Five Answers to Men’s Most Asked Image Questions
- Should I wear those brightly colored socks I see many men wearing these days?
Patterned or, as I call them, brightly colored socks are very popular right now. “Bright” socks can mean a lot of things, from bold solid colors to classic patterns like argyle and paisley, on up to socks that are bold and patterned. Here’s how to rock your socks:
- Consider the Atmosphere: Scenery check! Are you in a formal suit-and-tie situation or a somber situation, such as a funeral? If you are, it is best to stick with your solid or very quiet patterned socks. Note: When wearing socks to the office, you need to determine if the company would not appreciate your sock statement. (My experience is that these ultra-conservative companies are rare today.)
- Add Intention or Personality: A unique pair of socks can spice up your basic tan slacks and plain, collared shirt into a ensemble that says, “I put some thought into this outfit and I pay attention to details.”
- Be Matchy, Not Matchy Matchy: One “matchy” is enough; not all your colors, patterns, or fabrics should be exactly the same! Add a pop with a colored sock that complements something else in the outfit. Work your sock into the same color scheme as your pocket square, your shirt, or even your sports jacket or sweater to get a coordinated look.
Yes, if you want to impress with an A+ presence! Keep your jacket buttoned, except the bottom button—always keep this one unfastened, unless you are wearing a one-button jacket, in which case keep the single button fastened. When sitting, unbutton your jacket and get comfortable.
This subject is under hot debate, so I will do my best to be objective and ensure your shoes reflect that A+ presence we strive for. In formal business settings (board meetings, first sales calls, and so on), I recommend men wear black shoes and blue suits or slacks. It just looks more professional. Even in a business casual environment, black shoes and blue pants project the most professional image of serious business.
This being said, two oldie-but-goodie rules still apply:
- Always match your belt and shoes. (That means don’t wear a black belt with brown shoes, or vice versa. You’ll look funky.)
- Never wear brown shoes with a black suit or slacks.
Brown shoes with blue or gray slacks, YES!
Brown shoes with black slacks, NO!
So to sum it all up, my suggestion is, to project a formal business vibe, wear black shoes with blue slacks. If you want to project a professional-yet-stylish vibe, wear brown shoes and blue pants.
The type of undershirt you wear depends on the type of shirt you’re going to wear over it. Buttoned-up shirts should be worn with a crewneck that hides just beneath the points of your collar. V-neck sweaters, dress shirts worn unbuttoned with no tie, and the like should be worn with a V-neck undershirt. If you prefer to wear a sport shirt with two buttons open, then wear a slightly deeper V-neck shirt. The idea is to match the height of the neckline with the amount of neck you plan on showing.
Another consideration is color. Most men default to white undershirts—especially when wearing lighter shirts—but this can cause a bright T-shirt outline to shine through your overshirt. This occurs because light passes more easily through the finer, higher-quality threads of a lightly colored dress shirt than it does through the less-refined, opaque threads of an undershirt. (Just call me “Kay Hunter, Science Gal!”) The solution? Choose a heather-gray undershirt that matches your skin tone. You may be tempted to protest that you do not, in fact, have gray skin. Well of course you don’t! But everyone’s skin shares a tone (not color) with a certain shade of gray. And when that just-right gray absorbs light similarly to your skin, your undershirt will become almost invisible under your clothes.
In the office or out, some people are allergic or sensitive to cologne. That’s why I recommend to not wear cologne in business situations. No one will puzzle over your lack of cologne, but wearing cologne can create a distraction or worse, an unfavorable impression. If going scent free is completely against your grain, then I recommend a clean or fresh scent applied very lightly. For off-work situations, the option is all yours.