Rules of Men’s Dress

All style is relative.  Some people will disagree with what this blog dictates is good style, and this blog would most likely disagree with them on what they think is good style.  As you can imagine, this results in a situation in which there is no single list of men’s dress rules that are comprehensive and absolute.  The following are a set of rules that The Fine Young Gentleman stands by.  There are some rules that are immutable, such as the one that a man should match the metal of the bit on his loafer with the buckle on his belt with the metal on his suspenders with the buttons on his blazer with the metal of his cufflinks.  Then there are some rules that have exceptions, such as the rule that a man’s socks should match the color of his pants.  The Fine Young Gentleman’s rules are derived from a variety of sources including tradition, classic rules of men’s dress, common sense and personal taste.

1.      Thou shall match the metal of the bit on his loafers, belt buckle, suspenders, blazer buttons and cufflinks.

2.      Thou need not match the metal on his watch with the other metals he is wearing, however, it is preferable.

3.      Thou can wear black shoes with a navy suit/pants.

4.      Thou shall only wear black, brown or oxblood (burgundy) leather shoes for business dress.  The only exceptions allowed are white bucks.  Blue, green or any other colored shoes are inappropriate.

5.     White bucks are badass.

6.     Thou shall match the color of his socks with the color of his pants.  As an exception, socks can be matched to something worn above the waist such as a man’s shirt, tie, pocket square or suspenders (braces in the UK).

7.     Thou shall match the color of his belt to that of his shoes.  This holds true in all situations except when wearing white bucks.

8.     Thou need not match the leather on his watchband with that of his shoes and belt, however, it is preferable.

9.     Thou shall wear a belt when wearing pants with belt loops.

10.  Thou shall never, ever, ever use their belt to hold accessories like beepers, phones, Blackberrys, ID tags and/or keys.

11.  If pants do not have belt loops they should have side tabs and/or  buttons for use with suspenders (braces).

12.  Thou shall never wear a tie and pocket square of the same pattern.  The sports commentators who do so look like fools.

13.  Thou shall not wear a French cuff (double cuff) shirt without a jacket.

14.  Thou shall always doubt salespeople and in-store tailors opinions on fashion, style and fit. The stores they work for pay them, not you.  Their motives are to sell products to who will buy them, not necessarily to who will look best in them.

15.  Thou shall not wear slip on shoes with a suit.  In fact, they should be avoided.

16.  Thou can wear loafers with a suit, however, this is mostly practiced in America.

17.  Loafers are badass, especially those with bits or tassels.

18.  Thou shall not wear flat toe/square toe shoes.  They should be avoided like the plague.  They are cancerous to a man’s wardrobe.  They are aesthetically offensive.  Their sole purpose lies in showing men what not to wear.  Money spent on these would have been better spent on Enron stock circa June 2000.

19.  Thou shall only wear patent leather shoes for black tie (semi-formal) and white-tie (formal) occasions.  Patent leather is never acceptable to be worn in a dress or causal setting.

20.  Thou shall never wear a long necktie for a semi-formal (black tie) affair, even if that tie is solid black.

21.  Thou can wear brown suede shoes for business dress.  They are elegant and gentlemanly.

22.  Brown suede shoes are badass.

23.  Thou shall not wear Chesterfield coats, which are typically signified by a velvet collar, with anything of less formality than a suit.  They should not be worn with business casual attire.

24.  Thou shall not wear a tie without a jacket.  If done so, he will run the risk of looking like a waiter at TGI Fridays.

25.  Thou shall not wear suspenders (braces) without a jacket.  Sorry hipsters.

26.  Thou shall only wear suspenders (braces) that utilize buttons, not clips.  Again, sorry hipsters.

27.  Thou shall not wear a crew neck undershirt when the top button of a shirt is left unbuttoned.  When leaving the top button unbuttoned thou shall wear a v-neck undershirt as The Dude does.  The Dude abides.

28.  Thou can wear brown suits for business dress.

29.  Thou shall only wear shirts with white collars and white cuffs with a jacket.  These shirts should not be part of a business casual wardrobe, that is, one where suits are not utilized.

30.  Thou shall leave the bottom button of vest (waistcoat) unbuttoned.  Except when wearing a double breasted or flat bottomed vest, in which case the bottom button should remain buttoned.

31.  Thou should iron the collar of a shirt before wearing it.  Creased collars caused by dry cleaning and hanging do not follow the natural circularity of one’s neck.

32.  Thou shall utilize a pocket square when wearing a jacket.

33.  Pocket squares are underrated, underutilized and most importantly they are badass.

34.  Thou shall not wear a back pack/book bag when in business dress, especially when in a suit.  Book bags are reserved for casual wear and students.

35.  Thou shall not wear a shirt with any type of logo on it in a business setting, including when in business casual dress.  These shirts should be reserved for casual wear.

36.  Thou shall wear a tie bar at a slant, not horizontal.

37.  Off color shirts with a white collar should have French (double) cuffs, regardless of whether of not the cuffs are white or the same color or pattern as the shirt.

38.  Life is more fun in a tuxedo (dinner jacket).

39. Thou shall never button all three buttons of a three button jacket. Sometimes the top, always the middle and never ever ever the bottom.

40.  Thou shall wear over the calf socks as opposed to crew socks whenever possible.  For they are far superior in both form and function.

41.  Thou shall not wear a solid black suit for business or professional activities.  Save it for formal events and funerals.

42.  Style is a state of mind.

43.  It is impossible for a man to be considered well dressed if his shoes are in poor taste or of noticeably poor quality.  For any good ensemble is built on a fine pair of shoes.

44.  Thou shall not wear sport sunglasses with a suit.  It’s like wearing socks with sandals; everyone else knows its wrong, why don’t you?

45.  Thou shall not wear a sports watch with a suit.  It would be like playing lacrosse in dress shoes, and no one wants to see that.

46.  There should be no presence of logo or branding when wearing a suit.  For example, do not wear a Polo shirt with the Polo logo on it under a suit jacket or a Burberry tie with the Burberry tartan (although the scarfs are fine).  The emphasis of a suit should be the fit, not the brands it is worn with.

47.  It is better to be overdressed than underdressed.

48.  A man need not an excuse to wear a tie or jacket.  In other words, a man need not an excuse to dress up.  Despite the fact that in today’s society it seems he does need one.

49.  Never, ever, ever wear a black dress shirt with a suit (or a dinner jacket/tuxedo for that matter).  Just because they may be or may have been ‘on trend’ does not mean one will ever look good on you.

50.  Thou shall take off his sunglasses when talking to someone else who is not wearing sunglasses.  Unless thou is at the beach or pool.

51.  Thou shall take off his sunglasses when inside.  Even if thou art Bono.


Comments

Rules of Men’s Dress — 204 Comments

  1. Pingback: New & Lingwood Store Visit | The Fine Young Gentleman

  2. 13. My father still points to this rule, but I find it to be a little dated. The practice of wearing FC shirts without a jacket is very common amongst well-dressed gentlemen these days, especially in Europe. When subtle links are used, it seems to work, when someone douche is wearing large cufflinks, a gold chain and has two top buttons unbuttoned, it is a different story.
    16. I don’t agree with this at all. Loafers are casual shoes, even Gucci bits, etc. are not appropriate with suits. This is an unfortunate trend that was uber popular in the late 80’s on wall street.

  3. I’m trying to make the switch from belts to suspenders. However, buying a different set of suspenders for every color tie I have seems like an exceedingly expensive proposition. I’m wondering if black suspenders (worn with a black suit) can be worn with any color tie?

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  5. Joe,
    First, an admirable thing switching from belts to suspenders, an understandable dilemma you ask about. A different set of suspenders is not needed for each color tie, you should be able to get by safely with a few basic colors. I would recommend starting with navy and burgundy; between the two of them you can match or compliment most color ties, they will also mesh well with almost any color suit. I would shy away from black, as I am of the belief that black suspenders should be reserved for semi formal and formal wear; but obviously it is up to you.
    Regards,
    FYG

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  7. Thou shall not button all 3 buttons on a 3 button suit jacket or sport coat . The top button alone is fashionable if not a bit fashion forward. Buttoning the first and second buttons are fashionable yet conservative. Buttoning the middle button is always in conservatively good taste, especially in a mixed group of fashion frustrated folks.
    Fastening all three buttons is a fashion fatality on the order of a bald man attempting to hide the obvious with a comb over. No one is fooled and everyone but the blind or ignorant notice the tasteless error.

  8. Is it common to wear a tie bar at a slant? I have never seen anyone wear a tie bar at a slant. I think it would look rather odd to wear a tie bar like this. Thoughts?

    • Kim,
      I don’t find it to be common at all, most men do wear theirs flat (not on a slant). I am guessing the reason is that that is how they see their peers wearing tie bars, but the masses are not always right. I also think rationality would make one think to wear it flat. But, style is not always rational…
      One of the ideas behind wearing it at a slant is to create a more vertical, not a horizontal line. For horizontal lines (tie bar worn flat) tend to visually widen things whereas in contrast diagonal (tie bar at a slant) and vertical lines tend to heighten. Flatly placed tie bars also seem to clash more with necktie designs, as most seem to have some type of diagonal, as opposed to horizontal, line in them.

  9. Your statements are often mis-directed. The fact that you have so many rules means none of this is second nature to you and you try far too hard.

    No gentleman uses the term ‘badass’ either. You are a little too jumped up and eager to be a gentleman.

    Ben,

    London

    • Ben,

      Thanks for your feedback, I appreciate you taking the time to voice your opinion. The rules I put forth are meant as safe guidelines on how to dress well. The rules are not necessarily for me or the blog, but for the readers, such as yourself. But my intent is not to insult readers by listing a set of rules. For some readers may have little knowledge of men’s dress, whereas others may have much more knowledge. But as they say, rules are made to be broken. And I often break some of these rules and at times try to get others to do so with me.

      And regarding my usage of ‘badass.’ It will continue even though it may not be the most gentlemanly word (but then again, I am not professing to be the ideal gentleman, only how to dress well). Lastly, London is a great city, I envy you for living there.

      Regards.

      • I strongly believe the use of the word badass doesn’t say you are not a gentleman. Thoigh I was taken aback the 1st time I saw it but then 2 things (1) the audience you are going 2 capture which is mainly not the gentleman 4 he should already know these rules so it must appeal to them & (2) even a gentleman needs to express himself well enough to drive home a point succintly. Overall, eventhough I had 1 or 2 issues, very fantastic job. Well done

    • But if you were raised properly these rules should be second nature. I grew up with them over 50 years ago. It seems today parents are to relaxed with dress attire and this attitude is, unfortunately, passed onto their children.

      • Gary,

        It is sometimes the socio-economic standing that hinders that- not necessarily poor breeding. My father was a diplomat and yet I learned most of my queues from magazines and watching TV. If you have no need to dress well- why bother learning the rules. My future profession will require some degree of that so I have slowly been educating myself and acquiring the staples of a classic/fashion forward wardrobe.

        Regards,
        Johann

    • true. the worstdressed and obnoxious people are those who follow a plethora of fashion rules. some try to copy GQ and other fashion mags.

      only one rule of clothing:
      it should FIT WELL.

    • Eventhough, I belief the blog is a good attempt to keep gentlemen honest or to inform those who so wish to dress like one. We must first keep in mind the key to being a gentlemen is first in the mind and attitude dress is second priority. Now,I have to slightly concure with Mr. Ben here from London. Yes, great shoes are always important. It’s one of the first things people look at when meeting you and most often judge you by. Especially, ladies. But let’s not get too carried away with a plethora of conforming rules. It crushes the inspiration to be creative and unique. As long as a gentlemen owns a pair of fine shoes, wears bow ties to formals. Never button the last button on a suit. Wear clothing that fits not to loosly and not too tightly. Get educate by a smart tailor on how to properly wear a suit. I think the rest can be waived.
      All the best and good luck on dressing like a gentlemen.

      Lewis,
      Abu Dhabi

    • This is simply not true. I myself have often been described as a gentleman, and I use the term badass quite frequently.

      There is simply no other term that expresses the badassedness of the term badass.

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    • Did I seriously just read this? On a website intended to help gentleman dress well? I, personally, am here to learn about how to better guide my husband on his dress choice in a world where he (now) advocates for our special needs son. Wow! I can honestly say that you, good sir, are an embarrassment to the word gentleman.

  12. Yes, and you know how relatives can be. But some rules do rule more then other rules. And, one of those is in regard to what should be the proper length of a man’s pants.

  13. What does it mean by “Thou shall only wear shirts with white collars and white cuffs with a jacket. These shirts should not be part of a business casual wardrobe.” – Rule 29

    Sounds to me like I’m only allowed to wear white shirts.

        • Andrew,
          This rule only applies when the collar and cuffs are of a contrasting white. ie, the body of the shirt is not white. The reason being the formality of a contrasting collar/cuff shirt is only appropriate when worn with a jacket, it is to formal of a shirt to be worn without one. Hope this helps.
          Justin

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    • Eric,
      I think a few safe bets are surcingle, grosgrain ribbon or needlepoint belts for a more casual look. I have also found success in matching the color of my belt with the sole of my white bucks, which is a tan; it seems to tie things together well. I would not however, recommend wearing a white suede belt to match the shoes.
      -Justin

    • A common yacht club dress code was white bucks and white web belt with brass buckle.

      Navy blue blazer, white button-down, white khakis.

    • “Slacks” are what women wear. Maybe you are a female, and that is fine, of course. I just assumed that you are male. Men wear trousers. Yes, men also wear hosiery. Some are not aware of this, but in fine men’s stores, “socks” do not exist. (they are sold in sporting goods stores.) I worked at Brooks on Madison Ave in the 80’s while in college. (yes, back when Brooks was actually high quality.)

  15. Some definitions would be helpful. Also cuffs on pants when, only on double pleats? Single pleats, plain front pants? What about button down collars, only with a sport coat, never with a suit? Wingtip shoes? What can one wear them with? Plain front suit pants? No cuffs, what about those specifics? Are you saying you are only to wear a white shirt with a suit while you wear a jacket? Compare business attire with lawyer attire, this is why I need some definitions, are they the same? And those loafers with tassels are almost as bad as the flat square toed shoes you dislike. Tassels are not kick ass but The Dude is. Thanks I like your site.

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  24. Pingback: Parisian Gentleman – Socks – Necessity or Accessory?

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  27. I was wondering, would it be a completely bad thing to wear burgundy wingtips with a tuxedo? I have a pair of drab SAS black work shoes I can polish up, but I think the wingtips are much nicer.

    • Chris,
      My thoughts are that burgundy wingtips would be quite inappropriate to wear with a tux (and I love burgundy wingtips). Actually, the wingtip part may be more of a faux pas then the burgundy part.
      -JLJ

  28. Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your
    articles? I mean, what you say is important and all.
    But imagine if you added some great photos or video clips to give
    your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and videos, this blog could definitely be one of the greatest in its niche.
    Superb blog!

  29. Pingback: Of The Misunderstood Power Of Correctness. | The LinchPin

  30. Hello there,FyG,i’m Kenneth,and i’m new to your site;however,i would like to know the guide to a man carrying keys,and cell phones since the rules don’t permit to carry on the belt? I do have a small set of keys on a brass swivel bolt snap that i clip it on my belt loop with the leather strap attached to the keys inside the rear pocket.Is there any other suggestions? How to better carry keys on a bolt snap,and a cell phone,even without a jacket?

    • Obviously, Mr. Jeffers is not threatened by loss of keys. I have a brass snap with bridle leather for my keys which I attach to my belt.

  31. Mr. Fine Young Gentleman…
    What is your viewpoint on wearing western boots with a suit?..The black, dressy and fully polished kind, not the brown suede and matted kind…

  32. Is it okay to wear my red vivienne westwood plastic orb tuxedo slippers with my tux if my pocket square is a matching shade of red or how would I go about arranging this, this is killing me…my collar is winged and my lapel is shawled, no cummerbund instead I use a vest under my jacket the suit is completely black including the tie and shirt for a black out look. The red shoes and pocket square are meant to make a contrasting effect.

  33. Pingback: Rule 13: Elaborating On Cufflinks Without A Jacket - The Fine Young Gentleman

  34. And so.. I’ll be attending an “old timey” 4th of July party at the empire hotel, the dress code is 20s or 50s (the girlfriend and I both agreed on 20s) so I found a summer-weight tweet vest which I think I’ll pair up with Oxford blue shirt, white pants and a blue dinner jacket with bowtie/or tie and pocket sq.. My question is: can I wear suspenders under the vest? Or would that be too much? Love the rules, and if any suggestions please do tell! Best, Carlos.

  35. I like your stuff. Sounds like something out of State Department school trying to teach Young Marines how to wear civilian clothes. Semper Fi

  36. Two Items:
    Does the rule of fedora’s & vests still apply – not to be worn between the holidays of Memorial & Labor day?

    The bottom button rule to include all sport coats, suit jackets, vests & overcoats – Never, ever button the bottom button.

    • Tony,
      To be honest, I have never heard of the fedora and vest rule you speak of. After a very brief search I couldn’t find anything on the topic. If I can find anything on it I’ll respond accordingly.
      -JLJ

  37. Trousers are the pants to a suit. Slacks are pants to wear with a blazer or sport coat. You stated “slacks” are what women wear. I’m not sure if you know this; what I stated. Overall, I think you have a very good and very informative post. Wish more people would follow. We are in a time where people don’t know or don’t care to know.

  38. Hi there !

    Very great job. But, I can’t agree with some of your rules :

    15. Thou shall not wear slip on shoes with a suit. In fact, they should be avoided.

    I don’t get why?

    21. Thou can wear brown suede shoes for business dress. They are elegant and gentlemanly.

    22. Brown suede shoes are badass.

    So, brown suede shoes are elegant and gentlemanly, but badass ? Are you nuts ?

    29. Thou shall only wear shirts with white collars and white cuffs with a jacket.

    Really ? I’ve gott the answer : you are nuts.

    32. Thou shall utilize a pocket square when wearing a jacket.

    33. Pocket squares are underrated, underutilized and most importantly they are badass.

    I would say “definitely nuts”.

    37. Off color shirts with a white collar should have French (double) cuffs, regardless of whether of not the cuffs are white or the same color or pattern as the shirt.

    Absolutely nuts ?

    Regards,

    Narcisse

  39. Im wearing a white shirt, white pants and a plue blue blazer with brown shoes…can I wear a white belt with outfit? Or it should be brown?

  40. Why are square toed shoes to be avoided? That is my preferred shoe for business casual at work. The preference is purely looks, not fit. I find that the blunt front of the toe is more masculine than the tapering toe box which is more similar to women’s shoes. Many others in my office have the same preference. Is this just your own preference, or is there some etiquette reason for #18?

    Just started wearing a pair of Rockport Evander.

    • Briago,
      There are a few reasons. But mostly they are just a signifier of bad taste. From a more technical perspective, they cut off the foot and create an unflattering line for the shoe; they create a horizontal line, whereas you want more vertical lines (lines that run the length of the foot). Furthermore, I have never seen a nice upper pattern dress a square toed last.
      -JLJ

  41. I’m going to an outdoor wedding at the end of this month.
    I have a pair of Express Photographer suit pants, in black, but cannot find a vest in black to match the fabric on the pants… would it be acceptable to wear a chalk white vest instead? also from Express?

  42. Wow, everyone here agrees, what a boring pointless waist of time. First rule, there are no rules. Do as you please, otherwise you will be another puppet/muppet who spends a whole life attending corporate black tie events and family events. Let loose man, indigo denim jeans, brown beat up brogues and a nice fitted shirt with top button undone. Gets the ladies everytime whilst the blazers are complementing each other on joining their exclusive club of banality.

  43. Thou shalt learn the proper usage of the second person singular pronoun before attempting to employ it. Your list is the grammatical equivalent of wearing a tuxedo with sneakers.

  44. Chris, of August 14, you are rude. The guy is just listing some things that most well dressed men would wear for business. Maybe you’re one of those beer drinkers who can’t afford champagne or any of the finer things in life. Do you know what I mean?

  45. I realize this is an old post, but I was browsing around and found it, and feel compelled make a comment about those complaining about Rule 16, claiming that loafers are casual wear and therefore unacceptable to wear with suits. I can vividly remember going shopping with my father back in the 80s where I learned more about classic, American style business suits and shoes than any 12 year old girl probably needed to know. But I have to say that it really stuck in my brain, that image of my father going off to work in his Hickey Freeman suit, oftentimes with a pair of Johnston and Murphy loafers (as you know, back then, J&Ms were quality, American-made shoes). Not low-cut slip-ons, but shoes that he used a shoe horn for. With maybe a little brouge detailing and tassels. No one would have said that my father was the trendiest guy at his L.A. office, but he was always – always! – appropriately dressed for his position and his means. And he wore loafers.

  46. 18 is my favorite rule. I find nothing sadder than the current trend of guys wearing flat toed shoes. How did this happen? Who is responsible? I think it actually started in the UK. Do you think congress would consider economic sanctions?

    • Dave,
      No I am not saying only white shirts should be worn. Only shirts that have a white collar and cuffs (and have some type of pattern, color or otherwise for the body and arms of the shirt, sometimes called banker shirts) require a jacket. I am not sure what exactly started the square toed shoe disaster, however, I would gladly publish a piece on the history of how they came to be if someone wanted to write it.
      -JLJ

  47. “Thou shallt…”
    Always with a ‘t’.

    A well groomed young man should be able to correctly conjugate verbs in early modern English.

    Great post though!!!

    • Actually, “thou shalt” with only one ‘l’. The more glaring grammatical issue, as I alluded to rather snarkily in my previous reply, is the mixing of second and third person pronouns. One simply cannot use “thou” and “his” to refer to the subject of a single sentence.

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    subscription link or newsletter service. Do you’ve any?
    Please allow me recognise so that I may just subscribe.

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  49. I’m going to a formal event and my date will be wearing a black dress with gold accents. I’m leaning towards wearing a black suit and tie to along with it. However, I was curious about whether or not wearing a brown belt along with brown shoes (matching/ of varying shades) would be possible. Thanks

  50. Let’s say I’m going to a formal event with a girl wearing a black dress with not super noticeable gold accents. I was planning on wearing a black suit and tie. However, I was ic spidering wearing some shade of a brown/tan tweed jacket. Thoughts

  51. Excellent set of rules.

    Only grip I have is rule 28 (‘Thou can wear brown suits for business dress.’) – I have never seen this pulled off effectively.

  52. Well, I didn’t get to read all the comments, so I’m not sure if this has been addressed. The Rule about matching colors of belt and shoe, what do you say about a dark blue suede Brogues shoe? A blue belt?

    Besides what’s the best way to wear a blue shoe? By that I mean hat colors of pant should you wear?

  53. Pingback: Other People's Rules of Men's Dress - The Fine Young Gentleman

  54. You guys have lot of times on your hands. Wear whatever you feel confortable wearing. This is all mambo jumbo to me. I hand my cell phone to my belt because it is convenient and give me easy access to answer calls. If you want to button all the buttons on your suit, go ahead, it is yours and yours alone. Why else will there be a 3rd button? By the way, I never liked 3 button suits. Likewise flat front pants, I hate those. I hate pointed head shoes the most. Poor you snobs.

  55. There is a lot of commentary here. First, @connie, this is a pretty good list of very basic rules one could follow when wanting to look groomed…this comes from a person raised in the Country Club who still wears a suit and tie to work everyday. You’re too quick to dismiss the advice for someone that is..well…looking for advice (which would indicate that you’re not an expert)

    Now, there is common sentiment that too many rules is a bad thing, makes one look like they try too hard, etc, with the common theme being…make sure your clothes fit well. I have an opinion on that. Fit well and ARE IN GOOD SHAPE. Nothing destroys a look, or makes one look like someone TRYING to look like a guy in a suit than a pilfy or faded tie, unsigned shoes, a shirt color that has those tell tell whitened edges on the collar that suggests the shirt has seen and passed its prime. Make sure your clothes are in good condition, as well, and never, ever buy those ties that are patterned like modern art.

    As for white bucks, I must absolutely disagree that they are for any occasion other than casual. I think the author has claimed white bucks as his personal trademark…as I have done with loud socks. Now, while my loud socks are a stamp on my fashion choice and I think they are awesome, I would not suggest that everyone try the trend as, truthfully, it is not correct. However, once a gentleman dresses up and gets comfortable with the rules, they begin to break certain rules as to not look like…they read a set of rules.

    I honestly think this: There are hard fast rules. Match your shoes and belt. Don’t wear brown shoes with a light grey suit. Don’t match your pocket square with your tie. If combining patterns, make sure there are a different weight (for instance, a thin striped tie with a large check shirt, a thick striped tie with a pin stripe shirt…but great caution must be used) make sure all of your clothes are in decent condition INCLUDING YOUR SHOES! And, yes, square toe shoes should be avoided. But, most of all, BE COMFORTABLE. When you begin breaking the rules, there are times when you will, all day, feel like you hope no-one notices how hard you’ve tried. DO NOT wear that outfit. When you feel like you look right, when you feel like you haven’t tried too hard, you’re golden! (Provided you’ve followed the very basic rules). You will begin to play with the rules. YOu will buy a patterned tie you’d normally never try, and every time you put it on, you will worry all day that people will think it looks funny. You will try a loud striped pink shirt and, again, worry all day that people will notice you’re impostering. Then, one day, you will find your equivalent to loud socks. YOu will find that one thing that attracts attention, but you feel confident about it…and interestingly…people will comment favorably. Let’s say you’re just the kind of guy that can pull of very bold ties…when you discover that, people will say, “Great tie!”

    Follow the basics. Your individual stamps will follow.

  56. Meant “unsigned shoes,” and forgot one thing. Cheap shirts look just like that. Like a cheap shirt. Don’t buy them. I know it sounds crazy to spend a couple hundred buck on three shirts, but wait for the Brooks Brothers buy three sales and snatch them up! Get two whites and an oxford blue. Then, as soon as you can do it again, do it. Get another oxford blue, a pink, and one pattern. When wearing suits and ties everyday, you can get away with wearing the same five suits with the same five shirts week after week….it’s the accessories that you can change out and no one will every realize you’re recycling the same shirts and suits. Don’t have a steady rotation for your ties and shoes. Mix them up, have a good assortment. Just don’t buy cheap shirts. You can spot that from a mile away.

  57. JLJ,

    Would be curious what you would have to say about a ventless, double breasted, bespoke, suit jacket. Opine please. You seem qualified to say.

  58. Mr. Fine Young Gentleman,

    What’s your opinion on a ventless suit jacket vs. a suit jacket with sidevents, mainly in double-breasted and bespoke.

    Would appreciate you input.

  59. I enjoyed the post, but really disagree with the no square toe shoe rule. I find they give a nice clean cut end to your suit, and most of the shoes now are pretty narrow with a slimmer squared-off tip.

  60. Excellent site. Thank you for the advice. I wish my son who just graduated college would sit and read the site. He does not believe what the old man suggests. Thank you once again !

  61. Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about this list. It has its high points, but it also has plenty of points with which I disagree, with varying intensity:

    12. Thou shall never wear a tie and pocket square of the same pattern. The sports commentators who do so look like fools.
    -I have found this to simply be untrue.

    15. Thou shall not wear slip on shoes with a suit. In fact, they should be avoided.
    -I very strongly disagree. With the right slip on shoe, it works just fine.

    18. Thou shall not wear flat toe/square toe shoes….
    -Once more, not true. In the case of shoes, I believe the horizontal created by the toe works quite well.

    24. Thou shall not wear a tie without a jacket….
    -In fact, this can be done quite tastefully.

    30. Thou shall leave the bottom button of vest (waistcoat) unbuttoned….
    -My biggest issue with this list. One should always button that bottom button, as not doing so looks sloppy.

    32-33. Concerning pocket squares.
    -It isn’t absolutely necessary to wear a pocket square with a jacket; however, I do agree that they are underutilized.

    36. Thou shall wear a tie bar at a slant, not horizontal.
    -As with #30, following this rule results in a sloppy look.

    41. Thou shall not wear a solid black suit for business or professional activities….
    -Not necessary. Black can easily be worn for business or professional activities, and need not be reserved for funerals and formal events.

    All criticisms aside, the many points with which I do agree are very solid. But I do have one question: Could you clarify the difference between “business,” “formal,” “semi-formal” and “casual”?

    • Skoogle-
      Business is a dark suit. Formal is black or white tie (tuxedo or evening jacket), or morning coats if before noon. Casual is anything in your closet except jeans and t-shirts. There is no such thing as semi-formal. You can wear a jacket and tie in casual settings.
      You are wrong about square shoes= they are hideous; and never button the bottom button of a vest-you’ll look like a maître’d.

  62. My my ole chats. Quite an astonishing bit of wisdom I do must say. One must be properly attired and catered to with impeccable taste, mind you, and the fellowship of his heritage I might bit want to add here. Nobility is keen, and thus I require my personal staff to render the best attire, as it is a must, for myself, and those whom frequent these palace grounds. Sir James has informed me of what has been said here and I see merit in much of your commentary. Cheerio good chap…God save the Queen.

  63. Mostly a correct list, save the overdressed rule. It is far better to be underdressed if unsure. You can blend in if underdressed; you will stick out if overdressed and people will wonder where you are going/came from. It is best to call the host/ess if unsure about the dress expectations.

    • Can say the exact same in the opposite scenario. Come underdressed when everyone else is dressed, you’ll stick out. Always better to be overdressed

  64. Hii…..can u pllzzz snd me sme of d best tuxedo pics….or u can snd me sme links wer myslf could find it….I wanna wear it at my weddn…thnx wtng 4 ur rply..

    • Why would anyone that spells like they are 13 years old and texting be asking about tuxedo? For you it should be a nike shell suit and a pair of kswiss trainers….loser

    • I much prefer braces to a belt, but do not feel comfortable showing them in public. Do others feel the same, or am I too self-conscious?

  65. Anybody still reading these comments? Really old post, but does anyone else find it offensive to see so many striped shirts worn with a pattern tie? I was always taught to avoid that like the plague.

    Fun post. I don’t follow some of the rules, but most are in good taste. Alas, I live in California where people don’t dress up for funerals, let alone a night out. Such slobs.

  66. I still follow these comments. Pattern on pattern is a no-no for me just because of my look. I can’t pull it off. My friend was just named as a “trend-setter” by some fashion blog. He works as a fashion editor for GQ. He can wear whatever he wants, including pattern on pattern, and he looks great. I need to stick to classic, Mad Men style fashion.

  67. And I forgot to ask my question…I just notice the rule about ironing the collar. Can anyone elaborate about this? Does Justin mean the creased is too stiff?

  68. Does the suit is strictly needed when wearing a tie and cufflinks?

    I work at a very casual workplace, people tend to bend his shirts, and i try to mantain the standard of proper dress for the business. Can I still usimg the tie and the cufflinks under that enviroment or should I start using the jacket, even thought it will be overdressed?

    Thanks

  69. Unbelievably awesome list. I see middle aged men dressed as if they are still in middle school, wearing cargo shorts and t-shirts; putting on an ill-fitting tj maxx bought polo when they “dress up”. I cant tell you how many times ive tried to explain rule #48 to my friends. Well done fyg. Well done.

  70. For the most part I agree with your rules. The belt and shoe matching has relaxed somewhat over the last few years, and white bucks are not badass……..maybe in 1982. I think black suits are a must in a man’s waddrobe, not for only funerals and weddings. Overall, your rules apply, but you seem somewhat stiff.

  71. A few comments in regards to the rules and the posts. The first rule should be “Thou shall keep your shoes looking like new”. Don’t believe for a second that wearing “well scuffed” shoes” is cool or “hip”. It’s stupid, plain and simple and a lack of good taste. Makes you wonder whether the teeth are brushed or the underwear is washed. The image of a well dressed man is viewed from the bottom up. Don’t know about the rest of the readers, but when I spend $300 to $900 on a pair of shoes I want them to last… and by polishing and hydrating them they WILL last. Do I have to mention that shoes trees are a must? … And that wearing the same shoes multiple days in a row is bad for the shoes? In regards to style, rounded toe shoes will stand the test of time if you consider your shoes as an investment, square toes are a “fashion risk” with a suit and long pointed shoes are best used if you bend the toe of the shoe upwards and attach a little bell on the end….. Unless your 6’1″ tall and your shoes size is actually a 5 or 6…the pointed toe shoe will give the “appearance” of a longer foot. Just my opinion…..

  72. I agree with the other person who alluded to this list being very conservative. I have over 30 pairs of dress shoes all different colors. I love mixing it up and creating my own style. I have over 50 dress shirts and 100 ties, and 15 blazers in the rotation right now. To anyone just starting out this may be a really nice way to start off, but as you continue buying dress clothes let your imagination take control. Look up the color wheel and learn to match hues.

    • Mike,
      I certainly agree with you. The list is intended to be very conservative, foolproof if anything. Once a guy has got the basics down then it’s time to experiment and venture off the beaten path a little. Sounds like you have a well built wardrobe.
      -Justin

  73. Can you just wear a tie with just a waistcoat or does it have to be jacket? Also I can’t find a site that sells trousers for button suspenders, at a reasonable price, do you know one?

    • Evan,
      A lot of men wear a vest or waistcoat without a jacket. But that is not a look I like or really support. Any pair of trousers can have suspender buttons attached to them, any tailor should be able to do it for a few dollars or you can do it yourself pretty easily. Just make sure the pants have a longer rise and sit higher on the waist so that they look better with suspenders. Low hanging pants don’t look great with suspenders.
      -Justin

  74. I’m not sure exactly why but this weblog is loading very slow for me.

    Is anyone else having this issue or is it a issue on my end?

    I’ll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

  75. Rule 19. Patent leather shoes. Oh dear, dear me. These should never be worn – ever. They shouldn’t be bought, they shouldn’t be made. Any that exist should be melted down as the plastic waste they are and recycled into something with more appeal and style. Something like joke dog turd or a plastic wart.

    Beeswax, spit, polish. This trio of ingredients is all that is necessary for awesome shoes or boots. My burgundy Monks shine like rubys. They take time and patience but the effect is worth the wait.

  76. Is it acceptable to wear a pocket square with a red and white pattern, and a bow tie that is solid burgundy together?

    • Charlie,
      It’s not really a matter of what is acceptable, but more whether it would look good. And I typically don’t think red and burgundy work well together, they are too close in color and end up clashing.
      -Justin

  77. Could you recommend a tie and pocket square combination for a navy suit, white shirt and brown gucci loafers? Thanks!

    • Robert,
      It all depends on how classic or not classic you want to go. If you want to keep it simple just go with a white pocket square and a solid navy or burgundy tie. The good news is that you can pair almost any color with white and navy – you could do anything from a pink paisley tie to a purple silk knit tie.
      -Justin

  78. Colored socks are a no no!! too faggy and queer to be taken seriously. Real men wear dark socks to match their dark suit pant.

  79. When wearing a patterned bow tie and brightly colored pocket square, does a loafer with a bit and striped band become to distracting from the rest of the ensemble?

    • Jake,
      I assume you are referring to the Gucci bits with green and red stripe behind the bit. The shoes themselves will not distract. However, if you have a lot of other stuff going on like a patterned shirt, jacket or pants that could easily tip things over.
      -JLJ

  80. I need serious help lads,

    Just purchased a navy suit with the perfect fit however I want a matching waistcoat. Realistically I want navy suit with the waistcoat crisp white shirt & pocket square brown belt brown loafers navy tie.

    I know the waistcoat should always be the same thread and colour but if not is there any other colour that may look the part? Possibly grey waistcoat? Wedding is in 2 weeks appreciate the help

    • I have several waistcoats that don’t match any of my suits in fact I have purchased several from my tailor that contrasted my suit. I wear these on “casual” days but would never consider wearing one like that to a formal “black tie” wedding (I would though for a outdoor or informal wedding). Definitely a reception for a more dressed down look and I even wore one to my sons high school graduation with a sporty thin bow tie. I like a black/dark waist coat with a medium tone suit, I would never mix and match colors eg. red/blue but I would consider a maroon/burgundy combo If I was bold enough to own either. Black/grey blue/navy I even have a couple wherein the colour is the same but the pattern in the fabric is different and I wear those in more formal settings. My favorite is a navy pinstripe suit with a solid matching fabric waistcoat. a part of wearing a waistcoat is to cover the braces and I always recommend a pair to anyone looking for a more traditional look, everyone likes the look but few are willing. Once you wear a pair of proper braces you will hate the confines of a belt and buckle, I don’t even order my suits with loops anymore. These are my own opinions and some consider me old fashioned but I like it that way. Find out the dress for the wedding before settling. Its always okay to be the best dressed man in the room (you can loosen a tie) but I hate being under dressed you can’t do anything.

  81. A Black Dress Shirt matching one’s Black Suit and then wearing a completely opposite bright colored print tie is an absolutely awesome look and a good alternate to wearing a white dress shirt with the Black Suit and different color tie.
    You still have the contrast of the expensive tie against the suit. The only difference is that you are now extending the Color of the Black suit by wearing the Black Dress Shirt. Same can be done with Navy, Charcoal, Brown & Olive suits.

  82. What’s wrong with wearing a Black Dress shirt to match your Black suit? Then you wear a bright colored tie in contrast to it.
    You can also wear a Charcoal Dress Shirt that matches your Charcoal suit and wear a different color tie in contrast. Works best with dark or dark medium colored suits.

    • I’m no fashion expert but that look was extremely popular in the late 90’s and I even remember it to a degree in the late 70’s I guess it could be coming around for a revival with the glossy skinny tie or even better the monster 6″ wide short tie (I am just aching to wear one of those)

  83. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but
    after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  84. I do not agree with this statement – 35. Thou shall not wear a shirt with any type of logo on it in a business setting, including when in business casual dress. These shirts should be reserved for casual wear.

    Ralph Lauren makes some awesome pinpoint oxford shirts that make suit. A nicely colored shirt with the polo logo looks great when
    the jackets come off especially in extended meetings. I have always received compliments. So please lighten up.

    • Lorenzo,
      Ralph Lauren (and even some other brands that feature their logo on the shirt) does make some great off the rack dress shirts. But I cannot disagree with you more on your insistence that wearing a logoed dress shirt is at all appropriate for a business setting, especially with a suit. A logo is the last thing someone should see on a man when he is wearing a suit. A suit and the man wearing it are supposed to speak for themselves, not have the logo of a brand speak for them.
      -Justin

  85. Rule #50. When wearing a vest or waistcoat, it is always high fashion to complement the attire with a pocket watch w/chain and fob (single or double Albert is fine). The watch chain, watch and fob should be of the same color metal (gold r silver). The chain should appropriate in length as so not to be too long to liberally dangle about the frontage of the body. A man’s weight, size and proportion will determine the optimal chain length (approx 12″ is normal). Additionally, for a business suit with a lapel hole, a pocket watch with chain and fob may be used. A pocket watch and wristwatch should never be used in conjunction with one another (although the Prince of Wales was once photographed doing so).

  86. Rule #51. Hats may be worn with either tux or business suit to complete the wardrobe ensemble. When wearing hats, accompanying gloves are to be worn. Hats need to ‘fit the given mens wear, so if wearing a suite, a bowler or fedora hat is appropriate; for a tux or formal wear, a top-hat can be worn with white or gray gloves.

  87. Rule #52. Top coats and outer wear are optional, given the preference of the man, the occasion and naturally the weather. Top coats of a Navy blue or black material, preferably wool, are most acceptable. Trench Coats with a brim hat are also acceptable especially in temperate, rainy weather, however, trench coats are not to be worn with formal wear.

  88. Rule #53. Writing instruments and other ancillary business apparatus are not to be openly seen, carried or worn in such a manner as to present themselves with an obvious attraction to others. This only distracts from the appearance of the attire and brings unwanted attention to one’s objects instead of one’s personage.

  89. Rule #54. Always, always – discretely carry a clean white handkerchief in one’s pants pocket and readily offer it to another should the occasion so arise. Always use a handkerchief whenever possible out of the sight of others; otherwise, excuse yourself and quickly turn around and use the handkerchief, then immediately take the opportunity to excuse oneself to the mens room or bathroom.

  90. Rule #55. Avoid overly bulging wallets, noisy keys and other personal items that may cause irritable noises or wardrobe anomalies. Before an event, empty your wallet of all frivolous items, this will maker both your wallet and appearance slimmer, in addition being being more comfortable to carry. Pair your keys down to only those that you will need to access your vehicle or office, your other keys you can keep locked up in your desk drawer or automobile.

    • I agree. For years, I resisted my wife’s gentle but repeated admonitions to lighten up my triple-folded wallet because it was creating wear marks in my trouser pocket and to trim what she called my ‘key tumor’, which had reached unsightly-bulge size. When at last I rationalized the number of keys, lost their chunky fob, and slimmed down to a two-fold Belroy wallet, my lines became much smoother.

  91. Pingback: An Ode to the Gentleman | The A-List Pgh

  92. I was wondering if you ever considered changing
    the layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
    But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect
    with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having
    1 or 2 images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  93. Don’t let people tell you how to dress or how you look these rules are good but i bet the person who wrote them has another set of rules that he/she lives by and everyone else is trying to catch up. Set trends and be brave in your dress sense and !@#$ anyone who tells you how bad you look when you feel a million bucks

  94. Pingback: Fashion Color & Style Guides | Ecodelphinus.com

  95. As the webpage say… fine young gentleman.
    I saw a man with light blue straight laced up shoes.
    I think was patent cuz shine as sun, but could be just nice leather.
    With… light blue shirt and tie, shine also, maybe silk or polyester mix.
    And a light grey suit. Pants and nice jacket with pointy lapels.
    Also handkerchief light blue like the tie and shirt, in the jackets upper pocket.

    Well. So far looks like a school boy. Right? all light blue and light grey.
    Bulls… details: i saw (I can recognize) a pure gold watch! maybe rolex or some, but was pure gold in deed!
    And the man got like 50 or 55 years old!
    His face… hairstyle… shittt… forget the color, that guy was a fine badass for sure.
    Summer badass, we can tell. Hahaha.

    Peace! :)

  96. golf magazine had a great rule in this month’s issue. if your age or waist size are greater than 36 you’re not allowed to wear a white belt.

  97. I get married in 5 days. I have a grey morning suit but I only ever wear brown shoes and I want to buy a new pair of brown shoes for my wedding. However, oldies and traditionalists are saying that I should wear black. Any thoughts??

    • Darren,
      Congrats on getting married. With a morning suit I would also recommend going with black shoes. In addition to the ‘rules’ and the reasons the ‘oldies and traditionalists’ would say, black would just look more at home with a morning suit and on a groom’s feet.
      -Justin

  98. Pingback: New Rule: Rules 50 & 51 - The Fine Young Gentleman

  99. This is all good stuff, especially for a commoner like myself. However, I find it hard to take seriously, even if I came into money, because the language and grammar are ridiculous.

  100. Whewwwww! Rule 6 saves the day! I like wearing thick socks for comfort and my favorite socks are white (so I can “boil” them at washing machine high temperature). According to this rule, I can wear white socks with a dark suit as long as I also wear a white shirt! Yayyyy!

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