Proportions and permanent style

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When a man wants to dress better, where does he turn? Unfortunately, most men look to current fashion trends for the answers. At Surmesur, we don’t impose fashion. And we certainly don’t follow it. Neither do our clients.

The problem with fashion is that it is fleeting. Style, on the other hand, is permanent. In this biweekly blog, I propose to guide you toward achieving your own timeless style by giving you the tools and know-how you need.

 

My own knowledge of men’s style spans 31 years, during which time I provided style advice to everyone from interns to captains of industry. I know the rules, and I can teach anyone how to follow them – and to break them when the situation warrants.

Whether you’re dressing for the boardroom, the country club or your cousin’s wedding, I can make the relevant recommendations to help you look your best, no matter what your physique, skin tone, hair color or current level of menswear knowledge.

 

Let’s begin at the beginning, with shirt collars. 

The most important part of the shirt is the collar. We communicate with our face and therefore what is directly below the face plays a crucial role in the sartorial impression we make on the world. To optimize that impression, start by selecting the right collar for your proportions.

Proportions? Yes. In the world of made-to-measure menswear, the collar can be modified to any desired effect based on your neck length and a variety of other factors. For instance, a man with a longer neck looks best with longer collar points, while the reverse is true for a man with a shorter neck.

 

The most popular collar choice is what we call a spread collar, which refers to how open or “spread” the collar is between the two points. A man with a narrow to oval face looks best in a medium to wide spread collar, while a man whose face is round or wide should wear a narrower spread or even a straight collar with no real spread at all. Again, it’s about keeping things in proportion, and these subtle nuances can make a dramatic difference in helping you look your best. 

The basic rule of proportion when it comes to shirt collars is really very simple: if you have a long, narrow face, don’t pick a collar that will lengthen it, while if your face is short and broad, choose a longer collar to balance it out.

 

Once you’ve mastered spread and classic straight collars, you’ll be ready to graduate to customizing collegiate, Ivy League-style collars like button-downs, dressy collars like those with eyelets to be work with a collar pin, or even trendy collars like the familiar Mao-style band – applying the same basic principles you’ve learned here.

In my next blog two weeks from now, we’ll move on to other parts of your made-to-measure shirt and how to customize them to make them just right for you.

 

In his more than 30-year career as a retail menswear consultant, Peter Lloyd Greer has accumulated an encyclopedic knowledge of the dos and don'ts of men's style. He is always eager to share his sartorial savoir-faire, either as Surmesur's in-store training specialist or as its designated expert style blogger. peter@surmesur.com

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