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The Compass  /  (Renaissance Man)ual  /  How To Wear a Suit (And Other Things Your Father Should Have Taught You)

How To Wear a Suit (And Other Things Your Father Should Have Taught You)

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How To Wear A Suit

The little things our dads teach us—like how to wear a suit the right way—can pay off big. Have you mastered these 5 man skills?


#1  How to wear a suit

How To Wear A Suit

The guy on the left is doing it wrong. Can you see how?


Why it’s important:

You’d think that anyone who can dress themselves would know how to wear a suit. Hop into a pair of slacks and shrug on the matching jacket and you’re done right? Not so fast. Tailored clothes like suits, blazers and dress slacks each have their own unique set of rules. And you’d be surprised at how many guys don’t understand those rules. Case in point: look at the epidemic of men buttoning the bottom button on a 2-button suit jacket. That’s a dead giveaway that a guy doesn’t know how to wear a suit. You see it everywhere, even on the red carpet. Hollywood OGs like Cary Grant knew how to wear a suit. We’d bet even while rolling over in his grave over this affront to style, he’s got that lower button open.

How it’s done:

The rules of how to wear a suit are pretty specific but they’re also extremely simple. Be sure to wear the pants high. Dress pants aren’t cut to be worn like a pair of low-rise jeans, yet many young men wear them down around their hips. The result is, among other things, an extra long pant leg that puddles at their feet and that’s bad news.

Next comes the jacket. As we said above, buttoning the bottom button is a no-no. But a gentleman should always keep the top button on a two-button suit buttoned when he’s standing. Following this menswear rule keeps men from looking sloppy with jacket panels flapping in the wind when they’re standing. Just unbutton it when seated or it’ll cause too much strain on the jacket’s mid-section. There are, of course, tons of other more nuanced things to do to look your best when wearing a suit, but these are the basic rules of how to wear a suit that all dads should teach their sons.

#2 How to get a proper shave

How To Get A Proper Shave
Dad didn’t need 150 blades to get a good shave and neither do you. 


Why It’s Important:

Every man ought to be able to get a good clean shave. When that first patch of peach fuzz arrives, many young guys are eager to grow some hair on their faces and show off their newfound maturity. With hormones raging, teenage boys are looking for any edge to make them look more strong and virile. That’s when dad steps in with his razor know-how.

The mark of a man isn’t that he can grow hair on his face, but that he knows how to tame the hair on his face. The young gent who can trim, shape and shave his facial hair into submission will have the true advantage as he can change up his look to suit his evolving style.

How it’s done:

We’re big fans of the traditional wet shave with a double-edge safety razor. Too many dads phone it in and start their sons off with electric razors. Just as learning to drive on an automatic only makes a stick shift more intimidating, learning to shave by rubbing your face with a bunch of mini-clippers can make wet shaving seem much trickier than it is.

The basics are simple, though. We laid them out for you along with all of the best tools you can find to get a great shave.

#3 How to tie a tie

How To Tie A Tie
Even if you rarely wear ties, you should know how to tie a basic tie knot.


Why It’s Important:

Even if they avoid wearing ties, men should know at least one good tie knot. Period. The HBO comedy Silicon Valley perfectly summed up why in the scene where Richard, the show’s protagonist and founder of a tech startup, is being sued. In the scene, Richard is in the courthouse bathroom trying, and failing, to tie his tie. His nemesis, the guy who’s suing him, walks in, sees him struggling, takes the tie from him and expertly knots it around Richard’s neck. It was the ultimate power move. We’d say something like “Don’t be Richard.” but he’s also the founder of a soon-to-be startup success so let’s just say Richard’s dad owes him one for not teaching him this life skill.

How it’s done:

There are hundreds of tie knots, from the run of the mill to the extreme. And we’ve given advice on which tie knot works for you, but the most versatile and most useful knot to know is the four-in-hand knot. Thankfully, it’s also one of the easiest knots to tie well. Here’s a quick refresher if you’ve been bare-necked for too long.

#4 How to shine shoes

How To Shine Shoes
Nothing smells manlier than leather and shoe polish.


Why It’s Important:

We all know that a pair of scuffed up kicks can kill an otherwise strong outfit. But there’s an even more essential reason every dad should teach his son to shine his shoes. Knowing how to take care of your stuff is an essential part of manhood. True, you could go to a shoe shine stand every time you wanted to sharpen up your look. We all do it on occasion. But you should also know how to keep your own shoes looking good without having to sit there and pretend to read a newspaper while someone else does it for you. Aside from taking responsibility for your own style, a proper home shine will condition the leather and prolong the life of your shoes.

How it’s done:

There are a few different ways to shine your shoes. Some give their shoes a quick once over, others go through a multi-step process that includes applying layers and allowing them to dry for up to an hour. Most dads teach their sons something in the middle of these two extremes, like the five-step process we laid out a while back. If you’re looking for a refresher course, give this method a try. Make it a habit and you’ll be leaving scuff city for good.

#5 How a to treat a lady

How To Treat A Lady
Maybe dad didn’t meet mom by holding a door for her, but it didn’t hurt his chances.


Why It’s Important:

The birds and the bees talk is a time-honored ritual, but birds and bees don’t live in our misogynistic culture and aren’t bombarded with disrespectful representations of females everywhere they go. With everything from fat shaming to revenge porn all just a mouse click or mobile device away, it’s time for dads to step up and set their sons straight.

But it doesn’t need to be a stern-faced, serious talk. A chilled out conversation about respect for women can grow out of talking about how to attract one. See below.

How it’s done:

This topic is much bigger than we could possibly hope to sum up here, but there are some basics that every dad ought to teach his son. For one, don’t let chivalry die on your watch. Hold a door, for crying out loud. As we highlighted in our story on five ways to become more attractive, a guy can be dressed to the nines and still look like a douche if he can’t be bothered to do something as simple and courteous as hold a door. Note: holding a door for dudes is nice too. Maybe you should just be a mensch and hold doors for everybody.

And maybe your dad doesn’t have to teach you this but, we thought we’d throw in a life skill we wish more dads would teach their sons: the lost art of buying a lady a drink. If you haven’t gotten the memo, pick up lines are dead. Sending a drink over is still a strong way to start a conversation. Maybe that conversation leads to more. Maybe she’s the one. Maybe someday you’ll be checking this list to see if you’re passing on the right lessons to junior. You never know.

Who’s Your Daddy?

A father’s advice can’t be summed up in one article. What else did your dad teach you that you think everyone else should know? Give your dad a shout out by leaving a comment below.

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7 thoughts on “How To Wear a Suit (And Other Things Your Father Should Have Taught You)”

  1. Does the rule against buttoning the bottom button apply equally strictly on double-breasted jackets? It just seems to me that when you leave the bottom button open on a DB jacket, you’re concealing that button behind the jacket’s left flap, which ruins the symmetry of the two rows of buttons since all of the decorative button on the left flap remains visible — and I thought the whole point of the left row of buttons on a DB jacket was visual symmetry with the functional buttons on the right?

  2. I stumbled onto your website looking for a guide to suits and just got completely carried away reading article after article on your site.

    How i never found this website before is astounding. Maybe because i never bothered with suits until i saw how sharp and impressive my bossed looked and how all the ladies was commenting on how he is always very nicely put together.

    Damnit i also want to be that guy.

    Really nice Website and so informative. This will be my daily check in. I will read every article.

    Cheers

    1. Glad we could help to open up the world of menswear to you, Ettienne. There’s a lot to discover!

  3. Adore Gentlemen says:

    *The solid, but not too hard grip handshake WITH sincere positive eye contact.
    *Causal introductions of people you are with:
    –“It’s good we ran into you _____, my friend ___ likes football just as much as you. Which teams are you both betting will win (let them talk)?”
    –” Hey ____, I’m with my friend from (school, club), ____. So glad you finally get to meet each other.
    *Ironing your own shirt. At some point in life you will be unpacking in a hotel room and notice that your shirt is a mess for the meeting or interview that could change your life. If it is not in your room call housekeeping to get an ironing board and iron. Iron on medium heat in this order: collar, cuffs, sleeves, front (the side with buttons iron from wrong side) and back.
    *Learned from my father-in-law who was impressive, keep a card in your wallet with names of servers at your favorite restaurants, bosses kids names etc. Remembering all those who help you and who matters to people you work with will instantly make you an impressive person.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This list is like a great album from your favorite band, just one after another killer item.

      Great list! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Jason Mobley says:

    How to publicly speak goes well with these, because there are many times that dressing in suits go hand in hand as partaking in an event

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Good one, Jason.

      Some of the greatest orators learned at the feet of their fathers (for example, Martin Luther King, Jr. learned from Martin Luther King, Sr.).

      You heard it here first dads, teach your sons to be great orators and maybe someday they’ll give you a shoutout on Father’s Day.

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