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The appropriate order in which one should "dress up"

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by BrizzleCizzle, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. BrizzleCizzle

    BrizzleCizzle Senior member

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    Jan 22, 2012
    I have long held the opinion that the most abused and daft outfit is the dress pants, dress shirt, and lone, horizontally divisive tie. Aside from being the proportional equivalent to an amputated Statue of Liberty, this getup screams door-to-door salesman, high school after prom, and "I'm unaware as to the whereabouts of my jacket, nor do I concern myself with the whereabouts of said jacket because I do not care to utilize the potentially most-flattering piece of casual+ attire".
    I know this is borderline shallow, but it irks me to no extent and after reading Manton's thread (http://www.styleforum.net/t/309643/the-worst-look), I decided to seek the sage sartorialists' advice and ask:

    A) is there a time when one should wear a tie, with no jacket (or for, the upscale casual, you could substitute a sweater or waistcoat in place of a jacket, just something to cover a lone tie), or am I correct in thinking that this is unkempt and "lazy"? That's not to say you have to have your jacket on the entire time you're at a function/at work/what have you, but I believe one should always have the jacket with their person and at least wear it when you arrive and again when you leave

    B) what's the proper order in which one should "dress up" their look, from casual to formal?
    As far as dressing up goes, below is my order of operations, and I'm hoping that those with more practical experience can either reinforce my thought process and/or adjust my gaps and potential misunderstandings.

    (Starting at casual and working up to "I do")

    1. Jeans/chinos, t-shirt, casual shoes
    2. Jeans/chinos, long sleeve (e.g. henley, sweater), chukka or other boot
    3. Jeans/chinos, OCBD, chukka/other boot/lace up
    4. Jeans/chinos, OCBD, jacket, chukka/other boot/lace up
    5. Jeans/chinos, OCBD, jacket, tie, chukka/other boot/lace up
    6. Dress pants, dress shirt, lace up/loafer
    7. Dress pants, dress shirt, jacket, lace up - OR - suit and lace up
    8. Dress pants, dress shirt, jacket, tie, lace up - OR - suit, tie, lace up
    9. Black Tie

    Please, hack away.

  2. Hayward

    Hayward Senior member

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    Jul 31, 2011
    I agree. Jacket before tie.

  3. Jackie Treehorn

    Jackie Treehorn Senior member

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    Mar 26, 2012
    sTeALiN yO cAr
    Purists, of which you'll find many on SF, will insist that you never wear a tie with shirtsleeves. The shirt and tie demand some sort of layer on top of them, be it a jacket or a sweater. If you don't want to wear a jacket, don't wear a tie, and vice versa. A reasonable exception might be the tie-and-sweater look, which is acceptable (even if some folks here will accept it more begrudgingly than others).

    As for constructing an incremental "order of operations" for dressiness, to me this seems like a wasteful exercise. One could always find more steps in between your own, leading to an exercise in chasing infinitessimal sets. Better just to use common sense and dress to the socially prescribed occasion: casual, business casual, suit and tie, semi formal, etc. Since even these terms have varied meanings today, simply consult your peers in a given situation if you have any doubts as to what the occasion will call for.

    When in doubt, it is seldom inappropriate to wear a coat and tie, then lose some of those layers if necessary. It's easier to dress down in ad hoc fashion than to dress up.

    A final nitpick: in theory, the jean and the chino are both firmly casual items. But in modern American praxis, the chino is definitely dressier. A lot of men today -- probably the vast majority -- would consider chinos a noticeable step up from jeans, and would deem chinos to be acceptable in situations where jeans are prohibited. Mind, I'm not suggesting that you adopt the "IT Guy" uniform of baggy khakis and dress shirt. Rather, I am suggesting that chinos will pass with a blazer or sportcoat in certain environments where jeans will not.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2012

  4. BrizzleCizzle

    BrizzleCizzle Senior member

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    Jan 22, 2012
    A) I would grant a certain level of agreement here. To construct an order of operations to such an extent you mull over it or abide by it would be overly diligent, I'll say that its existence is more of a scribed afterthought or brief brain dump over dogma. I have to agree fully that the distinctions between levels of dress have muddied or been personally perverted to the point that it's becoming very plausible for one to either lack rules for the type of dress or simply abandon them per the perceived status quo, sans maybe black tie class, and even that isn't without its troubles or perturbations.

    B) Solid. Couldn't agree more. This should be the angle of attack prescribed to, and abided by, most; though it seems just the opposite approach is taken lest the individual either expend too much effort on looking well put together or risk looking like they actually care about what they wear (street style dictates you look as though you hate your clothes because they were an extra step between you and your daily goal, influencing the perception that you look better than all others even while in contempt of the idea of dressing yourself).

    C) Again, agree totally. In fact, this a great example of your point A, in which one could break down this approach ad infinitum. As the chino is perceptibly and probably adoptively the more "formal" of the two, you could again add another step in the order. My only requirement, which in reality should be levied on all attire, is just as you mention - the chino should be of such fit as to look the part of the more civilized brethren of the jean. Well said, JT.

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