There are certain style mistakes almost every guy seems to make.
The very existence of “Barack Obama jeans” in the lexicon of (questionable) style, proves that not even the nation’s most powerful man is above the law of fashion.
Some guys have managed to put the biggest wardrobe boo-boo’s behind them. Others keep playing them over and over like an eight-track tape. These equal opportunity offenses are as likely to crop up in business dress as they are in casual wear. And while it is not the end of the world for a guy to commit a fashion faux pas or two, it is unforgivable to not at least consider making it right.
So we asked Atlanta style mentor Stan S. Mukoro, whose client list includes local notables like Frank Ski and Scott Selig, to offer solutions to a few of these well-worn transgressions.
Mukoro, founder of Mukoro Bespoke, says it is not about buying a bunch of new clothes, but about making what you have, within reason, work for you.
What it all comes down to, he says, is fit — a lesson he first learned in England when he saw guys bringing $80 pants to a tailor over and over again until they were perfect. Back in the U.S., he recognized that many men, in an effort to be comfortable, forget the golden rule of getting dressed. “Follow the tape measure,” Mukoro says. “Would you wear the wrong size shoe because you are looking for comfort?
A guy with a 34-inch waist for example, can push it to a 35, but has no business walking around in a 38, Mukoro says. And in reality, seeking comfort in too-big clothes can end up being very uncomfortable. Following are some of the recurring problems along with Mukoro’s remedies.
The Problem: Our model, John Eckel, is swimming in this suit. “Zoot suits have not been in since the mafia and the days of Al Capone,” Mukoro says. Though this suit is not that extreme, the jacket is too large with too much material under the armpits and ill-fitting shoulders. The shirt is too baggy, leaving extra material around the waist, and the sleeves are too long. The tie hangs below the belt and the belt is too casual for a suited look.
The Fix: A suit by Ermenegildo Zegna gives a more streamlined fit. To test a jacket for the correct length, stand straight with arms at your sides. The jacket should end near your knuckles. Button the jacket and give it a tug away from your body. You should have 1 to 2 inches of room. “You want to give the effect of a defined waist,” Mukoro says. Flat front pants are preferable to pleats and should only have one break (or no break), not two or three. For a more European look, pants can end an inch above the heel.
A simple black leather belt is best for a business suit, and the color should always match the shoes.
Worried about how a more fitted look will translate on a bigger guy?
“In the baggy suit, John looked bigger,” Mukoro points out. “If you are a bigger guy, you need to wear true to your size to reduce the look of your frame.”
The Problem: Square-toe shoes are best left in the ’80s, Mukoro says. “For a business suit, you don’t wear boots or a square-toe shoe. It just looks tacky,” he says.
The Fix: This shoe from To Boot New York by Adam Derrick is a better option. “It is a slimmer lace-up, which has more of a formal look and goes better with slimmer fitting pants,” Mukoro says.
The Problem: The dreaded “dad” jean aka Obama jean has a baggy fit in the thighs and hips, is too high at the waist, and the wash is too light.
The Fix: Jeans by Paper Denim & Cloth have a darker wash and better fit in the waist and thighs. The waist is lower, but not too low, which makes them appropriate for the average guy. “He can go business casual with this and he looks leaner,” he says. Upgrading your denim doesn’t mean spending a fortune. “I wear Levi’s,” Mukoro says.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.