The Ten Most Common Men’s Fashion Mistakes

It’s a scientific fact that people who don’t know you make up their minds about you on a subliminal/prehistoric basis in 30 seconds or less. This evaluation of you by others takes place so quickly and is so entrenched in the human brain that it is not usually conscious thought.

Behavioral scientists tell us that we notice the following about another human being and in this order:

  • Skin color
  • Sex
  • Age
  • Bearing (height, body language, etc.)
  • Appearance
  • Direct Eye Contact
  • Speech

The first three we can do nothing about, but we can take advantage of this knowledge to enhance and control how to present the best image of ourselves.

Is it really that important to your career, romance, or influence over others?


Top 10 Men’s Fashion Mistakes

Since 80% of what others see is our clothes, lets look at some basic faux pas. Here’s our list of our top 10 most common men’s fashion mistakes.

1. Short Sleeve Shirt With Tie

Short sleeve shirts are perceived as lower class apparel. 

Fine as part of a uniform or if you aspire to be a fast-food manager, not if you want to project a professional image.

And the Button-Down collar dress shirt is not acceptable for dressy eveningwear (after 6 PM) nor with a double-breasted suit. That’s because even though it’s now a daytime business classic it was originally a sport shirt.

The collar was buttoned-down by polo players to keep it from flapping in their faces.

2. Dirty Shoes

Shoes are one of the most evaluated elements of men’s wardrobes. Your shoes should be clean, shined, in good repair and appropriate for the occasion.

If you are wearing a suit, wear lace-up shoes.Don’t wear the same shoe on consecutive days and keep shoetrees in your shoes when you’re not wearing them.

3. Wearing Square Toed Dress Shoes

From our friends over at Ashley Weston, square toed dress shoes should never be worn with suits, trousers, and jeans.

Men's Fashion Mistake: Square toed shoes should not be worn with suits, trousers, or jeans.

Check out their article for more details.

4. Trousers Too Short

Trousers should be long enough to cover your socks, and socks should cover your shins even when you cross your legs.  

Pants are long enough if they have a slight break in the front.Pleats and cuffs are traditional and functional. Pleats let you sit down comfortably and cuffs add weight to the bottoms allowing for proper drape.

5. Wearing Belt with Suspenders

Never wear both a belt and braces (suspenders). You’ll appear insecure.

6. Uncoordinated Socks

Socks should match your trousers.

7. Improper Matching of Belts & Shoes

Belts should match your shoes.

8. Wrong Length Ties

Ties should reach your belt line. This is neither arbitrary nor negotiable. Too short of a tie makes you look like a rube.

Properly knotted ties have a dimple under the knot. Clips and tacks are out of date.

A men's fashion mistake: wrong length or improperly tied tie.
How to get a dimple under your knot?  

Place your index finger in the middle of the tie just under where the knot is forming, pinch that part of the necktie between your thumb and middle finger and squeeze together as you pull it down and tighten the knot.

How to tie a tie knot with a dimple
The necktie knot should hide the collar button.

9. Buttoning Bottom Button of Jacket

Suit and Sports jackets are symbols of authority. 

However the bottom buttons of men’s jackets are not designed to be buttoned, since King Edward VII gained weight, and started a fashion trend (see detail below).

Do NOT button bottom button of jacket. A bit fashion mistake some men make.
No! Never!!
Leave bottom button of jacket unbuttoned

Single Breasted Suits

Single Breasted suits can have one, two, three or more buttons.

Two and three button jackets are classic, one or more than three get you into the fashion forward arena, which is more suitable for social events than business.

With two button jackets only the top button is fastened.

With three button jackets, you can close the middle, or middle and top button. 

Some suits are made so that the lapels roll to the middle button. On those suits you leave the top button unfastened. Some East Coast hipsters fasten only the top of three buttons!

Four or more button jackets may be designed to fasten all the buttons, even the bottom. If the bottom button of a four button can be closed without a noticeable pulling of the fabric, it’s ok to close or leave it open.

Double Breasted Suits

Double Breasted suits are the more formal of the two styles and can have four to six buttons with one or two “to button”. They are often identified by a two-number designation such as 4/2, 4/1 or 6/2 (also “four to two”).

Translated, the first number gives the total number of front buttons and the second is the number of functioning buttonholes. It doesn’t always mean that all the buttons have to be fastened.

Often only the middle or upper button is secured on a 4/2 or 6/2, but the Duke of Kent started buttoning only his lower button creating a longer diagonal line across his chest giving the wearer a thinner, more dynamic look.

Why do men never button the bottom button of your suit, sports jacket, vest or Cardigan sweater?

King Edward VII, “Bertie”, son of Victoria (1841 – 1910, King 1901 – 1910) was so heavy that he could not get the bottom button fastened on his vest or to be more historically kind, maybe he just forgot.

His subjects taking it as a fashion statement followed his lead and today most men’s suits, sports jackets or vests are not designed to button the bottom button.

The tradition of not buttoning the bottom button may have also come from the early waistcoats, which were very long. It may have been out of necessity of being able to walk that the bottom buttons were left undone.

10. Showing Too Little or Too Much Sleeve

Suit and Sports jackets should fit properly which includes showing 1/4″ to 1/2” of “linen” or shirtsleeve at the jacket sleeve.

How much shirt cuff should show?

Show 1/4″ to 1/2” of “linen” is proper

We live in a complex, crowded society where considerate people dress appropriately for various places and occasions.

Dressing appropriately is about respect for your fellow humans and our institutions.

Have Questions?

If you have questions about any of the above men’s fashion mistakes, or anything else style related, come join us in our Forum and ask your question!