How about not overdoing it?

Classic menswear is extremely diverse. It may not be so visible for an outsider who doesn’t delve into details that much: a guy in a suit is a guy in a suit after all. But every menswear fan knows it’s not like this at all, and there are countless variations of a suit. And a shirt. And a tie, pocket square, hat, shoes, and so on. It’s easy to get over-excited about that.

There are so many patterns with their own names and history, so they are traditionally kosher even to the most conservative suit enthusiast. It’s possible to get lost in the checks alone: do you prefer a pronounced windowpane, or a complex, but ultimately more subdued Prince of Wales? Or maybe the Prince of Wales with the pronounced windowpane overcheck? Perhaps something smaller: gun club check, houndstooth? Will it work with a tattersall shirt? We like some of those instinctively, and want to try them on ourselves, match with other patterns; especially once we read on a blog or in a book somewhere those rules about how to do it. Just vary the scale!

Blogs also say: “Don’t be afraid of colour!” – so we try colour, trusting the wisdom of internet guides.

From the outside it often looks, well, not too interesting. There’s too much everything. But this dandied up gentleman knows better – he read the blogs, he saw the Pitti pictures. He’s the expert here.

The other extreme is this Beau Brummell quote about true elegance not being noticed, which would make anything more than tucking your shirt inelegant these days. But it’s not the point. I’m not advocating throwing out all those nice clothes, but rather taking a step back and trying to see oneself from this outsider perspective for a moment.

Being dressed in an elegant, formal or proper manner isn’t the same as being dressed well. Sometimes keeping this inner dandy on a leash is for the better, if our aim is to be seen as well-dressed by anyone other than ourselves. Mute the colours. Try less bold patterns. Leave the colourful chinos in the wardrobe and don this pair of jeans. Find this aesthetic middle ground, where it’s possible to see the care put into the dress – but it isn’t the entirety of what is seen.

I know it’s hard. It requires self-criticism. And probably the experience of getting through this too bold and colourful phase of being fascinated by the rich possibilities of menswear.