Nothing fundamentally rational about this post, but it is instrumental. It will be useful to those that want to dress better. It's already been discussed that dressing well improved one's social life; I wanted to put it in one place how to reach that.


  • The point of dressing well is to look cool
  • It gets you out of the badly-dressed hole but doesn’t make you a cool God. Work on yourself.
  • Less is more, don’t trust your “I like this funky thing”.
  • Buy to compose outfits, ie to match what you already own, instead of random pieces you see in a shop and like
  • Wear what follows the shape of your body.
  • Go for dark blue tones, light grey to black, and sand to kaki.
  • Go for plain over pattern
  • Go for smooth over texture
  • Prefer symmetry
  • Have no logo/visible branding/message/image on your clothes.
  • Fashionable people break the rules all the time. But they have integrated style to their thinking. To get that going, follow the rules.


My post will have two parts.
In the first (the one you're reading) I’ll detail the rules that are commonly used to dress well. Those rules will optimize the social aspect of clothing, not what the fabric offers technically: how cool you look, not what interesting properties you get out of your clothes. In a later article, I will explore ‘techwear’, aka clothing with technical properties (thermoregulation, impermeability, not retaining smells…), as the logical direction to fully optimize one’s fashion. Because I don’t want to write the second part now, this first half is totally self sufficient, and I’ll write about many other things than clothing before I write on techwear.

Dressing well is an art not a science, and an art that changes with trends, social classes, tribes, generations. I am well aware that each rule in this article is broken everyday by extremely well-dressed people; nevertheless those rules are very useful, and a great one in clothing is to start with the basics for which rules apply, and then to explore.

A good sense of fashion is both extremely important, and not important at all.
People do judge based on looks. If you are visibly ‘out’, you will suffer social consequences such as people avoiding your company. By dressing well, you avoid being rejected from the get-go. But don’t expect to be loved for it. Being fashionable will save you from the hole and give you a bit of a wind up, but it won’t catapult how cool you are like some movies make believe. If there is something you want that requires being cool, you will still need to work on yourself for it.

Optimizing Style, aka: The Rules

I’ll start with the two principles that guide my buying and dressing behaviours and how I apply the rules.

Guiding Principles

Less Is More

The One principle to rule them all. To dress well during the first months/years of your learning curve, less is more should be your motto. This is true for shapes - go for simple; for textures - go for plain; for colors - go for the less colored. In clothing, as far as items are concerned more complex almost always hurts in the beginning, whereas more simple almost never does. For example the “Italian” shirts with three buttons near the collar; shirts with collars of a different color; shirt buttons of an unusual color; jeans with seams crossing all over, a jacket overloaded with zippers, wearing a striped instead of a plain shirt, t-shirts with logos on them.... You’ve heard it and it’s true: in clothing, less is more. This doesn’t mean to be monochromatic or to never have pockets or zippers on a coat. It means that when you think ‘oh, I like this funky little detail, it looks cool…’, you don’t trust yourself. I have noticed that generally, as a beginner, every time you go more original, more complex, you go worse. This is actually a mistake that even men who dress well do. They’re ‘bored’ of the basics, try to spice it up, and worsen instead of improving. Don’t let that be you.

Dressing Well is Composing Outfits

The second principle is to think, buy and dress in terms outfits rather than individual pieces. When you buy something, unless you have nothing good in your closet, it has to be bought in order to be worn with something you already have, instead of because you like it there and then. Go out shopping with what’s already owned in mind. One resistance people have is that your available styles expand less rapidly (because you’re improving outfit n instead of buying what will be outfit n+). Sure, not composing outfits and just buying individual pieces will result in more potential combinations because you’ll buy more; but in terms of combinations that look good, it will be less. You’ll end up opening your wardrobe, your brain filtering out the unmatchable clothes, and in despair you will cry : “I have nothing to weaaaaar!”. This is real if you don’t buy to compose outfits.

Read the rules bellow, and the next time you go shopping, it has to be with a purpose of the like: I want item X for reason Y (ie. a woolen sweater because of the cold); it must be Z to go with V (grey to match my black overcoat / thin to be worn under a jacket).

If you fall in love with some item you think you need to buy, ask yourself : what can I wear it with? If the answer is nothing, let it go. Your ability to let go, to realize that you don’t need something both before and after buying it, is very important when it comes to predicting how well you will dress. Just like how well you update your beliefs when faced with additional evidence is an indicator of how good a rationalist you are.

Off to the actual rules.


The most important thing in clothing is fit. Your clothes must follow the natural shape of your body. To the recurrent objection that a given cloth makes you look bad because it shows how fat, or how skinny you are, the answer is that not following your natural shape looks even worse. The only case when not fitting to your natural shape can be good is if you’re big and wear something bigger, because it’ll marginally "float" around you and thus makes you look slimmer inside. Wearing too skinny is never a good idea because it calls the attention to your body parts, not to you or your style. A nice cloth follows; it doesn’t stick. Even if you’re muscular, it’s too try-hard. Again, for a man: show your style, not your body. If you’re naturally skinny, the best is to go with your natural shape. Wider and you’ll look like a flag pole, tighter and your bones will show.

Fit is basically two things: wearing your correct size, and wearing clothes which cut follows the natural shape of your body.

A simple way to find what your size is: Find where you’re a little too tight, and go +1. Don’t go further up unless you already dress well. For jeans, because they stretch as you wear them, you can stick to those in which you are a little tight. In doubt, ask a salesperson.

I couldn’t give a universal advice, but for the engineering type, especially Americans, your jeans and chinos should be tighter than they are now. To know what the right fit is for you, don’t ask ‘is it comfortable?’ because to you, used to large jeans and trousers (relative to what is considered well fitted), the right size will feel uncomfortable. The right question is ‘Am I actually paralyzed?’ (Because that’s what your brain will say.) Undoubtedly though, there will be some marginal loss of ease in movement.

How do you know if an item of clothing is well cut / makes you look good in them?

In addition to the item being of your size ; ie not too long nor too short, not too wide nor too tight, its cut should follow your body’s shape. If you are a V, but the shirt is an O or a [], even your correct size won’t fit well. This is the kind of thing experience will teach you, ie wearing things that don’t fit you and learning which brands and/or designs do.

Pants’ quick win: Most men will look well in slim or semi-slim pants. Try not to go skin-tight to avoid clown feet. If your thighs to calf ratio is bigger than the average man’s however, you should try the ‘carrot’ cut that has more space around the thighs and a lower meeting point for the legs, yet a slimming cut down the leg so that the overall look is still fitted.


The second most important thing in clothing is colors: which to use and how to combine them. The two go hand-in-hand: you use the colors which, were you to combine them, would look harmonious still. Those colors are :

° Tones from medium to dark blue (preferably not light blue, with the exception of shirts and jeans);

° Tones from light grey to black;

° Tones from light sand to kaki (goes through dark beige but excludes brown).

A note on brown. Although it is a shade of beige, I think that brown should be avoided. This could be due to an association with old people, who tend to wear it more. (Again, no judgement, but the point of clothing is to look cool; even at 50, cool men are too young for brown). Very rarely will you see well-dressed men wearing brown. You can wear brown leather in jackets or shoes, especially if it is suede leather and doesn’t look like orange, but aside from that you should avoid it. I will not advise you to wear brown suits, but some men wear them well.

A note on black. I decided to add black to the color list because you see it so much in perfectly dressed people that it’d be senseless not to. However, for several social groups, black, except for business/gala shoes, is absolutely forbidden. If you socialize with those and are tempted to go black, go for dark blue instead (to know, just look at the coolest / most group-representative people, and check whether they wear black).

Within those circles although a black t-shirt or jean will be frowned upon, it should still be tolerated (unless worn together). A black suit however, worn anywhere else than at events where tuxedos are expected, is horrific. It goes without saying that black shirts are equally (if not more) criminal.

In society at large, black suits are somewhat more accepted, despite their association with valets, taxi drivers, servicing personnel in general. And because some people will think extremely lowly of you for wearing one outside of tuxedos events, I suggest always going for a dark blue suit. You’ll still be elegant to everyone that doesn’t know about the no-black rule, and will not be put in a hole by those who do. Added cost: 0; avoided value loss: potentially a lot.

A note on shirts’ colors. The color of your business shirt complies to an even stricter array of colors than mentioned (and complying to it for your casual shirts will not hurt either). Your shirt must be light, and mostly will only be blue and white (you have choice! the shirts can have invisible stripes patterns...). Light blue and white only. Never kaki or beige, never grey (ah!), black (brr!), and of course none of the excluded colors (yellow! oh! brown! No.). Those are absolutely forbidden and, by the way, one of the reason well-dressed Europeans look at Americans in their shiny-fabric (!) oversized (!) suits and think Aaaaahhhhhh. In this area, the reason for strictness is very likely more social norm than combinability, which makes it all the more important not to violate. If you do (in the company of well-dressed people, or others “in the know”), people will not only think you dress poorly, they’ll will also not want to be around you, because their status will decrease from contamination. Trust me, I’ve been on the judging end of that norm.

It’s just like in high school. Can the coolest kid hang out with whoever they want and despise the rule without being contaminated by the violators? Of course they can. Are most kids the nice coolest kid? Of course they aren’t. They will comply and avoid the badly dressed like they do the uncool.

How to match colors.

The great thing with the colors above is that if you stick to them and combine two or three when choosing your clothes, you can’t lose. Little need for detail here: if you stick to two or three of these colors, you will not lose.

Two additional, less strict rules that will make things even simpler for you :

A. for the layers worn on your upper body, go from lighter (close to the body, ie your shirt/t-shirt) to darker (further from the body, ie mid-layers, coats etc). This is why good colors for t-shirts are white, light grey and khaki; and why you should start with a dark blue, not a beige coat. But this is no absolute rule.

B. Your lower body should be darker than your upper body. This is probably because dark colors make one look slimmer, and most men’s body type is legs bigger than upper body whereas the athletic stereotype is legs thinner than upper body. For that reason, give priority to jeans and chinos that are navy/dark blue, black and dark grey.

Your shoes can be the exception: plain white sneakers are fantastic to boost an outfit (avoiding logos, stripes etc). Ever wondered why French people look amazingly well dressed? Fit x color understanding x white shoes = (well dressed) French person.

When you get more advanced with your clothing, from matching two or three colors, try to match two or three tones of colors. Ie, wear light grey tones + navy tones + black.

Or beige/khaki tones + white + navy tones.

Find colors that suit you: like women do, bring the cloth near your face and look in the mirror how your tone goes with the color.

There is a theory out there that the contrast between your clothes should match the contrast between your face and hair: every time I see it described, I can’t tell which of the pictures I’m shown as good vs bad examples is the better. The theory sounds true to me; it’s very logical and some color-theory things are definitely true (black makes your face look paler in contrast; the more contrast with skin and clothes the more your face will stand out); but the overall doesn’t convince me.


Symmetry is beautiful to us. On humans, we like vertical symmetry: the right and left sides mirror each other. It seems to me that there are two types of symmetry: simple and complex. Simple is a jacket where the right and left sides of the zipper are plain and the same; complex is when they both have ten buttons placed at the exact same place, mirroring each other. The first is the one we want. When we learn to dress well, we don’t just want to avoid asymmetry (like a zipper diagonally crossing a sweater or a fold coming on top of the other); we also want to avoid complex symmetry.

This is one of the less strict rules, as we’ve seen James Bonds and Kingsmen rock the double-breasted suit; but given that you’re likely to fail them, play it safe and look awesome in that classic navy suit.


The second part of this article will go into more detail on the properties of the fabrics you wear. Yet, you should still know a few things about fabrics now, for reasons of basic comfort.

With t-shirts and shirts, don’t go for less than 100% cotton, and try to go for higher-end kinds of cotton for comfort and durability, like Egyptian cotton, Long Island cotton, Supima cotton (there are more).

For woolen sweaters and for coats, unless you have an absolute crush on an item you can’t find elsewhere, don’t go for an item with over 20% of synthetic fabrics — polyamide, polyester, and the likes. 80% wool 20% synthetic is tolerable, especially if you can’t invest much. For some items, synthetic fabrics are actually added to increase resistance (rarely above 20% though), as natural fabrics like merino wool or cashmere can be more fragile. But synthetic fabrics retain smells, don’t evacuate sweat and heat, creating a sauna effect, and don’t protect against the cold like wool does.

If you want a winter sweater or coat, you will need to look at the fabric tag.

Remember with synthetics: sauna in the summer, veil in the winter.


This is a very important rule, always within Less is More: avoid showy brands. No logo. No message/text/image/comic either. This is first as a social understanding that bragging is low-value because you don’t want to seem like you’re trying to look rich or cool. The other side of logos is signaling your personality through a message or image that you think is cool or funny. It will probably not be understood by most around you, and they’ll think you’re unfunny/uncool/immature. Even counter-signaling often backfires, given that those who you want to think you’re dressed well aren’t those who already think you’re cool, and who’ll get the joke or message.

Price/positioning (and which are the good brands)

Except for some rare high-street shops like Uniqlo, the brands that you want to buy from are the ones that don’t come to you.

The good heuristic for this is precisely your anti-intuition: if you can name them, they’re probably terrible and their money is spent on advertising rather than making good clothes. Advertising is totally logical for a brand that wants to sell its product instead of waiting to be discovered. But it does take money out of the cloth. For we who want to optimize dressing, cutting the advertising costs by finding and sharing those brands that have little or no advertising is the win. Because I know many of those brands, voila a list of those you wish you knew, from least to most expensive (* are my personal favorites (the French names will still deliver worldwide, and are very good)):

Uniqlo, Cos, Everlane (United States), Paris-Yorker, Le Pantalon, Hast (shirts), Asphalte-paris, SuitSupply, Asket, Spoke London, Seagale* (techwear), Drapeau Noir, Hircus, BonneGueule*, Harmony Paris, Norse Projects*, SEH Kelly,  Howards (shirts), Merz B. Schwanen, APC, Norwegian Rain, Officine Générale*, Editions MR, De Bonne Facture.

The Wardrobe Basics

The items that you must have, for which there is no need to wait, and they go with everything (no need to worry about what to wear them with). You will have no trouble whatsoever finding them.

For each category, I give a list of brands that go from cheap to more expensive. It is heavily French -- that is most I know.

° Pants: dark navy chino, black jeans, dark blue jeans. Opt: beige chino, bleached blue jeans, grey jeans. Best brands: [Uniqlo, Asket, Le Pantalon, Spoke, Nudie, Bonnegueule]

° T-shirts (always plain): white, light grey, dark grey, dark blue, khaki [Uniqlo for cheap Supima cotton, Asket, Seagale, BonneGueule, Norse Projects, Merz B Schwannen].

° Sweaters: dark blue, light grey, dark grey [Uniqlo, Asket, Seagale, Merz B. Shwannen, Officine Generale].

° Business shirts: white, light blue — avoid oxford pattern, go for popeline [Hast, BonneGueule, Howards].

° Casual shirts: the fabric is a more robust cotton (like Oxford or cotton flannel) or it’s made with wool - white, light blue, can go for dark blue, khaki, light grey [Uniqlo, Asket, Drapeau Noir, Norse Projects, BonneGueule, Officine Generale].

° Parka/Overcoats: dark blue and/or dark grey. Beige and khaki also work. Black also works. [SuitSupply, Seagale, Drapeau Noir, Harmony Paris, BonneGueule, SEH Kelly, Officine Generale]. This is a piece for which you should be ready to invest over 350 euros if you need it against the cold.

° Shoes: a pair of minimalist white sneakers (here the Adidas logo or Nike swoosh are tolerated, but if you can avoid them do so). [Cos, Adidas, Nike, NewBalance, Asphalte-Paris, BonneGueule, Axel Arigato (lower quality for the price but look good), National Standard (expensive but long-lasting)]. A pair of minimalist black leather business shoes. Optionnal: minimalist blue leather white sole sneakers [Asphalte-Paris, Axel Arigato, BonneGueule, National Standard] / beige suede or black leather Chelsea or boots [Asphalte-paris, Orbans, BonneGueule, Septieme Largeur, Cobbler Union (United States), Paraboot].

You’ll notice there are no polo shirts mentioned. They can be worn well, but because they need to be well ironed and fitted to not give that American dad look, I’d rather just not recommend them. They also have a good-boy image and, as previously mentioned, the point of dressing well is to avoid those negative associations. A good alternative is to wear long-sleeved (merino) wool polo sweaters: more elegant, easier to take care of, and with no negative associations.

More Practical Advice and Things I Wish I Learned Earlier

° Don’t be an overmatcher: using the same fabric from top to bottom; matching two colors perfectly (eg burgundy shoes burgundy sweater with white pants white jacket white hat; this gives you away as try-hard). This is worse than wearing one color, which can be done well (as always, the soberer the color the easier). The best strategy, whether wearing one or several colors: is a camaïeu: for a given color, each additional piece must be of a different tone.

° For some reason (possibly to look more manly/different to women’s coats), long coats should not follow your body like your clothes do. They shouldn’t be larger, but they shouldn’t be too tight. In fact, straight from the shoulder works wonders...

° Never wear white socks (this is just a class thing, but very useful to know)

Final comments:

-Washing. I don’t know how anecdotal my evidence is, but there may be a tendency in people to overwash. The only things that should be washed after every wear are underwear, cotton shirts, polos and t-shirts. Sweaters need to be washed way less frequently, especially woolen ones. At most once a month. The more you have, the less often you wear them, the more rarely the wash.

For everything that is woolen or higher quality cotton (and that isn’t stained): wash at 30°C and do not dry. Hang if it’s light, lay down on a dry surface or towel if heavy.

Pants should be washed every six months, because they shrink ever so slightly after every wash (but then go back to normal after worn), and lose their dye very fast (it’s hard to fixate, and the cheaper the less fixated). It is part of a pant’s life to fade out, so don’t buy a new one every year; but don’t precipitate it either.

-Cool brands. You want to optimize clothing not by wearing just what good brands make, but by wearing what good brands makethat cool people wear. Good brands make some ugly things: from an economic perspective it makes sense: if someone will only buy from you if you make the ugly thing they want, just make it for them and cash in. Also, when you make one hundred pieces, some will be for older or younger generations, some will be too crazy for you, many will break the rules… So don’t buy just because it’s from a good brand. First, learn what is cool, then buy from the good brands.

Of course, if you have no idea what is cool and don’t even know where to look (give links), then just buying from a brand you know is cool with the rules in mind, even with your bad taste, is a massive head start.

-Consumerism. Sure, don’t be consumerist. Don’t buy and buy and buy. People overestimate how much pleasure goods will bring them. However, there is a very real phenomenon that just happens, and it only does after a nontrivial number of items of clothing bought and time, yet it is pretty sudden: at some point in your dressing ‘journey’, you’ll become well dressed. You’ll more or less always be fashionable, recognized for it, where you go people will assume you’ve always dressed well, and you’ll derive about as much pleasure from it as you derived displeasure from realizing that you still didn’t look good, when you had just bought and worn a new item you liked. That said, I still stand behind the well-hammered philosophy that consists in buying less but better.

Although I recommend BonneGueule for every clothing category, I am in no way related to them. It's a simple coincidence that they make such amazing clothes and as a blog give so much free value away. I guess this is where giving gets you. If you live outside of France, count 19% off their prices as they (unlike other brands) discount the value tax. If you aren’t in Europe, the price will raise in delivery.

if you want to know more, you can start with r/malefashionadvice’s wiki; and with Bonne Gueule’s YouTube video series Le Bon Look -- some videos have English subtitles.

If you live in London and want to pay to spend a day shopping with me; if you want to send me a message about anything; or if you just want to see my irrational lifestyle... head to ig @eaudadrien

New Comment
41 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:

It's been a classic guideline of the site for a long time, that you should avoid the word 'rational' or 'rationalist' in titles as an adjective to describe stuff. In the interest of avoiding a repeat of the LW 1 apocalypse, I (and probably others) would really appreciate if you changed it.

Gotcha. Thanks for the heads up!

Not that I have any particular reason to disagree with any specific part of this guide, but could we get some sort of… credentials, or, like, accomplishments, or something? (Something like the “Why you should trust us” section of the guides at Wirecutter.)

(I mean, otherwise you’re just some guy on the internet, right?)

I absolutely am just some guy on the internet! No credentials, I don’t work in fashion, I’ve only paid close attention to how to dress as a man for years. Also, this article has been asked for at meetups by people who saw me.

...guess you’re going to have to try the rules and see if your style gets worse hehehe

You do you measure whether or not your style gets worse?

Well, I checked out the websites of several of the brands you listed.

What became quite obvious very quickly is that, to a first approximation, your advice boils down to:

“Spend more money on clothes. Like… a lot more money. An entire order of magnitude more money than you spend now. Devote significantly more of your budget to clothes than you do to food, utility bills, or any other expense except rent.”

So, that does present rather an obstacle to just trying entirely unverified advice…

I upvoted this article because the general advice is very good, although I disagree with most of the specific advice (the brands, which pieces of clothing are most important). Fancier companies are generally nice in ways that have nothing to do with fashion (nicer materials, more comfortable). Pretty much any brand works fine if you can find the right fit and colors. Although you may need to explore multiple brands to find clothes that fit you, it doesn't mean you have to go straight to expensive clothes. I can't find anything that fits me at Walmart but everything at Target does, and they're very similar prices.

I started wearing relatively expensive clothing in the last few years, but it's entirely for reasons that aren't obvious visually (jeans with a very slightly stretch around the waist are a lot more comfortable, wool shirts dry quickly and don't smell bad after physical activity).

I'd love to hear more of your thoughts!

Because I'm passionate about clothing and fabrics, I only referenced brands that are both high quality, and good value for money. If you went from eating at McDonald's to nicer restaurants, it would be a mistake to focus solely on the price increase; you would get better quality ingredients, service... less cancer...

Uniqlo is the best you can find at a low price range.The downsides are that fabrics are lower quality, will die earlier, won't feel as good; and that the employees' work conditions are Bangladeshi. Quality comes at a price.

That said, if you wanted to shop at the cheapest place you could find (or more realistically, something like H&M), the rules would still apply and enhance your style. Thrift shops are also great to find good things on a low budget.

Even if you buy from the brands I recommend, it should be a gradual process; don't ruin yourself. My personal rule is one item a month, and I wait for Christmas or my birthday if I want something expensive. But granted, you'd still probably spend more than you spend now. Although it'd really, really surprise me if it was more than food. (Like, really).

A more meta note: it seems reasonable to me to expect, if you're discovering a new field, that achieving proficiency in that area would require investing a significant amount of resources. So perhaps you shouldn't be as surprised 🤗

If you went from eating at McDonald’s to nicer restaurants, it would be a mistake to focus solely on the price increase; you would get better quality ingredients, service… less cancer...

If you went from eating at McDonald’s to eating at restaurants that are five to ten times more expensive than McDonald’s, then I would conclude that the price increase (or, rather, the resulting signaling effect) is, in fact, the primary or even the entire reason for the change.

(When it comes to food quality, if you went from eating at McDonald’s to eating at, say, this place, you would get at least 75% of the maximum possible benefit that you could possibly get from upgrading your restaurant preferences. Note the menu; those are main courses, and they are at most 150% as expensive as McDonald’s—not 500–1000%!)

A more meta note: it seems reasonable to me to expect, if you’re discovering a new field, that achieving proficiency in that area would require investing a significant amount of resources. So perhaps you shouldn’t be as surprised

You’re equivocating between effort and money, here. It would not surprise me that proficiency in a new field would require investing significant time and effort. If, however, it allegedly requires investing significant money, then I would either suspect that someone is trying to sell me something (or, more subtly, benefiting from the perpetuation of norms that require me to buy something)—or I would seriously reconsider my decision to acquire proficiency in said field.

What distinguishes a BonneGueule light blue popeline shirt from the average light blue popeline shirt? Can you explain how the shirt differs and how the additional value gets created?

Sorry not much time to answer all the comments, but basically (for the brands that I’ve listed and others for which more pricey = investment in quality); at each step of the production process, the quality will fluctuate depending on how much you’re willing to pay. First the fabric, eg the length of the cotton fibers, the thinness of the merino wool or cashmere, the resistance or unmarkedness of leather... Then the treatment of the fabric and the coloring (many other steps in between probably), then the cut, how much material is used, the denser the more pricey usually. Also better clothes need more prototyping to get done right. So you see, many costs. When price and quality are correlated (ie this doesn’t apply to almost all high street shops), the more you pay the longer your clothes will last, the warmer, the more comfortable they will be.

Luxury clothing is a little different because while the price is totally unjustified, and too high for the quality, the quality can still be absolutely astounding, because the prices are so high that they can get anything done. This btw can be a problem for smaller brands that don’t do unjustified prices, when luxury brands drive the price of nice fabrics way up.

I do understand the value proposition of merino wool and cashmere but bonnegueule shirts seem to be out of cotton. I don't understand why I should pay for a different length of cotton fibers. Why are different cotton fibers better? Do I want long or short ones?

Actually most are merino wool, one is half cotton half linen, one is made with heavier cotton and treated with indigo to give a blue jeans color and effect.

Longer fibers are more resistant; and thinner fiber are softer against the skin. Linen is rough but has some very interesting properties like thermoregulation.

In last few months I experimented a lot with printing custom t-shirts with my own design. Having such a t-shirt will not increase my social status, but interesting t-shirt could make me more visible in the crowd and will be a good starter of conversation. There are several important ideas if you want custom print t-shirt:

1) You need over-print all surface t-shirt.

2) You need sublimation technology of printing. Never print small logos on cotton t-shirt, they will not survive first washing. Sublimation is unkillable.

3) You need "jersey structure" of the material: it is still synthetic, but much more similar to cotton.

An example of a place with right t-shirts and some of my designs for them is:

Having such a t-shirt will not increase my social status

Depending on t-shirt quality I think this is just false?

As OP said the higher status is associated with image-free blueish t-shirts, and in most cases I think he is right. But obviously some exceptions are possible.

I think shirts like this could help your status within small subcultures. I think the article is more about how to dress to maximize status for the overarching culture. Depending on your goals it could plausibly be worth it to optimize for a subculture instead, although I think the cases of that are probably uncommon (since most subcultures are fine with normal fashion too).

Like mr-hire I like the topic choice and think lesswrong would get value out of it.

However, you included 0 image links, as far as I can tell. If I'm an unfashionable male, how do I know what a "light" or "dark" navy is? How do I know what a "chino" is?

Also this entire post could have been a linkpost to r/malefashionadvice, which appears to be the source of most of your advice.

You’re right about the images. I want to add some. It was making me procrastinate so I decided to just post it without them. I don’t think however that you need me to know what light or dark is. For something like a chino though you’re right. For those who don’t know; they’re the simple cotton-made trousers that aren’t jeans (can’t think of a better pointer).

As for the r/malefashionadvice, never read in my life, so you’re somewhat mind-fallacy-ing me here. The French blog is my main reference. As well as their YouTube channel which has some translated videos. I’ll link the YouTube and r/malefashionadvice at the end of the article.

Your post didn't contain any advice on belts. Do you have any?

Plain black or navy leather, silver buckle 👌🏻

What brands? Is there a difference between more expensive items and less expensive items that makes it worth paying for more expensive ones?

What benefit do I get when I don't buy the Uniqlo one for 30€ but pay more?

This is anecdotal but two brands I own and like are Atelier Particulier and Anderson’s. Check out the website also 😊

This is great! I've bookmarked it. I really appreciate that you listed brands -- that will be a generator of lots of useful fashion ideas.

Uniqlo has been my clothing go-to for years now (I probably have bought 20+ t-shirts from them, all my jeans for the last few years, all my underwear, and even a few jackets and such), so I second that recommendation, especially for skinnier men.

I would additionally recommend people go shopping in person at thrift stores. Thrift stores are a good way to get a taste of styles or brands that you're not sure will fit into your wardrobe -- if you take a risk on a piece of clothing and it ends up not working out, at a thrift store you're usually only out $15 or so. (Though it's worth noting that most expensive clothing stores have at least a 30 day return policy, usually quite a bit more than that.)

Thanks a lot! Very happy I could bring in some value 🥳

How universal do you think the advice you give her is? Is it applicable in the US the same way as in Europe?

Would the advice have been correct ago 10 years ago? Would you expect it to be correct 10 years in the future?

I feel like this article is more optimized for European / conservative US fashion. In most of the places I've lived in the US, you could follow basically the same rules but go significantly more casual. For example, you still want to get basically the same colors, material, logos, etc. but get jeans, t-shirts, and (maybe) nice-looking hoodies instead of button-up shirts, chinos and sweaters.

I would also add shoes -- in the US, I see men wearing a variety of shoe types:

  • Fashion sneakers instead of athletic sneakers
  • boat shoes
  • brown leather shoes (though black is essential for formal occasions, it comes off as too formal for me most of the time). For this I also think a brown belt is important to go with it.

I love korin43's answers more than my article 😂

Haha writing my comments was way easier since you already covered the hard parts in the article so I can just make short comments about the few places where I disagree.

Especially now that the world is so globalised, yes, I think the advice is applicable worldwide, despite perhaps a few differences here and there depending on the country.

The advantage of the rules is that they are less attached to the waves of fashion than purely trendy people are. In 10 years, if you've applied the rules, you should look at pictures of yourself now and think 'that was good!'. Masculine fashion moves slower than feminine fashion. When on top of that you add that the rules change even less; yes, the advice holds through time really well.

I can think of a few changes in the rules, in the past 10-20 years. For instance, minimalist sneakers worn with a suit (and anything else) are now acceptable; streetwear and techwear clothes are getting more and more common (for example no one will think a cargo pant is odd or too 'technical' nowadays). There is a slow tendency for things to go more casual, so it's the formal rules that progressively stop being respected. But it takes a while.


I am currently reading spiral dynamics. It might be interesting to present clothing through the eyes of different stages of development. (colour scheme belongs to the theory)

Beige: clothing is about basic needs. Survival, being warm when relevant. They don't really matter beyond that. They might get damaged and need replacing.

Purple: clothing is about basic needs but also about identity and mythic connection. Grandma gives you a scarf, that scarf is special and holds the special for its lifetime. Attire can have powers, colours can represent spirit.

Red: clothing is about showing off. Being strong. I am the best because I have the best clothing. Attire is about status and status alone. These gold chainz. They are because I represent being at the top.

Blue: attire is about showing off rank and expertise. You know I'm the boss because I wear armani suits. I know how to pay attention to the right details and be technically correct so other people recognise my rank.

Orange: I like status for myself. Having a sports car is for me. It's because I'm great.

Green: everyone can wear what they like. Programmers in hoodies. That's because we are above all that signalling status stuff. It's not about the clothes we wear, it's about the people we are and the diverse opinions we bring to the table.

Tier 2

Yellow: okay. I still need to be warm. I can still wear grandma's scarf, but I also get to be technically correct about what's the best thing for me to wear. And it might be a hoodie, or it might not be a hoodie. Depending on the room I'm walking into. I can dress as I like and still be impressive to both others and myself and be comfortable.

Turquoise: everything at yellow is correct and there's still a way to dress that makes others feel included and supported and not intimidated by my power but also know that I have the power if I need it. I also get to wear my identities in ways that suit me.

Coral:?? (unsure) in any moment, with every room I walk into, I know how to be to get what I want out of the room and to have the room be the best version of itself. I'm not always in charge but I am always moving to where I want things to be. My clothes allow me to be at all levels at all times depending on who's looking at me.


Logos are also part of identity and can be important to signal belonging. Band T-Shirts. Logos of Organizations.


If you go in a formal suit to an informal event with people in green you are unlikely to be accepted the same way as you would if you dress like the other people at the event. Ingroup/outgroup thinking is still part of green spiral-dynamics.

This is awesome. If you're in London I'd love to meet & talk, all those levels-of-consciousness type things really interest me. Send a message if you're interested!


Sydney not London but pm and we can chat via [current hip method]

Hahaha great

I love that you wrote this. I think LW needs more instrumental advice like this.

In this particular instance I think you're mixing the idea of dressing cool and dressing conservative.

These are not the same thing, although both are better than dressing badly.

I think you're absolutely right, and I might have abused the word 'cool' (my clickbaity self lol). The rules are more conservative than they are cool.

Two things though. First, if you follow the rules, you will be cooler than nearly all around you, unless you're in a high-end venue, in which case you'll just look good. Second, because being cool (in the high-end-venues-clientele sense) requires strongly integrated norms/a lot of experience and changes with trends heavily, it is much harder to teach, and the quickest way to reach that point where you know breaking a rule will make you look better is to start with the rules.

Can you taboo high-end-venues-clientele?

The people you see queuing outside of the most exclusive clubs, or even better, that you see skipping the queue. Basically people who are famous/semi-famous, rich, or work in fashion, modeling, nightlife, art, film... For this little scene, following the newest trends is more important than dressing the way this article recommends. It’ll be more oriented towards wearing designer clothes, basically more about wealth & trend-awareness signaling.