The Beach Reporter talks to Andy about how he became an expert on men’s style and what led him to begin his hugely popular website, AskAndyAboutclothes.com
Local strives to help men wear it well
by Julie Sharp May 29, 2009
It is unclear how many men know that socks are supposed to match the pants, not the shoe, and that shoes are one of the most notable pieces in a man’s wardrobe, but Andy Gilchrist is on a mission to spread such fashion news.
Fashion tips for men don’t fill most magazines or morning talk shows, nor do they make for typical lunchtime chatter, so Gilchrist is offering his lifetime accumulation of men’s clothing dos and don’ts, along with some research, for the less fashion aware.
“If a short person wants to appear taller, then his pants should be close in color to his sport jacket,” said Gilchrist. “If you’re tall and want to appear shorter, then you would wear a navy sport coat with tan pants.”He shared another “taller” and “thinner” secret for men: The tie, which creates a vertical line, should always reach one’s belt.
The beach life may cause some to abandon the laws of style and fashion, but not so for Gilchrist who has lived in Manhattan Beach since 1968.
His enthusiasm for clothing led him to write a book, “The Encyclopedia of Men’s Clothes,” and to create the Web site askandyaboutclothes.com, both of which address many standard clothing questions and faux pas common among men.
Gilchrist attributes his clothing hobby to his father, who always dressed up on Sundays and for dinner. “My interest in clothing came from my father who, even in the middle of Kansas, wanted to know the latest fashion,” said Gilchrist.
Without fashion credentials such as design school or work in the fashion industry, Gilchrist’s fashion education came from his own experience in the professional world. His career path from the advertising industry to aerospace at TRW laid his foundation of knowledge of what men wear well day to day, and his part-time job at a Polo store also helped.
“I worked some nights and weekends at the Polo store in the South Bay Galleria for six years. It was the best job I ever had,” said Gilchrist. “Guys would come in just clueless, so I made a tip sheet, handouts of what they should be buying.” This written advice was the beginning of Gilchrist’s book.
Gilchrist said that since so much of what men wear depends on their occupation, he realized that men had a variety of questions about clothes, from the most basic to the more intricate, so he created his clothing advice Web site in 2001.
“From my part-time job in men’s retailing, I knew men wanted to know which jacket button to button, what color socks to wear, and how and when to wear pocket squares,” said Gilchrist. He stressed that, much like the advice that women should own at least one basic black dress, he advises that men should own a navy suit.
“It’s good for weddings, funerals and job interviews,” said Gilchrist. He said that black suits are generally only for social events and funerals, but are just now moving into business.
The following abbreviated list from askandyaboutclothes.com provides some basic tips and things to avoid for men:
- Never wear a short sleeve shirt with a tie.
- Shoes are one of the most evaluated elements of men’s wardrobes. One’s shoes should be clean, shined, in good repair and appropriate for the occasion.
- Trousers should be long enough to cover one’s socks, and socks should cover the shins, even when legs are crossed.
- Wearing both a belt and suspenders makes one look insecure. Choose one or the other.
- Socks should match one’s trousers.
- Belts should match one’s shoes in color and texture.
- Ties should reach the belt line. Properly knotted ties have a dimple under the knot. Clips and tacks are out of date.
- Suit and sports jackets are symbols of authority. The bottom buttons of men’s jackets are not designed to be buttoned. With two-button jackets, only the top button is fastened. With three-button jackets, close the middle or middle and top button. If the bottom button of a four-button jacket can be closed without a noticeable pulling of the fabric, it’s OK to close or leave it open.
- Suit and sports jackets should fit properly; this includes showing a half-inch of shirt sleeve at the jacket sleeve.
- No pens or pocket protectors in one’s shirt pocket, or cell phones, etc. worn on the belt. Think about getting a nice briefcase.
- Hair longer than shoulder length for women and over the ears for men diminishes the perception of authority, but increases accessibility.