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Notes from Dressing the Man by Alan Flusser
April 22, 2007, 3:27 am
Filed under: fashion and grooming

Dressing The Man


Alan Flusser


Dressing well depends on two pillars – colour and proportion

  • Learn which colours enhance your complexion and the proportion that fits your personal architecture

The face is the destination to which one’s attire should escort the beholder’s attention.


Two colour techniques

  • The first technique involves the relationship between the complexion and an outfit’s level of contrast
    • The colours of any given ensemble should exhibit the same degree of contrast as that manifested by one’s skin and hair tones, a person’s two primary colour signposts.
    • A man’s complexion can be scaled down to two basic formats: contrast or muted. If your hair is dark and skin is light, you have a contrast complexion. If your hair and skin tone is similar, your complexion is muted.
    • Asians generally have high contrast complexions, hence a high contrast ensemble works.
  • The second technique focuses on the enhancement of the face through repetition of one or more of its tones in the surrounding apparel
    • Features to consider in order of importance: skin, hair, eye colour, special pigmentation in skin

The Dress Shirt

  • Most men are taught to use the dress shirt as a harmonizer between suit and necktie; the classy man uses the shirt as a focal point.
  • The length and spread of the collar points should complement the head’s contour and size
    • Long straight-point collars with little spread between their points will extend and narrow a wide countenance, just as the broadly spaced points of a spread collar will counterbalance and long and narrow face.
    • Long-necked men require taller collars with wider neckbands that raise the collar’s height, while short-necked men need lower-sitting collars with a more forward slope.
    • Small collars make a large head appear even larger.
  • Collars counterbalance the facial structure by either softening dominant lines or strengthening weak ones.
    • Long-pointed collars that are either pinned or buttoned down will help to countermand faces with angular features and strong lines.
    • A full face that sags around the chine or cheeks demands a stiffer collar
  • With top button closed, two fingers should be able to slide comfortably between the neck and the collar of a new shirt.
  • The shirt should be cut full enough to allow the wearer to sit without concern for whether its front will gape open.
  • The shirt length should be that you can raise your arms without it pulling your trousers up.
  • When a necktie is worn, the collar’s points ought to be able to remain in touch with the shirt’s body, no matter where the wearer turns his head.
  • Semi-spread to cutaway collars should have no tie space above the tie’s knot, with points long enough to be covered by the jacket’s neckline.
  • No part of the collar’s neckband should peek over the tie’s knot.
  • The shirt must fit snugly around the wrist so that the additional length required to keep the cuff from pulling back from the arm is extended does not force it down the hand.
  • Shirt cuff and hand should move as one; if the hand can slide through the cuff opening without first unfastening it, the cuff’s circumference is too large.
  • Shirt formality
    • The stiffer the collar and the more open the collar points, the more formal it is
    • Double-button cuff is more formal than single
    • Smoother or more lustrous materials are dressier

The Suit Jacket

  • Jacket shoulder – natural, fitting, not too augmented
  • Jacket collar – ½ inch of dress shirt collar to be shown above the jacket collar at the back
  • Jacket length – two methods to decide length
    • Jacket length in relation to the torso: divide in half the length from the collar’s seam to the floor
    • Jacket length in relation to the arm: jacket’s bottom should line up with the thumb knuckle
  • Waist button – When fastened, it should divide the body so that the torso and legs  appear at maximum length
  • The gorge and lapel width
    • If he is short, a man’s lapel notches should sit higher up his chest, the longer lapel line emphasizing verticality
    • A broad-shouldered man should have a broader lapel
  • The jacket sleeve
    • Full at the top, and tapering down to the wrist bone, and it must hang straight
    • The sleeve’s converging lines should conform to the broad shoulder and narrowing waist of the jacket
    • The band of linen between jacket sleeve and hand must be present; at least ½ inch of shirt cuff must be seen below the jacket cuff
    • When worn, the fit must not be too tight; there must be no “X’ shaped crease at the front of the jacket at the waist buttons

The Suit Trouser

  • Suit trousers should extend the line of the jacket, hence lengthening the overall figure
  • Worn at the waist, not the hip
  • With pleated trousers, the hip and thigh must be cut full enough so that the pleats lie flat and do not pull open when standing
  • When standing, the trouser crease should bisect the kneecap and finish in the middle of the shoe
  • Cuffed bottoms should rest with a slight break on top of the shoe, and cuffless bottoms should slant towards the heel
  • Trousers should slant forward just before the shoe
  • The proper width of trouser cuffs should be 1 5/8 inches for men under 5 feet 10 inches

The Dress Belt

  • The choice of dress belt should be dictated first by the shoe’s colour and then by the hue of the jacket and trouser.
  • Avoid mixing leather colours such as a brown belt with black shoe and vice-versa.
  • Generally dress belts should be an equal or darker shade than the suit.
  • A darker belt imparts a dressier look
  • The more the contrast between belt and trouser, the sportier the result.
  • The colour of the belt should minimize the transition at the waist without interrupting the liner flow of the coat and trousers.
  • The belt’s end should finish between the first and second belt loop of the trousers.

The Dress Shirt

  • The choice is guided first and foremost by the appropriateness of the collar shape to the wearer’s face
  • Small face, small collar and vice versa

The Necktie

  • The necktie’s correct width is determined by the jacket’s lapel
  • Broad shoulders means a wider lapel means a larger-scaled necktie and vice versa
  • The secret of tie aesthetics lies in compression the knot that it can dovetail high up into the inverted “V” of the collar’s converging sides
  • To enhance its staying power, a dimple or inverted pleat should emerge from under the middle of a taut knot.

The Pocket Handkerchief

  • A natural effect: angle it towards the shoulder with points irregularly arranged, since it echoes the slant of the jacket’s lapel and reinforces the breadth of the wearer’s chest and upper body

The Dress Socks

  • The socks must match the dressiness of the trousers and shoes.
  • Socks should match trousers, rather than the shoe.
  • With navy suit and black shoes, navy socks are richer than black; with a dark grey suit and brown footwear, charcoal hose would be the more stylish colour.
  • For black trousers and black shoes, black socks should be avoided.
  • The more formal the ensemble, the finer or more sheer the sock is.
  • The socks may match the necktie.
  • The bulkier the outfit, the more one must step up the sock’s thickness.

The Tailored Ankle

  • Trouser bottom should cover about 2/3 of the shoe

Proportion and Body Type – Tips for short men

  • To elongate the figure, the eye needs to be distracted from the waistline and led north to the shoulders and south below the knees
  • The jacket length needs to be kept on the short side, yet cover the seat of his pants
  • The single-breasted, two-buttoned jacket with a medium “V” that opens down to the waist is more flattering to the short figure than the higher, closed fronts of the three-button coat
  • Lapel notches should rest higher on the upper chest for a longer lapel line
  • Jacket sleeves should finish to show a half inch of shirt cuff: this helps balance off the sleeve and shorter jacket length
  • When it comes to jacket detailing, less is more. More details reduce the lines
  • Wear trousers on the waist
  • For trousers, the cuffs should be 1 5/8 inches, or not have it at all

Mixing Patterns

  • When mixing patterns of the same design, the size of each pattern has to be as different as possible. E.g. broad lines mixes with narrow thin lines
  • Mixing two different patterns: keep them close in size. If patterns are small, do not have two small patterns, otherwise it confuses the eye. One big pattern can be paired with a small one.
  • Mixing three patterns
    • Use different patterns but same scale
    • If two patterns are the same, separate the like designs in size and select an unlike pattern that is visually compatible with both.
    • If all patterns are the same, graduate in scale.

3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

If no black socks with black trousers and shoes, what color then? Match socks to tie color? And if not wearing a tie?

Comment by James Reedy

Twice I have asked and twice you have not answered. If black socks are not right with black trousers and black shoes, what is the best sock color?

Comment by James Reedy

Obvious choice for black trousers is white tube socks. Or maybe that one was a typo?

Comment by Victor Smirnoffpinoskiovola II

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