Suit Style

    Style Girlfriend Reader Question Round-Up

    3rd December 2012

    This week, I take a stab at cleaning out the ol’ Style Girlfriend Reader Mailbag. Remember, send me your questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them here as quickly as I can!

    Keegan asks:

    Hey Style Girlfriend,

    How should a guy like myself with a “preppy” style, find good looking clothes in an area where stores with that type of style are minuscule (i.e. dead center of Missouri)? We’re lucky enough to have an American Eagle, Express, and Macy’s, but that doesn’t leave much room for diversifying a wardrobe.

    Hi Keegan,

    First of all, thank you for giving me a minor heart attack when your name appeared in my inbox, and I thought you were the Keegan who was the first boy I ever kissed and who emailed me after I talked about him on here awhile back because the story popped up on his Google Alerts, and it was ALL KINDS OF AWKWARD. Little shocks like that to the system are good for you, right? Like cold showers and scary movies.

    Second, I think it’s great that you’re looking to diversify your wardrobe, and thankfully it’s easier to do so these days than it used to be, thanks to more and more brands offering their wares on e-commerce sites (though of course, some are easier to navigate than others).

    You’re already on the right path, seeking out style advice and inspiration on the internet. Start paying attention to the brands that catch your eye in editorials, both on my site and across the web. Men’s style sites like GQ, kempt, Esquire, and more all feature a mix of well-known brands and up-and-comers that you may not have heard of, and that might not be available in your home town. When you notice yourself drawn to the same brand over and over – start there!

    As for preppy brands I like that might not be readily available to you in your town, I’d suggest checking out L.L. Bean Signature, Land’s End Canvas, Gant, and jump on some Rugby clothes before the brand shuts down for good. You should be able to up your style game with a mix of those brands, and good finds from the stores you have nearby.

    Brandon writes:

    Hi Megan,

    I am planning my wedding for next spring and want some advice about choosing the clothing for my groomsmen. I want to avoid the traditional tux route. It will be a fairly casual wedding. I was thinking chinos, chukkas, shirt, tie, and blazer. Thoughts? Suggestions for particular pieces? How can I keep this from getting too expensive for my groomsmen? One of our goals for the wedding is to make it as easy and affordable as possible for our friends and family to be a part of the wedding.


    Hi Brandon,

    Thanks for your message, and congratulations on your impending nuptials!

    I think it’s great that you’re keeping your groomsmen’s budgets in mind with your wedding planning. If you want to go more casual, it sounds like you’ve got a great outfit planned. Depending on your own wedding budget, perhaps you could gift the groomsmen the chukka boots? It would be a very practical groomsmen gift (they’d most certainly wear those shoes again!) and you’d be sure that their shoes would match, and be nice and clean, on your wedding day.

    If you felt comfortable asking them to spend a bit more money, you could do custom suits from one of the new roving tailor services, like Indochino, 9 Tailors, or Evolution of Style.

    These suits are actually really inexpensive considering what you’re getting – i.e., a suit made to perfectly fit your body. What’s more, I really believe that all guys need a nice suit in their closet. Even guys that say they “never” wear suits (what about for weddings in which they’re not a groomsman?! Do they wear overalls?) My own brother is getting married this summer, and he’s splitting the cost of custom suits from Evolution of Style with his groomsmen. Just something to keep in mind if you and your bride-to-be decide you want a more dressed-up look for your side of the wedding party.

    Zach wonders:

    I have had earring (two hoops in one ear and one in the other) as well as a beard since pretty much 9th grade.  That was six years ago.  I’ve started considering taking out the earrings and going for a clean shave, and since I’ve recently started reading your blog (it’s amazing, by the way) I thought that it couldn’t hurt to ask your opinion.

    Personally, I’m not a fan of guys wearing earrings. It’s just not my thing. Facial hair, on the other hand, is more of a case-by-case basis. I like it on some guys, not on others.

    Why don’t you try one or the other – either go for the clean shave, or take out the earrings for a week or two? Then, if that change doesn’t feel so crazy, do the other. I think you’d be surprised at what a difference you notice in women’s reactions – just doing something different really attracts our eye! It’s the same reason why, when a guy decides to start dressing up, he starts turning ladies’ heads right away. We’re so conditioned to seeing you the same way every day that making even the slightest change really stops us in our tracks!

    And hey, if you hate how you look, you can always put the earrings back in and grow the beard back. No harm no foul :)

    And finally, Aniruddha asks:

    Hey Megan,

    Thanks for all the great advise on this blog. This really helps a lot. I started following them and can feel what a huge difference they make.

    Recently I was talking to one of my friend regarding formal shoes and boots. We both wanted to buy for ourselves. I suggested Oxfords and Wingtips. However he didn’t liked the idea and mentioned to me that not many youngsters wear these in office, which sadly is true. Do you think he was right. In the office environment, even though it is formal not many people wear good shoes, and it feels quite intimidating that you turn up as a best-man.

    Also, on boots…What exactly is difference between desert & chukka. I am planning to buy one for myself (following your tips and going for wardrobe changes). From what I have seen out there they all have bit rounder and big toe box, which I dislike.

    Let’s see…to answer both questions as best, starting with the last first (because I’m wild and crazy like that):

    With desert/chukka boots, it’s a case of all apples being fruit, but not all fruit is apples. So, all desert boots are chukkas, not all chukkas are desert boots.

    Chukka boots can be made in any material, from shell cordovan to canvas to shell cordovan, it’s their form that makes them chukkas – that is, 2- or 3-eyehole ankle-high boot.

    Desert boots are a specific subset of chukka boots. They ALWAYS have crepe rubber soles. Most often they’re light suede, but not always.
    As for oxford and wingtips and being the best-dressed man at the office, I really like this pair from Dr. Scholl’s that sort of cuts across the fancy/non-fancy continuum:

    You can dress them up with nicer slacks, or wear them with cuffed dark-rinse jeans and look great too.

    Got a question for me, or maybe a college guy query for Intern Gabi? Dont be shy, ask away!

    • average joe

      Thanks to Style Girlfriend, I own those Dr. Sholl’s Desert boots!

    • average joe

      To Brandon:

      My wife is is in the wedding business and I’ve learned a lot by looking
      over her shoulder. One thing that I’ve learned is that the appearance of
      “casual” does not necessarily mean cheaper. In fact, most
      times it is more expensive – exponentially more expensive. The rented tux route
      from what ever tux store is on the corner your local mall will run you about
      $150 per groomsman. What you’re suggesting (chinos, chukkas, shirt, tie, and
      blazer) is awesome, but probably at leas $400 per guy minimum.If you’ve
      only got 2 groomsman, I’d say go for it!, But if you’ve got the standard 4-5 -
      you’re in for a lot of cash.

      • Brandon

        Megan, thanks for taking my question!!!

        Joe, I have thought about that as well. We don’t have the budget to go all in, but were thinking that my groomsmen would have some of the pieces (chinos, well fitting white shirts,) that could help reduce costs. I know the cost for the tux rental would probably be cheaper but I personally I’ve hated the feeling of dropping that cash to be in a wedding and only wearing the clothes for a few hours. If we go the other route they would have something to add to the wardrobe.

        • average joe

          I hear ya. And I agree. Here’s something else to consider. When you have a tux rental place do it – they assume all the responsibility for the fittings chasing people down to pick it up etc. When you do it yourself – YOU assume all of that responsibility, on top of whatever else you’re trying to coordinate for the wedding – music, food, etc. Like I said, If you’ve got 2 groomsmen or so who are really responsible, you can probably make it happen. If you’ve got 5 guys, who are typical guys (like myselft) (read typical male disorganized for weddings) then good luck.

        • Chris Rogers

          Another thing to keep in mind is variations in colors of chinos if you are relying on them to provide some they may already have. In my mind it may look sort of silly with 5 guys wearing pants of varying shades.

      • Christopher

        The thing is, if you buy them right, a quality chinos-blazer-OCBD-tie combo will get hundreds and hundreds of wearings, either together or in pieces, whereas a rented tux is a one-time deal — you pay $150 for one night. If it fits well, you’re giving the gift of years of style rather than one night of usually ill-fitting (and occasionally ill-smelling) rented formalwear. And they’ll be more comfortable and have more fun at the wedding.

    • Chris Rogers

      Not that I am anywhere near marriage, I need a woman in my life for that. However, custom Indochino suits for my groomsman and I is definitely the route I want to take. Assuming you stick to standard functional colors I see a suit like that being a great investment for me and my groomsman, because what guy doesn’t need an extra suit in their closet.

      • Guest

        As long as your groomsmen have the money to spend on your wedding, that would work, I guess.

    • the amazing snyder-man

      The wedding issue is something I’m struggling with as well. I really don’t want to go the tuxedo route but I can’t see my groomsmen dropping the money on suits (my friends are cheap, poor and uninterested in fashion).

      • average joe

        and that is why tux rentals are big business my friend!

        • Chris Jones

          As they should be. A one time event should equal a one time rental. It would take 5-6 weddings to equal the cost of buying a suit, and even more if I bought my own tux. I don’t even know that many unmarried people.

      • Chris Jones

        I wouldn’t WANT my groomsmen dropping money to buy suits. It’s MY wedding, not theirs. Why would I force them to fork over big bucks like that for my wedding? If somebody told me I’m going to be a groomsman but had to buy a suit, I’d tell them to ask somebody else.

        • Style Girlfriend

          If that logic was the same on the women’s side, you’d never have any bridesmaids.

          • Chris Jones

            Women shouldn’t have to buy dresses either. It’s silly to think that my guests should have to foot the bill for my one-time-event.

            Also, as I mentioned on Twitter, dresses are nowhere as close to as expensive as a suit (especially if you also have to buy a shirt, tie, and shoes). For the same price as that dress you’re going to wear once, I can get a rental tux.

            Even then… still seems silly to make my guests pay.

            This reminds me of the time I was asked to be a groomsman for a wedding in Hawaii. Except.. I had to pay for the flight and hotel. Uhhh….. no.

            Sorry, I just don’t buy it. I have no problems buying a suit for a good reason (knowing it will be useful down the road), but for a wedding? Not a good enough reason. And even if I DID happen to have the money burning a hole in my pocket, I sure hope the other groomsmen were going to buy charcoal suits also, unless matching isn’t important.

            • Style Girlfriend

              I mean, I guess ideally it’s a case of – the groom polls the groomsmen on how much they could spend, finds a suit in that price range, gets everyone’s buy-in on color, and then everyone’s happy. That’s how it works on the lady side when all the stars align!

            • Chris Jones

              That would be okay if I were already in the market to buy a suit. Otherwise, you’re not going to see me spending $500+ on YOUR wedding. It just won’t happen.

              IDEALLY, on the mens side, the cost of 3-4 rented tuxedos should just simply be part of the wedding costs. I mean, people spend thousands of dollars on FLOWERS, ffs. I don’t think $500 worth of tux rentals (the price of a single mid-range suit) is too much to ask.

            • Churchill

              The ladies have it tough too. Dresses definitely can be more expensive than a suit and typically you could always use the suit, shirt, tie, and shoes, down the line, but the same can’t be said for the dress.

            • Style Girlfriend

              Thanks for the backup!

          • average joe

            true…and now we finally know the difference between men and women

        • Jeff

          From my experience, Although it might seem like a huge investment at first, every man should own at least four suits: a navy suit, a grey suit, a khaki suit, and a nice tux. If you have the three suits with notch lapels, your bases are pretty much covered for your groomsmen duties. Us guys really are fortunate that there isn’t too much variation on the suit side of things, and you can always wear them again. I may have been extremely lucky so far, but I’ve been in my fair share of wedding parties and all of the suits I already own have come in handy. Tuxes are a little trickier, as the groom might want notch, shawl, or peak lapels. So if you can’t match up with what the groom wants with what you already own, then you’re going to have to suck it up and rent. Even if it’s poorly tailored. With square toed shoes. It’s not your day, it’s his. You have every right to opt out of the wedding party, but you have no right to complain about attire. That’s just my opinion.

          • Style Girlfriend

            good input Jeff!

      • Style Girlfriend

        The Ludlow suit from J.Crew clocks in under $500 and can be worn for-ev-ah

        If any of your friends truly can’t afford a suit, they can opt out of standing up on your behalf, but I really don’t think this is a big ask. Most guys could stand to update their suiting as it is.

        • Churchill

          While the Ludlow line is great for right now, IMO, it’s too trendy to stand the test of time.

    • TJ

      Zach: I know how you feel. I used to have earrings, gauges specifically, and it was hard to take them out. I also used to have long hair. It was hard to cut that too. But over the course of a couple months I decided that it just wasn’t the look I wanted anymore, and ever since then I have been happier and a more confident person and I’ve found that people treat me a lot better now.
      Of course there are days when I kind of wish I could go back those carefree days, when I could do whatever I wanted with my style and be okay, but overall I am much happier now.

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    • Style Girlfriend

      I’d never even heard of Tori Richard, I had to look it up! I think you’re right that a printed shirt isn’t that formal, but hey, Hawaii’s pretty laid back I’ve heard :) I’m sure it’s fine!