Sometimes you really should listen to your elders.
Though there are some men’s style rules that you no longer need to follow, others are ironclad. They were passed down from older generations for a reason, and you’d do your best to follow all of them.
We rounded up the nine rules we thought were most important so that you could make sure you’re not forgetting anything. The well-styled men of your grandfather’s generation would be proud.
Match your shoes and belt when dressing formally.
- Wolf and Shepherd
The belt-matching-shoes trope is a little tired, and it’s true that its importance is sometimes overstated.
But when it comes to formal events, matching the leathers of your belt and shoes is essential to looking well-dressed. There’s no way around it: Brown goes with brown and black with black. Otherwise, you’ll just look mismatched.
Don’t mix patterns.
- Mark Metcalfe / Stringer / Getty Images
Patterns are great, but it is possible to have too much of a good thing. What has become known as “power clashing” – a style move where one wears more than one pattern in an attempt to look garish on purpose – has no place in modern dress.
It’s an attempt to stand out and it works in casual settings. But when it’s time to dress up, follow the rules and go for an impeccable suit without clashing patterns. It will do so much more for you.
Dress to the specifications required.
- Getty/Ian Gavan
If an invitation calls for black tie, that’s what you must wear. If it says formal, a suit’s required.
There’s no getting away with failing to dress to the dress code. You’ll look and feel like a fool if you attempt to circumvent it with “creative dressing.”
You’ll be at a social disadvantage at the event, and everyone will know it. Dress according to what is expected.
Don’t wear shorts with a blazer or jacket.
Proportion is important to remember when dressing. Your upper and lower halves need to be in balance. That means there should be a similar amount of clothing covering both.
You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) wear bulky cargo pants with a T-shirt. Similarly, you shouldn’t wear a bulky jacket on top without covering your legs.
Match your color palette to the season.
- Facebook/J Crew
White pants and blue shoes are great in the summer when the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming.
They make a little less sense when the world is dark and gray, and the sun doesn’t come out until almost 9 a.m. You’ll look out of place, and feel even more so.
Muted colors like navy, olive, and gray can tone your wardrobe down and bring things into the realm of feasibility.
Don’t wear a vest on its own.
- Men’s Warehouse
Let’s get this straight: Vests are only for three-piece suits.
Vests, sans jacket, make you look like a cater waiter, and not in a good way. It makes it look as if your outfit is missing something – namely, a jacket to cover the unsightly shiny rear part of the vest that isn’t meant to be seen.
This rule is similar to the one that states you shouldn’t wear a tie without a blazer, for a similar reason.
Don’t button the last button on a jacket or sweater.
- J. Crew
This is one of the most important rules for any man to know. It’s followed all the time, everywhere, and should be observed by everyone.
The bottom button looks awkward when buttoned, and it constricts the waist, giving it an odd corset-style look. Leaving it undone does more than just give you a casual, laid-back vibe. It makes you look like you know what you’re doing, and that you’re cognizant of what you see in the mirror.
Don’t wear suspenders and a belt at the same time.
Belts hold your pants up; suspenders hold your pants up. Mixing them together is not only redundant but can affect the structural integrity of your pants and make them wear out faster.
Stick to a belt, and try to add some personality into your outfit in other ways.
Never wear sneakers with suits.
- Getty/Eduardo Parra
Many have tried and most have failed. There’s a reason most don’t try to mix formalwear with sportswear: It’s extremely hard to pull off.
Best to stay away from this one.