Men's Town

By Chelle Cordero

March 6, 2009 5 min read


Fashion and elegance aren't just for the ladies anymore

Chelle Cordero

Creators News Service

The self-made man often needs help dressing himself. Fortunately, there are many options to make his clothing into his own personal style.

It isn't really that men aren't capable of making good choices, according to Esquire magazine's features editor Richard Dorment. "Men sometimes approach fashion with trepidation," he said. "In the late '70s and '80s, fashion became synonymous with feminine chic."

It's not only with everyday fashion, he added. "The bridal business invests millions of dollars per year for the bride while the groom is more or less on his own."

It's one of the many reasons why the editors of Esquire developed "The Handbook of Style: A Man's Guide to Looking Good" ($15, Hearst). The book offers advice on a variety of topics important to men's fashion, from how to get the best clothes to coordinating an outfit. It also helps them shape their style based on icons such as George Clooney.

"In this book we're not telling you what to do. We have opinions, yes. Some of us have experience. All of us care about how a man presents himself to the world," Nick Sullivan, Esquire's fashion director, said. "It's a guide to how to get dressed and it is a primer on the elements of style, but by no means is it a set of unbending rules. The book's mantra is that a man doesn't need more clothes, just better clothes and a better way to put them together."

Fashion guru Carson Kressley, known for his style sense on the former hit television show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," offered the following men's fashion tips: "Make sure you have the basics when building a wardrobe. Every man should own the perfect suit, a denim jacket, cowboy boots, a cashmere sweater and a navy blue blazer. Take care of your shoes and they'll take care of you by making everything you own look great. Sharpen your silhouette by having a tailor trim shirts to get a narrower fit around the middle."

Various fashion experts agree that style is very personal and needs to reflect a man's personality and position. One of the worst fashion faux pas is baggy clothes -- men's clothing should fit especially around the waist, backside and ankles. In addition to using the services of a tailor for your shirts, you can also use one to help custom fit your better clothes, such as business suits.

Kressley and other fashion-conscious men agree that if a man has occasions to wear a tuxedo, he should purchase a classic style instead of renting and vary the look with different colored shirts to suit the occasion.

Dressing well is "all about making compromises," Dorment said. Avoid trends and passing fashions and invest in well-made suits that will last five to 10 years. "If you feel comfortable and not self-conscious, you will look confident."

A man can add personality to a classic dark suit with shirts and ties. "A plaid shirt with a dark suit is very 2009," he added. For casual, relaxed dress around the house, many men look good in classic dark blue jeans.

Here are some additional tips to get you looking your best:

* Pants: Save your khakis and corduroys for a casual get-together or sporting event. Wool flannel trousers are perfect when dining in a decent restaurant. Blue jeans are appropriate for occasions where you wouldn't wear a tie. Men's shorts should hit just above the knee and preferably be a simple khaki.

* Footwear: Dress boots can be worn with almost everything except the most formal suits. However, the Esquire editors said that every man should own classic black oxfords, loafers and classic sneakers.

* Shirts and ties: The pattern on your tie should never be more noticeable than the one on your shirt. As for fit, you should be able to stick two fingers between your collar and neck when buttoned up and tie is knotted properly so that no shirt fabric appears above it.

Other basics to keep in mind include minimal padding in a good suit and investing in fine quality fabrics and materials. Dress appropriately for each occasion and, when in doubt, show up in nice slacks with a tailored shirt and sport coat.

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