An exasperated commenter requests a post:
Just what the hell does it mean when women say that they want a well dressed guy? What does well dressed mean for a guy?
A wonderful question. In my experience, there are three general categories of men when it comes to dressing. Category 1: Well dressed men, with a clear sense of style. Category 2: Men who have learned the basics and are successfully avoiding the fashion "no's". Category 3: Men who don't have a clue how to dress, and basically wear the kinds of things their mothers used to pick out for them when they were kids, supplemented by gifts and things that seem to fit and feel comfortable. Category 1 is the rarest; categories 2 and 3 are more common.
Here's a strange fact. In general, men in Category 1 are most attractive to me, men in Category 3 are second most attractive to me, and men in Category 2 are way in the back of the pack. In some cases, Category 3 men are the most attractive. That's counterintuitive, I know. I'll explain more about this later, but for now, if you are a man who hasn't a clue how to dress himself, you needn't despair.
Let's start with the basics: the fashion "no's" to which Category 3 men are blind. Most of these are enduring principles. A few are about trends, but I think should be heeded until a sharp dressed man or woman you trust, in your geographic area, tells you that the tide has turned. (e.g., there is talk that pleated pants are coming back. I am very suspicious of this, and even if it is true, it ain't true in Maine yet.)
1) Your clothes should fit you. Oversized T shirts are not attractive. Too tight is not attractive, either, but too tight is better than too loose when it comes to knit tops. Big, baggy, shapeless tops are no good. Nor are pants that sag or gap. Figure out what fits you and then pay attention to it. Men's clothes are more consistent than womens' in terms of sizing, but there is still some variation across manufacturers, so you can't always assume that because a shirt at home that fits is a size medium, the medium at the store will fit the same way.
2) The rules: No pleated pants. No white socks unless you're exercising. No sneakers or hiking boots unless you're running or hiking. You need leather shoes not only for dress up but also for wearing casually around town. No mock turtlenecks. (Friends tell me the occasional mock turtleneck is permissible, but I am skeptical.) No baggy sweaters. Belt and shoes need to be the same color. Dark socks only. Button down shirts shouldn't have pockets on them. No t-shirts with writing on them, unless you're running or at the gym. (Category 1 men can and do and should break this rule with hip T-shirts.) Outdoor gear is for outdoors, not for all the time. No dark shirts or shiny shirts with a suit. If you're in Category 3, shiny shirts are off limits to you entirely.
3) We'll get to how to be a Category 1 man in the next post. But what am I forgetting in the basic advice?