Newbie Fashion Tips for Grown-Up Men

2Just over a month ago, I ran into a friend at a CES event. While I see this friend around town once in a while, this was the first time I’d seen him in a non-casual setting since Blogworld 4 months earlier. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, he asked me an odd question: “Is this like your conference party outfit?”

Indeed, I was wearing the exact same clothes I’d worn to the event four months earlier. Since he doesn’t usually see me dressed up, it stood out enough for him to remember. But that’s not the real point, here; the real point is that I have few clothes suitable for “adult” gatherings.

I have a suit, of course, for weddings and funerals. (I haven’t had a job interview in 9 years, but if I did, it would be suitable for that, too.) And I have my day-to-day clothes, which aren’t awful but which aren’t anything to brag about, either. Functional casual, basically: jeans and khakis, an assortment of button-front shirts, some cotton sweaters.

As a college professor, there’s not a lot of pressure on me to dress up. If anything, it’s just the opposite. For one thing, I interact regularly with younger people, mostly teenagers (I teach 100-level courses), and being too formal creates a barrier between my students and me. That might be ok in business or law (think John Houseman in Paper Chase) but for my classes and my teaching style, some level of rapport is crucial. For another thing, my fellow professors don’t exactly set the sartorial bar very high – and there’s a certain sense of bohemian “me-against-The-Machine” attitude expressed by violating “corporate” standards of dress.

But mostly I dress the way I do because I’ve never really learned how to dress otherwise. Like a lot of my fellow geeks, fashion just wasn’t on the radar for me. Fortunately I have a brother who has always been very fashion-conscious, and he’d take me in hand every few years when my fashion sense got too out of touch with reason and social acceptability.

Well, my friend’s off-hand comment was a wake-up call for me. I mean, I’m a grown man – I should have more than one pair of slacks and one shirt nice enough to wear to an industry event without embarrassing myself! So I set out to educate myself on some fashion basics – what shoes go with what kind of trousers, how to distinguish various sorts of dress shirts, and so on.

Accessories

71. Match your belt to your shoes. It doesn’t have to be a perfect match, as long as you wear a black belt with black shoes and a brown belt with brown shoes.

2. Match your socks to your pants. Again, it doesn’t have to be a perfect match – a little lighter or darker is fine. If you don’t have socks to match your pants, you can match your shoes, or just wear black socks.

3. White socks are for sports. Only. Unless you are a) wearing sneakers, and b) doing something athletic in them, avoid white socks.

4. Your tie should reach your belt. Anything short of your belt makes you look like a rube.

5. Try a front-pocket wallet or money clip. This will save wear-and-tear on your back pocket (helping to avoid the heartbreak of “buttsquare”), help avoid pickpockets (a little – the good ones know…), and save your back. Plus: classy!

6. You’re allowed one affectation. A fedora. A pocket watch. A bracelet or class ring. A vest (if you’re not wearing a three-piece suit). An expensive wristwatch. Pick one, but no more – give your whatever-it-is space to say whatever-it-says.

If it feels like these rules are arbitrary and stifling, they are. Think of it like learning how to paint: first, you do a still-life (arbitrary) using just one color (stifling). Eventually you move up to two and three colors, then maybe a warm or cool palette, and your subjects might expand to include figures or landscapes. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can begin to press against the rules, juxtaposing non-complementary colors or painting unconventional subjects.

In fashion as in art – style emerges not from a lack of rules but from a mastery of them, from making them serve you instead of the other way around. If you’re a geek like me, you need to dial a fresh start – clear your closets of all those conference freebie t-shirts, put a shine on your shoes, and burn your butt-crack pants. Ultimately, these rules are not at all about tamping down your personality but about learning how to express it. And unfair as it is, people will take you more seriously when you dress with a modicum of style.

Anyone else have tips for the newcomer to the world of style? Give us your best advice in the comments.

QUICK UPDATE: Comments are coming on this post faster than I can get them modded in. If your comment was sent but doesn’t show up, don’t send it again – it’s in my moderation queue and I’ll get to it as soon as I can. Thanks – loving all the great comments on this post!

Buying Diamonds Online

With all of the potential for scams concerning diamonds, buying diamonds online almost seems unthinkable! However, you actually can purchase diamonds online, without any problems – as long as you are careful.

First, think about your reasons for wanting to purchase the diamond online, as opposed to making a purchase from a local jewelry store. The most common reason is price. Due to low overhead costs, online jewelers and wholesalers are able to offer lower prices. However, you must be careful – sometimes a price that is too low is a sure indication of a scam.

One of the best things about purchasing online is the unlimited selection. When shopping offline, you are limited to the selection in the stores in your general area. Online, there are no limits. But again, you must use a great deal of care and consideration before handing your money over to someone that you cannot see and have never met!

Before shopping, learn as much as you can about diamonds – especially cut, color, clarity and carat weights. When you are knowledgeable about diamonds, it will be harder for a con artist to rip you off. Once you know more about diamonds, you will be ready to start shopping.

Take your time. Don’t purchase the first diamond that you see that interests you. Instead, look for similar diamonds for sale. Do some comparison shopping to find the lowest prices. Once you have found the
lowest price, start doing your investigation. You know about diamonds, you’ve found a diamond that you love, and you’ve found the lowest price – but you are still quite a ways away from actually purchasing that diamond!

Ask about the seller’s credentials, such as professional jewelry associations that they belong to. View and print the seller’s return, refund, and upgrade policies. Also inquire about additional services, such as settings and mountings, sizing, and free shipping. Do a search for customer reviews on this particular company around the Internet. Also
check with the BBB Online to see if there have been any complaints.

Ask for a diamond grading report from an independent laboratory such as GIA, HRD, EGL or AGS. You should see this before making a purchase. Finally, use a reputable escrow service for high dollar diamonds – preferably one that will have the diamond appraised while it is in their possession. The seller sends the diamond to the escrow service, and you send the money to pay for the diamond to the escrow service. The escrow service has the diamond appraised, sends the diamond to you, and sends the money to the seller. This is the surest way to protect yourself…again, make sure that you use a reputable escrow service!

celebrity inspired dresses