How to Coordinate Men's Evening and Business Attire

 Hit the Town with Style and Confidence

You have to "coordinate"! 
by Skip Pulley

An overwhelming majority of women love well-dressed men. Fortunately, being a “gentleman” is no longer a prerequisite for making the scene in a high-octane outfit. It takes practice and patience but it's generally worth it. There is some trial and error involved, but mostly it's learning through observation. If you see someone wearing something pleasing to your eye, it's more likely that you will wear it with confidence. I know some cats can easily put colors together, some cats cannot – but that's okay, just get a second opinion when in doubt. Here are a few of the rules or general guidelines to keep in mind when coordinating a dress-shirt, tie & sport coat/blazer or suit/slacks with a belt and shoes.

Shirt, Tie, Jacket & Slacks
1. Avoid patterns that are too similar.
I love wearing vertical stripes or pinstripes because they give you that long sculpted look. But this look is easy to overdo when you throw on a jacket and/or tie. Stick with the basics. You can't miss with a classic pinstripe black or navy suit with a white open-collared shirt. Wear narrow tip shoes if you plan to wear a tie, otherwise kick some square-toed shoes when sporting the open collar.

2. Select complimentary colors and patterns.
Plaid patterns, in most color combinations can be very contemporary, but you have to know what you are doing. There are many subtle differences in the types of plaid; gingham, tartan, hounds-tooth and Welsh to name a few. Select the darkest strand in a gingham coat and wear pants that match. A hounds-tooth blazer and gray slacks are usually pretty sharp. I also love colored pastel shirts with a white collar; just be careful if you add a tie.

3. Don't wear combinations that are drastically different.
The patterns and colors you wear should never compete with one another. Also keep in mind that some colors and patterns compliment your skin tone while others clash. In this regard, black and white are generally neutral. When in doubt, wear a solid neutral colored shirt and black slacks. Never combine pastels with earth-tones or plaid with stripes.

4. Match large patterns with small patterns or vice versa.
If you absolutely must wear a pattern, limit the pattern to 2 items; A coat and necktie, for instance. A good example would be a tartan coat and pinstripe tie or possibly a pinstripe suit with a small plaid tie. In this scenario, stick with black, white and grey as the colors. If you wear a striped shirt with a striped tie, make sure one of them has a wider stripe pattern.

5. Don't overdo one pattern or color.
If your goal is to wear one color or a slight variation thereof, let your accessories make the biggest difference. Subtle differences in cloth dying already make mono-chromatics somewhat impractical in some cases. For example, an azure blue shirt with royal blue slacks and a navy blue blazer all mesh well without trying too hard to blend. You can also match particular elements of your outfit such as shirt with socks or tie with belt.

Belt & Shoes
I know a lot of cats who don't sweat their belt color because it's rarely seen. But the way I look at it, why take a chance? You don't need an exact match for either leather or fabric, so it's not that difficult to get close. Just stay in the same color family. Don't clash. If you can't get close with the colors, just stay “dark” as it were; blacks and dark-browns, deep navy and black, etc. If in doubt about socks, just go without. Be very careful of white or white-pattern shoes and belt with any color suit. There is a high probability that you will look like a featured tap-dance performer, minstrel show comedian or 99 from get smart. Some square root cubes will tell you "black goes with anything", but that's not necessarily so. Keep a pair of burgundy or oxblood shoes in case you ever find a nice brown or tan suit.

A suit is actually the easiest combo to match up. Just make sure it fits you well. People will notice the fit before the color and style. If you are big around the middle, your options will be somewhat limited as to style, but I have more respect for a sharp, (though be it square) department store suit off the rack than a clownish Steve Harvey boxed buffoon set. If you are not in your ideal shape, then some degree of apparel conservatism is recommended in any case. Go with a solid-colored shirt that doesn't clash with your shoes and belt. Only wear a pastel colored suit if you're skinny and hip-looking. Otherwise everyone will think you just came from a halfway house, church clothing drive or 1970's sex offender convention.

The rules listed above are just a few you should just keep in mind when making your selections. The key is feeling comfortable in your clothes. On some occasions, there will be combinations that seem to fit the guidelines but just don't look right when all put together. Always use your better judgment to determine what works for you - or ask someone you respect and admire what they think about coordination before you hook everything up.

Never be afraid to fall into some threads and hang in the cool room. It's a right of passage that is being more and more marginalized. You're doing this for you, of course, but also for those times when lil' big mama rolls her grapes over you and flips.

Skip Pulley
Editor in Chief


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