How to Dress Well: The 13 Rules All Men Should Learn

Men’s fashion has evolved leaps and bounds over the decades. It’s gone from lace cravats and breeches to neckties and low-rise trousers. Needless to say, men’s fashion doesn’t exactly transcend time save Mordecai’s slim-fit sweat-proof undershirts—more on that later.

Every generation brings in a new convention, pushing out some of the old ones. The shift is so subtle that you may not notice it isn’t there anymore. It doesn’t hurt to refresh your knowledge about men’s dressing trends to remain fashion-forward and stay posted on anything that may come across as a fashion faux pas.

Keep reading to know all you need to know about men’s dressing conventions in this day and age.

1. Your Suit is Your Canvas

Quality is not a marker of a great suit. You can wear the most expensive three-piece off the peg and still not come across as dapper and charming if it doesn’t fit well. Unless you’re intentionally going for a period suit for a costume party, you need to get a suit that fits you relatively well.

Think of it as a uniform, and it’ll be much easier to nail. These days, nearly all suits are dark, have two front buttons, and feature minimal details. They’re simple and may not always have a waistcoat, but we wouldn’t write them off. If it’s winter and you could do with some layers, by all means, add a matching waistcoat to your suit.

Once you’ve got the perfect canvas, you can build around it with cufflinks, accessories, cummerbunds, ties, etc.

A Black Dinner Jacket with a White Dress Shirt on a Clothes Hanger Hanging Off a Nail in a White-painted Wall

2. Watches are Still Relevant

There was a time when you couldn’t leave your home without a timepiece. Now, however, your cell phones are timepieces. But what about your wrist? Are you just going to leave it bare?

Nowadays, watches are a purely decorative men’s accessory. Jewelry is still rather unconventional for men, so if you’re thinking of playing it safe, we’d recommend investing in a smartwatch for daily wear and a Cartier watch for when you’ve got places to be, people to meet, and champagne to drink. In other words, a formal event.

Since watches have yet to meet their match—or replacement—you must not go out without one unless you’re trying to make a statement.

3. Color Your Canvas

Colors are everywhere this year, and not just in semi-casual or casualwear. You’ll be surprised to find pops of color at formal events, not just with women but also in menswear. This might be new territory for some men, but we can guarantee that this is the best time to explore it. Who knows how long it’s here to stay?

The trick is to create a well-balanced collection with colors containing whites, grays, navy blues, and blacks. Once you’ve got these familiar colors out of the way, sprinkle in a couple of blue and browns, followed by some green, red, purple, and—dare we say it—yellow. You can always try the riskier colors with casualwear before introducing them to your formal wardrobe.

Two Button-down Shirts in White and Burgundy and One Dark Button-down with a White Dotted-Pattern Lying on a Wooden Surface Beside a Plant

4. Jeans It Is

Jeans were invented by Levi’s in the 19th century, and the only reason they’ve come this far—150 years, give or take—is because they’ve evolved and expanded so much that they’re only a figment of their original version.

All that to say, jeans will reign supreme this year as they have the years previously, but they might look a little different. This year is all about avoiding faded and pre-distressed jeans and going back to dark denim.

As for the fit, this year, you’ll see jeans that are wide-legged at the thighs and narrow at the shins, but not so much that they’re skin-tight. If your only issue with dark jeans is that they get lighter after washes, letting it happen naturally isn’t such a bad idea.

Let those jeans wear in (or out) naturally instead of getting a pre-distressed version at a store. Your aging jeans would probably be great again by the time that happens.

5. Pressed Clothes, Trimmed Beards, and Clean-cut Appearances

Sporting a five o’clock shadow or going around with gray flecks in your beard might work for you, but we can’t say the same for everyone else. Most people are partial to a clean-cut appearance, and there’s a reason you should care about their opinion. When you go the extra mile of trimming your beard, brushing your hair, and cutting your nails, you’re seen as someone who would go the extra mile for anything.

A Man in a Dark Purple Suit and Black Bowtie Sitting on a Couch and Checking the Time on a Wristwatch

Wearing pressed, preferably dry-cleaned clothes, wearing shoes that have been polished within an inch of their lives, and looking well-groomed gives the impression that you take everything seriously. It makes you look trustworthy and an appealing prospect for potential employees, investors, and business partners.

6. Be Generous with Your Footwear

Footwear can be a one-time investment if you know what you’re looking for. Simple is always timeless, but style is where you need to be generous. It would be best if you had a pair of loafer shoes, brogues, and plain dress shoes. Make sure you have a pair each in tan, dark brown, and black, and don’t forget to pair them with the right dress socks. 

Men’s shoes also come in several toe styles, from chiseled to pointed. This decade, there’s no hard and fast rule to toe style, but it’s better to go with the grain. Round-toe shoes are practical because you can fit your toes inside them. 

With square or pointy toes, your toes would rest behind your shoe toes, and you’re more likely to scuff them on walls and other objects. If you want your footwear to last longer than a few months, you need to ensure they’re a good fit.

7. Balance Your Accessories

We live in a minimalistic age, so embellishing could easily be over-embellishing. The important thing is to weigh your priorities and not overdo your overall appearance. In other words, if it feels like too much, it probably is too much.

A Man Leaning Against a Wall with Both Hands in His Pockets Clad in a Black Suit, Matching Necktie, and White Shirt

For instance, if you’re wearing a necktie, you should give pocket squares a break. If you must wear a pocket square, don’t select one that matches your jacket. Instead, go further on the same wheel with a slightly darker or lighter color.

If you’re in a semi-casual setting, trade your cufflinks for a single sewn-in button on each side. Keep it simple and clean, but don’t forget to grab your sunglasses when going out.

8. Be a Leader, Not a Follower

All these trends really make you wonder who’s inventing them. People who forge their personal style and wear them like they’ve been doing so their entire lives are the ones who set an example for other people. Think about it: you wouldn’t have tuxedo shorts, or even tuxedo pants had their inventors not embraced them first. They made these trends work because they wore them like a convention, not a costume.

You can also embrace your personal brand but avoid the caveats. You don’t want to stand out at a formal event by wearing cowboy boots any more than you want to stick out at a beach party by wearing a black-tie ensemble.

A Bespectacled Man Perched on the Arm of a Couch in a Gray Sleeveless Suit Over a Black Waistcoat, White Shirt, and Red Tie

9. Dress for the Occasion

As we just mentioned, you don’t want to stick out at an event for the wrong reasons. That means, no matter how much you want to experiment with your style, you must ensure that the final result falls under the nature of your event.

Clothes are called ‘codes’ for a reason. Your dress code can reflect your personality, but it must also reflect the occasion. It must make you comfortable while still showing respect for others. Feel free to overdress if you think your ensemble is missing something, but don’t just pile on articles that have no place in that setting. No matter how minimalistic your appearance is, be sure to dress appropriately.

10. Give Your Contacts a Rest

Contact lenses have been around long enough to be boring. They don’t add anything to your final look, but eyeglasses do. Even if you have perfect vision, you could invest in a pair of stylish spectacles for aesthetic reasons.

Instead of getting something off the internet, visit a store to try some on, so you know they fit you perfectly. You could take into account the following when selecting your eyeglasses:

  • The shape of your face.
  • The shape of your eyebrows as opposed to the frame.
  • The shape of the frames.
  • Framed vs. frameless.
  • Quality and price.
A Bespectacled Man Wearing a Gray Coat Over a Brown Sweater and Red Shirt Reviewing Some Documents While Seated on a White Coach

11. Diversify Your Outerwear

Outerwear is the first thing people see when you enter a room or step out of your home. It comes in many styles and lengths, so it’s only reasonable to have a sizeable collection in your wardrobe.

Although bomber jackets and windbreakers work in all seasons, you might want to have some wool coats and fur jackets for the colder months and some denim and coach jackets for the warmer months. You can also have them in classical colors like tan, olive green, black, and brown.

12. Buy (Don’t Rent) Your Dinner Suit

You may think renting a dinner suit costs less because it’s not every day that you’re invited to a formal event, but the odds of a rental being a perfect fit are low. Do you want to look messy and careless in overlong trousers, boxy dinner jackets, and pre-tied bowties? 

If not, it would be better to invest in a single-breasted dinner suit with an oxford shirt and a matching bowtie tailormade to your arms, legs, and shoulders. A classical black suit would pass off as formal attire anywhere, but midnight blue suits with darker lapels are all the rage nowadays. We would also suggest buying a standard bowtie and learning how to tie it yourself.

A Man Posing Outdoors in a Midnight Blue Suit, Matching Waistcoat, White Shirt, and Black Bowtie

13. Simple Undergarments are the Key

Undergarments are not the place to flaunt your style. They’re purely functional and must serve their purpose while remaining nondescript. You can express your personality by wearing patterned boxers to bed, but you can’t let them do the same in public. This is one place where unbranded items might do the job just as well, if not better, than branded ones.

However, you should still wear a branded undershirt under your outfit. If you want yours to look inconspicuous, sit under your overshirt like a second skin, and protect your overshirt for hours on end, you should invest in a men’s designer undershirt by Mordecai.

Our designer undershirts contain a silver component to ensure comfort and sit between your skin and outfit, protecting the latter from repeated washings. Order sweat proof undershirt online from anywhere in the US, or make your way to our blog to learn how they can benefit you.

Feel free to reach out for questions and concerns about our white sweat-proof undershirts.

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