Skip to main content

"But I feel so uncomfortable when I'm dressed up!"

This classic menswear illustration by the late Laurence Fellows shows two gentlemen simply relaxing and enjoying themselves in each others' company.  And what do you notice?  Why, they're dressed of course.

A common complaint heard from many average guys is that they feel physically and psychologically uncomfortable in situations where they must dress up.  But what does "dressed up" mean anyway?

Dressed up means unwrinkled, clean adult clothes with decent leather shoes and a matching leather belt with some kind of blazer/sports jacket and wool or khaki pants combination at the very least, or even a suit for those more formal occasions.  A silk, linen, or cotton pocket square is optional for those more adventurous sartorial souls out there.  

Moreover, when you are dressed up, your creased pants should sit at your natural waist (in the vicinity of your belly button), NOT down around your hips or rear end with the crotch between your knees.  Your necktie, if you are wearing one, should be comfortably cinched up high enough to cover the top button of your fully buttoned long-sleeve shirt.  Finally, its front blade should be long enough to end at the very middle of your belt.  Too much longer or shorter than that, and you look like a goofball who hasn't a clue.

Dressed up does not include in any way the following items: sneakers, sweatpants, t-shirts, an untucked "going out" shirt, jeans or cargo pants, shorts, flip-flops, or anything resembling a baseball cap.  That's dressing down, and very few people can pull it off well beyond the gym, basketball court, beach, pool, or backyard where those kinds of garments are actually appropriate.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.

Let's make a serious and concerted effort to eradicate the strange phenomenon of the perpetually sloppy and eternal man-child by getting our collective act back together and sprucing ourselves up beyond the bare minimum.  Ok, guys?  A highly effective way to do that is by dressing like we're adults more often than has become the accepted norm over the last 20-odd years. In a word, let's dress and behave like grown men with some grooming, taste, and sophistication.

With that out of the way, how can we address the perceived comfort issue?  There are two related ways to feel and appear more comfortable and at ease when you are dressed up.  Pay attention.

First, as I've indicated here in a recent post, get clothes that fit.  Get your precise measurements taken at a tailor and purchase garments that come as close as possible to those measurements.  Thrift and consignment shops are a great way to do this without breaking the bank.  Where and however you buy your clothes, yes, you'll need to try them on and check yourself out in the mirror to ensure proper size and fit.  Get over it!  Make your purchases once you've picked out a few good quality items and then revisit your tailor for any necessary alterations (sleeve and inseam lengths, minor waist alterations, etc.).  Remember, about the only thing tailors cannot do is alter shoulders in jackets.  So make sure a jacket fits there before purchasing it.  If it does not, walk away.

Second, once you've assembled a modest wardrobe, wear your clothes.  Don't keep them in your closet, saving them for those two or three special occasions a year.  Pick up and dust off your self-confidence, put on some good looking threads, and go forth!  Leave the house.  See and be seen.  Join friends for a drink in the evening at your favorite watering hole and do it dressed.  Or throw on some loafers, tuck in your shirt and grab a sports jacket  before you meet that special someone for a coffee and something sweet at your local cafe on a Saturday or Sunday.  The point is, wear and enjoy your clothes.  Caring about appearance and making a modicum of effort to look acceptable for public consumption -- the world ain't your living room after all -- will have all kinds of explicit and implicit benefits for you. 

For starters, you'll find that by actually wearing dressier, ADULT male clothes, you begin to feel less self-conscious and more comfortable in them, soon forgetting them altogether.  That's how you look and feel comfortable in your clothes.  Call it nonchalance or sprezzatura, an Italian word that's enjoying a lot of popularity right now.  In any case, when you look comfortable  in your clothes, you also project an incredibly strong aura of self-confidence that's hard to ignore.  Women, co-workers, and supervisors to name just three groups with whom you interact routinely will pick up on your improved appearance immediately.  Not to mention sales clerks, restaurant greeters and waiters, plus ticketing/gate agents in airports  and flight crews.  People, whoever they are, pay attention to those who appear pulled together and at ease in their dress, speech, and behavior regardless of the situation.  Calm power, or the appearance of it, is an aphrodisiac as the saying goes.  Trust me.


And here's a photo of that well-known style maven, notorious cad, and bounder Ulrich von Boffke in an equally relaxed setting earlier this fall, sitting around the house DRESSED.  No sweatpants or ratty cargo pants in sight.

Comments

  1. I find it hard to believe you have a toddler at home. Do you keep him penned in his room, or is your wife the Best Housekeeper Ever?

    Regardless, you look great, as always.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

All opinions are welcome here. Even those that differ from mine. But let's keep it clean and civil, please.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Popular Posts

The Sunday Papers. . .

  I once knew a dean of something or other when I was a graduate student at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, who restored old radios like these and had two or three working models in his office on campus.  He turned them on for me once.  Nothing sounds quite like these old tube (valve) sets with their large, resonant polished wood cabinets.  An iPhone with earbuds ain't the same thing, folks. This particular illustration turns up here at Classic Style with some regularity, but it conveys perfectly the mood of today's post.  Relaxed.  At ease.  Kind of sleepy.  Definitely not worried about the trials and tribulations of the world for the moment.  My late father used to smoke a pipe during the weekends, and, although I am not a smoker, the aroma of good pipe tobacco is not unpleasant when I detect it on occasion. Ok, magazines rather than a newspaper here, but the expression on his face is priceless.  And many Sunday papers do have a magazine supplement, so it's not that

A Summer Capsule Wardrobe. . .

The sort of items I basically live in when at home from May through September each year until things cool down enough for corduroy jeans and rugby tops. W ithout going crazy, or busting the ol' bank account, it is entirely possible to put together a versatile casual summer wardrobe that will both keep you comfortable AND looking a bit more pulled together than the sad average in 2021.  As my parents used to point out when my sister and I were children and brought home the occasional 'C' on a quarterly report card card from school, "Average is nothing to be excited about.  You can do better than that."  Sharing that sentiment will, no doubt, rile up some readers, but ol' Mom and Dad had a point. Indeed, we can do better than average, even with our casual summer attire.  After all, you only need a few pairs of shorts and a few shirts to mix and match in various combinations that will keep you looking decent without having to put a whole lot of thought into it wh

New Casual Belt Style. . .

  This particular belt is a nod to my (idyllic) formative years in southeastern Pennsylvania just outside Philadelphia.  It used to be a common occurrence then to see male and female Ring-necked Pheasants taking off and landing in, or around the many cornfields in the area.  Especially in the late fall and early winter after the harvest and before snow fell. J ust five days after placing an order for three new casual belts with Country Club Prep , a small box arrived on our doorstep later yesterday, containing not one but three new belts very similar to that pictured above.   I am extremely satisfied with the purchase.  Today, I sport one such new belt with some very faded pink shorts and an equally well worn blue and white micro-check cotton twill short-sleeve shirt with a button-down collar.  It's amazing how much more comfortable you feel when your pants are not slipping constantly down your hips. This comes after two months -- the initial order was placed in mid-May mind you --