Style Q&A

HOW LONG SHOULD MY TIE BE WHEN TIED?
A good rule of thumb is for it to be just long enough to go over the waistband of the trouser. Many caveats apply, such as the length of the tie, the type of knot used, where the trousers are worn on the waist or hips, and of course, personal preference.

ARE BUTTON-DOWN SHIRT COLLARS APPROPRIATE WITH A SUIT?
You can wear a button-down shirt collar with a suit, yes. But be aware that a button-down is a less-formal look than a traditional pinpoint collar. The most formal (non-tuxedo) shirts are clean and simple. Pinpoint collars, no pockets, French front, with French cuffs.

WHY DO I SEE GUYS WEARING SOME OF THEIR SUIT CUFFS UNBUTTONED?
A hallmark of a custom suit is its working cuffs. Off-the-rack suits are sold without knowing the length of the arm of the buyer, so manufacturers use non-functioning show buttons. This allows the sleeve to be shortened or lengthened by the buyer. A custom or bespoke suit is made for its owner, with their arm length known upfront, allowing the tailor to cut functioning buttonholes. This is a long way of saying that a guy with a custom suit can show off the fact that his suit is special. Leaving a button or two unfastened sends a subtle signal to the world that the suit was made for him. Some do it, others don’t.

IS IT OKAY TO HANG MY SWEATERS?
We recommend folding your sweaters and any other knitwear. Hanging a knit can allow it to stretch and loose it’s tightness and form over time. It can also leave unsightly “points” on the top of the shoulders from the weight of the sweater as it hangs on the hanger.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO OVER-ACCESSORIZE?
Absolutely. We see it all the time. Look at the #menswear images on your favorite social media platform. In an effort to show some style (which we admire and applaud) its easy to go too far. The old rule of thumb women have been using forever is: Get dressed, look in the mirror, and remove one accessory. This holds for guys, too. You have to learn to edit your look. We think 2 accessories is plenty. 3 can be okay if done tastefully. And 1 is always fine. Don’t forget, a flashy or large watch counts as an accessory. A small, simple watch may be so understated as to not visually count as an accessory. If you have a tie bar, pocket square, lapel pin, cufflinks, and a shiny watch you’ve gone too far.

CAN I WEAR BROWN SHOES WITH A DARK CHARCOAL SUIT?
Yes, as long as you can easily tell that your suit is grey and not black, and that the shoes are a dark shade of brown. If the suit can be mistaken for black, we’d recommend playing it safe and pair black shoes with it. 

IS IT OKAY TO HAVE A CUFF ON A FLAT-FRONT PANT?
Yes it is. A flat-front pant can be made with or without cuffs. Ultimately the trouser should suit the wearer. If his body type or preferences require pleats but he wants no cuffs, we’re happy to do that, or whatever combination works best for him.

HOW MUCH SHIRT SHOULD BE VISIBLE BELOW THE SUIT SLEEVE CUFF
Between one-quarter and one-half inch. Most importantly, show some cuff. When the suit hides the shirt completely, the sleeves are too long. Judge this when your arms are hanging naturally at your sides.

HOW TALL SHOULD MY SOCKS BE?
Either invisible (so short you cannot see them at all above the shoe, helping achieve the sockless look) or at a minimum, mid-calf so that your skin isn’t visible when you cross your legs. We like over-the-calf socks that stay put all day.

WHEN IS A WATCH TOO BIG TO WEAR WITH A SUIT?
Like most style advice, this is a personal choice. We like sporty watches, but a dial that is more than 45 millimeters is getting quite large. If your look is on the casual-suit side it may be okay. If you’re attending a black-tie event, switch to a simple, sleek, leather strapped timepiece.

IS A SUIT TOO DRESSY FOR A JOB INTERVIEW?
No. If you are applying for any office or corporate job interview, you should wear a suit. Even if you end up being more dressed up than the interviewer, the impression you’ve made will be positive. 

WHAT IS “WHITE TIE”?
It is dressier than “Black Tie.” White tie is the most formal evening dress code. It replaces the tux jacket with a black jacket with tails. The vest is white. The bow tie is white. And the shirt is a wing collar (instead of one with a standard turndown collar).

DO I HAVE TO WEAR THOSE BRACELETS I KEEP SEEING TO BE STYLISH
Absolutely not. We think they are fun when worn correctly, but by the time you’re reading this they’ll probably be off trend. If you’re the only guy doing it you’ll look like you’ve got your own sense of style. If every guy in the room has 5 bracelets on you look the opposite of original – which probably defeats the purpose.

MUST MY WATCH BAND MATCH MY BELT & SHOES?
No, a match is not required. Avoid mixing brown with black if possible. A metal bracelet can be an easy answer to go with any color belt and shoes.

WHAT’S THE VERDICT ON WEARING CLEAR-LENSED GLASSES AS AN ACCESSORY, EVEN IF I DON’T REQUIRE THEM FOR MY VISION?
We think nice eyewear can be a great accessory, even if they don’t help you see better. There’s no shame in that. As with any over-accessorizing question, before you leave the house edit your look by removing one accessory. Some people make a unique and bold piece of eyewear their signature look. 

CAN I WEAR A SWEATER WITH A SUIT?
Definitely. As long as there is enough room under the jacket to not look like you are going to burst at the seams. Not only will the layering keep you warm, but also if you shed the jacket at the office you will still look sharp.

HOW SHOULD I CLEAN A SPOT ON MY NECKTIE?
Very carefully. NEVER use water. Blot it with rubbing alcohol. You'll be surprised how well this works. Don't worry about solving the problem immediately, at the restaurant. Deal with it at home later. If that isn’t strong enough, try a gentle stain remover. If it’s greasy try letting it sit overnight with a little talc powder which should pull the grease up and off the fabric. If these solutions don’t work you may need to take it to a trustworthy dry cleaner. For more tips see our care instructions page.

WHAT ARE THOSE LITTLE BALLS OF FABRIC ON MY SWEATERS?
It’s called pilling, and it’s normal. It is caused by short, loose fibers from the fabric getting tangled together. While this is common, it’s still unattractive and can make the garment look old and worn. The best way to remove the pilling is to use a “sweater shaver.” They look similar to an electric rotary razor you’d use on your face, with small holes in the face that the balls can enter and get shaved off by the rotating blades inside. They are easy to use, safe, and available at places like Wal-Mart or Bed, Bath and Beyond.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TOPCOAT AND AN OVERCOAT?
We identify a topcoat as one that ends above the knee, while an overcoat ends below the knee, regardless of the cloth, style, or other details of the coat.

WHAT TYPE OF HANGERS SHOULD I USE FOR MY SUIT JACKETS?
A broad, rounded wooden hanger is ideal- the wider, the better. Avoid the use of wire hangers or straight plastic hangers as they can damage the shoulders over time. We would also recommend a thicker, curved hanger for your dress shirts as this will also keep the shoulders from having that pointed-hanger look. Make sure your hanger is wide enough (or narrow enough) for your suit shoulders. Larger jackets usually require a longer hanger to prevent some of the jacket shoulder from being unsupported at the ends.

SHOULD I USE MY POCKETSQUARE LIKE A HANDKERCHIEF?
Only in an emergency. Think of it as a decorative accessory, not a functional tool. Unless an act of chivalry will score you a few points, in which case go for it.  You can always wash it or buy a new one.

WHAT SHOES SHOULD I WEAR WITH MY SUIT?
There are many rules and exceptions to this, but the best answer without going into all of that is a black, brown, or burgundy oxford or blucher. This can include wing tips, cap-toes, and brogues and the color should be appropriate for the color of the suit. A good rule is brown with anything but black, burgundy with navy or charcoal, and black with charcoal or black.

WHAT KNOT IS BEST FOR MY TIE?
We always suggest the four-in-hand. Its classic and fits with nearly every shirt collar. Some guys don’t like the asymmetry of this particular knot, but we think it gives the tie character.

DO I HAVE TO DRY CLEAN MY SHIRTS?
No. We recommend washing at home and air drying, but most dry cleaners have a wash and press service that isn’t terrible for shirts and can be very convenient for a lot of guys. See our garment care instructions guide for detailed info.

WHAT COLOR SHOULD MY FIRST SUIT BE?
For your first suit we suggest navy or charcoal grey. These are traditional suit colors and are the most versatile. We advise against black, as it is a color that is reserved for formal occasions, almost exclusively worn in the evening, and is very difficult to coordinate with. 

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TIE BAR AND A TIE CLIP?
For us, a tie bar is a flat piece of metal that is folded over tightly, but can be pulled apart just enough to go over the tie and your shirt placket. A Tie clip has a spring-loaded part on the back that can be opened to go over your tie and shirt placket. Tie bars are much better at, well, doing their job. Tie clips tend to fall off and slide down the tie.

ARE TIE TACKS OKAY?
NO! Ties made of luxurious wool, silk, or linen should never have a tack shoved through them, as it will almost certainly leave an irreparable hole in the middle of your tie. 

WHATS THE CORRECT LENGTH FOR TROUSERS?
There is no right answer for this, other than that you don’t want them overly long or way too short. Everything in between is a matter of preference. Wearing the trouser with cuffs above the shoe, showing some sock (or ankle in the summer for some who dare to not wear socks) isn't for the timid. Most of our clients still ask us to make pants that sit on the shoe, although without any significant bunching and crumpling at the bottom. The longer the trouser, the wider it should be to properly spread over your shoe.

HOW DO I PICK A POCKET SQUARE?
It should complement your outfit, not necessarily match something exactly. Find a common or complementary color to go with your tie, shirt and jacket. The pattern of the pocket square, if it has one, should also be different than the rest of the outfit.