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

Filtering by Tag: one day

One day: outfit for the gym

Mark Kwak

The clock hits 5:30PM and your colleagues are starting to head home. While your coworkers are going home to relax and essentially take the part of human-vegetable for the rest of the night, you decide to be a bit more productive. You decide you want to to get jacked, and go to the gym.

The question now is, what do you wear? You want to look stylish, but you also want to wear something practical. You want to look ripped in front of the ladies, but you also don't want to make a fashion statement. Well, let's talk about it a bit.

In all honesty, I personally don't pay much attention to what I wear when I go to the gym. I don't care all that much about what I wear when I'm sweating like crazy. For that reason, I may not be the best role model when it comes to gym attire. However, I will say that I do notice outfits that look great on others, and believe it can pay off to look good while at the gym. Whether you want to look great in order to attract others (I mean we all know how much we love lululemon on girls), or just want to enjoy looking at yourself in the mirror, it doesn't hurt to make the effort to choose a nice gym outfit.

So let's start with the most important part of your gym attire, your shoes. Why are they the most important? Well, because we are using our footwear for actual protection against injury while working out. Make sure to wear footwear that is appropriate for whatever you are doing. Playing basketball? Wear high top basketball shoes to protect your ankles and support your feet while you're crossing dudes over left and right. Running? Get nice running shoes that fit well, are light, and can help lessen stress on your knees. If you're just going to the gym to lift, I would still stick again with running shoes, as they will likely look the best and be the most versatile in case you decide to go running.

In terms of upping the pure aesthetics of footwear, make sure that your shoes are clean and simple. Thin is usually better than bulky, and laces shouldn't be too long (eg: spilling too far down your shoe). Also make sure to wear socks. My recommendation goes to ankle socks that show just slightly above your shoe line. Just FYI, my favorite sneakers for working out are: Nike Frees, New Balance Sneaks, and Asics Gels.

You'll also notice people wearing neon green, hot pink, light blue, and other poppy colors in their shoes. If you like it, I say go for it. These colors exist not just for aesthetics, but more importantly to help you be more visible when running in the dark. Hey, if it helps you avoid car accidents, then it's all good in my book.

Next, shirts. My favorite type of shirt for working out is a cutoff dry-fit shirt. I'm a fan of the whole dry-fit thing that Nike, Adidas, Under Armour and other sports companies are doing. Not only does it look good, but it also feels good against your skin and helps you when you perspire. Because of the likelihood of getting stains (from your sweat or off of weights and machines), I would stay away from white, but all other colors are fair game. Stick to T-shirts or Tank tops.

Also, please make sure the shirts fit well against your body. I've seen people wear clothing TOO tight, or also others who buy over-sized T-shirts and cut off giant arm holes that come down to the hips, just to show off obliques, peks, and abs from the side. Come on... let's be less tool-ish please.

When it comes to pants, I like to stick with athletic shorts when working out. I think long athletic pants work just fine as well, especially when you'll be out in the cold, but shorts just seem the most versatile to me. Keep length right around the knee area (a little below or slightly above is fine) and again, make sure they fit nicely. If wearing long pants, make sure the length isn't too long, as it will get uber annoying while running or being active. You'll constantly be pulling your pant legs up, and that's no fun.

A quick note: avoid accessories if you can. Unless you need a digital watch to keep track of timing (or those new wristbands that monitor your health), I would take all accessories off as they will get annoying, or get in the way of your workout. Necklace flying inthe face while running? Ring scratching against dumbbells? Not my cup of tea.

Lastly, outerwear. I think track jackets and sweatshirts work fine when in a colder environment. Otherwise, keep outerwear in the locker. I hear a lot of people give flack to hoodies, but I think hoodies look great at the gym on a winter day. I don't want to be a broken record, but again, make sure the outerwear fits you well. Keep jackets and sweaters slim, shoulder seams hitting the right spot on your shoulders, and length ending right around your hip. Baggy is never good.

Finally, remember this is just the gym- wear whatever you feel most comfortable in. I've given some guidelines above for what I think looks best, but going to the gym is all about making yourself feel more healthy and confident, and what makes you feel confident is really up to you. When I go to the gym, I wear free T-shirts that my workplace gives me without shame. Do whatever you're most comfortable with, and you should be just fine.

One day: outfit for the office

Mark Kwak

You've woken up, taken a shower, and opened your closet. Gentlemen, it is time to get dressed. Let's talk about your first outfit- your outfit for the office.

Going to the office can differ from person to person. Those who work in the tech industry, like myself, have much more freedom to wear casual clothing day-to-day. Jeans, T shirt, even flip flops are all fair game. Clearly a stark contrast from the days when I used to work in financial services. Back then, it was business casual on a daily basis, with the occasional suit for important client meetings.

Since occupation really matters when it comes to proper attire, please take my words with a grain of salt. Some people have to wear uniforms, some work from home in their sweatpants, and some work at places where the job requires constant physical activity. In all these situations, outfits will obviously differ from what I propose, so let's just say my recommendations will cover more of a generic office setting.

1. In an office setting, no matter how casual, I think it's still important to look as good as you can, so my first preference is to ditch the T shirts, polos, and short-sleeve dress shirts, and stick with a long sleeve button up shirt. The more casual the workplace, the more casual the button-up can be. Here are some things that distinguish a more casual button up from a more formal one.

Can have a button-down collar
Doesn't have to be tucked in
Material drapes easier (flannels, linens, oxfords)
More patterns
Usually spread, point, or semi spread collars
Needs to be tucked in
Needs to have a "pressed" look
Less patterns

I say stay away from being too formal. Leave most accessories attached to the shirt at home (tie, tie bar, cufflinks), and roll up your sleeves if it gets too hot or you'd like to be even more casual.

2. Now for pants, it again depends on the environment you're in, but I think your best bet is a pair of solid-colored slacks (grey or navy). If you'd like to be a bit more casual, I'd try a solid pair of dark-wash jeans or slim chinos/cords. Shorts are a no-no, patterns like camo and designs on back pockets (apart from simple lines) are also a no-no. This is not an area that you want to attract attention to. Keep it conservative, but of course well-fitted.

3. Shoes need to be a form of leather. Unless it's casual Friday and you have leeway to wear whatever, I would make sure to stick with some sort of leather shoe, whether it be dress shoes, suede boots, or whatever. This is critically important in my mind, because shoes actually make a far larger impression on other people than you might initially think. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... leather shoes distinguish a boy from a man more than any other piece of clothing in your outfit (in my opinion, that is). For more formal situations, go with cleaner designs (like staying away from wingtips or any type of brogues), and stick with black or brown only. Oxfords and derbys will be your best bet more formally, loafers can be good once you get more casual.

4. As for accessories, I would say a watch and belt is about all that you really need. Stick with leather or steel band watches (of normal size... as watches larger than 47mm are kind of gaudy at the office) and belts that roughly match the color of your shoes.

5. Now, to top it all off, you should enter the office with some sort of outerwear. Whether you keep it on during the workday is up to you, but having a sports coat / jacket / overcoat / sweater is a good way to mix things up a bit between being at the office and being outside of it. 

There you go! Maybe you knew everything here, maybe you didn't. Either way, I think your office-wear is going to be what you have on for the longest part of the day, so it's important that things FIT well, and are matched well in colors / patterns / etc. When in doubt, keep it simple, and remember, this is not a setting where you want to stick out like a sore thumb.

One day series

Mark Kwak

In one day, you can probably get away with wearing just one outfit. Get dressed in the morning, wear those clothes the entire day, then undress before you go to bed.

Some days though, I just have too many events occurring for me to skate by them all with just one outfit. Thank God it's not every day, but there are rare occasions when I will go through 5 separate outfits in one 24 hour span, due to whatever may be happening during that particular day. For that reason, I wanted to start a series showcasing my preferences for each occasion, and provide my perspective on what I find appropriate and what I don't.

Like I said, on a particularly busy day, I can find myself wearing 5 separate outfits:

1. Outfit for the office.

2. Outfit for the gym.

3. Outfit for dinner.

4. Outfit for going out at night.

5. Outfit for home.

  I'll start with #1 tomorrow (outfit for the office), but also want to field any questions or concerns you may have regarding other occasions than the ones I listed above. Maybe I'll add those situations to the bunch as well. Either way, be on the look out my fashion-forward friends.