I am super thrilled to be partnering with TNQD for this post!
Some of you may have noticed my semi-frequent reblogs about men’s fashion (or maybe you didn’t, I forgive you). Since I am a lady, I can have opinions about menswear, but I can’t claim to have any real life advice because I can’t hear you over the sound of all my beautiful stilettos and wedges and flats and boots and dainty sandals (need I go on?).
TNQD wanted to do a post on formal men’s fashion, a subject which I feel many young men could use some guidance. So, without further ado, the very dashing and fashion-savvy TNQD.
What events were you attending that required you to be all dressed to the nines?
I have lots of events for school that I have to dress up for. Specifically medical society events. Recently, I was invited to a party for large hospital/med school donors. Earlier this year I was asked to be on a committee for student advancement, which is a fancy way of saying “a committee to get more scholarship money.” I now get invited to mingle with large donors, not necessarily to solicit, but to be an example of the type of medical students we have at our school.
Where did you get your suits?
All of my suits are under $150 and come from chain retail stores. I think most of these came from JC Penny’s. The key to making a cheap suit look good is to get it altered. You can make a $110 suit look phenomenal with $40 in alterations.
Where do you get your shoes, shirts, ties etc?
My ties I get all over. I really dig wembley ties, which is a brand that has been around for a while. Their ties have a very vintage look. I also check out vintage shops and thrift stores for ties. I tend to get my shirts at common retail stores (e.g. places you find at the mall). The same goes for my shoes. Botticelli is a brand I like (http://www.botticellishoes.com/shop.php?cat=men
) and my black shoes are from Aldo.
The crux of my clothes buying decisions is price. I love to get good clothes for cheap. I used to spend more time in thrift shops, but I have less time for that now. Mostly I try to search out online sales and big mall sales. You don’t always have to spend a lot to look good.
How did you decide what shirt/tie/shoes/etc to wear?
I am actually pretty conservative when it comes to mixing and matching clothes. Some people are venturing into the stripe shirt with plaid ties and all that, but usually I stick to one patterned material at the most. I don’t know that I have a decision making process really. However I always have in mind at least one or two things a shirt/tie can go with before buying it. I tend to buy things I can mix and match.
What common mistakes do you tend to notice in your peers regarding formal attire?
The mistakes I see most often is underdressing. What my generation regards as formal and previous generations regard as formal are generally two different things. I tend to err on the side of overdressing. It is always easy to roll up some sleeves and slip off a tie if you need to dress down.
Do you have any specific advice regarding dressing for admissions interviews (med school, residency, internships, etc)?
A resident once told me that you should always stick to black, blue and grey suits for any kind of interview. Personally, I always stick with black, just because you can never go wrong with black. You don’t want to seem like you are wearing a tux though, so find a good tie. At some point in time I read a study that said students wearing yellow ties got into medical school more often than any other color (I don’t know how true that is though, nor could I find the study to cite). I happened to wear a yellow tie, and I got in, but that is in no way strong evidence (with an N of 1 the study does not have enough power to be significant [that is some serious nerd humor, but I digress]). I will offer one caveat, don’t get too crazy with the tie. I have seen applicants come through my school with some terrible ties that I am sure they thought were appropriate. One guy had an EKG hearth rhythm across his tie. Do not, I repeat, do not, wear something like that.
(I have to put in my two cents here and cast my vote more in favor of grey and navy suits for interviews. Love, AspDocs)
What suggestions do you have about business casual attire?
Business casual is probably one of the most widely encompassing terms. Almost anything- from dark jeans and a nice shirt/tie combo to dress slacks and a button up- can count as business casual. I think this is where you can really express your own style. I tend to go with lighter colors when dressing business casual. Brighter blue or red button-ups with khaki or lighter slacks. Sometimes I will throw in a tie. This is where you can get creative and maybe experiment a bit. I often try shirt/tie combos that I would be less apt to wear in a formal setting. As far as suggestions I would say two things. First, shoes can change an entire outfit; get a good pair (or two) of loafers. I found a good, cheap pair at Payless (something similar to this: http://www.payless.com/store/product/detail.jsp?catId=cat10376&subCatId=&skuId=098151025&productId=71672&lotId=098151&category=&catdisplayName=Brands
). Even with a tie, button up and slacks, throwing on a more casual loafer can keep you in the business casual realm. That being said, you can dress up a business casual outfit with the right shoes. Second, don’t let business casual fool you. This isn’t really meant to be all that casual. You still have to think about what messages your outfit sends- you have more room to play, but make sure your outfit really depicts who you are and what you want people to see in you.
What do you normally wear to class and why?
For class I usually wear dark jeans or khakis with a plaid button up. I am particularly fond of pearl snaps and I think many people would associate that with my style. I also wear a lot of flat caps. To be honest I dress a bit like an old man (in fact many of my pearl snaps were my great grandfather’s).
Where did your personal style come from?
I have never really considered myself as having a style. I am very drawn to suit styles of the 1960s and would probably wear anything Don Draper wears. I think it is easy to become too flamboyant with your style and miss the mark. When I go to formal events I try to dress in a way that not only shows confidence, but instills confidence. I want people to see me as someone they can trust, and I think a classic look does that. Purple suits look great on the right occasion, but nothing will ever out-do a classic black suit with a crisp white shirt.
Why do/don’t you think what people wear is important?
What you wear is often your first chance to make an impression. So when I dress I think about how I want people to see me, especially in formal situations. I want to seem motivated, confident and dependable. When I pick out suits or get dressed for an event I try to decide if that is what the outfit says about me. I think when dressing for formal occasions it is good to step out of yourself and reflect on what your outfit says to someone who doesn’t know you. You never know when you will meet someone who may be important in your life, so why not make the best impression possible? Any advice to the masses?
Pocket squares. I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on those when I wear them to formal events.
(AspDocs stamp of approval, and I am definitely getting the cute boy some pocket squares if he doesn’t already have some.)
Thanks so much, TNQD!