines (nine of 'em) that will deliver us from the wilderness, our senses of self and style stronger than ever. Let's get started.
1: THOU SHALL SUIT YOURSELF.
The suit's got to fit. You'd think that a lot of men would know this, but judging by how a lot of American men choose to wear their suits, you'd be wrong. Quick test: The jacket should sit close enough on the body that you can just barely slide your hand inside beneath the breast pocket. If you can slide in a fist, it's at least a size too big.
2: WHEN IN DOUBT DOUBLE TAKE.
Respect the tie. Tuck in the shirt. Button the jacket. Get it right, all the time, every day, and for chrissakes, look in the mirror before you leave the house.
3: ALWAYS REMAIN SIMPLY STATED.
Make a statement with something. (Perhaps your socks.)
Something on your person should always make a statement, and that statement should preferably be "Go to hell." Say it with socks, with a tie, or with a great pair of pants, and say it often.
4: DEFINITELY GO OFF THE CUFF. Mad Men killed the pocket square. Focus instead on showing just the right amount of shirt cuff (a half to one inch). This and a good watch or cuff links are all the flash you need.
5: KNOW THAT BLUE THE NEW HUE.
Navy blue, not black.We know black is easy, but navy blue is easier, more versatile, and looks better against every skin type. Plus, it doesn't look brown under fluorescent lights. (Black does.)
6: PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
Patterns: Mix. Don't match. It's only when you contrast the scale, texture, or color of different patterns that such combinations work.
7: MAKE THE COMMITMENT.
If you wear a tuxedo, wear a tuxedo.That means bow tie, cummerbund, and peak lapel. Everything else is negotiable, even the shoes.
8: THOU SHALL HAVE A LOOK THAT KILLS.
A great jacket lets you get away with anything. It elevates everything else you're wearing and opens all kinds of doors. Which is why you should always have one with you.
9: THERE IS ALWAYS ROOM FOR SLACKERS.
This is how long your trousers should be. The length of your trousers is everything. A half inch too long and you're instantly disreputable; a half inch too short and you're laughable. A one-inch kink in the front crease and you, my friend, are golden.
10: A NOSE KNOWS BEST.
When it comes to cologne, a mist is better than a musk. Identify your signature scent and know what works with your body's chemistry. Are you a woodsy? floral? clean? or spicy guy? Not sure what will work, next time you are at the department store, take your time to stop and smell the COLOGNES and ask for trials.