From where a tie should hit to most important thing to know when buying a suit, we've got tips and tricks galore from some of the most influential fashion insiders. Read on for our crash course in dressing dudes; we promise you'll learn something (or at least be entertained).
1. Ilaria Urbinati: Stylist (dresses Armie Hammer, Bradley Cooper, and more). She's also the co-owner of LA's beloved menswear store Confederacy.
2. Jenny Ricker: Stylist (dresses Joseph Gordon Levitt, Zac Ephron, Aaron Paul).
3. Will Welch: Senior Editor, GQ
5. Estee Stanley: Stylist (dresses James Marsden, Vince Vaughn, and Luke Wilson, and many others). She's also an interior designer, editor-at-large for Domaine, and co-creator of HomeMint with Justin Timberlake.
Oxfords are the name of the game here: Urbinati likes Ferragamo for a dressier shoe, while Ricker goes for a thrify thrill. "Mr. B's x Aldo has well-made brogues that won't break the bank," she says. Esquivel recommends a leather-sole suede shoe because it works for both casual and dress-casual situations.
"A pair of white Adidas Rod Lavers (with either blue or green accents) is sort of the GQ go-to." –Will Welch
"I love Rachel Comey's casual tan lace-ups in the summer with no socks and rolled up chinos." –Ilaria Urbinati
"Every dude should have a slim, raw jean he can break in himself like a big boy--none of this faux broken-in business," Urbinati says, and our other experts agree. While Urbinati and Stanley like A.P.C.'s timeless raw denim ("No matter if you're tall, thin, short, or stocky--their fit is amazing," Stanley says."), Esquivel and Welch both swear by Baldwin Denim's medium rise, slim fitting The Henley Jean.
The classics are always good, too. "If you want to look great and like you know what's up, but you kind of hate it when people ask you about your clothes, go with Levi's 511s," Welch says. "You can buy three pairs in blue, black, and white for less that what all these denim-nerd brands are charging."
"J Brand's Kane Jean is the perfect slim-straight jean." –Ilaria Urbanati
"J Brand's Tyler Jean is not-too-skinny slim jean for guys with long, lean legs." –Ilaria Urbanati
"Whether his style is preppy, rocker, or classic, he can never go wrong with a vintage Levi 501." –Estee Stanley
"Nudie Jeans Co.'s dark denim is best for dressing up an otherwise casual look." –Jenny Ricker
While khakis sound awfully fratty, there are apparently some cool chinos out there. "Dockers, which used to be a punchline--shorthand for slouchy, pleated American style--has introduced a fit called the Alpha that's very tapped into what stylish guys are wearing now," Welch says.
A classic jean jacket is a must-have for Ricker and Stanley. "It should be a staple in every man's wardrobe," Stanley says.
Urbinati likes a bomber, specifically either a Gucci's leather version for colder days, and a cotton or lightweight option for warm weather. "It's usually best to go down a size on a bomber, as it should look slightly shrunken," Urbinati says. "If it's even a little too big, the look is ruined."
"An unstructured blazer is also a staple to have to for those last minute garden party situations." –Jenny Ricker
"A good all-around jacket that is available from all brands, in many price points, is the utility jacket." –George Esquivel
"I love a Diesel leather jacket; I go for the simplest ones with no bells or whistles." –Ilaira Urbinati
When it comes to suits, our experts agree: the jacket has to fit perfectly, or else you might as well stay home. "The shoulders of the jacket need to hit right at the peak of your shoulders and hug them snugly," Welch says. "If the shoulders don't fit you perfectly, you've got the wrong size, and no amount of tailoring is going to fix it." Everything else--specifically, the body and the sleeves--can be easily adjusted to fit.
Style-wise, Urbinati votes for Burberry's slim two-button suits in gray (the most versatile) or navy, but also suggests trying something in a color like burgundy or green. Once a suit's been picked, make sure that sleeve length is perfect. Welch says the jacket shouldn't cover up any of your hand at all, so you'll show approximately ¼-inch of shirt cuff, while Urbinati prefers a ½-inch of shirt to show. Also worth noting: material. "The big thing is dressing seasonally," Welch says. "You don't have suits you wear year-round; you have three fall-weight suits and three summer-weight suits. It just makes sense."
"Have your tailor nip the jacket in at the sides to give you broad shoulders and a slender waist. You're not supposed to say this in terms of men's clothes, but eff it--that V shape is how you get what's known as sex appeal." –Will Welch
"My pet peeve is a too-long jacket--the old rule of putting your arms straight down and being able to curve your palm around the bottom of the jacket is dated. It should come up higher than that." –Ilaria Urbinati
Just like with suit jackets, finding a dress shirt that fits a fellow's shoulders perfectly is imperative. The neck must fit properly too; sleeve length and the width of a shirt can be easily tailored, the rest, not so much. Also pay attention to the collar. Welch likes a smaller collar: "Preferably a semi-spread, which means it's not just the classic point collar with tips pointing down at your shoes, but it's not an outrageous spread collar that makes you look like a Wall Street wannabe.
Welch likes Hamilton or Sid Mashburn, while Urbinati likes Dior Homme (in white or pale blue) for "smaller dudes," and Dolce & Gabbana for a slim-fit shirt that works on a bigger build. Less expensive options abound too. Topshop makes some Urbinati-approved options, while Ricker suggests J. Crew and Esquivel recommends Uniqlo's affordable slim-fit shirt.
"For most shirts, I usually have the tailor add darts in the back to slim the torso--especially for broad shoulders." –Ilaria Urbinati
"Make sure the collar isn't too big or too pointy--that's the quickest way to look dated." –Will Welch
"My advice is to opt for the cheaper shirt, and spend a little extra to have it tailored to fit perfectly. It will assure you look like a million bucks without having to overspend." –Jenny Ricker
"Always white or periwinkle blue and 100% cotton--never silk!" –Estee Stanley
The perfect t-shirt is an elusive thing, but start your hunt at Gents. "They make that '50s James Dean/Marlon Brando cut--shorter in the body and the sleeve," Urbinati says.
Welch also likes tees with a shorter arm, specifically ones by Ralph Lauren Black Label Denim, which he calls the perfect pocket t-shirt. "The colors are really inky--they look almost wet," he says. For less rarified options, he also like J. Crew's pocket tees in washed out colors. Also affordable: Urbinati's favorite crewneck from Alternative Apparel. As for colors, make sure he has the staples: black, white, navy, and gray.
"If you're a little more fashion-y, try James Perse, who makes a really great jersey crewneck tee." –Will Welch
"Todd Snyder makes good tees in colors that read cool and vintage." –Ilaria Urbinati
Much like with socks (more on that in a minute), a casual belt can show a little personality. "This is a great place to add a pop of color: green, blue, or red," Urbinati says. Or if you're feeling like really showing some summertime flair, Welch allows that a ribbon belt with a ring buckle is a good option for seersucker pants, Bermuda shorts, or khakis. "It's a preppy staple, but you don't have to look like your mother is a Tom-Collins-addicted bottle-blond named Miffy who summers on the Cape," he says. "It'll also look cool in Arizona, or Louisiana, or St. Paul." For a dressy option, Ricker recommends a leather belt from Hermes. "It's a little more expensive," she says. "But it's also reversible, so you're getting two belts for the price of one."
"A black leather belt with silver hardware and chocolate leather belt with antique gold hardware are no brainers." –Estee Stanley
When it comes to ties, our experts agree: it should graze the top of the pants. Width, on the other hand, is up for debate. Urbinati says the width of the tie should be in proportion to the lapel of the suit jacket. Ricker thinks it's more about the guy's build, meaning broader men do better in wider ties, slimmer men in skinny ties. Welch and Stanley both think a tie that's 2 ½-inches at its widest is ideal.
As for brands, Urbinati likes Rag & Bone, Band of Outsiders, Burberry, J. Lindeberg, and Gentry. If you're on the hunt for something a little more obscure but equally awesome, Welch suggests Alexander Olch ties.
"You should have some cotton ties for when it's hot out and wooly ties for when it's cold." –Will Welch
"I love the selection at Barneys. They have ties ranging from playful to conservative and from $50-$500." –Jenny Ricker
Having a strong sock game is just one more way a fellow has of showing his sartorial abilities, so finding the right ones is imperative. With all the shorter hems on trousers these days, it's nice to have something to show off, like a thin or thick stripe, floral, or gingham print Urbinati says. If a statement sock isn't for you or you're simply looking for a simple dress sock option, try Calvin Klein, which Urbinati swears are affordable and super soft. Ricker also likes hand-made socks from British brand Pantherella.