Today’s post is dedicated to new dad Ethan Samson. Welcome to the world, Ford Oliver!
I care about my clothes. But frankly, I probably care even more about my husband’s clothes, because I have to look at him every day. I also work in an office filled with men, where crimes against fashion are committed on a regular, unremitting basis. In my mind, that makes me as qualified as any to post about men’s fashion. Let’s get right to it. Herewith, in what is likely to be a continuing series, two of my top “don’ts” for men, and some suggestions.
The redundant undershirt
Unless you are 19 and rushing a fraternity, or your chest hair starts at your chin, there is no excuse for wearing a visible undershirt under a collared shirt. No excuse whatsoever. This look drives me particularly insane when combined with a sport coat. I know a lot of men who can put a suit together and have no trouble with at-home casual, but go completely AWOL when asked to do anything in between. And this is where many guys, in desperation, attempt the collared shirt with the sport coat, sans tie. If you are going for that look, first off, it helps to be George Clooney. If you are not George Clooney, you either need a button down shirt, or you need magnetic collar stays to keep your collar from spreading on you. Once your collar spreads on you, you’re toast. You might as well throw the gold chains on at the outset. And if, underneath the open spread collar, you are rocking your best Hanes crewneck undershirt–well, good luck to you, sir. If you need the coverage or sweat protection, try a v-neck undershirt instead.
I have strong opinions about men’s jeans. On the spectrum of men and jeans, at one end are the guys who don’t try at all. Those jeans you love because you wore them to your first Widespread Panic concert, the ones that are super soft because you’ve had them for 15 years? While you were rocking out, they became dad jeans. Burn them immediately.
Once in a while, dad jeans can be so bad that they spill over into sheer awesomeness. My friend Andy once showed up at a party in Kirkland Signature jeans. I knew they were Kirkland Signature jeans because the jeans said that, on a huge label above the back pocket. For those not in the know, Kirkland Signature is the house brand for Costco. Now, I’m no label snob, but when your label can also be found on car batteries and spiral-cut ham, even I take pause. That said, Andy is probably one of the most charismatic people I know. I’ve also seen him get away with a mock turtleneck, and no one in the history of time–with the possible exception of Vladimir Putin–has pulled off one of those. In fashion, as elsewhere, force of personality counts for a lot.
Way worse than those who try not at all, are the guys who try too hard. I feel bad that men have fewer fashion options than women, and thus have fewer ways to express their sartorial individuality. But wearing jeans with highly decorated pockets is no place to start. Again, there are men who can pull these types of jeans off, but in my experience, they are super rare. I’ve met like one, and he was a deejay. You’re not a deejay, are you?
So, where to go? Levis is a good place to start. So is the Gap, with their 1969 line. At the spendier end, Earnest Sewn, A.P.C., and Rag & Bone make simple denim in simple cuts (with plain pockets) that you will not tire of. I cannot vouch for their comfort. My husband bought a pair of A.P.C.s in raw denim three years ago and is still waiting for them to “mold to his body” as promised by the proselytizing salesperson. They are so stiff that they are currently standing upright in a corner of our closet.
In the end, your safest bet might be Diesel. Avoid the crazier cuts and washes and ask for the Viker–a straight leg, medium-rise style–in a medium gray or blue. The salesperson will advise you not to dry them in a machine, which will alarm you. Ignore them. You can wash and dry them however you want and they will be fine. My husband has washed his with our toddler’s training underpants and they are none the worse for wear, but for the slight lingering odor of urine. Remember, they are, in the end, just blue jeans. And you will wear them enough to justify the cost, because they will go with everything. You’ll look like you sort of care about your jeans, but not like you care too much. Easy, right?