From The Mailbag: How to grow up your style
I just started my freshman year of college this fall and I finally ended up coming to the conclusion that people wouldn’t take me seriously as long as I dressed like your typical teenager. I haven’t had much success since most websites always offer clothes that are way out of the typical college students price range. This changed a lot after coming across Dappered. I’m pretty much looking to change most of my wardrobe. I like a lot of the clothing on Dappered and especially the price, but I have no idea what to buy. Or where to start for that matter.
Would you have any suggestions?
Thyrus should be applauded for observing pretty early on something that took most of us a few years to get a hold of. How you present yourself can change the attitude of the people around you, and it can have a drastic effect on how seriously they view you. I was more concerned with digging my carpenter jeans out of the hamper so I could make it down to the local Pizza joint for “dollar slice Tuesdays” my Freshman year. So, credit him for that.
It might be easier to look at the clothes a younger guy should stop wearing once he exits high school. The pieces that should be slowly worked out of the wardrobe. Think of it as credibility addition through apparel subtraction. Alternatives are offered when applicable, and know that this is a general guide. Not Thyrus specific:
#1 Stop Wearing: Basketball or Running Shoes
Instead: Converse Jack Purcells – $59.50
Jack Purcells or other classic American sneakers can be dressed up with jeans and a blazer. Only wear your gym shoes while at the gym.
#2 Stop Wearing: Huge wrap or gigantic Ray Ban Wayfarers
Instead: Wear the slimmed down New Wayfarer – $119.00
Doesn’t have to be the New Wayfarer. Could be squared off aviators or Persol-like plastic frames. Just lose the X-Games shades… dude. Barron over at The Effortless Gentleman makes a great case for one reason to switch.
#3 Stop Wearing: Comical or Logoed T-Shirts
Instead: Plain Fitted T-Shirts – Mossimo $7.99
Although the first time I saw it I laughed, wearing a shirt with “you have died of dysentery” on the front doesn’t quite ooze maturity. College is a time for t-shirts. Just, tone em’ down funny man.
#4 Stop Wearing: Untucked blousey dress shirts as casual wear
Instead: The Express 1mx as dressed up AND casual wear
I’m in the bag for these shirts. Especially since the no-tailoring necessary even closer to the body fitted cut was released. Wait for a sale, then buy two whites, two light blues, and one each of black, gray, and brown.
#5 Stop Wearing: Pleated Khakis
Instead: Flat Front no crease Chinos - CK Dylan Chinos – $39.99
Your mom bought you those pleated Khakis. And unless you’re wearing these pants Urkle style, half way up to your chin, the pleats will bulge out and give you a cotton accordion spare tire.
#6 Stop Wearing: Squared off dress shoes
Instead: Embrace the rounded toe - Kenneth Cole Mr. Right – $167.95
I don’t know who first made this observation, but squared off dress shoes circa 2002 really do look like Frankenstein shoes. You want the classic silhouette, or a slimmed down version thereof. Even a modern leaning chisel toe looks good. Avoiding the squared toes can be tough to do, especially at a reasonable price. Both of those shoes to the right? Made by Kenneth Cole. The great looking one on the right? $167.95. Ouch.
#7 Stop Wearing: Polyester dress pants, a shirt, and a tie
Instead: A black cotton suit – Indochino – $349.00
Two kinds of people look okay in just dress pants, a dress shirt and a tie. Kids, and waitstaff. Rarely is a black suit going to be your first pick. Grey or Navy should be your first wool suit. But for your early 20s, you need something that can pull quadruple duty. Job interviews, weddings, (sadly) funerals, and each piece should be able to stand on it’s own.
The jacket and pants on a black cotton suit can be broken up and used separately. The indochino black cotton suit looks to have an incredible modern fit with high armholes. The cotton should let you pair the pants with a sweater for work, or the jacket with jeans for a big date. Plus it’ll be a little cooler during the warmer months. A little. It’s still black.
(UPDATE: After seeing a few of the comments, I’ve got to admit that my opinion has changed on the choice of black. A black cotton suit, especially one that looks as good as the Indochino, wouldn’t be a bad choice… for someone who already has a few suits in their collection. Consider instead the usual choices: An athletic fit Charcoal, Navy, or medium gray. You can find those on sale at department stores under $250. Get it expertly tailored, and then pick up a black cotton (not poly) blazer from say, Old Navy or Macys. That’ll get you your “date” blazer, and you’ll have a wool suit you won’t be breaking up. All for the same cost, with less risk.)
#8 Stop Wearing: Baseball Caps
Unless you’re at a game or really need to keep the sun off. Need proof that baseball caps knock you down a few notches on the serious scale? Here’s a man who could end the world with a nuclear war. And here he is in a baseball cap.
#9 Stop NOT Wearing: A watch
Instead: Wear a watch – Citizen Eco Drive Chrono – $243.75
People who wear watches have to be somewhere at certain times. That means they’re accountable to something. Start wearing one.
#10 Stop Wearing: AXE Body Spray
Instead: Use Jack Black Moisturizer on your face
It has just enough smell which fades through the day. Using cologne? Go easy.
#11 Stop: Swearing all the time
Instead: Swear rarely
You don’t “wear” language. But the way you speak is more a reflection of yourself than any article of clothing. Dropping the F-bomb in every sentence is the verbal equivalent of barbed wire bicep tattoos. It’s a sign of trying too hard. Prudes will say swearing shows a lack of creativity and vocabulary. That’s partially true, but c’mon, we all let one or two choice words fly sometimes. Just know that with every careless swear word comes an eye roll from those around you.
It won’t be an overnight switch, but these suggestions should provide a good foundation for Thyrus or any college young-adult to work off of. Leave any other items to stop wearing post-high school in the comments section below.