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Is there a difference between style & well-dressed

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
I have a serious question. Is there a difference between dressing with style and dressing well? By that, I mean that a man who is dressing with style is always dressing well objectively, whereas a man dressing with style is not always dressing well subjectively, and whereas a man dressing without style can sometimes be dressing well either objectively or subjectively. For instance, I am a lawyer. When I must wear a suit, it is expected to be fairly conservative (no peak lapel single breasted in my office unless I want to draw a look, even though I like the look personally). Thus, the first "good" suit I bought for the office was a charcoal Oxxford. It fits like a glove. It is a high quality suit, in a wonderful and hard wearing English fabric that is appropriate for year round wear. But, between that and I beautiful glen plaid mid-weight flannel, I'd feel much more stylish in the glen plaid. Yet, it would not be as appropriate at work perhaps -- at least not at my age (because it would look too stylish, as opposed to because glen plaids are 'oldish'). Am I making sense here? What should my purchases be driven by? Dressing well in the sense of at least a semblence of fitting in, leaving it to high quality, perfect fit, and elegant pattern matching in the ties and shirts? Or should I just say screw it, from now on I will dress like the most radical pattern matching pages from the Paul Stuart catalog at work. I have been trending toward the latter, but there is just so much out there that I love that I would simply feel out of place in were I to actually wear it. Maybe in NYC it would be easier to pull some of this stuff off. I don't know.
post #2 of 39
Quote:
I have a serious question. Is there a difference between dressing with style and dressing well?  By that, I mean that a man who is dressing with style is always dressing well objectively, whereas a man dressing with style is not always dressing well subjectively, and whereas a man dressing without style can sometimes be dressing well either objectively or subjectively. For instance, I am a lawyer.
Really? (sorry, couldn't resist...)
post #3 of 39
Thread Starter 
LOFL. Funny story: At a moot court competition this year, Justice Ginsburg was the chief justice. The topic turned to whether a state could lawfully ban gay parents from adopting a child (this wasn't the issue in the case, but was a hypothetical to tease out some limits of the argument). One of the participants said, "The respondent's suggestion that such a hypothetical ban would be unconstitutional inappropriately looks at the question from an ex post perspective. What we should do is look at the question from an ex ante perspective." Justice Ginsburg shot forward in her chair, interrupted the participant, and said, "How about we look at it from the child's perspective."
post #4 of 39
Dressing well is above the fray but no panache. Dressing with style is above the fray with panache. It's time for bed now. I will give a better explanation tommorrow. Stay Tuned...
post #5 of 39
Actually, I don't think you have to. It's certainly far better than I would have said. I thought perhaps he was confusing stylish dressing with fashionable dressing but your response hits the nail on the head.
post #6 of 39
At the risk of offending (this is meant as an observation not a criticism) - based on the humour you posted above I have an understanding why your office favours charcoal. If that story received plenty of laughter in the halls of your law office you are working in a VERY SERIOUS workplace where I would expect style may well be considered a four letter word. I think that's unfortunate because I believe you should dress as you like rather than by the stereotype however depending on your senority you do need to consider what kind of example you want to set for your subordinates and where you need to answer to anyone above you or not. Of course I think we'd all do well to not take ourselves quite as seriously as we often do - particularly those providing professional services. JMHO
post #7 of 39
Tough question. As usual, I am of two minds. I like to think that I subscribe to the theory that the truely well-dressed man's clothing doesn't call attention to itself. It fits him perfectly and makes him look the best he can for his coloring, body shape and height. One look at my wardrobe squashes that image of gentlemanly self-restraint. My best suit is a glen-plaid, three-piece, three-button flannel. I like to wear it with a thinly striped shirt and spotted tie. But in my industry (advertising), dress clothing could be considered costuming. How about instituting your version of casual Friday and wearing a well-cut patterned suit? I bet the closet peacocks break out their whimisical Hermes ties inside of a month
post #8 of 39
I don't really care what the defenitions are of either style or well-dressed, but I can tell you what my impressions of them are. Style - When I think of someone as stylish, I think they go their own way, wear what they like regardless of what others may think. Well Dressed - I usually think this could fit anyone who chooses a sterotypical look and pulls it off very well, but never ventures outside of their sterotypical niche. Without getting too into it, thats my quick and easy answer. Eric
post #9 of 39
I whipped out my legalese-to-English dictionary, so I think I know what you are getting at.     (My J.D. was of no use in deciphering that first paragraph, however.)  In a nutshell, I think the difference between being stylish and well-dressed is the difference between the compliment "That's a nice suit" (stylish) and "You look nice" (well-dressed).
post #10 of 39
Thread Starter 
Eric, I think you are right to an extent. But your definition of "well-dressed" doesn't account for the fact that the majority of men (and I'll limit this to those that have the means to dress well and should dress well for their professions) dress "poorly." In fact, the "stereotypical" look, is -- for formal business -- a moderately ill-fitting fused suit that is heavily wrinkled and not particularly well-styled, a very ill-fitting plain white or blue shirt point collar that is slightly wrinkled and is poorly made, and a flimsy tie that was bought five or more years ago. Black captoes, often with a rubber sole complete the look. And this in an office of people who make between 500K and 1 million. For business casual, it is more often that not low quality wool or polyester pants, sometimes cotton, almost always pleated and riding too low, with a very ill-fitting low quality plain dress shirt. Bad shoes are the norm. So, when I wear the following: charcoal Oxxford suit, blue pinstripe custom spread collar shirt, woven Zegna tie, over-the-calf Pantharella socks that match the suit pants, and dark brown Grenson captoes, I am "dressing well" but dont' look "stereotypical." At the same time, I don't look "stylish." I look like I care about my appearance and that I basically know what I'm doing. Dress stylish on the other hand would be dressing in a manner that shows also that I enjoy the art of pattern and color matching. Like others have said, dressing stylish does not mean dressing fashionably. So the stylish mode of dressing doesn't evince a caring of being "in fashion at the moment." Rather, it is more of a personal thing -- you are dressing for yourself, not others. I think it is at least ambiguous whether a "fashionable" person is dressing for himself or for others. The problem with being stylish is that because it is fairly unambiguous that you are not dressing for others, it evinces some sort of self-conceit (or at least could in the minds of others). Thus, ironically, dressing fashionably is perhaps less dangerous in the office setting than dressing stylishly, even though the former mode of dressing is more likely to be out of step with the prevailing mode of dress in the office. Am I making sense here? I guess my end conclusion is that you can dress stylishly in a conservative office setting only if (1) you are in a position of power, or (2) you only do it a certain percentage of the time, like 25%. Don't get me wrong, if I see someone in a grey thin pinstripe Attolini suit set against a great herringbone shirt and Kiton tie, I think that sort of borders between stylish and simply well-dressed. So, there are shades of grey in here.
post #11 of 39
Quote:
The problem with being stylish is that because it is fairly unambiguous that you are not dressing for others, it evinces some sort of self-conceit (or at least could in the minds of others).  Thus, ironically, dressing fashionably is perhaps less dangerous in the office setting than dressing stylishly, even though the former mode of dressing is more likely to be out of step with the prevailing mode of dress in the office.  
Man, I've wrote and erased two long replies already, I keep wanting to go off the subject, because I think its tough to pull off being stylish successfully without a certain type of personality. First impressions are made about you before people meet you, based partly on how you are dressed, and also from body language and what others have said about you. But first impressions can be broken. I am always pleased to find someone completely different than I had imagined prior to talking to them for awhile. Basically, what I'm trying to get at is you can be stylish, and go your own way if you can ignore what people think about you prior to actually interacting with you. I think this translates to a professional level also, if you are very good at what you do, people will appreciate/tolerate your style. But this is just my view on the subject, I'm very free willed and could care less what others that are foolish enough to miss out on knowing me or doing business with me based on such foolish things as how I dress. Eric
post #12 of 39
OK, let me elaborate on my earlier post. It's quite difficult to define the two because in one sense, stylish could mean a step above well-dressed or it could mean something that is totally out there but works. It seems stylish is sometimes being misinterpreted with flamboyant dressing. It's all about balance. People have to look at you and wonder what makes you different. A "Je ne sais quoi". The whole package works. In Chinese there is a term of it... Translated, it literally means "Follow the eye". It has to look right without one thing overtaking the other. A form of harmony. It's the fine line between well-dressed and over-the-top(gaudy/flamboyant). Stylish is well-dressed taken to the next level using what is basically studied imperfection. Take for example, a tie knot. Anyone can tie a four-in-hand with a tight knot, perfectly centered and perpendicular with the ground. A stylish man might do a play on this. Pull the knot off center and then bend the knot back enough to make the tie drape in the right place. I would like to believe that being stylish is paying attention to detail but that is not the case as my example shows. A tight knot is a detail, perfectly centered is another detail, knot perpendicular to the ground is another detail. Style is how to play with rules, breaking them, bending them or outright disregarding them. Going as far as to say it is the enlightment of how to dress wouldn't be too off course. Ah, I got it... Here is the analogy... It is the difference between theory and practice. Theory would be well-dressed while practice would be stylish. As Eric said, it is quite difficult not to go off course on this subject.
post #13 of 39
How about: Dressing well: You've covered all the minimum requirements--your outfit is appropriate, well-constructed, well-maintained, and not obviously cheap. And it fits. Stylish: You've mastered not just the technique (the IBM dress code, for instance) but also that intangible flair for good pattern matching, picking the best colors, and being conscious of the type of statement your attire projects. All this, you do "unconsciously" and invisibly, with a sort of magician's mystique: People think "that guy is always so well put together, but I couldn't point to the specific reason." Fashionable: You're simply plugged in to the latest crazes. Whether you're also well-dressed and/or stylish is a separate question entirely.
post #14 of 39
I dont get why people are so concerned with how they are viewed in their offices with respect to their clothing.  I get the sense most people walk around on eggshells because they dont want to offend the boss, offend the coworkers, offend the clients.  It seems a bit silly to me.  We arent in 3rd grade anymore.  Well, maybe Ernest is, but thats a different subject.  Its like we all want to make sure we are wearing the same crap so no one feels separated from the group. As grown men, we should all be entitled to dress in whatever manner we choose at work (within reason ofcourse) - if the dress code is suit/tie, by all means wear suit and tie.  Employees of any kind are supposed to be appreciated for their contributions to the workplace, not whether or not they are considered 'too stylish'.  If my boss ever chose to fire me because of what I am wearing today, or any other day (as long as I am following the dress code)he is either insane or incompetent: -POLO MTM blue flannel chalkstripe, single breasted, peak lapel suit -white shirt, collar pin -Navy blue grenadine tie -edwardian antique EG telfords and a somewhat matching alligator belt -white linen pocket square Part of what makes dressing well and being stylish fun is having both the balls to wear what you want, and knowing you look damn good doing it.  if the rest of your coworkers dont like it (and its most likely jealously anyway), fuck em.
post #15 of 39
Y'all are giving me a headache
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