P.C.Pop with Pablo

Growing up with GQ — Never Stack Up Your Patterns (and other fashion rules for men)

In College Students, Fashion, GQ, Malavenda, metro, metrosexual, Pablo Malavenda, Pop Culture on June 18, 2011 at 10:14 pm

I grew up surrounded by men who took great pride in how they looked, smelled, and were proud to be one step ahead of the latest fashion.  Every man in my family was voted “Best Dressed” in high school.  Buying a suit off the rack was unthinkable.  And it didn’t stop there.  They wore the best athletic shoes, ironed their under-shirts and jeans, never wore jeans or t-shirts to school, tweezed eyebrows, and had their own signature cologne. Someone in our family has continuously subscribed to GQ magazine since the early 70’s.  We were metro before there was a word for it.  These men were also tougher than anybody in the neighborhood but never afraid to wear pink. (My uncle wore a pink suit to my confirmation as he served as my sponsor and got a compliment from the bishop.)  Everyone wanted them on their team, wanted to be their friends, and envied their sense of style — and their mojo.

GQ was a must read.  GQ is great if you have tons of money and have the ability to be dressed by a designer.  GQ is useful for knowing what color is the new brown; how skinny or wide your tie or lapel should be; or if your pants should be plain front, straight leg, cuffed, pleated or skinny. (I could go on and on about skinny jeans but we’ll save that for another time.)  So you can imagine my horror when I see men mixing the patterns.  Every day it seems I see someone with a plaid shirt with plaid shorts or someone with a pattern tie with a plaid shirt and a striped suit.  Now I am told that it is the latest fashion to mix your patterns — that it is the current fashion rule that is OK to break. GQ calls it “stacking your patterns.”  Designers are promoting it and famous folks are wearing them.  But you have to be brave to defy such a long standing fashion rule.  And not everyone, strike that, very few can pull it off.  I have yet to see someone in my small town pull it off.  So Stop.  Please.  My advice is to follow the rules.  Here are a few, if you missed that lesson growing up.

  • Don’t mix patterns — if your shirt is plaid, striped or patterned, everything else should be a solid color
  • Tuck in your shirt and Wear a belt
  • Your belt should match your shoes — black belt with black shoes, brown shoes with a brown belt — and your watch band should match your belt
  • Only wear white pants and light suits between Memorial Day and Labor Day — never wear white after Labor Day
  • Don’t wear suede or leather in the summer
  • Wear socks
  • Socks should match your pants
  • White socks with athletic shoes only
  • Flip flops only at the beach or in the locker room
  • No socks with sandals – or should I say mandals
  • Iron your shirt, at least
  • Polish your shoes
  • Learn to tie a tie with a dimple — and never wear a tie too long or too short
  • Tie should complement your shirt and suit
  • Don’t be afraid of color
  • Undershirts should remain under your shirt
  • Sweatpants are for the gym only
  • Pajamas, lounge pants, and slippers are for bedtime not to be worn in public
  • Never wear camouflage
  • For nicer occasions (wedding, interview) wear a white shirt
  • Never take off your suit jacket at an event, meal or meeting
  • Don’t button the last button of your suit jacket
  • Suit jackets should be snug on your shoulder — pants should break once not gather on your shoes
  • Black with black; Blue with blue — black pants with black socks; blue pants or blue shirt with blue socks
  • Never wear black with brown or navy
  • Don’t mix metals — all gold or all silver — not both
  • Unless you’re in the NBA or a professional clown — Never wear blue with orange; never wear red with green; never wear purple with yellow
  • Comb your hair, use some product tame it but not too much so it looks slick or stiff
  • Shave, shower, and don’t wear too much cologne

If you want to be more fashionable than the rest of the neighborhood kids, then here are a few things to remember.

  • No pleats — only plain front pants
  • Straight legs — no flared legs
  • Medium width to skinny ties with medium sized collars
  • Leave the really skinny ties for the younger generation — but wide ties are out for all ages

Now you may after reading this think that I fancy myself a well dressed man but I don’t.  I’m a state worker.  I’ve worked for the state for many years and stopped trying to be the best dressed at work.  I do however know the rules and follow them and appreciate when others do as well.  I also cringe when I see the rules being broken.  I secretly wish I never knew the rules.  What a carefree life you might have if you didn’t know about the rules, didn’t care about the rules, and just dressed as if no one was watching.  Walking around with plaid shorts, a plaid shirt, flip flops, and not so fashionable messed up hair — Oh the freedom.

But for me — oh the pressure. So for now, please, please stop stacking up the patterns.

Good luck.

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