OK, if we're going to go back over the past year, then I'll nominate this post from the above poster: http://www.styleforum.net/t/287922/practical-thoughts-on-coherent-combinations-for-beginners#post_5203605Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
E.1.c. Examples of Coherent City/Formal/Public Combinations for Beginners
Here is the graphic cheat sheet that I used two posts back:
So what are the elements that anchor an ensemble at the furthest margin of city/formal/public? All the sliders to the right?
Let’s take a look (images clickable for larger size.)
It is always a suit. It can be a two piece suit, single or double breasted, but single breasted is safer. A three piece suit with a single breasted vest (waistcoat if you prefer) without lapels can be a tolerable archaism depending on location and what you do.
The color of the suit is always dark blue, or shades of gray. Not brown, not tan. The pattern is solid, or variants of solids like birds-eyes, nailheads, sharkskin, etc. Acceptable patterns from the casual world include discreet pinstripes, chalk stripes (don't let this throw you, but striped suits come from tennis and ball sports) and fine herringbones. Plaids and box checks, well, any check, are too rusticating for a role here.
The material is always smoothly finished worsted wool (not flannel, silk, cotton etc. which we will discuss later.)
The hip pockets on the jacket have straight flaps. The breast pocket is a welt. Pants can have flat or pleated fronts. The pants can be held up with a belt, suspenders, or waistband adjustors as you prefer. Acceptable forms from the casual spectrum, depending on where you live and what you do, are cuffs on the pants, and center, side vents, and hacking and ticket pockets on the jacket. Patch pockets are too rusticating.
Shirts are white, either barrel or double cuffs, point or semi-spread collars. Acceptable forms from the casual spectrum, depending on where live and what you do, are solid light blue shirts or blue and white stripes.
Neckties are solid grenadines or other textured woven silks, wedding tie patterns in silk, silk prints with discrete repeating non-figurative patterns. Sheen is medium to matte during the day, can be more at night. Diagonally striped ties are okay unless you’re British, for whom special rules still exist about such patterns.
Breast pockets have no squares or hankies. Acceptable from the casual spectrum are fine white linen hankies, puffed in or edges out in a plain fold. A silk print square is okay in principle, but is often undermining in practice.
Shoes are black lace up plain or cap toe oxfords. Acceptable influences from the casual world are discreet broguing on a cap toe or a wingtip, and shoes in a dark oxblood or dark brown. Not suede. Derby versions outside of the Anglo-American sphere are fine.
Socks are not fun.
Now, do not misinterpret this list. Deviations from it that remain for all practical extents equivalently formal and good looking are many. The exact elements might differ slightly here and there depending on where one lives. Climates with seasonality, or ones of extremes, might suggest options not presented above.
If your goal as a beginner is to look great, well, here is a way that you can do it reliably every time in a way that works all across the world and in nearly every social circle that expects coat and tie. In fact, every man should be able to assemble this look even if he needs to call on it rarely.
So, why is it happening so infrequently? It could be that when a look is made so plain, the wearer feels that a lack of quality in make or fit is more keenly revealed. "I'll fool the eye," the thinking might go, "with this crazy sock, or this pizza grenade pocket square, or maybe...just maybe...a color common in the women's department."
This might be true, but I do not conclude it is the most common issue. I think that what I see is that a lot of guys probably know, even today, how this type of look gets put together. They've seen it in movies, on TV, and some even still read.
These guys (maybe you!) then develop doubts: maybe it is too formal, too public, too city.
And you know what? It just might be...for you. Think about this.
The most common reaction seems to be to rusticate this formality by taking the city look and staging a country invasion. After all, don't those snappy dressers do this often?
Well, some do, some don't.
The case that I will make in the next set of examples is that it is better for beginners to do this holisticallly across the board rather than piecemeal. Do not put a moustache on the Mona Lisa of the city look if the city look is not right for your life. Save it for that event or occasion for which is it right for your personal circumstances.
Don't worry: we have not given up on the suit. In the next post, we will look at examples where the sliders all move back toward the casual/private/country.
Click here, please, to go to the discussion thread for any comments or questions.
Edited by F. Corbera - 2/26/12 at 4:26pm/SPOILER]
I'll add that this post really works best as part of its thread.