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are you wearing dad jeans?

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

Is he working, or clubbing? I bet even he couldn’t tell you

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.

No undershirt, plus collar stays. So much better.

Daddy denim

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?

stop the madness

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?

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. JJ #

    Express Blake Loose Fit is a great style and fit for around $50.

    August 22, 2014
  2. sarah beth #

    Diesels are a tough fit if you’re shopping for a guy with any sort of a butt. Granted, I will admit it has been about two years since I put Thor through the horror of trying on every single style in the Diesel store, but our conclusion at the time was that they’re designed for more of your classic, ‘flat’, male posterior. Lucky’s work pretty well. I’m still trying to convince him that just trying on a pair of Levi’s won’t automatically turn him into a hipster.

    November 18, 2011
    • Good advice on Lucky, Sarah. And I sometimes forget that guys have fit issues to deal with, just like the ladies.

      November 19, 2011
  3. Wow, I had no idea bout the undershirt thing. I thought it looked weird if my undershirt didn’t show, to be honest. Well, my life starts getting better from here on out. Thanks.

    November 14, 2011
    • Pat, wait a second, it’s higher stakes when you are changing up your look for, say, a roomful of snarky undergrads. Plus undershirts are inherently professorial. Don’t make any sudden changes.

      November 14, 2011
  4. I’m in agreement about not wearing an undershirt with a dress shirt. it gives you a TOM look, which stands for Typical Oregon Male. You know the type, forever in their UofO frat days. They might as well wear a backwards ball cap with that combo. Rag & Bone you, know your jeans my friend. Another jean brand I like is PRPS, from Tokyo Japan. If you want a wide selection of denim, Park & has a fantastic selection and great ideas for how to wear denim dressed up or down. Next guys article you write, give me a heads up, I have bunch of ideas for you 🙂

    November 14, 2011
    • I love my prps, they have zippers at bottom and are totally 80s. Thanks for the tip on Park & Bond, Pete!

      November 14, 2011
  5. Dang it. Now you tell me; I just finished BeDazzling the pockets of my 1992 Silvertabs.

    November 14, 2011
  6. In Portland I was caught with the exposed undershirt look too many times. Sometimes I would remember the v neck. Sometimes I would cut my crew neck so that it became a v neck. In Houston it is way easier. So much warmer!!!

    November 14, 2011
    • But with the heat, do you sweat more? And does that make an undershirt more necessary, not less? I am curious.

      November 14, 2011
      • pm #

        An undershirt is totally necessary in Houston. My husband told me he has to hold a very specific pose (hands on his hips) when he waits at the bus stops because he sweats too much. Sometimes I see other men I this pose at the bus stops and I know exactly what they are doing.
        Also, I love the anonymity glasses you’ve featured here (the shadows hey leave in the photos are hilarious). You should patent them. I know this is an old post, so I’m not sure you’ll ever see this, but I just found your blog and am going through the archives because your posts are so to read.

        June 24, 2013
      • this is hilarious. now any guy standing that way will be suspect in my mind

        June 26, 2013
  7. Magnetic collar stays, denim shopping field guide — thank you Yoona…I’m armed and ready to take on Peter’s closet!

    November 14, 2011
    • Peter’s always got cool kicks and that’s half the battle.

      November 14, 2011

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