The Modern Plight

Your granddad will tell you the rules (if you’re lucky enough to have a dapper one). Mine affectionately told me that women hate flowers, they love it when you show up 3 hours late for a movie and to pay them any compliment is the same as paying their taxi home before even entering the restaurant (which he also wouldn’t do because women hate when you pay).

So it goes without saying that kinder (more accurate) words would have foreseen my life in a better light. From about the age of 13 I realised it was going to be an uphill struggle. Well, more downhill to forget the ways I had been taught then back up the hill playing catch-up.

I asked him the other day why he educated with these false truths? He told me if he had taught me right, then I never would have got it wrong. I would have known his way and thought I knew everything. He assumed allowing me to get it wrong, appearing red-faced in public as often as possible, was better conditioning than any story or lesson could have offered. That is dapper.

There is usually an article on FashionBeans for everyone, for every style, every trend and for every occasion. But sometimes there is just one pressing question, one fashion conundrum, one potential lawsuit that troubles you. Thankfully, we can help with two out of those three!

Ask the Expert

Getting up on the proverbial pedestal is easy. The problem is, the pedestal will always be wobbly. You could get down and wedge something underneath the lacking side but in that time some chap younger, fresher faced, with increasing sucking up skills has already climbed up, bin-bagged your stuff and slept with your missus…

Question 1

A while a go I asked my boss for a pay rise. He told me pay was currently “under review”. A month after bringing it up again my boss has asked for a meeting. Normal enough, apart from the meeting is outside of work. Is this formal/informal? HELP!
Assad via email.

First thing Assad is to be under no illusion by my Granddads false pretences. If you do see your boss outside of work, don’t treat him with the same disdain my Granddad pedalled. But don't be a sycophant. If there is one thing I have learnt it is to 'manage upwards' – be interested in his life, his work (just because you work under the same roof, you don't 'work together') and his family. To add another 'but…' he's not your friend, he is (and never let him know this) your stepping stone, or at least a rung on your ladder.

It’s very unlikely that he is calling you out to state the company can’t meet your demands and you are free to move on (providing you did all the necessary pre-checks before asking him to open up the money vault: good mood, chipper disposition, no recent bereavements/divorces/parking fines).

Go into the meeting with an air of confidence, a pinch of humility, oh and no don’t take your mates along for support; it’ll be pretty hard to concentrate on figures, profit, loss, quarterly conversion rates while their slamming tequilas in the corner of your eye.

If in a place that serves alcohol, do not order until he has, if he asks you to go first say, “I’ll have the same as you thanks” – even if you don’t like it when you get it drink it! If you order a larger and he follows it up with water he’ll think you obviously don’t care about keeping a clear head.

You didn’t ask what to wear but I’m going to tell you. Fashion is based on people getting it wrong, if everyone was getting it right it would be unfashionable. Rate your office wear out of ten, if you get away with jeans and a tee every day that’s a 2/10, out of a (respectable) catalogue, 4/10, steam pressed off the models back at Milan Fashion Week 10/10. Once you have this digit, degrade it by 1 for a meeting in a restaurant, 2 for an upmarket pub and 3 for anywhere that comes with free peanuts.

More often than not you’ll be left with a black shoe, fitted trouser, shirt with cashmere over-jumper combination. Finally, go prepared, don’t be afraid to take a note pad – you're not gifted enough to remember everything he says, especially if he chooses black label.

A typical outfit:

  • Premium White Cotton Shirt
  • Grey Marl Cotton Havant V Knit
  • Grey Slim Fit Micro Design Trousers
  • Gant Leather Belt
  • Rolando Sturlini Leather Derby Shoes
  • Black small leather flip notepad
Question 2

Round face watches or square face watches which one is right?
LonDun56 via Twitter.

Black brogues, never brown. Mac, never a trench. Whichever one of your kids is better a sport. See where I’m going with this? There is no right or wrong answer; it’s a choice. After all, I prefer brown brogues.

You remember earlier – when I spoke about purposely making the wrong decision? Your boss has a square watch, so does the guy you sit next to at work; even your neighbour mentioned he prefers them once (assuming anyone still talks to their neighbours in this day and age). So naturally your head is telling you to get a square faced watch right? Good. Now get a round-faced one.

Watches burden few rules with wear. The only caution is the size of your wrist is the size of your risk. A square faced watch doesn’t negate you as 'square' but if you’re hands are hanging on by a twig rather than a branch then a round faced watch won’t enhance this. Equally, if you’re brandishing logs for arms, a tiny-faced round sort might look like you’re used to working with little things.

Which type suits you?

  • <a href="” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow”>Emporio Armani Square Dial Leather Strap Watch
  • D&G Colorado Rectangular Black Dial Steel Case Men's Fashion Watch
  • Boss by Hugo Boss Rectangular Silver Embossed Dial Men's Dress Watch
  • Emporio Armani Ceramica Jet Black Rectangular Dial Men's Dress Watch
  • TW Steel Round Ivory Ceam Dial Steel Case 100m Men's Classic Watch
  • Tsovet Black Divers Watch
  • Men's D&G Genteel Chronograph Watch
  • Men's Hugo Boss Chronograph Watch
Question 3

I think I might want to propose to my fiancé [sic] but I don’t know what to wear. Will she notice? Where should I do it? I know this isn’t related to fashion entirely but I hope you can help!
*I’ve hidden his name so his plans don’t leak via Email

First of all I don’t know whether you’re coming or going, dragging your heels or gallivanting round the jewellers. You think you might want to propose… okay understood sheepishness, but to your fiancé? I think this is your jittering nervousness as you touch-up the keyboard trying to assemble some logical email. She isn’t your fiancé until you have knelt down is some form of trouser-detrimental cliché. Unless she has memory problems and you fancy reminding her not to sleep with your friends?

In either situation – yes – she will notice what you’re wearing. Exactly how she will remember the venue, the time of day, your method and the weather. If you get any of those wrong you’re a tosser (in her words not mine).

Any female will offer the insight that men do not pay enough attention to the finer details of their every “no matter how hard we try”. Perhaps we've been going about this all wrong? Is it logical or arrogant in this day and age to assume paying close attention to our own finer details will lead to bigger and greener pastures?

A suit is not necessary – as if she didn’t know you were doing it anyway? If her friends/your friends/your internet history hadn’t given it away already then don’t lose it at the last hurdle.

Wear something that is in proportion to the venue. If that means you find yourself offering nuptials in the same thing you watched the FA cup final in – you’re screwing it up. As long as it’s not a naff proposal in an out-of sort woodland area, you’ll be doing it right. A fancy restaurant? Then dress like you’re going to a fancy restaurant (it might help to act it even if that is out of character).

Question 4

I learnt from FashionBeans that tailoring suits my frame best but I love wearing vintage! Is there such thing as vintage formalwear?
MarcAO18 via Twitter.

I’m going to guess that what you learnt is because you have a small, slim frame and the structure given by the tailoring helps give your bits of bobs definition? I’m hoping that’s the case, if not we need to revisit that one.

Wearing vintage is not about being a walking time capsule; in fact in most cases vintage looks best when brought forward an era or two. If you’ve already been emulating the tailored chaps of late (notably in the GQ best dressed list) then make that look vintage by pairing vintage accessories. If it’s a work look, find a vintage briefcase. They are really gaining pace as a casual piece because they are the only sort of briefcase that have character for the dapper, easy going chap.

Vintage watches, accompanying brogues – they all do it! You will find enough pieces to put together an amazing 'broken' vintage suit but don’t settle. Being the age it is – as with most things – it might need a nip and a tuck. Vintage trousers are often found sagging in the seat and heading south at the knees (sound familiar Granddad?). Have a tailor on speed dial, or at least a tube ticket to Savile.

Take a 101 with the FashionBeans guide to vintage.

In the meantime, here are some example outfits which utilise vintage briefcases or pieces of vintage formalwear: Joshua and Travis from Street Etiquette show us how to rock a vintage blazer and vintage briefcase in two different scenarios [top row]. We also see two chaps [bottom row] working their own vintage briefcase:

Vintage Blazers and Briefcases are very popular these days in men's fashion

One for the Readers…

Now that I’ve offered you a second-hand serenade of wisdom I’ve acquired over the years; I arrogate you to follow suit in the same way I falsely followed my Granddads.

Leave your take on this question in the comment section below and give a hypothetical future-you a heads up on this meritocracy of dress:

Question 5

Hello FashionBeans! I am due to start a new job next month. When I went for the interview the boss was very well dressed but also told me that things are pretty relaxed in the office. I cannot get my head around not wearing a suit or at least smart-dress in the office so what should I do? If I overdress (in what is normal dress to most offices) will I look like I’m just trying to emulate him and suck up?
Adam Hayman via Email.

What do YOU think readers?