One of my most favorite past-times is chatting with my girlfriends on the phone about life. Usually, there’s always some time spent discussing all-things-fashion. When speaking to one of my married friends this week, I shared how I was reading this book by the legendary Edith Head, How To Dress For Success, and just finished a chapter on dressing your family for success, which obviously includes the children, but also the husband. If you’re a husband, or a wife to a husband, and you’re looking to dress better, then this blog post is for you.
When it comes to fashion, men tend to fall into one of two extremes, and then a third, in-between category. There are some men who are the natural Don Draper’s of the world, and then there the Sloppy Joe’s (as Edith Head categorizes them), who could care less about fashion. But, most men fall somewhere in-between. Generally, men want to look good to others, but more importantly, he wants to look good to you (insert romantic love interest). Please keep in mind that male egos are fragile, and negative criticism will never motivate a man to dress better. Legendary relationship therapist, Dr. Pat Allen, says that women have leaving rights, not nagging rights. I believe this when it comes to romantic relationships, and also when it comes to personal style. Esther Perel also affirms that bickering is not the way to increase love and intimacy in your relationship. She says, “when you’re in critical mode you’re barely reflecting, you’re only reacting, which only makes the other person feel lousy, inept, and devalued. Criticism sits on top of a mountain of disappointments of unmet needs and unfulfilled longings.” Esther Perel recommends instead of criticizing; just state your wish.
For The In-Between Guy Who Tries To Dress Well, But It Never Seems To Look Great.
Let’s cut to the chase and talk about your wishes of wanting your husband to dress well. My aunt has been laying out my uncles clothes for nearly fifty years. His style has changed from 70s bell bottom, disco-inspired looks to more sportsman attire over the years. My uncle is more of the functional dressing type these days. He’s not a Sloppy Joe, per say, but he also isn’t a Don Draper. He falls somewhere in-between, like most men. He enjoys the compliments of being well-dressed and comments on today’s least well-dressed folk when he says things like, “what ever happened to the days when you wore dress pants, a belt, shirt and tie to a funeral.” I completely agree. Blue jeans were made for working, not special occasions.
The friend I was speaking with on the phone shared how her husband was hoping that she’d just pick out his clothes for him. He’s been wearing the same exact pants for the past seven years, and they didn’t fit well. As a newly certified menswear personal stylist, I explained to her, that’s what men do! They’re creatures of habit. They’ll find a pair of jeans they like, and buy the same style for years and years. Men follow tradition, and traditions stay around for a long time. Her husband was falling into a pattern of the in-between guy. According to Edith Head, “these men buy good suits, but fail to have them properly fitted because they don’t know what fitting can do to improve their own shapes. The Helm did a great job illustrating an ill-fitted suit in this blog post, “Top 10 Signs You’re In A Poor Fitting Suit”. This is where a wife’s wisdom comes into play.
When shopping for a well-fitted suit, or dress clothes in general, there are a few things to consider. You want to make sure the pants are the right length, and the jacket doesn’t bunch at the back. The jacket shouldn’t gap across the middle, and the sleeves should be properly altered. It might take some trial and error, but selecting the right collar style for his face and neck is also important. Find what looks good, emphasize his good points, and capitalize on them. Similar to Esther Perel’s advice above for bickering couples; criticism won’t ever inspire a man to dress well. If you can’t be encouraging, perhaps you should consider “practicing your speech” until your tone is positive. Personally, I don’t know anyone who gets motivated by being yelled at or criticized in a negative way. Most of the time that’s kind of criticism inspires emotional eating, or finding a seat at the local bar. Edith Head has the perfect solution for having a well-dressed husband all wrapped up in five steps for an easy, breezy formula that all wise wives can follow when dressing their husbands.
5-Step Formula For Having A Well-Dressed Husband by Edith Head:
Take an active interest in how your husband looks and in his wardrobe. Analyze both him and it.
Learn about men’s fashions. Know about fabrics, styles, features, and prices. Shop men’s departments and men’s magazines.
If you’re husband’s wardrobe concept needs improvement, work with him (rather than on him) to educate his tastes, change habits and turn his indifference into enthusiasm.
Shop with him and for him to make sure his clothing is becoming, well-fitted, flattering and properly coordinated.
Most important of all, help to keep his wardrobe in condition–clean, pressed and mended. A well-groomed man looks successful and has the best chance of being successful.
There you have it. Follow these five steps when working with your husband on building a well-dressed wardrobe. If your husband is a Sloppy Joe, or an in-between man, I recommend getting in the practice of laying out his clothes for him. If you’re a single guy reading this post; try working with a stylist to follow the formula above and start laying out your own clothes the night before. This way, getting dressed becomes easy, efficient, and something you look forward to. Consider purchasing a valet stand, like this one on Amazon, so you have a designated place to lay out your clothes each night. Subscribe to Esquire and GQ magazines to keep in touch with the latest men’s fashions. Maybe you can also start following some mens style accounts on Instagram. One of my personal favorite mens style bloggers is @thedressedchest. Follow the accounts that feature men who have a similar body type, and start to pay attention to the cut, style, fabrics, collars, etc. that he wears, and experiment with what looks good on your particular body type.