Looking good isn’t a complicated science. There are some basic rules all men should always bear in mind, like keeping things simple, taking good care of your clothes and buying clothes that fit. But to appear even more effortlessly stylish, paying attention to little details can make a big difference in your appearance.
Before we knew the rules of combining patterns, we didn’t venture far from the shore of solid-colour shirts. But now we’ve set sail thanks to Alan Flusser, author of Dressing the Man, which is the definitive book on style for men. “When combining two patterns of the same design, the size should be as different from the other as possible,” says Flusser. If the chalk stripes on your suit are three-quarters of an inch apart, your shirt needs narrow stripes; if your shirt has a narrow stripe, your tie needs a wider stripe. Same idea applies to checks: A windowpane jacket can work with a shirt that has a small-gauge check, but two large checks compete with each other.
Remember these rules as to the right length for your pants. More formal means more break. Jeans should have a slight break, just resting on the laces of your shoes. Khakis and other casual pants call for a touch more, breaking maybe three-quarters of an inch. Formal slacks and suit pants should have a more substantial break, perhaps up to an inch. When in doubt, too long is always better than too short.
Know when to ditch the Chuck Taylors and when to lace up a spiffy pair of wingtips. A suit calls for a more traditional oxford or monkstrap shoe. But when you’re kicking back — wearing khakis, jeans, cords, or a slacks -and-polo-tee combination — casual shoes are great. And they’re very comfortable.