For Men Learning to Dress

You shape your image with your clothes, grooming and fitness, and this image has power to influence others in their opinions of you. It is easy to pass up on that power by remaining a style adolescent. It is also easy to overdo it by inappropriately out-dressing your peers.  An effort to begin dressing consciously will benefit from some solid education and decision making.  This site is not monetized in any way and is offered simply to provide direction to those entering a new world.  I originally started this page as a place to post links, resources, images, and explanations in one place for friends and students who were asking for advice.


I. Links and Recommendations

My first aim is to help you learn how to dress by recommending some resources that will teach you the traditional standards.  Those recommendations, printed and online, are all listed below. This is not a style blog with constant, new material; it points you to helpful materials.  I suggest you read the book titles recommended below while developing a habit of regularly sweeping the web links you find most helpful and appealing.  Do not feel rushed with this learning process.  You will encounter all kinds of new vocabulary and ideas in the publications and on the blogs.  Give yourself plenty of time to absorb it and eventually become fluent in the ideas of masculine style.

A Rich Man's Jeeves could simply tell you everything you need to do with advice personalized to you and your life.  If you can afford one, do not hesitate to hire one.  This is a Poor Man's Jeeves, and that means you need to do the work by studying the suggested resources and deciding what is right for you.  By the same token, if you can afford bespoke (custom), I am not your best guide.  A Poor Man's Jeeves aims to help a man make the most of ready-to-wear (off the rack) styles.

The links below "For Your Education" offer sites I currently find useful.  They should be swept regularly for advice, images and discussion.  Some of them are rather active.  Others that are less active have enough advice I still value in earlier posts to warrant me keeping them.  Most of the links have quite a bit to offer in their archives worthy of exploring.  I do occasionally delete links that no longer inspire me, so if you find one particularly useful, I suggest you bookmark it.

The links "For Your Shopping" offer lists of clothes-sellers, provisional and by no means exhaustive, to provide a starting point.  They, like the advice and the many images on this site, reflect my preference for conservative Anglo-American style.  You will come to know many other sellers as you visit the web links and continue to learn.

In addition to these linked sources, make the most of tools like Google and YouTube.  The internet is full of resources (of wildly varying quality) like videos teaching you how to polish your shoes, knot your ties, fold a pocket square, and countless other things.  There are many generous people out there willing to serve as your Poor Man's Jeeves.


II. The History and Elements of Men's Style

The second service I offer is a list of films selected to teach you about the history and elements of men's style.  It has taken years to compile and is always under revision.  An introduction to it offers some advice on what you should pay attention to in order to get the most out of your viewing.  To accompany this list, I have provided a description of the development of men's style in the West in the last couple of centuries, focusing on the influence of political factors and their social ramifications.  If you read the publications recommended below, regularly visit the blogs listed here, and work your way through the listed films, you will have earned for yourself quite an education in men's style at very little cost.  Really getting a grasp on the elements, history, and uses of men's style will take a little while for a man with demands on his time but will be well worth it.


III. Having the Right Perspective on Style

The last thing I offer is my perspective on how you might want to develop your style.  When you read the resources suggested here it is easy to gain the impression that you need to start wearing suits, ties, and perhaps even hats, collar pins, and a monocle to be well-dressed.  You do not.  And you really should not if you do not inhabit social spheres where others do.

Understand that dressing well and dressing up are two entirely different things.  Dressing up means wearing clothes that are higher on the ladder of formality.  It is certainly important to understand when and how to dress up, which is why I offer the best resources I have found to help you do so.  Dressing well, though, is not the same thing and means making sure that the garments you are wearing are perfectly appropriate to occasion, that their fit, construction, materials, and combination are the best possible - at any level of formality.  See the following link for more detail on what it means to dress well.

You can be higher up on the ladder of formality, say in a tux, but the fit, materials, and quality you have chosen could all be atrocious (see any high school prom for examples).  This would be dressing up but not dressing well.  Alternatively, if you work at a place where all of your peers wear chinos (khakis) and polos, you can make sure that your pants fit you perfectly, as does your polo, that they have the highest quality construction and materials you can acquire, and that the colors you have selected look great on you.  Your shoes, while appropriate to this level of formality, can also have the best materials and construction possible for you and coordinate perfectly with what you are wearing.  In this combination you would be dressing well without dressing up.

You never want to be inappropriately too formal or too informal for any occasion but should blend into it.  You may feel free to absolutely outdo everyone in how well you dress, just do not assume you suddenly need to jump up the ladder of formality to clothing that will make you ridiculous for the world in which you actually live.  Miscalculating your formality is one of the easiest ways to hurt yourself with your style choices.

This means if you work in a world where nobody wears suits or even ties, probably what I and many call Business Casual, do not start wearing them to work or to see friends.  (See the following link for advice on dressing your best in Business Casual.)  Wear clothes of the same formality as your peers' clothes, just do it much better.  This goes for every sphere of your life and every occasion in which you ever find yourself.

I hope the resources and advice offered here serve you.

Publications to Read

REQUIRED READING

Conservative Primers with Many Pictures:

These will help you understand the most stable conventions and traditions in menswear with plentiful pictures to help you instantly visualize what is discussed.

Dressing the Man, Alan Flusser
Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion, Bernhard Roetzel

Trendier Publications:
On newsstands twice a year (fall and spring), these will help you know what is in style for the current season, knowledge you should combine with the information from the more conservative books.

Esquire: Big Black Book

GQ Style: What to Wear Now


SUGGESTED READING

Conservative Books with Few or No Pictures:
Though very informative, these are best read once you are very familiar with the names of the various garments of men's style - or with the internet in front of you to search for images - as there are not enough pictures to help you visualize what is being discussed. They will help you understand further traditional guidelines, standards of taste, and origins of conventions in men's style.

Elegance: A Guide to Quality in Menswear, G. Bruce Boyer
The Suit: A Machiavellian Approach to Men's Style, Nicholas Antongiavanni

Historical:
Though including many helpful images, the first is very text heavy, giving a wealth of detail on historical development. The second book is mostly just images.

American Menswear: From the Civil War to the Twenty-First Century, Daniel Delis Hill
One Hundred Years of Menswear, Cally Blackman


For further suggestions, consult Gentleman's Gazette's list of 100 Books.

Comments and Questions Welcome

poormansjeeves@gmail.com