Omega’s Guide – Presentation

If you’ve been following this guide, you’ve taken numerous steps to improve your inner and outer self. Now it’s time to work on your presentation.

No matter how smart, socially aware, outgoing, physically capable, or interesting you are, people will dismiss you if you look like a sloppy mess or stink. You need to present yourself well in the world to fit into social situations. We’ll concentrate on two things here: grooming and dress.

There’s all kinds of things about adopting your own style, standing out from the crowd, etc. that you could follow, but that’s not what we’re going for here. This is just to help you not look like a slob and to look decently acceptable to polite society. We’re trying to make it so normal people aren’t negatively judging you for your appearance.  As such, these are very basic tips. If you’re looking to establish your own style or for something more advanced, check out Masculine Style. He’s far more qualified to help you than I am.

Clothes/Accessories

– If you don’t understand fit, colour, matching, style, etc. get someone to help you pick out clothes. Most good men’s stores will have knowledgeable staff or get one of your female relatives/friends (not your mother) to help you shop (or a stylish male friend if you have one). Don’t try buying clothes, shoes, or other accessories by yourself until you understand what works for you.

– Dress appropriately for the occasion. A casual night at a friend’s house is different from work which is different from an office party which is different from a formal event. If you overdress, you’ll look like a try-hard or a jerk, if you underdress you’ll look lazy and sloppy. At this point, when going out try to dress to fit into the group; look at what most other people are wearing and emulate it. Later on, once you understand style more, you’ll want to get your own style to stand out, but for now, standing out will likely mean you’ll look like a misfit. Dress to fit in.

– Shop at a quality men’s shop. Avoid Walmart, Sears, Target, etc. for anything except for jeans, runners, socks, underwear, and casual t-shirts. I generally use Tip Top Tailors, but it’s a Canadian chain, so if you’re from the states you’ll have to find something else.

– Fit is the single most important aspect of dress. Make sure your clothes fit. If they’re too baggy it will just look sloppy or you’ll look like an idiot, wanne-be gangster, if they’re too tight you’ll look like a effeminate emo. Get clothes that fit comfortably and well. Ask the staff if you’re not sure if the fit is good.

– Find out what colours look good on you and try to get clothes in that colour. Get a female friend/relative to help you with this.

– Do not wear worn out clothes. If your clothes have holes or stains, stop wearing them immediately and replace them. I know you may like that particular shirt, but it’s paid its dues, let it go.

– T-shirts are fine for casual situations with friends or running errands but avoid shirts with offensive slogans, stupid or nerdy jokes, movie references, long chunks of writing, or other things that might be inappropriate or dorky. If you can find it on Snorg Tees or a similar site, avoid it. A plain, solid colour t-shirt, with a respectable, moderate logo, or one with your favourite band logo (assuming its not Cannibal Corpse) are good. Also, make sure the t-shirt is not overly baggy or overly tight (unless you’re very fit).

– Wearing polo shirts is a good step up from the t-shirt. For anything that is not hanging out with friends, wear a polo shirt, at minimum. Do not tuck your polo shirt in, you’ll look like a nerd. Wearing a button-up shirt (or button-up t-shirt) with jeans (not tucked in) is another step up for a good casual-plus look.

– For business casual, dress khakis and a button-up shirt work well. You can tuck it in or not depending on what those around you do. Wearing black dress pants and a button-up shirt, untucked, can also work well.

– For business, a button-up shirt and and black dress pants is the minimum. If everybody else is wearing a suit, make sure you’re wearing one as well.

– Wear a suit for formal.

– If you’re wearing a button-up shirt or polo shirt, undo the top button (unless wearing a tie). Buttoning the top button looks dorky.

– A good pair of well-fitting blue jeans works for most situation where you don’t have to dress up. Make sure the jeans are a solid dark blue. Acid-washed and light jeans look immature. Do not tuck shirts into your jeans.

– Shorts are for sports and the outdoors. Do not wear short indoors, it looks dorky.

– Don’t wear sweat pants or track pants except for sports in cold weather.

– Don’t wear black pants with a black shirt. You may think you look dark and edgy, but you don’t, you look depressed and it looks horrible. If you wear black pants, wear a lighter shirt, and vice versa.

– Get a nice, solid-colour, black leather belt. Wear it always.

– For shoes, a good pair of non-descript solid black runners in good shape will work for most casual situations. Once they become worn replace them immediately; don’t wear shoes with holes or that are otherwise falling apart. Also, get a pair of moderate black dress shoes for work and non-casual situations. If you are dressing up or need to go to a formal event get a pair of better dress shoes.

– Sandals are for the beach, leave them there. Don’t wear socks with sandals.

– If you need glasses, get frames that complement your face or contacts. (I highly recommend contacts; I have never regretted switching to contacts, they are so much mroe comfortable). Do not go around wearing your five-year-old bent, taped up frames or glasses that make you look dorky.

– Don’t wear a hat. Hats (other than ballcaps) require a certain panache to pull off; if you don’t have it, you’ll just look silly. (There’s a reason people make fun of nerds wearing fedoras). I know it’s tempting to attempt to look suave, but you have to be suave first. Put off the hat until you can actually pull it off.  Exception – When doing outdoor activities wearing a ball cap or, in winter, a toque, is acceptable; avoid wearing them in other situations though.

– Wear plain, solid black socks. You can not go wrong with plain black socks. Do not wear other sock colours until you have a style of your own where they work well (ie. not yet). When dressing up, wear dress socks. If your socks get holes, replace them immediately.

– Don’t wear a watch. A good, stylish watch can enhance a look; your black digital watch makes you look like a dork. Until you have a good personal style, avoid wearing a watch, it’s unnecessary (you probably have a cell phone) and it will likely look bad on you.

– Avoid jewellery, piercings, or other accessories. Occasionally, these may enhance particular looks, most of the time these look stupid. Avoid them until you have your own personal style that requires them.

Grooming

– Shower, shampoo, and soap every morning and after every time you’ve been doing physical activity that makes you sweaty (if you are going to be around people afterwards). You don’t want to look dirty or smell rancid.

– Use deodorant or antiperspirant every single day; every morning after your shower, put it on. Try something with a fairly mild, neutral scent; Regular or Irish Spring are good. Get a stick, avoid spray-on, and definitely avoid Axe. You do not want to smell bad, it will repel people, and you also don’t want them to be able to consciously smell your deodorant.

– Brush your teeth. In the mornings brush your teeth after breakfast (or after your shower if you don’t eat breakfast). You don’t want your breath to smell.

– Go to a barber (not a stylist) and get a good haircut, preferably short and masculine, but it’s up to you as long as it looks good on you. If you don’t know what a good haircut looks like, ask the barber to just cut it short however he thinks would look good (a stylist will likely not understand ‘cut it short’ and will either require you choose a hairstyle, explain more thoroughly, or screw it up). Get a haircut every three months at most; preferably every month. Do not go half a year without getting one. After the haircut, ask you sister, female cousin, or female friend for brutally honest advice (your mom probably won’t be brutal enough and don’t ask your girlfriend for approval or she’ll take it as license to meddle); if they approve and you like it keep it. Otherwise, experiment again the next time.

– Make sure you know how to comb/style your hair properly and do so every morning. A short haircut takes less work and may not even require much or any combing/styling, that’s why I recommend it.

– Shave regularly. Shave every two days at most (depending on how fast your facial hair grows). A grizzled look can be good, but again, that’s something that should wait until you understand style enough to pull it off.

– Do not grow a mustache; mustaches can look cool, if done right with the right sense of style. You are probably not doing it right, so you probably look creepy, dorky, like a hipster, or like you’re trying too hard. If you have a mustache, shave it off; once you have our own sense of style, you can grow one to match it.

– If you have a beard maintain it. Don’t just let it grow wild and uncontrollably, make sure it looks kempt. If you can’t/won’t put the effort into maintaining it, shave it off.

– Wash your hands after you piss. I’d think this would be obvious, but I see far too many men in pubcli washrooms who don’t. C’mon, really?

Essentially, wear clothes that fit and are situationally appropriate and keep yourself well-groomed. You might not look amazing, but you will look acceptable. People won’t judge you negatively for your dress and grooming and, for now, that’s a great starting place.

Your Goal:

This week your goal is to purchase all the necessary grooming equipment you don’t have and to buy yourself some decent clothes. Start grooming each morning and dressing appropriately.


14 responses to “Omega’s Guide – Presentation

  • The Karamazov Idea

    All good pointers. Personally I’d add a few.

    -Never cheap out on the belt. You can’t go wrong with a thick leather slab and a stainless steel buckle. Get 2: black and chestnut. Between those you’ll have all your bases covered. These are especially helpful if you conceal-carry as they are thick and will give you years of use. They work as well with a pair of jeans as they do with a pair of slacks. Also, a lot of guys are allergic to the cheap nickel-compounds used on buckles. You get a mysterious contact-rash right above your crotch when you don’t wear your shirt tucked in. Just go straight for stainless steel. I’ve never ever regretted buying anything in stainless steel, especially if it was going to be touching my skin for an extended period of time.

    -Abandon your t-shirts for shirts of plain or modest understatement. Splashy graphic shirts and band logos are visually enticing and certainly interesting, but plain shirts with no large logos speak of maturity and experience. I’ve seen a lot of women wearing what are essentially v-neck plain t-shirts in lieu of blouses. That’s a no-no. But in a lot of other cases, this is the more laid-back cousin of the polo. While the polo enjoys some unfavorable associations with frat-boys and yuppies, the stately, clean, unobtrusive, plain v-neck shirt communicates the same message minus the other associations.

    -Designer brand=/= dressy. You wouldn’t believe how many people get this wrong. Mostly this happens with the certain group of people who does not have much money and yet is obsessed with giving the illusion that they do and do not have the intelligence to read social norms. They’ve been known to show up to business-casual events in Calvin Klein jeans and a Banana Republic sweater. “Yes, I’m aware you paid more for your jeans (or realistically, the jeans cost more and the person bought them on closeout sale or at an outlet) than I did for my slacks, but I’m not impressed and neither is anybody else in the room,” you find yourself thinking in unison with everybody else.

    -If you have to go cheap, go for quality. Dickies is a reliable brand for slacks. They last forever, can take a beating, and are generally indistinguishable from a pair you can get from the GAP or J. Crew for double or even quadruple the price. The secret is to gently, with a knife or scissors, remove the back “dickies” label by cutting the stitching on it. If you’re gentle and careful it doesn’t harm the pants and you have an invincible pair of pants that will last you years and fit well.

    -It’s always easier to dress down when you’re dressed up than vice versa. You can untuck a shirt. You can hang a sport-coat up. You can roll up your sleeves. You cannot, however, imagine a collar onto your shirt. You can not will your flannel shirt into a nice light-blue oxford. You cannot magic your boat-shoes into a pair of brogues. Sometimes you will show up dressed to the proverbial nines and you will look silly, but wearing more gray than black helps to smooth out your obvious over-dressing. Showing up in black pants and a white button-down shirt is just asking for trouble unless you’re headed to a wedding or a funeral with a suit jacket and a tie in your other hand.

    -For haircuts, skip back a few generations. Remember the traditional officer hair-cut from WWII? It was so good both the RAF and the Luftwaffe could agree on it. If you have any doubts of its ability to lend an air of distinguished class, check out photos of Brad Pitt groomed for his new movie, “Fury.” If a haircut can make that tool look like an educated, classy gentleman, imagine what it can do for you.

    -For watches, it’s good to have one. Go simple. Bells and whistles are for kids. Avoid rubber. A simple face with no more than the the date included is all you need. Also, get analog. If you don’t know what analog means, you probably shouldn’t get a watch after all. Stainless steel is the way to go. Buy from a jeweller. They have strong warranties, usually toss in free battery replacement, and adjust the chain links for you. If you don’t feel like spending that much, opt for a plain Timex camper style watch. Go for green canvas straps or a leather one. As with haircuts, always look back to classics for a watch. Nobody cares that you have a massive gold-plated milspec bear-tracker 2000 at work or at play. My phone can do all that as well.

    A great all-around piece of advice for anything in fashion is to always go classic. Whenever in doubt, go classic. You can get in rough spots trying to be stylish and faddish. You will never, ever look bad when you l

  • Tin Man

    I’ve got two to add…

    (1) if at all possible (and especially if you are in college or looking for summer jobs), find a high end men’s clothing store and get a job. Two reasons, the men that shop there are usually good contacts to have in life and they usually provide steep discounts to employees. Think about it, if you are going to buy clothes anyway, why not purchase top of the line at a really good price.

    (2) don’t buy trendy cloths, look to the classic styles. Although men’s fashions traditionally move in and out slower, I’m noticing a trend today that says men’s fashion will start to change as fast as women’s fashion in the next few years. Don’t be a slave to these trends, find a classic style that works for you. Personally, I like places such as Brooks Brothers, because they will have “some” fashionable items, but most of that they sell are very classic looks that will serve you regardless of the latest fashion trends we are told to buy by people that don’t care about us.

  • S_McCoy

    Sprezzatura baby .
    Clothing is of primary importance. You are judged by how you dress, and rightly so. There’s a reason why British soldiers shaved and wore clean clothes out in the bush with the savages.

    Unless a woman has bought you a custom made shirt a’la Urban Cowboy, treat women’s opinions on dress as you do their opinions on how to get a girl. Look around, very few women have any sort of fashion sense.

    Don’t expect to get much help from store clerks either, unless you’re in high end shops, and even then the opinions are of dubious quality.
    Go here for advice: putthison.com, askandyaboutclothes.com and styleforum.net.

    Try to pay up for quality, the difference between a $300 pair of goodyear welted shoes and a $100 pair of non-goodyear welted is the $300 pair of shoes will age well and the soles can be replaced thereby extending the life. I’m sending a pair of Allen Edmond wingtips back to the factory to be re-soled and re-lasted, it’ll cost a $100something but I’ve had these shoes 10 years and I’ll have them 10 more, $400 for 20 years of service ain’t bad. Learn how to shine shoes and do it, always rotate giving a pair a day off from wear. Don’t wear square toed shoes unless you want to be thought of as stupid. Don’t invest any time with a woman who likes square toed shoes.

    I say avoid non-iron stuff, they’re treated with formaldehyde so there is a minor health concern but more to the point, you’ll look like every other mid-management jack off, they are easy to spot, and they still have to be ironed. Better quality cotton shirts will wrinkle but not horribly so and wrinkles look better.
    Never wear a Fedora. Never. Unless: if you happen to be middle aged and older, dressed in business attire and the weather is such that you are wearing a heavy overcoat, you may wear a fedora while outside. Even then though, much better to wear a tweed flat cap.

    Replace black with navy blue, eschew polyester for wool, don’t worry about figuring out your color so much as coordinating the colors you wear, tuck in your shirt, scout ebay (I wear a $700 J Press tweed blazer I brought for $50, plus the alterations) and the thrift shops, most of your kit will be gotten online as the price to quality is usually good. Don’t be afraid of brands, most of Ralph Laurens stuff is top notch and despite the “I’m too good for brands” types, studies have proven that people associate branded items with positive qualities.
    Find a good tailor. Everything you buy off the rack, take to him and have him look at it for alterations. If he’s good he’ll tell you when it doesn’t need anything. Yelp is your friend.

    Plan out what you will need, then you can look for the best bargains. I don’t shop at Brooks Brothers as much as when I was younger but they are the best place to start, around the new year and mid year is when they have the best
    sales. Somewhere I found this description of a basic prep kit, it will take a year to build up:
    Six shirts, three white and three blue, and two or three pair of khakis would do the job. In cooler weather, a Shetland crewneck sweater in any color was added. A pair of brown penny loafers and white tennis sneakers (possibly a pair of white or tan buckskin oxfords) constituted the acceptable range of footwear. For outerwear, a cotton gabardine balmacaan raincoat (always tan), and a stout duffel coat (in tan or navy) were all that were needed, although many men also had a cotton gab golf jacket, also in tan… everyone had a tweed sports jacket (Harris or Shetland) and/or a navy single-breasted blazer for semi-dress, and a gray flannel suit for dress. Summer semi-formality was assured with a seersucker or tan poplin suit, some had madras sports jackets, for the more formal occasions a dark gray or navy tropical worsted suit. A half-dozen ties (regimentals, foulards or dots), and the necessary compliment of underwear, socks, pajamas and handkerchiefs filled out the basics.

  • don

    Minor point but dont forget to floss regularly. If you dont floss but brush regularly you will end up with good teeth but crap gums which is just as bad. If your gums bleed after flossing keep going and do it each day until they stop. You are not doing any damage by making them bleed, quite the opposite.

  • BB753

    Good advice overall.
    Some minor criticism. Don’t use too much soap and shampoo. It slowly destroys your skin and hair. Use some non- agressiove soap like Dove for both body and hair. Most skin conditions come from cosmetics overuse.
    Keep away from electric razors and fancy multiple blades. Stick to what your great grandfather used. I shave with a Wilkinson Sword.

  • BB753

    Also, never wear a jacket without a tie, unless it’s a sports jacket or you find yourself at a very informal venue.
    A red silk tie is a must.

  • deti

    A great post, Free Northerner.

    A few additions:

    1. Get a navy blue blazer with brass buttons. Every man must have one of these, just as every woman must have a little black dress.

    2. If you find you will be attending formal events on a regular basis, purchase a tuxedo. Single breasted, notch lapel, no vent jacket. Go conservative on this.

    3. Don’t skimp on shoes. Purchase reasonably priced wingtips, captoe and split toe; in black, brown and cordovan. No square toed shoes. Purchase shoes that fit well, and this includes all kinds of shoes, from sandals to your finest leather business shoes. Nothing is worse or more uncomfortable than a poorly fitting pair of shoes.

    4. Sandals and flip flops – home, beach or pool only.

    5. Socks with shorts – ankle length only. NO tube socks covering anything more than the ankles when worn with shorts.

    6. Ties: Silk only. Some of them must be red (because a red tie goes with just about everything). If a tie is stained or falls into poor repair, pitch it. It’s not worth repairing.

    7. For casual wear, collared shirts are better than no-collar T-shirts. Polos and button downs are best.

    8. For any event (except cocktail/business attire), determine the appropriate level of attire and dress one step above that. For example, if the event is casual, go business casual (unless you will be engaging in sport activity). If the event is business casual, go business. The only exception is business formal. If the event is business formal, you should not go black tie.

    9. Black tie means formal wear, and for men that means a tuxedo. The only acceptable attire for a black tie event is formal/tuxedo.

    10. Have your suits dry cleaned as needed or once a season.

  • deti

    Grooming:

    Trim your nose hair and ear hair. Trim your eyebrows. Pay attention to these details.

    If you are balding or bald: shave your head. If you cannot shave your head for whatever reason, keep your hair cut very, very short (no more than 1/8 inch). Think Jason Statham’s look. No combovers.

    Brush your teeth every morning and evening. Floss every evening.

  • Elspeth

    No watch? Seriously? I love the way my husband’s hands and wrist look when he is wearing his watch. He doesn’t even buy very expensive ones. He likes <a href="http://www.fossil.com/en_US/shop/men/categories/watch_styles.html?parent_category_rn=357084&departmentCategoryId=331209&quot;.Fossil. Fits his style and doesn’t break the bank.

    Interesting post on how a man presents himself. I can tell you’ve thought this through. Good stuff.

  • Glenn

    Good points. Also:

    -If you like wearing stuff that stands out (anything out of the ordinary and attention-grabbing), limit that to one item per outfit at most. One interesting and eye-catching article is a sign of unique tastes; a whole outfit full of them makes you look like a clown.

    -As far as watches go, quality > quantity. If you’re going to wear one, it should not be digital and it should not look “high-tech”- nothing like a character in the Matrix would wear. Classic is good. Also, avoid the oversize watch trend- if you’re not a sumo wrestler, 45mm watches will make your wrists and arms look puny in comparison. 40mm is the perfect size for most men. Try to go classy and simple over sporty and high-tech. And NEVER wear a fake watch- people will judge you for it, rightfully so.

    -Athletic shoes are for athletics. Have a different pair of casual shoes for your non-athletic casual activities.

    -The temptation is to wear shorts for as much of the year as possible, but shorts do have a bit of a connotation with youth and immaturity. That, and most shorts aren’t flattering on people. Think twice before you wear shorts out to a social event.

  • Free Northerner

    Thanks for all the great advice and additions guys. When I compile the series, I’ll take it all into consideration. Some of the advice is a bit advanced for the purposes of the guide.

    On the watch issue; I am not against watches, but the kind of guy taking my advice on fashion is not the kind of guy who is going to be able to pick a good watch. I know I’d be hopelessly lost picking one. I used to wear a big, black calculator watch and thought it was the coolest thing. Watches are one of those things that it doesn’t hurt to not have, but can easily backfire, so when in doubt leave it out.

  • Omega’s Guide – Body Language | Free Northerner

    […] week in the Omega’s Guide, we worked on personal presentation through grooming and dress. Today, we will be lookin at personal presentation through something more fundamental, yet more […]

  • fatbro

    Does this fashion advice apply for overweight/obese gents as well? Yes I am trying to lose weight, but that takes time and I need something to wear in the meantime.

  • Free Northerner

    It should mostly apply, but I’d ask someone who would know better than me. Go to a specialty big & tall store and ask them for advice on picking good clothes that fit well; I think that would be best bet.

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