Dress You Up #8: C.


How excited am that I get to dress a dude this week? Men are so rarely interested in my style ideas for them.

My friend S., sent the follow missive in regards to her husband, C.:

My husband has finally realized that he needs some new work clothes. Since he wears his work clothes for years, I am not opposed to buying them new. However I would also like him to end up with some slightly more interesting looks than another collection of solid color shirts and solid color pants. Since he has a red beard, though, patterns can be tricky. His office is business casual, so no ties are required, thank goodness.Can you help us?

Sure! Let's have a look at the mister, shall we?

cody 2.jpg

cody 1.jpg

He's cute! This isn't going to be hard!

Business casual clothing for men suffers from the capacity for extreme yawnworthiness. There are just only a few options: slacks in basic colors and shirts with collars. Very few accessories, and even the patterns are really limited. That said, there are a few things men can do to jazz things up.

(Note: C. and I have very different ideas about what constitutes an appropriate pair of shoes, and he will not be swayed, so these ideas are all going to be shoe-less.)

The first thing I think is worth addressing is color and pattern in shirts. There is nothing about a red beard that means you can't wear pattern! I'd stay away from Hawaiian print shirts, but a check of various types, a nice small floral, etc, would be totally fine, and look tons more interesting with plain khaki pants than a plain shirt does. How about one of these?

Another option, though it won't work in the current season where C. lives, is to liven things up with a colored sweater. Looking outside the typical "male" colors is a good idea, especially with C.'s coloring. This nice plum, for example, would be great on him:

A slightly more weather appropriate upgrade, which I love beyond reason, is the vest. More men should wear vests. The first one shown here is a more casual vest-based look:

The vest can also go dressier! (And tell me C. wouldn't look fantastic in that fedora!)

Because mens' clothes tend to be so much simpler than women's, quality is of an even greater importance. Cheap women's clothes can look trendy or off, but cheaply made men's clothes have a tendency to come off really sloppy. So, my #1 piece of advice for C. is to invest in good quality things. Specifically:

1. A belt. I cannot abide chinzy men's belts. If you're going to wear something every day, make it something nice! In most cases, I'd recommend a very nice leather option, but since I know C. avoids animal products, here are some vegan alternatives:

What won't work? Canvas. Novelty buckles. Belts that are clearly made of old tires. We're going for professional, here.

Once he has a belt to hold them up, C. is going to need some pants. My advice here to find a style or a couple of styles he likes and stick with them, as different cuts aren't going to be all that important to him. What he's going to want in his pants wardrobe are different weights and colors/patterns. So, saw C. went to Banana Republic and decided, via trying things on, that the Gavin fit was the perfect pair of pants for him? He could then get several pairs, which would see him through all his needs:

Men's Apparel: chinos | Banana Republic
$50 - bananarepublic.gap.com

New straight Gavin fit chino
$50 - bananarepublic.gap.com

These are basically all the same pair of pants. The outer two pairs are drapier "dress" pant fabric, one in navy pinstripe and one in dark gray. The inner two are chinos, one in lighter khaki and one in darker brown. With these four pairs of pants, C. would be able to wear just about any shirt/sweater/vest combination I could come up with and look put together.

The shirts are where the fun comes in. For men who don't wear ties, shirts are really the only creative dressing opportunity there is. C. should absolutely try to break out of his solid neutral comfort zone and try out new patterns and colors. A few I'd like to see:

There is a wide, wide world of men's shirts out there. They can be very expensive, but they don't have to be. They are also, if you are of average size like C., very thriftable. My advice is to go for slightly higher-end brands (not Thomas Pink or Charles Tywitt, necessarily, more like J Crew and Banana Republic) and for C. choose patterns and colors that he might not automatically gravitate towards. Small plaids/ginghams, narrow stripes, and small polka dots are all really good starts. I'd also avoid lighter pastel shades and focus on darker tones, but that's more personal preference than anything else.

The expectations for a well-dressed man versus a well-dressed woman are extremely different, and something I could expound upon at length, but I'll spare you. In a nutshell, though, I think men appear well-dressed when their clothes are in good repair (iron or dry-clean, there's no way around it), are appropriate to the situation (no cargo shorts in the office, please) and fit them. Compared to what is expected of women, that's not all that difficult. That said, men have a lot less opportunity for creativity, so, in order to avoid looking like a drone, it's important to open yourself up to color and pattern where appropriate. Good luck, C!


Thanks so much for this! I can't wait to show Cody. He is very interested to see what you come up with, so we can get out and do some wardrobe upgrading.

I really DIG the Eddie Bauer green shirt for the redhead. Hot!

Oh that green would look great on him!

i'm ready to go shopping for aaron (who's also a red-bearded man) (when he grows it out) based on this post despite the fact that he wears a uniform to work.

boy needs a new job. hrmph.

Mike got a fedora at Target and gets compliments on it EVERY time he wears it. I also think the floral shirt would look great on him, so thanks for the tip!

Oh, Laura, I didn't even think about how this would be good for Aaron too! Yay!

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