Men, Don’t Wear This!

Image of me, larsinio wearing a Lacoste polo s...
So NOT this....Image via Wikipedia

Shallow? Moi?

Hell, yes.

And I am not alone in this respect. Two popular blogs, this one and this one, recently weighed on on the deeply important issue of things men wear that make women cringe and flee.

Writes Vanessa Lawrence:

An ill-fitting suit or an ugly pair of shoes or a Silicon Valley–worthy bag signifies not what bodily imperfection he might be hiding but who he is on a more cerebral and existential level. Artsy frame glasses: intelligent, sophisticated, well-educated. A Savile Row creation: exceptional taste, drinks his scotch neat, financially stable (or loaded). A perfectly rumpled button-down and Levi’s 501s: easygoing, likes a good beer, open-minded worldview.

With such high stakes, it’s inevitable that every woman has her own opposite-sex style dealbreaker, an instantly registered faux pas that inspires revulsion and, in some cases, fight-or-flight vital stats. I know one girl who shudders at the mere thought of a popped collar. And many ladies are self-described “shoe people,” keeping their gazes resolutely directed downward for flagrant footwear offenses. (Sandals of any kind, bulky orthopedic sneakers and cowboy boots come to mind.)

I was tickled to see that the sweetie brought home the latest version of GQs Style Guide, and we had a great time looking through it. I can’t say I’m too excited about the trend toward very tight-fitting men’s suits and I really dislike almost all hats on all men, including (sorry) caps.

Especially caps.

I feel lucky to be with a guy who enjoys dressing well and whose classic sartorial tastes — tattersall, cashmere, thick wool, a Barbour jacket — echo mine.

(I’m lucky, of course, he appreciates my style. Not every man would want a second date with a woman who wore a turtleneck sweater to their first date. But that’s me.)

I still recall exactly what the sweetie wore the night we first met. I liked all of it, from the vintage gray wool trenchcoat to (yes, definitely eccentric, but it worked) the red silk Buddhist prayer shawl worn as a muffler. As someone lucky enough to have grown up with a Dad who — still at 81 — is an extremely snappy dresser, I admit to having my male style-o-meter set early and high.

Good-looking clothes don’t have to cost a fortune. (Vintage shops and consignment shops carry much great stuff.)

They do need to be spotless, fit well and flatter your shape and complexion. I fell head over heels for my ex-husband when he was a penniless medical student, and still recall a thin white cotton shirt of his I liked.  I have a thing for white cotton on men. Few things are as hopelessly sexy as a pristine white man’s shirt.

Especially when you give it to us….


Pleated pants.

Cuffed pants.

Pleated, cuffed pants.

Baggy-bottomed trousers of any description.

Too-tight trousers.

Square-toed shoes. Thick-soled black or white exercise shoes worn outside a gym. Ditto white athletic socks. Clogs, shoes with tassels, hiking boots.

Synthetics. Prints. T-shirts with logos. Anything with logos.

Baggy/striped golf shirts and polo shirts and all athletic clothing worn as default casual wear.


Lovely grooming. (Not the baby chick, too-much-product-in-your-hair thing.)

Well-fitted crisp cotton shirt, tucked in, ironed. Maybe even starched. Probably uses collar stays.

Leather shoes with leather soles, polished to a gleam. Heels with new(ish) lifts. Suede shoes well-brushed.

First-name acquaintance with  a tailor, barber and store clerk whose taste you trust.

A clear idea which colors and textures best complement your hair, eyes and skin color. Having the guts (if unsure, which is unlikely) to ask someone whose style you admire to help you with this.

Avoiding most trends for the innate elegance of simple, well-made garments. Think Cary Grant, not Bret Michaels.

Men, what do you hate to see on women?

Ladies, what’s a style dealbreaker for you?

8 thoughts on “Men, Don’t Wear This!

  1. Doug

    Frankly, my concept of manhood includes not paying to attention to advice like this, but for those small-case-y-chromosomed types who aren’t quite to hair gel but who consider first impressions before the third date, this post can be a valuable service.

  2. My husband, to whom I’ve been happily married for eight years, has never been a snappy dresser — I wouldn’t want him any other way, to be honest. I don’t care what he wears when we go out, as long as it’s clean and presentable; if it’s his favorite T-shirt or a well-ironed dress shirt, it doesn’t matter to me.

    Personally, if a woman is judging a man by what he wears instead of how he treats her — she’s going to miss out on a lot of good men simply because of a shallow impulse. Clothing is transitory and subject to change, with trend, with personal taste, or with something as simple as weight gain.

    I’m sure people are rolling their eyes at this point, but love a man for who he -is-, not for what he wears.

  3. No question, there are many happy couples for whom this isn’t an issue. But it’s not an either/or — a man can dress and groom himself well and stylishly and not be a brute! So if I can spend time with a man who enjoys looking good and who is also kind and loving (and I’m lucky in this respect), why not?

    Dismissing someone out of hand isn’t smart for their appearance, but we are who we are. If looks and style are really terribly important, for whatever reason, they will be to your partner as well. I think someone who cares nothing at all about their appearance is sending a powerful signal with that decision. It may not be a good fit for someone who values pride in your looks. NOT vanity or narcissism.

  4. I agree.
    Personally, I think any time a man wears something that isn’t his size/cut or who wears something that’s warped (either by age or tugging) it’s just a turn off. I usually don’t care what a man wears style-wise, but if it’s not cut/sized right, it’s a libido killer.
    My husband has this shirt that’s too large in the frame so it bags around the sides, but it’s also too short in the front and in the arms. So, if he reaches up I see his belly button and when his arms relax I see part of his forearm. The colour is an old blue that’s faded and the neck is stretched out. Worst yet? He’s got this fantastic athletic body, and this shirt hides it! Needless to say, anytime he wears it- he doesn’t get laid.

    So, here’s the truth. Your clothes should flaunt what you have. No, I don’t mean show skin! If the clothing is cut well it should show off your best physical traits and attributes. Keep it fitted well through the shoulders and hips and be sure your shirts only and the width of a finger off your body. If you can fit your hand up your shirt and it doesn’t even show, the shirt’s too big. Hats are unprofessional and us women know they are your comfort crutch- just like a woman’s “fat pants”-we’re onto you! So, don’t wear a hat in someone else’s home or on dates. Hats are mean for sports or to cover up un-showered hair…. If you want to know what’s flattering, find out what your skin tone is and be sure to wear items on the same side of the colour wheel. Want you eyes to pop? Wear the colour that’s direct opposite on the colour wheel. Ex: Green eyes? Wear red or a tuned down brick colour. It’ll make your eyes pop and hide blotchiness or redness from acne. If you have very pale skin, opt for a cooler shade of red with purple undertones. If you have blue eyes, I don’t suggest wearing yellow-few can pull it off, but instead wear beige or light browns. In the end wear something you feel comfortable in- it’ll show in your confidence and women need to see confidence to really be swept off their feet!

    So, keep it simple!

  5. Dalis

    I agree! Given, my other half sometimes lacks in the style department when he’s working, but when we go out, he’s always groomed and his shirt pressed.

    He was wearing this army-green shirt he had traded a Serbian soldier for when he was in Kosovo when we first met. Paired with nice jeans and cowboy boots, I was intrigued.

    Sometimes I look at him and wonder, “What the heck is he wearing?” but then again, I walk around in silly socks and yoga pants, so I can’t judge. By the way, he also brought home GQ’s Style Guide and I cut out the page where it says “listen to your girlfriend” when picking out the right color… I point to it daily.

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