Men’s fashion is deceptively simple. In truth, all garments in this category are variations on four main pieces: pant, shirt, jacket, and accessory. However, it seems like a thousand different rules exist that you’re supposed to follow, pertaining to every possible aspect of these simple foundational garments. When can or can’t you wear white? Which fabrics are supposed to match and which ones aren’t? Between ever-changing runway trends and innovators changing the game with every Instagram post, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with men’s fashion rules.
Thankfully, we’re here to educate, advocate, and liberate—by discussing which fashion rules our modern bespoke stylists feel are a bit out of touch. And because we just couldn’t resist, you’ll also find a brief list of rules that should actually direct your wardrobe choices.
7 Men’s Fashion Rules We’ve Rewritten
Wear white whenever it works.
The ancient rule states, thou shalt not wear white after Labor Day or before Memorial Day. However, our stylists are drawn to ivory corduroys and cream pullovers from October to May—and our clients feel the same. Select a custom-made garment from high-quality fabric, and you’ll be free to wear white whenever you so choose.
Don’t worry about matching your leathers.
Your belt could match your shoes, your briefcase, and your watch strap… or not. As designers from Ferragamo to Prada have expanded their leather shade range, it’s nearly impossible to find a perfect match for every two-toned Venetian oxford you come across. It would be absurd to try matching accessories with each of GQ’s most popular loafers for the 2018 Spring/Summer season. Give it up and let your leathers mix.
Rock custom-fitted pleated trousers.
Pleated trousers have been on the sartorial chopping block since the 1990s, and for good reason. When worn incorrectly, pleats make a trouser billow, masking the body beneath—which is why outdated fashion guides erroneously suggested this trend to guys with larger proportions. The problem is, it’s nearly impossible to find well-fitting pleated trousers on the racks in any size. But when done right, the pleated trouser can be a fresh departure from the flat-front, slim trousers we’re seeing in storefronts today. A custom stylist will be able to craft the ideal number and size pleats for your body shape, giving your trousers a perfect fit with a slightly vintage flair.
Go sockless in the summer.
When styling a summer suit, chinos, or shorts, it’s perfectly acceptable to show a bit of leg during the warmer months. A flash of ankle gives a rebelliously casual edge to your style. Rock this look with a slim cut chino and suede espadrilles, derbies, or penny loafers.
Pair black with blue and brown.
According to menswear lore, navy and black never go together… and black and brown are even worse. History would restrict us to the monotony of sticking to one neutral, with no room for personality or variety. Red carpet celebs and our own local clients protest vehemently against this limitation. One of our favorite jackets features black and brown front and center, pairing both shades on a lapel. Free the neutral.
Mix fabrics and patterns.
In a similar vein, men are cautioned against mixing patterns, textures, or fabrics in a single outfit. Our guys love rocking a patterned tuxedo trouser with a velvet dinner jacket. We’re always crafting unique combinations of micro check, chalk stripe, and tartan. One of our most popular items this season is our custom dress shirt cut from wide stripe cloth, which looks fantastic when paired with a subtly patterned jacket or trouser. Your jacket doesn’t have to match your pants, and your blazer doesn’t always have to be a solid color. Enter the world of modern style and let your personality lead.
Wear a blazer with jeans.
Trust us on this one. This is one style mandate we can’t wait to bury in the archives. As seen on the runway, the street, and the red carpet, a custom-made blazer looks fantastic with jeans and a trusty pair of Chucks.
These Fashion Standards Never Go Out Of Style
No exploration of men’s fashion rules would be complete without noting the handful of non-negotiable rules to which you should always adhere. We might debate the merits of the untucked dress shirt, the matching sock-and-trouser look, or the vest without its other two-piece counterparts. Style experts go to the mat over cuffed or beltless trousers, too many undone top buttons, or pocket square shades. However, you’ll see examples of both sides throughout seasonal collections from the biggest names in men’s fashion.
Trends may change, but the timeless look created by the following suggestions still reigns over us all. Give a nod to the wisdom of our elders and follow these rules religiously.
Don’t button your entire blazer.
Know when to fasten the top button (always), the top two buttons (sometimes), and all three buttons (never) on a blazer… and don’t forget it.
Don’t parade your novelty ties.
Nobody wants to see a George Washington, chili pepper, or Santa Claus tie… even if it is the Fourth of July, Cinco de Mayo, or Christmas. In the stylish guy’s wardrobe, novelty ties are reserved for novelty occasions only.
Don’t leave the house in ill-fitting clothes.
A sloppy suit with flooding pants or too-long sleeves looks sloppy on anyone. It’s just not a good look. Take your items to the tailor without delay, or don’t buy ill-fitting clothing at all. Instead, invest in custom garments that fit your body exactly the way they should.
Don’t let your undershirt show.
Avoid looking like a used-car salesman, and ensure that your undershirt is precisely concealed beneath the dress shirt you’ve chosen to wear. To be safe, always go with a V-neck and double check to make sure unbuttoning doesn’t reveal an unsightly flash of white cotton.
Don’t wear the wrong tie.
Too skinny or too wide can offend an otherwise put-together outfit. Measure the width of your jacket’s lapel and choose a tie that’s relatively similar. Then, try the combination together and make sure the width of the tie suits your frame. Slim builds will usually look best with a 2” tie (which is currently trending), while broader builds look best closer to 3” (a more traditional approach).
Expertly Navigating Men’s Fashion Rules
Fashion can sometimes be capricious with its mandates. Men are constantly battered by the winds of style change, trying in vain to keep up with Pantone’s color of the year and knowing which socks to pair with a slightly cropped pant based on this season’s trending style rules. But remember, you don’t have to follow all the rules. Stage small, eye-catching rebellions with your clothing every day—thoroughly breaking the old fashioned edicts that are already well on the way out. And as for those new rules? For those, you’ve got experts on your side.
Knot Standard gives the style-conscious consumer a practical way to learn the rules of style while letting your clothing reflect the uniqueness within. Above all, we’re dedicated to crafting a custom wardrobe that’s right for you, from classic to avant-garde, elevating each piece with the highest quality fabrics and creating a fit that’s undeniably on point. We maintain a perfectly curated retail experience in each of our showrooms across the United States, and welcome your appointment.