Being virile young men, we are somewhat expected to be reckless in our nature. Perhaps we don’t think everything through before we do it. Or maybe we do things in excess. But if there’s something a well-dressed young man who at least looks put together can do, it’s get away with most anything he desires.
There are, however, universal rules. While we individually may not be guilty of these infractions, we collectively as young men have experienced them. This goes beyond wearing socks with sandals, gentlemen.
1. Size Matters
The golden rule. There’s too big, too small, and just right. If a man was to wear clothes too big for him, it looks sloppy. And because I assume none of us are looking to be in a Cash Money Records music video, it just doesn’t make sense. The same can be said of wearing clothes too small. I hope all of us are finished with scream-o band T-shirts and lip rings, because no woman can take us seriously if we’re pulling at everything we have on just so we have enough room to breathe. Plus, it’s hard to have a conversation when you’re trying not to stare at how tight someone’s pants are.
READ MORE: How Your Suit Should Fit, A Visual Guide
2. The Hat as an Accessory
There are times when a hat is necessary: when it’s sunny, when it’s cold, when you’re a NASCAR driver or Indiana Jones, and when you go back in time to the ’40s and ’50s. Other than that, wearing a hat is mostly useless and, honestly, tasteless. Unless you’re hiding a bad haircut or something incriminating, being a young man and wearing a hat immediately screams unnecessary. And by that, I mean the guys who wear flat-billed, backward hats with sunglasses on. This in itself is a paradox. Now, as a Twins fan—well, a Kirby Puckett fan, mostly—I did enjoy my time with my Twins hat. But you don’t want to be the guy whose hair flares out where the hat ends even if he isn’t wearing the damn thing. It’s not a hard thing to learn: wear a hat when it’s sunny out. With purpose.
3. Brand Name Idolization
Aside from Alan Rickman in the original “Die Hard,” I’ve never seen anyone able to specifically point out the maker or brand name of a solid garment. Although this is something about fashion mistakes of times long past, the gut-wrenching explosion of both Ed Hardy and Affliction has prompted me to take into account two things: Not a lot of people are MMA fighters. Not a lot of people are tattoo artists, either. But, from what’s impossible not to see, a lot of guys want to be. Wearing a shirt with a huge design or brand name logo on it distracts people from what you want them to see—your smiling, beautiful face.
4. Fan Shirts
All right, look. I love The Rock and Stone Cold as much as you do. But there comes a time when a man must draw the line. Those YouTube highlight videos are all that’s left. We must move on, sadly. For those shirts featuring still-prominent figures, it’s the same as the logo. You don’t want to be remembered by someone as, “You know, what’s his name? That guy with the Young Jeezy shirt.”
5. Socks, Socks, Socks
It’s important to stress this point. Hosiery is an oft-neglected part of a man’s wardrobe. It is, however, a medium to express yourself—for better or worse. Although it has been explained in detail—and something you should know already—do not, I repeat, do not wear athletic socks with anything but an athletic get-up. There are certain implications of a man who wears ankle socks or white tube socks with nice shoes. Socks are socks, sure, but, as with most things we wear, there are times and places for everything. And it’s not when you’re wearing a suit.
It’s like putting a bow tie on a trash bin. Wearing a wrinkled shirt—and this doesn’t apply to the whole “distressed” thing I never understood—is instantly a cue that you’re wearing something only because you have to. Every man should know how to iron a shirt. The point is, if you wear a wrinkled shirt to an interview or a date or something where you are being at least partially judged by the way you look, go the extra mile. Not even. Hell, go the extra inch, and iron your shirt. Even if you don’t think you need to, do it. A shirt always looks more dignified freshly ironed or pressed.
7. Embellished Shirts
It’s cool in a sort of hot-rod kind of way. But, unless you’re Ricky from “Trailer Park Boys,” those short-sleeved button-up shirts with the flames, dice and skulls on it are just synonymous with being a d-bag. And just to show how, how should I say, “versatile,” those Ed Hardy shirts are, I would put them into this category, too, although they’re not technically embellished. So, unless you’re looking to go out as a character from a certain shore from a certain state this Halloween, it’s best if we all join forces to finally deep-six these obscenities for good.
8. Wearing Suits With Sneakers
I remember long, long ago when a game called “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” came out, there was an option to wear a slim-fitting suit with sneakers as an outfit. Now, this was a shameful, shameful part of my past, so I thought, “Man, that’s really stickin’ it to those Wall Street suits.” Luckily, I’ve since shed that mentality and have actually adopted the nickname Wall Street. Funny how that worked out. Anyway, stick with this adage, gents: Your hair tells people how you want to be perceived, but your shoes show how you actually are.
9. Tank tops
You’re ripped. It’s hot outside. Too hot for anything with sleeves and not ribbed. However, wearing the ole ‘beater outside, regardless of the weather and how ripped you are, makes everyone uncomfortable. People may think “Did… did he just forget to put a shirt on over that?” And while you may be the talk of the town for your free tickets to the gun show, wearing a tank top while not in the gym or before you put on another shirt should very well be counted as public indecency. Four words, men: Think about the children.
10. Tight, Deep V-Necks
This final part may be somewhat biased. I met someone, a person who couldn’t have been more than two years younger than I was, who called me a suit. A suit. Of course, he was wearing girl pants, a beanie when it was at least 65 degrees outside, a lip ring and a V-neck shirt at least two sizes too small. The modern-day hipster has destroyed so much of what we’ve worked so damn hard to achieve. Hipsters have a funny thing about them. They can take things like the V-neck, which, if worn properly, is always a good basic addition, and wrong them. Burn it with fire and dance on the ashes.