Common fashion blunders and style errors men make when getting dressed up
Written by Ties.com
Unlike the universally loathed sock-with-sandals (opens in new window), formal and semi-formal style mistakes are often a bit less obvious — especially if you’re a novice. In this article, we’ve compiled our top 15 worst style mistakes to help you up dress better, look smarter and feel like a million bucks.
Don’t think you’re making any mistakes? Read on to find out.
1. White Athletic Socks
We have this reoccurring nightmare where we open our sock drawer and find nothing but an endless supply of old gym socks. Why do we hate them? They look cheap, get dingy easily, and let’s face it — you really shouldn’t we wearing exercise apparel with a suit.
Here’s the bottom line: If you aren’t breaking a sweat, don’t break out the white athletic socks.
Pick up some classic black or brown dress socks — or better yet, snag some fun, colorful pairs that show a bit more personality. Check out some amazing socks here (opens in new window).
2. Trousers Too Long
Baggy trousers with too much break (opens in new window) do two things well: They make you look shorter and they make you look sloppy. While a full break may be acceptable to some, even that look is a bit outdated.
We suggest opting for trouser a length that barely skims the tops of your shoes. Alternatively, have them cuffed or cropped by your tailor — especially if you want to show off your sock collection.
3. Square Toe Dress Shoes
We aren’t quite sure how these square-toed monstrosities are still finding their way to department store shelves. They are guaranteed to make you look like a time traveler from 1986.
Instead of the dreaded square toe, stick with a classic rounded, or moderately pointed toe. Both these styles have a classic, timeless appeal. While we’re on the topic of dress shoes, we recommend brown or black leather uppers and leather soles whenever possible.
4. Jacket Sleeves Too Long
It’s very rare to find a suit jacket that fits perfectly straight off the rack. It’s even rarer to find a man who will take the time to get his ill-fitting jacket tailored.
A jacket’s sleeves should hit just above the wrist bone and should allow 1/2 inch of shirt cuff to be seen. Any tailor worth his salt will be able to handle an alteration like this with his eyes closed — and it’s a lot more affordable than you think.
5. Too Many Shirt Buttons Undone
While we agree that wearing a dress shirt buttoned up all the way can look a bit odd without a tie, be mindful when letting loose.
Never unbutton more than two buttons. It looks unprofessional at best, and downright sleazy at worst.
6. Dress Shirt Too Baggy
This is the ultimate rookie mistake. A dress shirt that’s too large (opens in new window) will make you look fatter, frumpier, and stumpier. Simply put, it’s not a good look.
Make sure that your collar has no more than two fingers of room, that the shoulder seams hit the edge of your shoulder, and you don’t have excess fabric billowing around your torso.
These days, there are a ton of affordable dress shirt options available that satisfy the needs of any man’s body type — so there’s no longer an excuse for an ill-fitting dress shirt.
7. Buttoning Too Many Jacket Buttons
Never button the bottom button on a two or three-button suit. Leaving the bottom button undone will allow for enhanced comfort and natural movement.
You may be wondering why there is a bottom button in the first place if you’re not meant to button it — but some mysteries are better left unanswered.
8.Untucked Dress Shirt
We hate to sound like your mother but please tuck in your dress shirt. Dress shirts are designed with extra length precisely so that they DON’T come untucked.
If you don’t like the formality of a tucked in buttondown, choose a shirt style that has a shorter, casual cut. But really, if you’re wearing suit pants, you should always keep your shirt tucked in.
9. Visible Undershirt
Just like your underwear, your undershirt is should never be visible. If you like leaving a couple buttons undone, opt for a v-neck undershirt so that it stays hidden from sight.
It used to be that undershirts were mandatory, but these days, going sans undershirt is more acceptable — better no undershirt than one that is on display.
10. Limp, Curling Collar
If you’re new to dress shirts, you may not be aware that there are slots in the underside of the collar into which “collar stays” are placed. A simple pair of inexpensive metal collar stays (opens in new window) will keep your collar straight and laying flat against your collarbone.
We also recommend having your dress shirts dry cleaned instead of machine washed. This greatly extends the life of your shirts and keeps them looking fresh and crisp.
11. Tie Too Long (or Too Short)
This rule has very little wiggle room: The tip of your tie should rest between the top and bottom of your belt buckle (or the area a belt would be if you’re going beltless).
Avoid looking amateurish by taking the time to re-tie your tie if you didn’t get the length right on your first attempt. After you’ve knotted up on a half dozen occasions, you should be able to achieve the perfect length on nearly every attempt.
Here are our favorite knots in order of size from smallest to largest: the Four-in-Hand (opens in new window), the Half-Windsor (opens in new window), and the Windsor (opens in new window). Try each one to see which knot suits you best.
12. Tie Too Wide
If you haven’t updated your wardrobe since 1992, chances are that your closet is filled with indecently wide neckties. If that’s the case, it’s time for a much-needed update.
The generally accepted width range is between 2.25-inches and 3.25-inches. However, one size does not fit all. You’re going to want to take your body type and your lapel width into consideration when deciding what’s right for you. Read our width guide here (opens in new window).
13. Using Tie Bars Incorrectly
We love tie bars. They’re a great example of the intersection between form and function. That’s because they look smart AND keep your tie in place. However, wearing a tie bar incorrectly may do more harm than good.
First, make sure it doesn’t extend beyond the width of your tie. A 1.5-inch tie bar will work well for almost any tie — but skinny ties can accommodate tie bars as narrow as half an inch and wider ties between 1.5 and 2.5-inches.
Now that you’ve got tie bar width handled, position your tie bar between the third and fourth buttons on your shirt. Anything higher and your tie bar won’t keep your tie from flapping around in the wind. Any lower and it can look awkward when your jacket is buttoned — plus it will balloon out when you bend forward.
14. Too Matchy-Matchy
Honestly, we’re not sure why stores still sell matching tie and pocket square sets. It may be marginally acceptable for groomsmen at a wedding, but wearing a tie and pocket square (opens in new window) cut from the exact same fabric will make your outfit look contrived and overdone.
While there’s no issue with buying a matching set, we recommend never wearing both pieces at the same time.
Instead, choose a pocket square complements your tie but doesn’t match too closely. When in doubt, stick with a simple white square (opens in new window).
15. Way Too Many Accessories
We love bold accessories and accent pieces but it’s important not to go overboard. We recommend counting up all your accessories — patterned shirt, colorful tie, pocket square, cufflinks, bracelets, rings, funky socks, etc. — and limiting your ensemble to 3 or 4. The more restrained you are, the more your bolder accessories will shine.
Details, Details, Details
Though trends change, many of the style tips here are timeless — and the rest will surely be around for years to come. With a bit of thoughtful attention to detail, all these style mistakes are easily resolved. You’re guaranteed to feel more comfortable and confident once you get them handled.
What do you think are the worst style mistakes (opens in new window) men make or your style pet peeves? Let us know in the comments.