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Thread: Good reasonable discussion of style rules

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    Good reasonable discussion of style rules

    I've seen it mentioned in a few different places but figured there has to be a post or two or a website somewhere for us style neophytes. Things like when to wear or not to wear certain types of outfits. In one comment I saw someone mention instinct. Sorry, instinct can only go so far (and some of us have less than others!). My instinct is trained by rules which I can then understand and choose how and when I bend them. But I'm pretty lousy at figuring them out on my own. Suggestions on a nice existing thread, article or website that can help me out?

    On a related note, the wardrobe budget challenges are helpful in giving a snapshot of basic style building blocks. Looking for a snapshot of basic style structures built with those basic building blocks, if that makes sense. Hope it does.

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    Joe does "Style Scenarios" on the main site which should help give you some direction: http://dappered.com/tag/style-scenario/

    As for things not covered in the style scenarios, use the search feature on the main site or in the forums for key words. Not something like "shirt" or "pants". Also the main site has some links on the right side of "we like". These are some more sites to check out and get ideas. Also there are other message boards of varying degrees of style and price. Just search around and get some ideas.

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    Perhaps start here:

    http://www.amazon.com/Dressing-Man-M.../dp/0060191449

    May be a little formal, but then again you've asked perhaps the most general question ever posted to this forum. You can ignore the sections on sportscarves going naturally with sportscoats, but its a classic that will probably have plenty of rules for you to apply.

    Otherwise, keep types of clothes together in terms of formality: Linen<Cotton<wool. (But see, The Great Sportcoat with Jeans Debate of the 2010s).
    Most generally menswear is built around contrast. So contrast in terms of texture, colors, and the scale of patterns. And learn about shoes, which will typically set the tone of an outfit.

    For more examples go to Primermagazine.com Not as nuanced or good as this site on clothes I don't think, but they've got lots of outfits posted.

    And then just read this, and use the folks over at Ask Andy About Clothes. And be wary of internet infographics with sets of rules and pictures from GQ. As well as advice from women.

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    The trouble with that kind of "basic" advice is that context is absoultely everything. Depending on your individual town, workplace, family, etc, your "basic style rules" are going to vary from mine.

    It's true, there are basic guidelines that a broadly applicable. These are not necessarily tough to learn, but, as with many complicated things, you'll find that the more you know, the more you know how little you know.

    One of the most basic guidelines I can pass on is to move away from thinking about "outfits." What you want, ideally, is a broadly useful wardrobe with the sort of genenal compatability that allows you to get dressed in the dark and emerge wearing clothes that go together. I don't know how old you are, what kind of work you do, or what your general preferences are, so all I can really say is that it's tough to go wrong with a basic palette of mid-grays and tan/light brown pants, light blue shirts, and dark blue/green/brown jackets. However, that's so general as to be essentially useless. You need to identify where you're at, where you'd like to be, and aim at getting there one step at a time.

    From these very basic guidelines, you can fill in and branch out. Your light blue dress shirt or navy polo might give way to something less traditional/boring/safe. Your mid-gray wool trousers might yield stone linen-cotton chinos for the summer and gray flannels for the winter.

    If you have a basic idea about wanting to "dress better" but aren't yet sure what that entails, I'd say think about fit first. Avoid pants that make your legs look like sausage casings, no matter how prevalent they are now. Avoid giant or razor thin lapels, if sports jackets/suits are on your horizon. Think less about "standing out" and more about an understated aesthetic. You don't want to be the guy at the casual summer BBQ in a blue and white seersucker suit, loud pocket sq, panama hat, and pastel bow tie. That previous sentence will get pushback here- ignore it. You want to be the guy in well-fitting, comfortable, coherent clothes.

    Honestly, there's so much broad information here it's tough to present it all coherently. As for when or when not to wear certain "outfits," a lot of that will depend. Here's a very rough and dirty guide to effective formality levels in America (ignoring levels not commonly seen now):

    Most formal ---- > Less Formal

    Suit/tie, Sports jacket/odd trousers, Dressy Casual (the preceding two categories comprise "business casual"), Jeans/Hoodies, Athletic clothes/sleepwear

    My rough rule of thumb is to stay within one or, at most, two levels of the majority of whoever I'm with, with a preference to be one level over rather than under if I'm not sure. This means if I'm going to a meeting with my boss where I'm not sure if everybody will be in suits or wearing blazers/dress pants, I wear a suit. Likewise, if I'm meeting some friends at a bar and I know they're all going to be in jeans/hoodies, I'll probably wear khakis, collared shirt, and crewneck sweater ("dressy casual"). Lastly, if everyone at the supermarket on Sunday morning is going to be in pajamas, you'll probably see me in jeans and an old college sweatshirt.

    Note this rough guideline doesn't include black tie, which is its own category and not really a matter of "style." With black tie, there is a Right Way and a Wrong Way, so it's pretty easy to follow. The categories I've used are the ones with more ambiguity.

    Each of those categories has, within in, gradiations and levels of formality. There are individual guidelines for what is "less wrong" in each category, and that information is more readily available. However, "style" is too broad a category in and of itself to have too many rules that apply across the board.
    --

    I'm here mostly to keep my mouth shut and learn a thing or two.

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    Your question is just too vague I'm gonna answer it with this: Just wear what everybody wears but pay more attention to the fit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aps2012 View Post
    And be wary of internet infographics with sets of rules and pictures from GQ. As well as advice from women.
    Probably the best all-around life advice I've come across in quite some time.

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    @jmreg,

    As you mentioned, the wardrobe budget challenges are a great starting point for anybody looking to sartorially rebuild/get started. The same would go with the "Style Scenarios" posted on the main site as they also provide context that helps explain certain clothing choices. A third article category I would suggest is the "Infographic," which includes the ever popular "Top 10 Types of Dress Shirts to Own," because it also goes into context and provides reasoning behind them. Understanding the reasoning behind choices is much more important than following them blindly, so think of them as prescriptive rather than proscriptive. This is due to the fact that while there are general style guidelines, implementing them in our particular circumstances would require tweaks, as @PekkaKarhunen has said. In terms of useful threads on the forums, I like the WIWT topic as you can see ensembles that might appeal to you and then ask the poster more about its context if that was not posted with it.

    While this reply hasn't provided any guidelines or rubrics to build your wardrobe on, I hope it has provided some resources for thinking about those guidelines or rubrics that you wish to put into place. Best of luck and keep us posted.

    Regards,
    Vic
    "It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life." - Jean-Luc Picard

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    There's some good advice here. The bit about listening to women makes me laugh. A while back, when I graduated form college, my dad (a conservatively dressed businessman with no interest in style but a strong belief in dressing well) told me essentially the same thing. I didn't get it then, but it makes a lot of sense, as long as your talking about professional clothing. After all, women will tell you what they think makes you look hot/cute/etc., which is not the same thing as dressing professionally. If you're not careful, you run the risk of becoming a fashion accessory, like the guy on this blog .

    As for simple, prescriptive advice, consider this:

    http://archive.lewrockwell.com/tucker/tucker38.html

    If you're working in a conservative, business-casual environment, it's a solid start.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vic View Post
    @jmreg,

    As you mentioned, the wardrobe budget challenges are a great starting point for anybody looking to sartorially rebuild/get started.
    I'll second that, and also throw out the Staples series of articles over at Masculine Style. They're a little less cohesive, but each one goes into a particular article of clothing that most men will want at least one of in some detail, explaining what to look for, situations in which it is appropriate, and how it will typically integrate into a larger wardrobe.

    Just note that both of these are largely geared toward 25 to 45 year old middle class American white guys living in a temperate climate. They're probably still useful reading even if that doesn't perfectly describe you, but you may need to adjust some suggestions accordingly. For example, I live in the desert, so I could probably get by without owning a pair of boots or a raincoat, and if it weren't for the fact that I regularly travel for business in the late fall / early winter, I could get by without a winter coat either, but breathability of fabric (linen and seersucker are my best friends) is extra important for me, which isn't really touched on in either of the above series.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hbi2k View Post
    I'll second that, and also throw out the Staples series of articles over at Masculine Style. They're a little less cohesive, but each one goes into a particular article of clothing that most men will want at least one of in some detail, explaining what to look for, situations in which it is appropriate, and how it will typically integrate into a larger wardrobe.

    Just note that both of these are largely geared toward 25 to 45 year old middle class American white guys living in a temperate climate. They're probably still useful reading even if that doesn't perfectly describe you, but you may need to adjust some suggestions accordingly. For example, I live in the desert, so I could probably get by without owning a pair of boots or a raincoat, and if it weren't for the fact that I regularly travel for business in the late fall / early winter, I could get by without a winter coat either, but breathability of fabric (linen and seersucker are my best friends) is extra important for me, which isn't really touched on in either of the above series.
    So only white, Americans can wear these clothes? There is a Mod from the UK and quite a few well-dressed other races on these boards as well.

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