Special Victims Unit

Costumes to Avoid

A few words of advice on embracing the season's key trends without looking like you're headed to a Halloween party.
Photo: Everett Collection

Erm, maybe not, unless your last name is Windsor.

The Country Gentleman

Classic brands like Brooks Brothers couldn’t be more in demand these days, and relative newcomers like Rag & Bone and Freemans Sporting Club are turning tweediness into high art. This, we submit, is a good thing; but like most good things, it’s easy to go overboard.  So unless you happen to be a member of the Royal Family, keep a few pointers in mind.

  • •Honor the fabric’s functionality: Wait until the temperature dips below 60° to break out the herringbone blazer.
  • •And when you do, try dressing it down with a pair of jeans.
  • •Popping your collar truly is a risky business (get it?), but on a tweed jacket it can give your look a shot of rakish irreverence.
  • •Wear either a tweed sport jacket or a tweed vest—not both.
  • •A well broken-in pair of desert or work boots can give a populist feel to a fabric with elitist connotations, so try pulling on a pair.

The Backwoods Beardo

True, there’s probably never been a better time to buy painstakingly spun denim, artisanally crafted flannel shirts, or indestructible work boots. But before you go all Cool Hand Luke on the whole Americana thing, consider some honest advice.

  • •Limit your denim intake—“Tennessee tuxedo” is not a term of endearment.
  • •Try to go with only one type of plaid per look, even when catching a Yeasayer gig.
  • •Unless you’re crossing the Mississippi, don’t tuck your pants into your boots.
  • •Strike a reasonable balance between your blue-collar clothes and your facial hair. Going full-beard? Lose the lumberjack plaid.
  • •Speaking of balance, try to work a tie into the mix.
  • •When it comes to fit, always err on the trim, snug side—for example, opt for European Carhartt instead of American.

The Ivy Leaguer

V-neck sweaters, penny loafers, and repp ties have never had it so well. And for good reason—they’re enduring staples. But within reason, Carlton…

  • •Color? We love it. But don’t introduce more than three into the mix. And go easy on the pastels. You’re modeling yourself after Otter from Animal House, not an Easter egg.
  • •Let’s all say it together: No club or school ties unless you actually belong to said club or attend said school.
  • •Straw boater hats are great—but don’t wear the ones with the red, white, and blue ribbons unless you’re a 19th-century presidential candidate. In which case: Dude, congrats on learning the computer!
  • •Want to work madras intro your wardrobe? Try a madras tie—it’s your way to ease into a statement fabric. But not till April.

The Full Biker

Yes, Marlon Brando looked insanely cool in The Wild One. And no, a well-cut black jacket will never go out of style. But unless you’re rolling into town on a hog, you need to bring a little restraint to toughening up your kit.

  • •You’ve got the leather jacket, so say no to the leather hat.
  • •No band T-shirts. Don’t be that guy.
  • •For that matter: No skin-tight black jeans, either.
  • •Biker boots are great, and so are Chuck Taylors. But take your style a step further and wear a pair of bucks or brogues.
  • •Unless you actually rode in on that chopper you’re leaning against, no white tee. Put on a collared shirt.
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