Monday, August 15, 2011

What A Difference a Half Inch Makes

First things first: if you read this entry's title and didn't immediately think, "That's what she said," we will clearly never be friends. This is the kind of in-depth sartorial analysis you've come to know from DLAMGD.

In the world of tailoring, a half inch is a mile. This lesson was reinforced for me a few days ago when I picked up a navy sport jacket from my tailor; I bought it a few months back and had the sleeves shortened immediately; I literally walked from the store to the tailor. In a rare instance of imperfection, this tailor left the sleeves about a half inch too long, rendering the garment non-wearable.

I finally got around to bringing it back to him, and the difference is astounding (please pardon the lighting in the pictures). You can finally see the bit of requisite shirt cuff at all times, and it's amazing how much more I enjoy wearing clothes that are properly altered. The lesson here is that if your clothes don't fit perfectly, you're missing out on being flush with confidence in your appearance, which is part of what dressing well is all about. A nice suit might feel good, but a perfectly fitted suit feels like the most elegant suit of armor you could ever don.

The details matter. Get thee to a tailor.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My First Suspension

There are quite a few sartorial rules and guidelines that apply to all men: belts match shoes, socks match pants, ties should have dimples, and a million others. When you dig a little deeper, however, you learn that there are principles that flatter certain body types while accentuating the negative aspects of others. You've heard many of these categorizations before: tall, slim, athletic, portly, stout, and average are all common words to describe men's body types.

At 5'4" and about 125 pounds, I fall into the "short and slim" category. While any competent dresser can theoretically get away with wearing anything he pleases, there are some things that will emphasize my smaller stature and others that will work to minimize it. For example, I can't wear super large-scale patterns; they swallow me up and make me look smaller than I actually am. On the other hand, my body type displays tight, small-scale patterns to their best advantage because they don't have much ground to cover on my small frame.

Another concept that serves me well is the one where maximizing height is paramount. Pinstripes are awesome for me, because they draw the viewer's eye up and down, creating the illusion of height and therefore the illusion that I'm not just smashingly handsome but also maybe, you know, 5'6" or something. On the other hand, horizontal lines work against me, but I wear one nearly every day when I throw on a belt and effectively cut my body in half.

The solution to this issue? I had suspender buttons sewn into my suit pants (never use clip-on suspenders), and I picked up the braces you see above. For years I've been wary of wearing them because they're either too old mannish, affected, or just silly-looking, but I was wrong. Not only do they add two more vertical lines to the ensemble, but they're far more comfortable than a belt could ever be. With suspenders, your pants hang from your shoulders, not your waist. I can reach for things and my shirt doesn't come untucked, and my waistband isn't cinched around me like a twist-tie. Bonuses all around.

Perhaps most importantly, I've grown to appreciate the classic look of suspenders and find them playful and a little quirky, at least on a guy my age. They add another layer of visual interest that a belt simply doesn't provide, and I'll always relish the opportunity to coordinate something with a tie. I just need to round out the collection with ten or so more pairs and I'm set.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Who Wears Short Shorts?

An old middle school buddy of mine named Matt offered up a suggestion a while back by saying, "You should do a post on what shorts to wear. Also, tell dudes to stop wearing those giant cargo shorts from the early 2000's." Ask and ye shall receive, sir. First things first, here's a primer for what makes for a good pair of shorts.

As I've discussed before, the most important aspect of looking good is how your clothes fit. You can spend $30 on a well-fitted t-shirt and jeans outfit and look great, and you can just as easily spend $2,000 on an ill-fitting suit and look like hell (well, maybe not just as easily). Shorts, like bathing suits, are not exempt from this rule. They should fit snugly but not tightly around your waist and the inseam should end about 2"-5" above your kneecap (shorter inseam for smaller guys, longer inseam for bigger guys). An important rule that's often ignored is that the circumference of the leg opening should be relatively slim as well. If the circumference of your thigh is eighteen inches, then the short's legs should be, well, not much more than eighteen inches.

Material for shorts should generally be limited to linen or cotton, oftentimes khaki or chambray. Denim shorts are for children. As far as color and pattern is concerned, I suggest that you have a couple of basics like dark blue and tan, but branch out as far as you're comfortable. White, light blue, yellow, or mauve shorts? Hell yes. Crazy Bermuda and patchwork madras shorts? Indeed; so long as they're paired with a solid shirt, you're in business. Sockless feet tend to look better with shorts, and you can buy socks that are more or less invisible from Banana Republic and H&M.

Second things second, I'd like to accommodate Matt's other request and type it for all to see:

Dudes, stop wearing those giant cargo shorts from the early 2000's. If you have that much stuff to carry, get a messenger bag.

Finally, when I was in Greece there was a guy who had drawstrings at the hem of his shorts. He'd pull the legs up high and tighten the drawstrings to the max. I have no idea how the physics of this worked out, but doing so caused the shorts' legs to shamelessly place his junk front and center for all to see. If you have to ask how or why this is poor form, I'm not sure anyone will ever be able to help you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Banana Hammock Debate

I just got back to the States about a week ago after having spent two weeks in Greece. It was amazing; I got to see my girlfriend after two months apart, leave the country for the first time since 2004, be on an archaeological dig, learn about seven Greek words, and finally hit up a beach with the new swim trunks I bought.

Admittedly, it's been about three years since I've been on an American beach, but judging from what you can find in stores, the styles for men's bathing suits haven't changed much. Brands like American Apparel sell trunks cut high so that they actually allow the wearer to get some sun on his pasty-ass thighs. This is the style that I purchased, and I like them because not only do I have pasty-ass thighs, but they also hearken back to ancient times, the 1970's, when American men viewed showing off their bodies as a simple masculine pride thing, not a symptom of the gay gene.

Unfortunately, the market is still dominated by the surfer-dude board short phenomenon. These are the bathing suit equivalent of capri pants, and they make no sense. Unless you have a sun allergy, why would you want to cover up so much skin? Furthermore, if you're over the age of 16, why the hell would you want skulls and flames on them, like the ridiculous Ed Hardy shorts pictured above?

European men generally have the right idea. Sure, there were some young guys wearing past-the-knee Billabong board shorts, but most embraced a shorter trunk. Some, however, took things too far. The picture I posted above is an exaggeration only insofar as no one wears a crucifix like Flava Flav wore a clock around his neck. Even on the minority of men who look like they've been chiseled out of stone, the banana hammock is just too much for my taste. While it's not the only style of bathing suit that puts one's moose knuckle front and center (too-tight trunks can do that as well), it's certainly the silhouette that draws the most attention to it. On men who are a bit softer around the middle, it does nothing to balance out their body size, making them look like they're wearing something two sizes too small.

In summation: go for a trunk that hits at about mid-thigh. Wear darker trunks with longer legs if you're a bigger guy, but still keep them a couple inches above your knee. The sun gods will be pleased.