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Menswear n00b mistakes and pitfalls, and how to avoid them

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mossrockss, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. mossrockss

    mossrockss Distinguished Member

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    I wrote this little piece for the blog, and Arianna thought it would be a good topic for a thread.

    Read my five shopping/menswear mistakes and what I learned here: https://journal.styleforum.net/5-shopping-mistakes-and-5-lesson-learned/

    I've written before, I think, that if I had been in a better financial position in 2008 when I first joined Styleforum, I'd have bought a lot of crap I wouldn't wear/don't need today. Thankfully my worst mistakes were fairly minor financially speaking, though they still hurt. I recall seeing Mr. Moo (may he rest in peace), who joined the same time as me, buying left and right and posting 10k posts within like a year. It seemed like he learned a bit harder than me with shopping/purchase mistakes because he had more cash to burn. Not to speak for him, but I'm sure if he had to do it over again, he'd have been more judicious with what he sunk his treasure into.

    What are some of the dumb/n00b/obvious-in-hindsight mistakes you've made? And what did you learn that you'd advise someone just getting into menswear to avoid?
     


  2. jrd617

    jrd617 Stylish Dinosaur

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    Wow I think I had that exact grey/red flannel from JCrew circa 2010
     


  3. Michael81

    Michael81 Senior Member

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    If there is a noob mistake, I've made it. Short, overly slim jackets, loud checks, tight, low-rise trousers, cheap shoes, cheap ties, shirts with terrible collars... you name it. I've spent thousands with very little to show for it. I'm now in the process of getting rid of my RTW stuff in favour of MTM, which I am just getting into. The biggest lesson I've learned is, there are no short cuts. Especially when it comes to suits and SC's.

    Having said that, the biggest challenges noobs face are not not just about money; the lack of understanding about fit and proportion as applied to one's own body results in poor choices more than anything. Also, while it's easy to get caught up in menswear trends, it's much harder to develop one's own sense of style. That takes time.

    I'm at the point now where I'm fairly confident the purchases I make will have longevity. This is in large part thanks to feedback from the SF community. That, and basically just hanging out here to see what kinds of posts are well-received, which are not and why. You guys have been an absolutely invaluable resource in my #menswear education. I wish I'd registered two years earlier than I did. I'd have saved a lot of money.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2018


  4. mossrockss

    mossrockss Distinguished Member

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    LOL i hope you didn't pay full price for it…
     


  5. mossrockss

    mossrockss Distinguished Member

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    I think it's cool when guys say they take constructive feedback from SF and apply it. When I got negative feedback, I'd withdraw from posting for a long time. So I developed my taste from just watching/bookmarking/looking at feedback to see what others are doing that is well-received, like you said.
     


  6. aj805

    aj805 Senior Member

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    Some of your lessons are I'd guess somewhat typical, but also on the minor side; you should feel good about that.

    My own learning curve, coming from jeans and T-shirts only to almost exclusively tailored clothes, included spending vast sums on entire wardrobes that never actually got worn. I'd find pants or shoes that I thought were good, then buy several pairs for variety, only to find out shortly thereafter that they didn't fit well or I somehow actually didn't like them. Likewise with MTM, where I would order many items (expensive suits) before actually establishing that I was completely comfortable with the pattern, the maker's work, or the style as my tastes were still quickly evolving.

    Of course there are many lessons learned from all those mistakes, but I wished it had not cost quite so much in time and money. For myself, the greatest basic lesson for someone just starting out and making drastic changes to their style would be to simply be patient--start off buying just a few pieces cheap/second hand that are in the style you're going for and give them some time to wear them a bit to see how you feel about them before accumulating. I can take time to develop/readjust your "eye" for your new clothes and feel out what colors, combos, materials, fit, etc. really work for you.
     


  7. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Distinguished Member

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    My advice to a new person trying to populate this space is the same advice I would give to anyone. Don't mind trends. Forget look-books. Forget Pitti. Forget magazines with "lists of things." Rather, study history and art. Study the context in which people wear their clothes. An aesthetical appreciation at least equips you to understand why you are trying to do the things you seem to want to do. These things naturally give you an appreciation for beauty and harmony (or ugliness and discord, if that's what you want). Imitate, if you like. It has helped me. But after your imitations are through, have a point of view. Allow that to happen.
     


  8. jplongwing

    jplongwing Member

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    I often will see a gentleman dressed in a way I admire, and try that 'look' on myself. I.E. an accessory I haven't tried, a type of hat (say bowler vs fedora, etc). I see and feel how a particular sartorial element fits/suits me. So, yes, in many cases I am imitating, as a stepping stone to determining if I want to adopt a particular approach or article, etc.

    Another thing i am always trying to keep in mind when it comes to wardrobe - and folks have touched on this already, is a well developed sense of personal style vs accumulation. Example; James Bond may look great in a white dinner jacket, with swooning women following him all over Monte Carlo etc., and although I am tempted to imitate that look, based on where/how/when i wear my clothes, a white on white dinner ensemble just wouldn't work for me presently. One lesson I've learned is although I love after 6 / black tie / formal wear in general, and THINK I would really like a well made tuxedo, dinner jacket, morning jacket etc (partly because I am told every man should own these), I have thus far avoided scouring ebay for used formal wear because i wont WEAR it.

    Another ongoing lesson for me is really getting in touch with a feel for what looks good - literally, what does an article of clothing do to you mentally/emotionally when you put it on. Often despite what a shopkeeper may say about how great that article looks on you, but if it doesn't FEEL good wearing it, I wont wear it with confidence and so, wont wear it often. It will be accumulation, rather than something that supports my intended style.

    That allowance Caustic Man speaks of, IMO takes time and a bit of trial and error, but is worth the effort.
     


  9. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Distinguished Member

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    @jplongwing thank you for your reply. Your response was very thoughtful and illuminating. I would say that we all have coyotes in our style. Some people like to look very contemporary and Italian, others like myself use American and British traditions as a guide. This doesn’t define my style but it does inform it.But perhaps experimenting has the potential to help define ones style. I think that’s part of what you were trying to get at. If I try something and I know that I don’t like it after having tried that helps me understand to a greater degree what it is I do like.

    The major lesson, I suppose, is that following fashions serves largely to make you look dated in photographs after passage of time. Sure, some people gain a great deal of pleasure out of being current or contemporary or fashion. But that is , After all, an empty game to play because it’s a game that can’t be won. It’s like chasing the Dragon. The final end as always just out of reach.
     


  10. P-K-L

    P-K-L Distinguished Member

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    When in doubt, black shoes look better than brown ones
     


  11. Michael81

    Michael81 Senior Member

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    Whoa.

    I've pushed back against criticism when it has been rude or condescending, but in most cases, SFers are very constructive and respectful. In either case I've never taken it personally. But yeah, the best thing a beginner can do is to sit back and watch how the pros do it for a while.
     


  12. madhat

    madhat Distinguished Member

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    Very much this; just watch, observe, and ask questions. Don't get too prideful of your newfound style. I've seen a lot of bowing up on threads where a simple dismissal of a comment would have solved the issue.

    Don't buy things just because they're on sale. Generally if you didn't want it before the sale, don't buy it.
    Don't be overly obsessed with brands as a sign of quality. Some brands to deserve the prestige, but some are just designer brands that charge what they do because they are in fashion. Focus on fit; find a tailor or mentor that can show you proper fit.
     


  13. LLEE

    LLEE Senior Member

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    ^Funny, I feel just the opposite (regarding black vs. brown shoes) :)
    As a newbie, I honestly feel my biggest mistake was walking around malls and almost being envious of those who could afford some of the clothing stores. Flawed thinking for several reasons, and it took my a while to really grasp and come to terms with them (perhaps I still struggle with it); $$$ spent does not equal quality, nor does it equate to having good style, and the 'fast fashion' model goes directly against my personal philosophies of life. I find it interesting how powerful marketing can be, as someone as steadfast in their beliefs as me can still be driven to finding desiring over-priced, run-of-mill products given the right circumstance.
    As someone who rarely NEEDS to dress well, I have the privilege of taking my time whilst I learn what fits well, what styles I enjoy and what looks good on me. A steep learning curve no doubt, but I'm (mostly) no longer spending energy being envious over something I really don't care for.
     


  14. TheForeigner

    TheForeigner Senior Member

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    I like this thread! Hope as many as possible will contribute to it!

    Most mistakes I’ve made have been sale purchases i.e. I would see a high-quality item on sale that I would know was a great deal objectively — which would make me somewhat ignore the fact that the item in question did not fit right or look great. “40% off on this Prada jacket. Too good to turn down”. Even if it’s a great deal I now like to think that I’ve learned to turn down that not-perfect item. Because I will not wear it much anyway. Or I will force myself to wear it and then look and feel suboptimally.

    Another thing I find helpful is posting pictures of what I’m wearing on this forum, be it sock-pant-shoe combinations or entire outfits. If you ask for advice, there is always someone who will take the time to point of what looks good and what doesn’t and suggest improvements. You’ll get invaluable style advice from very knowledgeable gentlemen and totally for free. If you don’t like (constructive) criticism of your outfits you will have a hard time improving the style.
     


  15. TheForeigner

    TheForeigner Senior Member

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    Case in point: Very recently I bought a pair of Edward Green black Pically loafers at full retail price because I thought they were on sale (when the cashier told me they were full price I was too embarrassed to say anything and just went with it...)

    Of course they are a beautiful, super-comfortable shoe and I really do enjoy them. But I am not a rich man and my shoe collection is not big enough for me to dish out that kind of money on a pair of loafers. There are plenty of other models I need before loafers, in fact next on my to-buy list was a pair of brown oxfords, black chukka boots and a pair of cap-toe black oxfords. Now they will all have to wait because of the EG loafers.
     


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