There are enough rules in life as it is. Some, however, are there to help. Like the rules that govern how to dress well. Of course, every man or woman that has an opinion on such things speaks from personal experience – and no doubt what works for one doesn’t always work for another; or what works for one is considered too pedestrian or too avant-garde by another. So, when it comes to dressing, they always have to be taken at face value. They’re solid suggestions rather than the last word on style.
But good advice is never to be sniffed at, and, as menswear becomes ever more rich and varied, ever more experimental and abundant, ever more trend-aware, in moments of confusion and self-doubt, it can help to have a valuable fall-back position that cuts through the clutter.
These ‘rules’ tend to be founded in history – they’ve worked for generations, so might well be assumed to work well today too. And they tend to be founded in the obvious, so obvious they’re often overlooked: a preference for good fit, high quality, versatility, good value, lack of extremes and keeping it sober.
There are certainly many other rules out there than are presented here. Some of these you may have already discovered for yourself. That, after all, is part of the pleasure of clothing, which no rule should hamper: trying new kit out, seeing if it suits you, seeing how it makes you feel. But, these rules have stood the test of time and, when used in conjunction, act as a failsafe guide on how to dress well today.
1. Wear A Suit Well
The key to a suit looking good is fit. If you’re buying off-the-peg, focus on the fit across the shoulders because getting the chest and waist altered is a relatively easy job according to Davide Taub, head of bespoke suits at Savile Row tailor Gieves & Hawkes. “Be cautious about wearing a period suit unless you’re pursuing a total period look because in isolation the suit starts to look like a novelty,” he adds. Classic is best and most useful – dark, two-button, single-breasted, moderate in details. “It’s not boring. A suit is a uniform. The idea is to think of this suit as a canvas to build different ideas of individuality around. It’s the way you wear it, not the label inside, that impresses.”