Unspoken Clothing Rules

This is a guest post by Blaine Mountain of J. Hilburn

If you’ve ever spent time abroad, you know that there are subtle nuances to abide by in order to avoid awkward moments or embarrassing interactions. There are rules. Most go unspoken, but there are still rules.  I think most of us would admit that we’re all a little skittish and a bit apprehensive when the waiter brings out a menu in what looks like a branch of sanskrit, resembling some alien form of hieroglyphics. We all want a magical Rosetta Stone or a crash course in what not to say, eat, orBusiness identity do.

The same is true when you walk into your closet in the morning and pull garments off their hangers. Whose to say that the V neck tee that plunges down into your belly button isn’t hip. And when do you know when those bejeweled and bedazzled jean pockets need a break. Well, there are rules. Most go unspoken, but there are rules.

We’ve compiled a list. It’s by no means comprehensive, but it’s a good start.

Graphic Tees. Get rid of them. Especially if they have a corn ball design splattered across the chest or some sort of lame pun or ironic statement. You have to recognize that there is a difference between the words sartorial and satirical. A tee shouldn’t be busy, but should rather be a simple, discreet building block.

Dad jeans. Burn them. An ill-fitting jean is unacceptable on many different levels. We get it. You’ve been traumatized by the sight of guys in skinny jeans so you’ve swung to the far end of the pendulum, and now you’re refusing to put any thought into your denim. But that’s no excuse to be a chief offender of a vital menswear commandment. You have to start paying attention to cuts and brands. Identify a cut that you like and then try on a few pairs across different brands until you find a handful of pairs that you like. Asking for solicited feedback in how you look in a jean can be tough so we recommend perusing the web or reach out to a J Hilburn consultant: they’re happy, you’re happy, we’re all happy.

Camo shorts are not your friends. Camo is only acceptable on a small scale. It’s meant to be an afterthought, not the main attraction.

Tie bars. If you don’t know their proper placement, then don’t wear them.

Cheap suits. The sales clerk who sold you that cheap suit should be detained and questioned for crimes against humanity. A man in a nice suit is a force of nature so why not buy lots of really nice suits. Newsflash, a warehouse, regardless if it’s a warehouse for men or not, is not a place you should buy a suit; it’s where you store old boxes.

For any additional questions pertaining to your wardrobe, or to get more information on working with J.Hilburn, feel free to contact Martha Moore directly at martha.justicemoore@jhilburnpartner.com


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  1. I would add a few more comments if I may. First, even if the informal office dress code is ratty jeans and tee shirts, if you are older than 25 or you want to be seen as a grown up, ditch the jeans with holes and the saggy ill fitting tee shirts and start tucking your dress shirt into your trousers. Second, sweats and running shoes are for working out, not office wear. Finally, think about who are the style icons from the last century who are still considered “classy.” Would Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin be caught outside on jeans and tee shirts? I think not. To be a grown up man, it’s a good start to dress like one.

  2. There is definately a lot to find out about this issue.
    I like all of the points you made.

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