William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Reader Questions About Men’s Fashion

Dr. Briggs,

I just reread your post “Top 10 Men’s fashion rules” and it has much more meaning to me now that I am a bit older and more ‘professional’ than I was when you first wrote it. Anyways, I did have some serious questions that I need to get to the bottom of, perhaps you can help out?

1. When is a logo acceptable? Is a Ralph Lauren polo unacceptable because it has a logo? What about a parka with it’s brand on the sleeve?

2. If you work in an office, and your co-workers wear jeans and t shirts to work, is it acceptable to wear a suit and clearly stick out?

3. Are monograms in any location acceptable?

4. Under what circumstances could an evening cloak be worn? This is essentially a cape worn over a tuxedo, also known as an opera cloak.

Thanks

Best,
Terence Tarvis
www.tarves.org

1. Logos should only be worn at sponsored events in which you are taking part. Your company has a picnic and gives out t-shirts, for instance (take the t-shirt off after leaving and never wear it in public). Or at the ballpark (go Tigers!). Never wear logos elsewhere. Why would you want to become a walking advertisement? You’ll be like those women who buy the most outrageous bags with enormous lettering on them, carried only for the purpose of status signalling. Awful.

The no-logo restriction makes it difficult to find clothing at times, because companies have figured out citizens do like status signalling. Nevertheless, don’t fall for it.

2. Absolutely. Wear a suit, or wear a jacket and tie matched with anything but jeans or khakis. Well, I take the khakis back, only because it is possible—but barely—to some that look good. Don’t worry about being stared at. After a week or two your office mates will have forgotten about your eccentricity and you will appear normal. And sometime soon after that, many of them will secretly feel shabby when you pass by.

It’s a fiction that you can’t dress nicer than your boss. Simply putting on a collared shirt would be dressing better than the slobby billionaire Mark Zuckerberg. If you follow the absurd rule of dressing worse than your boss, at Facebook you’d have to sport nothing but a ragged diaper.

3. Monograms are acceptable, as long as they are subtle. For instance, on a tie clip or the tail end of a tie. Many men have their shirt fronts monogrammed, which should be avoided. Too ostentatious. Feel free to put a monogram on the inside of the shirt by the neck. Helps the dry cleaner. Special event clothing, like navy blue blazers worn at a club can have monograms; but this is like the restrictions on logos. Only wear them while at the place or function for which they are intended.

4. The cloak can be worn when it matches the clothes underneath. Not in color or material per se, but in dressiness. Believe it or not, a regular reader of this blog wears a cape when he is in black tie. He pulls it off magnificently. But he does so because he remembers not only the rule just given, but also the mandate that men must wear dress hats outdoors. The hat this gentleman sports is a not a fedora, which would not look well with a cape. Instead, wear a bowler or, even better, a homburg. The bowler should look as much as possible as a homburg, incidentally.

I suppose you could wear an opera hat. I’ve only seen this done once at a now defunct coffee shop on the Upper East Side. If you’re going to wear a cape, or opera hat, you have to have the courage of your convictions. Slouch or show awareness in the goofy looks you’ll get and the game is up. Be bold.

19 Comments

  1. The logo rule—does it count if I bought the garment second hand? After all, I didn’t pay for the logo and if the company wants cheapskates like me advertising for them, well, that says a lot about the company (As in “who wants to be seen wearing THAT brand???).

    I did not need the image of workers at Facebook sporting nothing but ragged diapers put in my head. 🙁

    I should note that wearing an evening cloak if one has a beautiful English accent is always acceptable and makes one seem magnificent even if they are the janitor!

  2. Briggs

    March 12, 2016 at 10:50 am

    All,

    For a sharp dresser, you can’t beat the Duke.

  3. Sheri, re: logo, even if you didn’t pay (much) for it, you are still walking around as an unpaid advertisement for someone or something. Which begs the question–why are not such clothes free, since you are doing a service to the designer by donning their togs?

    Some logos can be removed with careful application of a stitch ripper and leave no damage to the garment. Altho, sometimes, the logo cannot be removed without leaving an unsightly mark (like a metal letter stamped into a piece of leather, like a glove)…. in which case, leave it alone.

    When I was in high school, the designer jeans were the rage, some of girls clipped out the “calvin klein” label from the back pocket, even though by the distinctive stitching on the pocket, it was evident that those jeans were by calvin klein.

  4. ” …if the company wants cheapskates like me advertising for them, well, that says a lot about the company…”

    Sheri, a wealth management company I worked for some time ago had T-shirts made as part of a promotion. The shirts featured the company logo prominently as well as the phrase “Trust us to manage your wealth.” The marketing department had far too many shirts produced and gave the excess to an agency which distributes clothing to the poor. Several weeks later as I walked past a homeless shelter/soup kitchen I saw half-a-dozen men lined up to enter wearing the bright yellow shirts. You can’t buy that kind of publicity…

  5. Joy :

    Re : Coat check / Hat check comment from earlier post.

    Refer to top ten list – hats are number 7

    (Looking in comments section for #4, Briggs reported that the list came from a “stall” at Grand Central Station. So he either disagreed with #4 or it had gotten obliterated)

  6. Briggs, a Windsor knot no doubt.

  7. Steve E :

    Double Windsor – can’t abide the asynchronous look of a single.

    That reminds me – The Liberace Fashion Consultant book

    http://www.amazon.com/Liberace-Your-Personal-Fashion-Consultant/dp/0810994526

  8. Ken: Sometimes the clothes are free. I knew a couple that had a lot of designer clothes that they got for free from the sellers, for the exact reason that their wearing it was an advertisement. (I guess I can be an unpaid ad if the item cost me 25 cents secondhand. That’s close to free.)

    Steve E: I do love it!!

  9. On a side note, the Most Interesting Man in the World, who probably wrote the 10 rules, has been sent off on a one way trip to Mars. Dos Equis apparently wants a younger man, probably some squirt who rarely shaves, spikes his hair with goo, wears t-shirts with the company logo, and jeans with rubber souled sandals. If that is, he gets out of his pajamas.

  10. Winston Sterzel, the original China vlogger from South Africa, recently explained why he always wears a suit and tie (except when he’s riding or working on his motorcycles):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oqp5zI4Ng_s

    (For those who don’t know, Shenzhen, where Winston lives and works, is in mainland China, just a few miles from Hong Kong. Hence, the warm temperatures that he mentions.)

  11. ,i>For a sharp dresser, you can’t beat the Duke.

    A pocket square in an overcoat?

  12. For a sharp dresser, you can’t beat the Duke.

    A pocket square in an overcoat?

  13. John B(), The Windsor knot is the double Windsor. It’s also known as the full Windsor. The single knot is known as the half Windsor. I was attempting a little word play since the Royal Family is the Windsor Family.

    Thanks for that frightful image of Liberace. Somethings can’t be unseen. :-0>

    Clay Marley, I was thinking more along the lines of Obama’s Pajama Boy.

  14. John B()
    Excellent sleuthing. a deer stalker looks best with a cloak.
    I sold the coats, by the way, sorry lads, I had to give the hats to the women’s guild who were doing cabaret. Where’s Ari when you need him. He would have known what to do.

    Warning,
    For clothes horses and dapper dressers, posture is paramount . Not the military brace (you’ll look silly without the uniform and make your back ache)
    Stretch,
    balance, (near a wall and when no one’s looking)
    and look after your posture and you’ll look as good as Prince Phillip when you are 94.

    Sheri,
    Some of the clothes that look best are the oldest in the wardrobe wouldn’t you say? Women shouldn’t follow fashion they should wear what suits them and there are no new styles under the sun only teaks of old ones.
    Logos are okay if they’re zips or metal shapes which appear part of the garment. Nobody can tell.

  15. Clay Marley: NO!!! I’m going to have to have a day of mourning now…… (I noticed in one write up the beer company wants younger drinkers—yeah, that’s the way to go.)

  16. Stitching on jeans should always be a contrasting colour.
    But not on a T-Shirt.
    Socks should be colour matched to sandals.
    Especially when worn with shorts.

  17. A cloak (but not an opera cloak) can be worn with non-morning dress white tie, but then even a cape is acceptable with white tie.

  18. I bought this book 40 years ago and while it is dated the advice is still good.
    http://www.amazon.com/John-Molloys-New-Dress-Success/dp/0446385522

  19. Cloaks and rain seem inescapably connected… perhaps it’s because it’s drizzling outside this morning.

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