Q: My friend recommended your website, and I'm impressed. I'll be even more impressed if you can help me out: I'm a 43 year-old doctor who just doesn't get it when it comes to fashion, both in and out of the office.
Most fashionistas address the female frump. What prescription can you provide for a man who needs a professional makeover for work and for play?
I'm 6' and 250 lbs, with most of my extra weight evenly distributed. 

A: Dear Doc - You're so right. We fashionistas do tend to address the clothing concerns of our sisters, letting out brothers languish in the land of blah.  But no more! I hereby pledge to consistently add content to the Dress Your Man section of this site. May it be a beacon to guide you through stormy style seas.

Now, a while back I emailed Doc a LONG list of questions so that I could better answer this question but I haven't heard back from him yet.  Hey Doc! Check your junk mail!! I just resent that email today.
In the meantime, I'll start this series with some basics, move on to specifics, and address Doc's individual points once they arrive. This is going to be so fun!

Let's set a ground rule first.

“Dress for the position you want” still holds true.  For Doc, the respect of his position as a doctor demands a proper wardrobe.  (I know of what I speak. My father is an eye surgeon and I’ve been in the medical world my whole life.)  No doctor should ever wear jeans to the office. Period. If your daily uniform doesn’t consist of scrubs then it better be slacks. Well-tailored trousers are a must.  The same holds true for any and all other office men.  Unless you have a required uniform, save the jeans for Hawaiian-shirt day. No, I don’t care if your boss wears jeans and t-shirts every day. Set a better example. You don’t have to wear a 3-piece suit, but elevate your look and hope that others follow.  It’s a proven fact that people who dress better perform better.

Now that we've established the bottom line, let's take one step up and cover 5 wardrobe basics.
L: Navy Blazer- JoS. A. Bank, R: Plaid Sport Coat - Nordstrom

1.  Do you know the difference between a blazer and a sport coat?  A blazer will come almost exclusively in navy, camel or black, often with brass buttons. Goes with everything from jeans to khakis to trousers. Sport coats are more boldly patterned or textured, think tweed, herringbone or plaid. Also goes with jeans, khakis & trousers. Pair either with jeans to elevate date-night options. Pair a sport coat with suit-like trousers to take a step down from a full suit. Start with a navy blazer and tan pants to be appropriate for almost anything.


2. Do you know which shirt collar looks best on you? A regular straight-point collar is the most universally flattering. If your face is larger or fuller, stay away from button-down collars, which can make your face look bigger.
If you have a round or oval face, a longer-point collar will be flattering.
Long and narrow-faced men will get a nice balance from a spread or Windsor collar.

L: Flat front - Nordstrom, R: Pleat front - Nordstrom

3. Do you know whether flat-front or pleated pants look better on you? Unless you are a truly “full-bodied” man, flat front is the way to go.  It’s slimming and looks more current. Pleats add bulk in the front, which adds visual pounds.Now, if you do have some serious extra pounds, then pleats can be more forgiving and give you extra room to sit down comfortably.  But boy, those pleats better lie FLAT when you’re standing! If they don’t, you need a bigger size.

4.  Your belt and shoes need to match.  End of discussion.

5. When choosing socks - match your pants first, then your shoes. Tan pants = tan socks. No tan socks? Choose a color to  match your shoes.
Did you know that most men own more white socks than any other color sock? And yet they don't own a single pair of white pants! Keep the white socks reserved for the sport court. I think one of the roots of this error is men somehow started thinking they needed to match their socks to their shirts (and white shirts are a staple.) Not so!

Ladies - if your man doesn't have a supply of socks to match all his pants, then you know what you're getting him for Christmas. Every other year or so, I load up all my husbands pants in a garment bag and head to the store.  I hang them all up and make sure I have 2 pair of socks to match every pant. When he gets new pants, we buy the socks right then and there.

I hope you enjoyed the first post of this series.  I'm having a great time putting this series together! Stay tuned for elevating weekend wear and letting your clothes do a better job of introducing you!

Q: I was wondering...is there a correct direction to start a belt around your waist?  To the left..or to the right? 
And, is it different for men/little boys?

A: What a great question! It was fun researching as well, since it's one of those questions where you're pretty sure you know the answer and then you think... wait, do I really? Have I ever really thought about it?  You can't rely on simply looking at a picture in a magazine, because photos can be flipped depending on how they want the layout to look.  So here's the scoop on how that belt should wrap.
  1. There is no difference for men vs boy belts.  There is a difference for women, we belt the opposite of the men.
  2. Standard operating procedure - men hold the buckle in the left hand when putting on the beltWomen hold the buckle in the right hand.
  3. There is probably no other organization that is a bigger stickler for rules and regulations than the Armed Forces and their take on it is: the tipped end should point to the left for men, to the right for women.
  4. Left-handed folks often reverse this rule UNLESS there is horizontal printing on the belt that would end up being upside down.
An interesting little anecdote I found: apparently there is an old sailor tradition of removing one's belt and reversing it as you cross the equator. Something to do with putting your belt on in the direction of the earth's rotation.  I couldn't find all the details about it, since there is many a tradition associated with sailors crossing the equator. Anybody out there know for sure?

I hope this was useful.  Before we end, a few other belt tips. 
  • You should buy belts that fit perfectly on the second or third hole, not the tightest hole! You'll have way too much tail sticking out after buckling it. 
  • Women have a lot more leeway where fashion is concerned but men's belts should ALWAYS match their shoes. 
  • If it's starting to get a little worn, you can polish a leather belt just like you would leather shoes.  Just make sure it's nice and dry before putting it on or you'll stain your clothes.
With the end of summer and the onslaught of fall fashion also comes the fall footwear.  For men, this transition doesn't even really happen but for women it hails the end of flip-flops and sandals and the reintroduction of actual foot-covering shoes. 
So how are yours looking?
A few weeks ago, as a belated birthday present for my husband, I shined up all of his shoes.  And it inspired me to do a post about it, which I was originally going to file under Dress Your Man. But then I realized I needed some new polish for my own shoes and that reminded me that many women don't ever think to shine their own shoes. 
(Like my stream of consciousness to arrive at this post?)
Scuffed shoes are one of those little things that can really kill a look.  And it's so easy to correct!  A little polish and a rag and you'll be looking shiny and new in no time.
My shoe shine kit looks a lot like the one above.
  • Shoe polish tins in colors to match our shoes (black, tan, brown, cordovan, neutral and white for my daughters' shoes)
  • A wide brush (for broad strokes across the shoe)
  • A small brush (for small, circular strokes in hard to reach areas)
  • A suede block (for cleaning suede, looks kind of like an eraser with a stiff brush on one side)
  • Rags (cut from old t-shirts)
  • A couple ziplock baggies (so the polish that seeps through the rags doesn't color my fingers)
  • Edge tint (this is for staining away scuffs that happen on the visible edges of the soles and heels)
So before fall really hits, pull out your leathers and get to buffing!
Your man and your own feet with thank you!
That's right ladies, there is now Spanx for Men!
Now, I love my Spanx.  They can be a girls best friend.  But I find it fascinating that nearly all the slimming products for women focus on the mid to lower body (not just the Spanx line) and that slimming products for men focus on the mid to upper body.  In fact, Spanx currently doesn't offer anything for below the waist for men.  I know - compression could harm sperm production.  I get it.  But it's still interesting how the sexes view their respective "problem areas."
Our next feature for Dress Your Man is all about shoelaces. 
(cue sound of cricket and a dog barking in the distance) 
Huh?  Shoelaces? 
Yep.  Shoelaces. 
Those oft forgotten, mundane little strings that keep shoes on our feet but can instantly make a man appear juvenile when left untied in a business meeting.

I was inspired to write a shoelace post when I came across an article about the various ways spy's used to communicate with each other. (And still may!)  If you have young boys - how cool would it be for them to devise their own shoelace signals!
I'm an 80's child and definitely enjoyed the multicolored shoelace trend.  While I don't suggest a return to that as a way to personalize your husband's wingtips, an interesting lacing method can add subtle visual interest.  Men don't have many accessory options so unique, stealthy ways of owning a look are signals of real personal style.

And I found a fantastic website for you!  Ian's Shoelace Site!  I've had so much fun perusing his site. The clear pictures make copying that lacing method a piece of cake.
 Here's a little preview for you.
Ian's Shoelace Site
There are 33 lacing methods on the first page alone!  Then a slew of bi-color and lug lacing methods, lacing comparisons and reviews and even tips for lacing problems.
So go have a little fun with the shoes in your house.  If your man is like my man - he's just to cool for standard boring laces!  I think it would be great fun having the men in your house choose a favorite method and learning it together. 
(And please - shine the shoes before they sport the new laces!)
"A true gentleman knows that a woman should smell like butterflies and salt taffy.  And that a man should smell like jet fighters and punching."
When it comes to certain things I wish we had smellivision.  Certain things like ads for chocolate, Italian restaurants, and cologne.  I'm betting this ad would smell delicious!  There is no better clip with which to close our Masculinity Series. (Did you know this commercial was shot in one take?  He's on a lift that moves him to the horse. And the only CGI is when the diamonds appear and then change into the Old Spice bottle. Check out Old Spice for more fun.)

I have another Costco example for you.  I was in the soaps and creams isle and overheard a young husband say that he wanted to get some obviously manly soap.  His wife asked him "Why?" (strike 1- why question him? he's allowed to be an adult and pick his own soap)
He answered that he liked the scent of it.  She countered that there was nothing wrong with "our stuff at home." (strike 2 - the term "our" is not applied very well to scented items) 
He said, "I like how this smells. What do you think?" and held it up for her to sniff. She pulled her head back and refused to sniff it! (strike 3! - you can bet your last nickle that had SHE held something up for him to sniff, and he had pulled away, she'd have pitched a holy fit!)  

I wish I had seen this commercial before I saw the Costco tiff.  I'd have reminded her that emasculating her man will come back to haunt her.  I couldn't help wondering that if she questions him so badly on the soap issue - what else is she hammering him about?

The Costco tiff perfectly illustrates the point of this ad and our masculinity series.  Men should get to be real men, from how they smell to how they dress.  A supremely simple thing like your man having his own "manly smelling soap" might go a long way to reinvigorating the healthy side of the gender divide.  When the sexes can play off each other, in everything from scent to dress to mannerisms, respect is increased, our individual senses of power and individuality are reinforced.  We are better versions of ourselves, rather than androgynous clones, totally lacking in individuality.   

A few more style vignettes from GQ...
We women play very important roles in the style lives of our men.  We often do their clothes shopping and ensemble coordinating before they head out the door.  If we can remember not to inject our femininity but to instead enhance their masculinity - we'll be doing them, ourselves, and the world a great service.  They'll know we love them for who they inherently are.  They'll trust us to help them be the best MEN they can be. And the world always needs more men.  Real Men.  Now, more than ever.
We're going to round out our masculinity series over the next few days with a look at some great ads that have come out recently.  These definitely flout the metro-sexual trend, reinforcing the image of men being manly.

And some style vignette's from GQ.  How delicious was Clint back then? I ask you!
"Style like that trumps fashion."  I love that! 
Coco made a similar sentiment and it always rings true.
I also love the line, "Eastwood's just been Eastwood."  As women, we are a major style force in our men's lives, be they husbands, sons, fathers, brothers or boyfriends.  I sometimes hear women joking about (belittling!) their husband's style when they think their man should dress differently.  And yet if their man were to do the same to them - the punishment would be swift and severe.  Don't even try to deny it. 
Most men admit they don't follow fashion trends but DO want to look stylish in clothes that flatter them.  He wants to look good for YOU!  So sincere compliments when he looks great, paired with subtle and soft corrections when something isn't flattering or doesn't fit his personality, will quickly have your man looking his very best with his own style.  Everything he owns will be a great option, as if he has always dressed this well- just Eastwood being Eastwood.
Can you tell which is the girl and which is the guy in these pictures?
I was checking out at Costco a few weeks ago and these hastily-snapped phone shots are are of the couple that was in front of me.  They both had on white sweatshirts and the EXACT SAME JEANS!
Fancy bright white stitching up the sides - Check!
White design on the flap back pockets - Check!
I'm sure I had the most confused look on my face as I looked from her to him and back to her.  I tried to get both butts clearly in one shot but they wouldn't hold still.  Oddly enough.  Must have been clear I was going to feature them as a what not to wear.  His is the top butt... so you know.  Hers was quickly snapped before they walked away.

I don't mind details on men's clothing.  What I mind is androgyny.  When the similarities are just too close for comfort!  Like these... 
I realize that the poses and models' figures make it obvious which is the guy and which is the girl.  But I know very few women who look like this from behind.  Most look like the candid photos up top. 

I like to add touches of menswear to outfits.  It's sexy when juxtaposed against feminine items.  And when I do, I want to hear, "That looks great!" from a man.  Not, "What I good idea. I think I'll wear it that way too."  The androgenization of society is disconcerting to me.  I like men to be men and women to be women.  We're at our best that way.  There are facets of each in all of us and we can play them up or down as we like to create our best selves.  But the androgenization of fashion is just lazy on the part of manufacturers.  It should be clear, at a glance, which jeans are for men and which are for women.
Gap Jeans

So men... don't snag your wife's jeans. 

Don't let her shop for you, if that's the style she's going to bring home.  She probably just wants them for herself in the end!

Gap Jeans

Revel in your manhood! 

It'll make us look even better walking next to you.

I apologize for the delay between postings. A nasty stomach bug attacked my babies. It's been brutal and there's nothing more miserable than a toddler and babies who don't understand why their tummy feels so yucky.  But I'll spare you the details.  Instead, we're going to continue our masculine therapy with a 2-day discussion on jeans.
It's all-out war against saggy butt jeans!  And I couldn't be happier. 
I don't know when, where or why this particular "look" came into existence.  And I don't really care.  It's ridiculous.  As the Clueless clip at the beginning proves, it's been around far too long. 
Several years ago I was waiting for a flight when a father, mother and their teenage son sat down across from me.  The kid, probably 15, headed over to the shop to peruse the magazines and I honestly couldn't determine how it was possible for him to walk.  His jeans were so unbelievably huge on him that he was having to hold them up with his hand as he tried to drag along the numerous folds of denim pooling at his ankles.  It was some sort of shirt/waistband combo grab.  When he was out of ear shot I leaned forward and said, "I just have to ask - why does he wear his jeans like that?"  The mother started laughing and it was the dad who answered first. "Because we're picking our battles right now, and he doesn't know it yet but he's about to lose this one hard!"  The mother responded, "Absolutely.  He and his friends look like idiots! I'm going to burn all his pants and he can buy them like that again when he's 18."  I hope they did it.  It must have been a beautiful bonfire.

I'm not exaggerating when I say an all-out war is brewing.  This photo was distributed to Flint, MI police officers last year as a training tool.
This version was recently posted publicly to educate folks that this IS being taken seriously and you WILL get punished. 
The crackdown on cracks has begun.
And even though MA State Senator Eric Adams was chided for harping on an "unimportant" issue, I think he makes a valid point.  It is indisputable fact that how a person dresses is in direct correlation to their behavior.  I see no problem with encouraging his target audience to rise above the sagging.  Rebellious attitudes may cause them to drag pant even worse, but at least he said it!
Join me tomorrow as we talk about the flip side of saggy butt jeans.
As I mentioned in my last post, before we dive into our series on spring trends and OD on fabulous femininity, I wanted to balance the equation with some masculinity.  Taking a couple of posts to cover a very interesting wave that's been coming ashore. The real men who seem to be making a comeback.  And it's fabulous.  Real women need real men.

It all started when I saw this Dockers advertisement.
  • Once upon a time, men wore the pants, and wore them well. I love a man who knows how to wear his clothes, instead of them wearing him. Or trying to escape from him, as we'll discuss in another post.
  • Women rarely had to open doors... my husband is so good at this. Real women know it's a sign of respect.
  • ...and little old ladies never crossed the street alone.  I actually witnessed this several years ago.  I was in Manhattan for work, freezing my biscuits off the first week of December and hoofing it as fast as I could the two blocks to the MOMA to warm up for a few minutes.  A group of us left opposing corners at the same time and not far behind me was an old women working her way across the street.  It was incredibly windy and the couple of small grocery bags she was holding were whipping around furiously.  It was the plastic rustling sound behind me that caught my attention.  I turned to see what it was and saw a man who had passed me a moment ago stop, turn around, fall in step beside her and, while asking if he could help her, blocked the wind with his bag and coat.  I actually got teary-eyed.  He didn't wait for the long thank you I'm sure she would have delivered, he just saw her to the other side, where the buildings now offered wind protection, and took off again.  I yelled, "You're a stud!" and hoped he heard it.
  • Men took charge because that's what they did.  Do any of you follow Pioneer Woman's blog? I can so relate when she says that her husband taking charge makes her go weak in the knees. Her heart to go rapidly pitter-pat.  Does the same to me.  Makes me feel safe and secure.
  • But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men.  Gloria Steinem said, "Women need men like fish need a bicycle."  Excuse me while I gag.  I'm a firm believer that femininity needs masculinity in order to thrive. Yin and Yang.  Period.  I'm not saying you're nothing if you're not married, just that, if you're a woman, stop short of saying you need no men in your life.
  • Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny.  I'm not a coffee drinker so I can't speak to the emasculating power of foam and I've never been to a "disco" but I do know that real men aren't afraid to dance.  They spin and dip their wives in the kitchen. They slip an arm around their girlfriends and sway a little in line at the theater. 
  • But today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for.  When a girl wants to learn to be a woman, some of the best lessons will come from good men in her life.  How they'll help teach her to be respected and treated well.
  • The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. Even the sweetest children mount a full-frontal attack on a daily basis, as they test the boundaries and learn what they should and shouldn't do.  I think too many men have checked out of real parenting and even the strongest of moms will crumble over time, facing that onslaught day after day.  Everything is easier when you face it as a team.
  • For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes.  I have many male heroes in my life - my husband, father, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, and brothers-in-law - all of whom have risen to be heroes, both large and small, at a time when I needed them.
  • We need grown-ups.  I know a few guys who would rather play online games than help put the kids to bed.  NOT grown-ups.
  • We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. I love the image this line calls forth of the world as a damsel in distress, tied to the train tracks by a dastardly villain twirling a handlebar mustache. Too many of the good aspects in life are being held hostage today by villains. And while I don't know what's wrong with plastic forks, I do chuckle at how often I push the husband to eat salad.  For his health, of course!
  • It's time to get your hands dirty.  As an 80's child I am a lover of John Cusack movies.  Remember Say Anything?  I love the line from his best friend Corey, "Don't be a guy. The world is full of guys.  Be a man." And since I don't like to get dirty, yes, I prefer the man do it.
  • It's time to answer the call of manhood. I called Mr. Darcy (aka husband) and asked him how he would respond to this line in one brief sentence.  He was apparently feeling cheeky today, because he quickly answered, "It means turning the tide of the namby-pamby metro sexual trend and embracing our masculine nature.  Certain things are hard-wired in us and there's nothing wrong with that!" Well said, honey!
  • It's time to wear the pants.  Be they suit pants, overalls, chaps or even the Scottish version of pants (a kilt!)... WEAR THEM!  And wear them well. 

I hope this masculine wave that's resurging isn't a passing fancy.  Some critics blasted this ad as sexist - which is, I think, exactly the problem the ad addresses.  Nowhere in here did I feel slandered as a woman and there's nothing wrong with being a man.

Whether we know it (or admit it) or not, femininity is a huge part of a woman's style.  It is enhanced when it has the contrast of masculinity to play off.  Much like my clothing style, I really like the old-fashioned mixed with the new-fangled.  A man doesn't need to sit in his chair in the living room waiting for wifey-poo to bring him his dinner (we've all had a long day!) but it's great if he makes sure to always take out the trash, open her door, and fill her car with gas.  Or remember to walk into a dark theater first. Take her hand to help her exit  when wearing heels so she doesn't have to grab the dirty car. 
The little things make the man.  And we women benefit.