Bar Beat’s Fashion Tips for Guys
guard against hypothermia, poison ivy, tsetse flies, etc., over
time we also began using it to reflect our personal traits and
social status. In other words, we fashioned our protective
garments into, well, fashion.
This anthropological development notwithstanding, I lived
the first 30 years or so of my life without ever thinking about
fashion. Like many guys, I was able to do my annual clothes
shopping in about 10 minutes. Each January, I would take my
$1,000 Christmas bonus to the Bon Marché at Southcenter, locate a pair of pants and a shirt that were the same general size
and shape as the ones I had bought the year before, plunk down
$75 at the checkout, then cross the street to Car Toys and drop
the other $925 on a subwoofer and power amp. Once, during
the “Miami Vice” era, I visited the hippest dance club in Bellevue rocking an ensemble that included pleated, cuffed, pastel-blue slacks and a white woven-cotton belt. I went home alone,
but you should have heard the bass thump in my Toyota MR- 2.
Eventually, I was forced to evolve sartorially, thanks to fash-ion-conscious female family members, plus working in jobs that
required me to look at least professional. Shopping with women
taught me the cardinal rule of buying clothes, something many
intelligent and rational men never grasp: try stuff on before you
buy it. Buying pants without trying them on is like buying a car
without sitting in the driver’s seat, let alone taking a test drive.
You’re just setting yourself up for failure.
Of course, trying stuff on is paramount because the most
important element of fashion from an ordinary consumer’s
perspective is fit. If buying real estate is all about location,
location, location, then buying clothes is all about fit, fit, fit.
Having been enlightened, I now proudly carry an armful of
clothes into the dressing room and try on everything, in all
the possible permutations. You can tell all the women-and-their-shopping jokes you want, but any man can improve his
wardrobe 50 percent or more by taking this approach.
Do I have any other qualifications to proffer these fashion
tips? Yes. I have been watching “What Not to Wear” (U.S. version) throughout its decade of existence. Although I continue
to believe that “My Dog Ate What?” was the greatest reality
show in history, perhaps the best television program ever produced, it lasted only one season. So, it’s fair to say that “What
Not to Wear” is my all-time favorite reality show.
Upon that foundation, here are the tips, organized by type
One of the distin- guishing character- istics of our species
is that perhaps only 10 or
20 percent of our bodies are
exposed to view most of the
time. The rest is covered by
various accoutrements we
hang, snap, tie, or zip onto
ourselves. Although we presumably devised clothing to
A note on gender equality: I am limiting these tips to men’s fashion
simply because, with one exception, I have worn only clothing designed for males. As a child, I once unwittingly wore a pair of what
turned out to be girls’ pants, but I can’t claim that gave me any insight
into female fashion. In the spirit of fairness, if someone submits a
similar article regarding women’s clothing, I will publish it in a future
issue of N WLawyer.
For better or worse, the practice of law generally doesn’t require
the wearing of a uniform. But the de facto uniform of lawyers
remains the suit, regardless of the recent trend toward more casual clothing in law offices and elsewhere. And even if someone
is going to look down on you for wearing a suit at all, you might
as well be looking better than them while they’re doing so.
All you really need to be consistently fly, suit-wise, is two to
four good suits, replacing one every few years. By “good,” I mean
[Bar Beat continued on page 67]