This is a short listing of the common rules people once used for dressing well. However, such fancy things as how far a man’s shirt cuff should extend past the jacket cuff, and how much break should appear in the pants crease above the shoe will not be covered. Those things can be found in other guidelines. The rules covered here are the ones nobody uses much anymore but are still important. As soon as you know them you will be able to see how following them will improve your overall appearance.

  1. Don’t Mix Stripes With Checkers.
    That is actually the way this rule used to be described. It may even still be known, but if it is nobody seems to be following it anymore. Newscasters and actors on TV are constantly breaking it. What it means is you do not mix patterns of any type (Checkers, stripes, paisley, polka-dots, etc.) with each other. You can’t even mix stripes with other stripes. For men this means you
    are allowed only one item with a pattern of any kind in your suit combination
    (Shirt, tie, or jacket). For women it means you are allowed one pattern in your
    ensemble (Blouse, scarf, jacket, bandana, and/or any other item you choose to
    wear). As an example: if the shirt is striped, all other pieces to the outfit
    must be plain. No patterned ties or other accoutrements should be worn. (Exception:
    for women some other items are allowed to have a pattern as long as it’s the
    exact same pattern -scarf and bandana can match each other, shirt and bandana
    can match, etc.) Striped suits follow same rules as striped shirts. Except for
    the pants, whose stripes must match the jacket, no other patterns should be
    worn. The important thing to remember is a striped suit with a polka-dot tie is
    appropriate for a clown, but it is not appropriate for making a good
    impression.

  2. Avoid Colors That Clash.
    This one is a biggie. Nobody seems to know what colors clash anymore. The old
    rule is no color with red in it (Orange, pink, purple, red, etc.) can touch
    another color with red in it. If you wish to have red hearts on a pink tie, for
    example, the hearts should be outlined with a neutral color such as white or
    yellow. The other two colors to avoid having touch each other are blue and
    green. I don’t know if it’s because they both have blue in them, but it has
    always been considered a horrible clash. For some reason purple wasn’t included
    in this clash, but shading was. If you are wearing either a blue or green jacket
    with a purple shirt, the colors shouldn’t both be dark. Contrast in shades is
    important because it is more pleasing to the eye. (Dark jacket: light shirt,
    and vice-versa). With very few exceptions, when the jacket and shirt are both
    dark colors they should be shades of the same color. This is because when the
    colors used are composed of very different primary colors the person looking at
    your suit has a harder time discerning the compatibility between those colors.
    Instead of immediately catching the viewer’s attention with an attractive
    combination, you have caused the viewer a slight discomfort trying to sort out
    the difference between hues. It’s never a good idea to make anybody give your
    suit a critical examination, even if they eventually decide the colors match. The
    idea is to draw attention by how well you dress, not by making people ask
    themselves what on earth you were thinking. Along those same lines, avoid being
    outlandish. Wearing a purple striped suit with an orange shirt and a red
    polka-dot tie will not impress anybody.

  3. Shirt Matches Socks; Belt Matches Shoes. This one almost explains itself. Brown belt = brown
    shoes; black belt = black shoes; blue shirt = blue socks. Where it gets tricky
    is how your socks appear with your pants. Black pants with white socks can be a
    shock to the eyes. What people often forget is you don’t have to wear white
    socks with a white shirt. Black socks match a white shirt just fine. In this
    case you should choose which color contrasts the least intensely with the pants
    – white pants = white socks; black pants = black socks. Another thing to
    remember is the socks and shirt should match each other as closely as possible.
    You may have seen some movies where the sharp-dressed main character took a
    shirt from the closet and compared it against socks in the drawer. He was
    making sure to have a good match before wearing. Not only should you follow
    this example at home, you should get in the habit of comparing shirts to socks
    while you are still in the store. Buy them together whenever possible. One
    other thing to take into consideration, although it isn’t a formal rule, is to
    try to keep the tie matched with the pants when you aren’t wearing a jacket. EX:
    If you want to wear a green tie, don’t wear blue pants. Also, brown ties go
    better with pants in shades of tan or brown, and black ties go better with
    pants in gray or black. Technically browns and blacks match anything, but
    coordinating the colors in this way shows you put thought into your overall
    appearance. Coordinating accent colors is another good idea. Yellow goes great
    with blue or red. Having a red or blue tie over a yellow shirt is good, but
    having yellow patterns on the tie match the shirt is better. Whenever possible,
    have the tie accents match the shirt color. Dark blue tie with light blue
    stripes should have the smaller stripe color match the shirt. Lastly, if you
    use a pocket hanky in your jacket, match it to the tie. Do not use a purple
    hanky with a red tie. As with the shirt and socks, match them as closely to
    each other as possible. If you use two hankies, one matches tie, the other
    matches shirt. Also match the boutonniere to the tie. Don’t wear a red
    boutonniere with a purple, orange, or pink tie. Use white instead. If you don’t
    want to use a white one, change the color of the tie.

  4. Be Careful With Striped Suits.
    Believe it or not, there is more to a striped suit than what first meets the
    eye. If you are out to make a really good impression, you can’t just wear any
    old striped suit. You need to fork over the money to get a finely tailored one.
    This is because high-powered people will judge you by what your suit says about
    your sartorial knowledge, and the lapels are a dead give-away to whether you
    are wearing a good striped suit or not. Only the best suits will have lapels
    where all the stripes line up perfectly. The stripes on the shoulder will also
    line up, but it’s not as immediately noticeable as the lapels. Most people
    seeing the lapel stripes line up will assume all other areas also line up. It
    doesn’t matter if you spent thousands of dollars on the suit, not having the
    stripes line up will leave a bad impression upon people who know such things. If
    you are looking to move into big-time business or lawyer type positions, especially
    if the folks you deal with consider themselves sophisticated, do not wear a
    striped suit unless it’s well tailored with all stripes meeting perfectly. If
    you can’t swing such a suit, go with the best plain suit you can afford. As
    long as you dress tastefully in all other regards, they won’t hold it against
    you. On the other hand, if you can afford such a suit, by all means make sure
    you wear it. It will only reflect positively upon you. It never hurts to sneak
    in quiet little signs you do have some class, or at least know how to fake
    having class, which is almost the same thing.

The important thing to learn here is it isn’t very much work to put together outfits following these simple rules, but the difference it makes in your appearance is huge. Do yourself a favor and spend the extra five minutes putting together a nice combo.

PS. Life to America!

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