If I were asked to point out a real world example of modern classic style, it would be a gentleman I often see on the metro. Always dressed impeccably; he wears excellent suits and interesting shirt and tie combinations.
He also has a penchant for hats – a felt fedora in winter and panama in summer. He has a lovely box briefcase and regardless of the weather always carries a tightly wrapped umbrella. Perhaps the best way to describe him is that he’s always well composed. The look is naturally elegant and sharp.
Now, not everyone can or even wants to emulate that kind of sartorial standard. But almost everyone can learn from it. Details and quality are things that matter regardless of your sense of style. By being aware of what does not work, it is easier to focus on what does.
This prompted me to list out some of my longtime pet peeves; those gaffs small and large that just get under my skin. So, before you blindly throw on that fancy new overcoat or grab some shoes off the sale rack, please read this first.
Cut The Threads
My first pet peeve is something that should be fairly obvious, but unfortunately is not. If you come into possession of a great sport jacket or overcoat that has not yet passed through a tailor’s hands, please take a few minutes to snip out the white basting thread. Basting is what tailors use to seal up pockets, vents and flaps during the tailoring and transport of new garments. Though the fact seems to escape some men, let me be clear: this stitching is supposed to come out. Pockets are meant to be opened as are vents. It is disheartening to see an otherwise well-dressed gentleman walking down the street and the rear vent of his overcoat stitched closed with a big white X. It makes me want to carry around scissors all winter long.
It’s Not an I.D. Tag
Another faux pas that simply confounds me is when a seemingly sensible individual leaves a product label tacked to their coat sleeve. You really don’t need to let the rest of the world know that your coat is 100% cashmere, or that it was, in fact, made in Italy. While I may find your sense of style admirable, it’s both overkill and a bit tacky to leave “Gucci” sewn to your arm for the world to see.
Don’t Do This
Another outerwear issue which I simply cannot fathom is the wearing of a short ski jacket over a suit jacket. The effect of pairing these two incompatible articles of clothing creates a tutu-like effect with the skirt of your jacket; not to mention the unwarranted damage and wrinkling inflicted on your good clothing. Jackets that end at the waist should be never be found in close proximity to a suit. It’s a very simple rule of visual aesthetics: your outer coat should always be longer than your suit jacket or sports coat.
The Wrong Foot
Lastly, a big pet peeve of mine is fake dress shoes. We all know them: sneakers doctored up to look like oxfords. You may think that they look just like dress shoes, but you’re not fooling anyone – really. It just looks wrong for so many reasons, not the least of which is that when those awful shoes are sighted, whatever else you have on is more or less ignored. I do make an exception for what I would call rubber soled oxfords. These shoes generally have a heavier stance and a dark “comfort” rubber sole that is cut and stacked just like a leather sole. They won’t be confused for proper dress shoes, but are passable in a corporate casual sense.
Men often complain about dress shoes being uncomfortable, which to me means that they are wearing the wrong shoes. Well made and well chosen dress shoes should be comfortable all day long. Are they just like a pair of sneakers? Of course not, but you don’t wear sneakers with a suit – well, actually in some cases you can but that’s for another column. If you just can’t find any that fit, and if you have bundles of cash lying around, consider investing in some bench made footwear. In the long run, they are an excellent investment and will outlast most everything else in your closet.