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A guide to help the average man... look less average

Filtering by Tag: fit

Tapered pants

Mark Kwak

Source: Whyyoumad

Source: Whyyoumad

I've become a strong believer that men look better (no matter how tall, short, husky, or skinny) when wearing pants that taper in the leg. By taper, I mean that the fabric below the knee will noticeably narrow or slim down as you go down the leg.

This applies to dress pants, denim, chinos, you name it. Frankly, I don't even look at straight cut, boot cut, or relaxed fit jeans anymore. And if I somehow find myself purchasing a nice pair of wool dress pants with a straight leg opening, I'll ask my tailor to taper the pants pretty much 100% of the time.

The way you can tell that a pant is tapered (apart from the obvious label that might suggest that it is) is by laying the pants on a flat surface and flipping the leg opening up against where the knee of the pants would be. If the knee and leg opening are the same width, then it is not tapered. If the leg opening is more narrow than the knee, then it is.

Take a look at the difference here:

Source: Nordstrom

Source: Nordstrom

Not bad, but see below:

Source: Nordstrom

Source: Nordstrom

Ah better.

Now, I am going to caveat this statement saying that not all tapered pants are created equal. Some pants taper far too extreme for one to feel comfortable while some taper so little that you might as well call them straight-leg. I'd say it's on you to find out how much of a taper you're comfortable with.

Either way, the next time you're at the clothing store looking for a pair of pants, I'd suggest looking for pants that have a taper in the leg. You'll just look a lot better, I guarantee it.

Collar height

Mark Kwak

We all know fit is incredibly important when it comes to clothing. You can find a piece that uses the highest quality fabrics, was designed by the brightest minds in fashion, and has incredible value, but if it doesn't fit well, might as well throw it in the trash because you simply won't look good.

And it's pretty easy to tell too. Even the most amateur of menswear enthusiasts can spot sleeve lengths that are too long, bagginess and billowing in the torso, or too broad of a shoulder fit.

That being said, there are other fit problems that most folks won't readily notice or be able to diagnose. The smaller details that you know are bothering your subconscious mind, but just can't pinpoint. One of those problems is collar height.

What is collar height? Well, simply put, it's the length from the top of the collar fold to the bottom of the collar on a collared (obviously) shirt. Interestingly enough, the collar height really does matter when you're searching for a well-fitted shirt.

Below is a picture I took for this blog a long while back. Back then, I didn't really see a problem with the fit of my shirt, but today, I'm a little more critical of myself. As a result, I'm a bit bothered by the collar height. Take a look:

Now, I don't think it necessarily looks bad, but I think a shorter collar could be more aesthetically pleasing in this outfit, don't you agree? Take a look at the collar height on a shirt like this:

Sure, if I was a gargantuan linebacker in the NFL, a short collar like the above might actually look more comical than anything. But seeing as how my neck is far smaller than someone like that, the aesthetics just work better to use a collar with a shorter height.

Now, having made this discovery, would I go back to my closet and replace everything with a suboptimal collar height? Probably not, that would seem a bit over the top. However, would I consider this detail when buying shirts in the future? Absolutely.

So it's just one more thing to think about when looking at fit. Take it or leave it, but put some consideration into the collar height when choosing a new shirt! My guess is that your current shirt collection is overly generous in collar height and you'll want to reduce them just a bit with your new shirts. But also remember, don't go too far in the other direction either - look at this guy, I feel like his collar is way too short:

Also, if you're still clueless on what to look for when choosing the shirt for you, check out Hugh & Crye's collar guide. Gives you quite a bit of detail about what you should be looking for in a shirt, down to the nitty-gritty details.

Cheers fellas, stay warm.

Altering old baggy clothing

Mark Kwak

A lot of my friends ask me for advice on what to do with their old clothing that just don't fit anymore. The process usually goes a little something like this:

1. I peruse my friends' closet.

2. I'll see a piece of clothing that looks God-awful and ill-fitting.

3. I'll say "toss" without a second thought.

4. I move onto the next piece.

At this point, my friends will stop and cringe, hesitating to move on. And of course I get it. What if the piece I'm tossing is actually a $175 shirt? Or what if it's the most comfortable piece of clothing in the entire closet?

As a result, we get hung over the piece for several minutes, trying to decide whether it stays in the closet or goes away to Goodwill.  Then we ultimately have to come to a compromise. And almost always, my compromise is this - get it altered so that it doesn't look ridiculous.

So I wanted to quickly speak about this compromise. "Getting it altered" is an easy way for someone to make a piece of clothing look better without having to spend a ton of money. Why replace an entire wardrobe when you can go to your local tailor and have them stitch up your current wardrobe to look perfect on you?

Now, I'm all for tailoring your clothing to look good, but I will say right now, sometimes it just doesn't make sense. Here are the situations that I come across where you shouldn't bother.

1. Dress shirts that are simply far too big.

Dress shirts are usually the easiest pieces of clothing to alter. However, if the original shirt being altered is two or more sizes too large, it may be a bit of a challenge. Here's why: it is very difficult to alter the shoulder hems on a dress shirt, and the shoulder hems are the most important part of the dress shirt fit. If the shoulder perforations are hanging at your mid triceps, you're likely going to encounter baggy sleeves, baggy mid sections, and too large of a collar as well.

First off, there are just too many alterations. Second, if the shoulders don't fit, no matter how well you alter the shirt, it won't look good. Toss it.

2. Boxily (is this a word?) designed clothing often cannot be altered to look fresh and fit.

Boxy clothes are often designed to give you a more relaxed fit. Take for instance a boxy blazer. You know, the one where it feels like you're swimming in the extra space? No matter how good your tailor is, the boxy nature of the blazer will make it difficult to get it to a trendy and form-fitting spot. It's not just about the extra fabric, but it's also about the balance of the jacket from top to bottom design-wise, and making a couple cuts here and there won't work. Toss it.

3. Some pieces just aren't meant to be altered in certain ways.

Think about a coat that is too long. Or a pair of jeans that are too baggy. Both of these could technically be altered to match the fit you want. However, let's say there are a bunch of pockets on that coat from top to bottom, and the jeans are baggy in not just your legs, but also your butt and crotch regions as well.

In these cases, it's likely that the tailor won't be able to alter your clothing to look better. Instead, you'll end up with a warped and unbalanced look that will force you to toss the pieces anyway. Make sure to look at your clothing holistically before making any alterations, and decide whether it makes sense. If not, toss it.

Okay, this is making me sound like I don't recommend people to go to a tailor. Not true in the slightest. I go to a tailor all the time, and it's invaluable having a good one.

All I'm saying is that sometimes it's just not worth it. It's all a cost/effort battle. Are you willing to take the financial hit by tossing the piece, or would you rather work hard and pay a lot of money to get it to look decent? Sometimes it's worth it, but I'm saying that sometimes... just sometimes, its irreparable and not worth the effort. In those cases, be okay with donating your clothing. Perhaps someone with a more suited body-style can inherit your clothing, and wear it the way it was supposed to be worn.

Suit fit diagram

Mark Kwak

I've been pretty MIA this week, sorry about that guys. Dreamforce took all of my time this week. One thing I wanted to put up here though is something that I saw online the other day. It's from Real Men Real Style, a blog I follow from time to time, and it visually shows you the difference between a good and bad suit fit. Print this thing out and take it with you when you go suit shopping:

rmrs suit fit

Pretty good huh? Keep these details in mind when you look for your next suit, it'll make a world of a difference.

Suits: Audio part 2

Mark Kwak

Today I continue to talk about suits, going over fit, cost, and brands. One thing that my friend mentioned was that I didn't (and unfortunately will not in this episode) cover is the different cuts of suits, whether they be British, Italian, or American. I think it's a topic that's pretty important to cover, so I'll make sure to write about that in a future post.

So here you go, the second part of the suit audio piece:

Simplerman Suit Part 2

Don't ignore shoulder seams

Mark Kwak

So we all know a huge part of dressing well is getting the proper fit. To many, it's #1, above simplification, color coordination, garment quality, you name it. So that begs the question, how can you determine if something is of the proper fit? Well, truth is, there is a lot that goes into it. And though I can go on for days explaining where sleeves should end, pants should break, legs should taper, etc., I won't bog you down with too many details for now. I'll just tell you this: look at the shoulders.

Poorly fitted shoulders have become one of my biggest pet peeves recently. Most shirts, sweaters, jackets, and coats have visible shoulder seams, and people can tell, consciously or subconsciously, when those seams don't lay on the correct parts of your body.  By this I mean that the shoulder seams could land on someone's biceps, or perhaps on the middle of their collar bone, instead of their shoulders. Indications of an improper fit.

I shall demonstrate with some pictures:

Here are some proper shoulder fits, where the seam hits right around where the arm and shoulder meet:

And here is an improper one; see how the shoulder seam extends a good 3 inches past where it should?

So if there's one recommendation I have for everyone regarding proper fit, it is to pay attention to the shoulders. It's hard to alter items of clothing if they don't fit well on the shoulders anyway. It generally ends up costing more than it's worth to make alterations there.

So the next time you're out looking for a sweater, shirt, or jacket, keep a close eye on where the shoulder seams hit your body. Make sure they hit where your shoulder connects to your arm, and after THAT is set, focus on the other areas of fit.


Ask me: wave #4 (closet purges, best fitting brands, etc.)

Mark Kwak

Hi folks! Time for another edition of "ask me." First off, please continue asking away since I'm here to be your resource, and am more than happy to help out where I can. Second, really sorry if I'm sometimes a little late in answering your questions, life's been a bit hectic recently, but I promise to get to every single question I can. Here are a couple select questions that I've gotten that I thought I would share with everybody:

I’ve started to understand style a lot better in the last six months or so. Unfortunately, all the clothes that I own don’t really fit the way I want them to, according to my newfound knowledge. Do you think I should just purge everything? - Steve Great question Steve. I’ve had this dilemma in the past as well. There was a point where I looked at my closet and felt like only 1/10th of it was actually wearable anymore. This was due to two reasons. First, I had just lost about 15 pounds, and most of my clothes simply did not fit. Second, I thought it was finally time to do away with hoodies and baseball caps, since I wanted to have a bit more refined sense of style.

In these situations, I don’t think it’s a good idea to completely purge your wardrobe at once, as it takes a lot of time, effort and money to recoup from something like that. Instead, I would do a basic purge of items that you know you won’t wear anymore, and then start replacing one piece at a time. If you have a coat that you’re not a big fan of, go ahead and buy another one that you actually do like, and replace your old one. Keep going on like this once in a while, when you happen to be shopping, or have a little more disposable income, and in no time you’ll have a wardrobe you actually enjoy, and one you’ll cherish for the long haul. In the meantime, try and be creative! Mix your old clothes in with the new, and create new combinations of outfits. You might find that your old clothes actually look pretty great in the right context.

Thanks for the blog man, it's awesome! So my question is, do you think that dressing really too well as a man might give off the impression that you might be gay or metro even if you're not? I want to dress better, but I don’t want to give ppl the wrong idea. – Brian

First off, be confident in your sexuality man! If you’re straight and you know it, that's all that matters. Plus, who says that a straight man can't look dapper too?

Now that being said, I think I know where you're going with that question. There is certainly a point when someone can look too polished, too clean, and too meticulous with their clothing. This can potentially give off a sort of non-hetero impression to others, not that there is anything wrong with that. Also, going skinny as opposed to slim, wearing flamboyant colors and patterns, and showing a lot of skin can all contribute to you looking more “metro” as well.

For that reason, if this is very important to you, and you want to maintain a clean, good look while still having no one question your straightness, I’d stick to more classic colors and patterns, wear slim-fitting but not skin tight clothing, and exercise proper skin discretion (not wearing shorts & shirts that are too short). Also, if that's not enough, maybe adapt a more rugged style, wearing more Barbour and Filson, and less Margiela and Rick Owens.

As long as you do those types of things and remain confident, you should be just fine. Also, nothing wrong with people asking if you’re gay because you wear nice clothes, since it might be more of a compliment to your style than anything else. We all know gay men can dress well.

Can I ask what your go-to clothing companies are in terms of fit? I think I have a build similar to yours and I usually can't find very well fitting clothes. - Young

Sure man, not a problem. In terms of pure fit, I do have some companies in mind, though I will say it's not so cut and dry due to possible inconsistencies in fit even within the same brand. Also, I've made a larger habit of altering my clothes recently. I never used to do it before, but now that I know how effective and cost-efficient it is, I try to alter anything that I feel doesn't fit well, regardless of brand.

I would say my best fitting brands would be the following, in price-point order:

1. Ben Sherman

2. Theory

3. Black Fleece

4. Band of Outsiders

5. Thom Browne

Hope that helps!


Alright fellas, keep asking away! And as always, stay dapper.