The Dark Wash Jean

Jeans, Denim, Blue Jeans, whatever you call them – the bottom line is that they’re a staple in every man’s wardrobe. But that doesn’t mean most guys know how to choose the right pair.

Every day, I see looks of dissapoinment slapped across people’s faces as the men in their lives waddle around in poopy-pants, flop about in the moo-moo version of jeans or show off their twig and berries.

Let’s fix this.

Have questions? Curious what others think?

Join us in the comments section of the video above.

Every single man, no matter their size, age or body type should have a few pairs of dark washed jeans in their closet. They work for nearly all occasions outside of a formal setting and look good with virtually everything- especially my list of men’s wardrobe essentials. They’ll never steer you wrong and are likely the pants you’ll wear a majority of the time.

The 5 Aspects Of Jeans

1. Wash or Rinse

This dictates how light or dark the jeans are as well as how they’re treated. Light wash = lighter colored. Dark wash = dark.

My preferred wash is dark blue, sometimes called indigo, depending on the brand.

Because of the title of this article, you know I’m recommending that you own dark wash jeans. The reason is because this wash looks great on everybody, hides skinny or thicker legs better than any other color and can be dressed in a casual or less-casual way. I love them so much that I put them on every single one of my clients.

2. Style

This is also called the “cut” and sometimes also called the “fit” of the jeans. Depending on your body type, you should be wearing a certain style. We’ll get into that in a minute, but the most common styles are (in order of slimness):

  • Skinny
  • Slim
  • Straight
  • Boot Cut
  • Relaxed

3. Size

The waist and inseam (leg length) measurements of the jeans. Ex: 32×32 (inches).

If you’ve seen my Fit Guide, you know appropriate jeans sizing, but here’s a quick refersher:

  • They should fit your waist without needing a belt. They can even be slightly tight, as denim will loosen as you wear them.
  • The inseam (length) should leave a slight or full break where they meet your shoes. Anything shorter will look odd and anything longer will bunch at your ankles and throw off your proportions.

4. Denim Type Or Fabric Blend

Denim material can be blended with a variety of other fabrics. Some jeans may have two to three percent spandex and others might have polyester blended into them.

A quick thought if you go with spandex blends:

  • Spandex blends, while a little more comfortable and forgiving in the thighs, tend to stretch out and not retain their shape as well as 100% cotton blends. I’ve definitely seen some “poopy pants” as a result of this.

It’ll depend on what you prefer, I can go either way on this – some of my recc’s below are blends, some are 100% cotton.

5. Fit

I get asked all the time “How should men’s jeans fit?”

Here’s the the trifecta of how your jeans should fit, regardless of age or body type:

  • You should be able to pinch a minimum of 1 inch of fabric, but no more than 1.5 inches on either side of the thigh.
  • They should fit your waist without a belt.
  • They shouldn’t be too short or too long – having a slight or full break. 

Check out my Fit Guide for more in-depth info.

The Best Dark Wash Jeans For Your Build

A quick note about your height: It doesn’t matter. My clients range in size from 5ft 3in to almost 7ft and I’ve never put them in different jeans because of their height. These are the best jeans for short men, tall men, medium-sized men and so on. The only thing that matters is your build: slim/regular or larger.

Slim or Regular Build

You’ll want to get a “Slim” fit. Slim-fit jeans tend to slightly hug the thighs, knees, and calves while tapering down from your knee to ankle.

A lot of my slim & regular built clients initially believe this style will make them look too skinny. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just that they’re used to wearing super baggier clothes to try and hide their slimness, which, coincidentally, just makes them look slimmer. A proper fitting pair of jeans just looks right, regardless of your build, and doesn’t make you look one way or another – I promise.

Things to avoid:

  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking “Skinny” fit is the same as “Slim” fit. “Skinny” fit jeans are usually skin-tight and not appropriate
  • Avoid “Straight Fit” jeans. Like the name implies, the leg of the pants are looser and will be cut straight down from the knee to ankle. This cut will look terrible on you. 
  • If you can pinch more than an 1.5 inches of denim on either side of your thighs, you need to move down to a slimmer cut or get the legs taken in. If you can avoid it, don’t rush to the tailor. Try a size down first or another brand. This is costly for a tailor to do. Having too much fabric on your thighs will make you look smaller, shorter or wider than you are.

Designer

I’ve personally worked with and touched each pair of these jeans (in all sections) and they’re awesome. The fit is very accurate, the pocket placement and stitching is great. Diesel runs a little larger in the waist, so go down a size (ex: if you’re a 34 waist, get a 32).

Tom Ford Slim-Fit Stretch Indigo Denim Jeans
RRL Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans
JBrand Tyler Taper Fit in Rasalas
JBrand Taper Tyler Fit in Blue Hood
Diesel Buster Jeans

Budget Friendly

I love these because the quality in relation to the price is very good and you can never go wrong with a classic like Levi’s and I love Uniqlo’s wash and they also offer free hemming!

Uniqlo Stretch Selvedge Slim Fit Jeans
Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Stretch Jeans

Larger Build

The classic “Straight-Leg” fit is perfect for you. No matter a man’s build, but especially in your case, it’s all about balancing your body’s proportions to make sure your bottom half complements your upper half.

There are a few great brands out there that offer straight-legged jeans with a slightly roomier thigh area which will hopefully solve your frustrations with finding jeans that fit properly.

Things to watch out for:

  • Avoid any cut of jean (all pants in general, for your build) with a taper in the legs. A taper will make you look really top heavy.
  • If you can pinch more than an 1.5 inches of denim on either side of your thighs, you need to move down a size, go to a slimmer cut, try a different brand, or get the legs taken in by a tailor. Don’t get the legs taken in if you can help it, it’s costly for a tailor to do. Having too much fabric on your thighs will make you look wider than you are and completely throw off your proportions.

Designer

The wash, quality and fit of these are great and I use them all the time for my larger clients because it makes them look really sharp.

AG Graduate Jeans
JBrand Kane Jeans 

Budget Friendly

Just like I said for the slim to regular built options in this category: I love these because the quality in relation to the price is very good and you can never go wrong with a classic like Levi’s and Uniqlo’s wash is great and they offer free hemming!

Levi’s 514 Tumbled Rigid Jeans
Uniqlo Selvedge Straight Leg Jeans
Gap 1969 Straight Fit Jeans

3 Ways To Wear

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Levis Sunset Pocket Tee
JBrand Tyler Taper Fit in Rasalas
Allen Edmonds Wide Basic Belt
Vans Authentic Sneakers

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Brooks Brothers Suede Barracuda Jacket
J. Crew Garment-Dyed Henley
JBrand Tyler Taper Fit in Rasalas
Allen Edmonds Wide Basic Belt
Vans Authentic Sneakers

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Modern Fit Travel Tailoring Virgin Wool Suit
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Spread Collar Sports Shirt
JBrand Tyler Taper Fit in Rasalas
The Tie Bar Knitted Tie
The Tie Bar Cotton Pocket Square dark Charcoal Tipping
Johnston & Murphy Fielden Cap-Toe Dress Shoe
IWC Portuguese Automatic Watch

Outfit Inspiration

 

The Semi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt

The Semi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt is *the* holy grail of dress shirts. When I was conceiving the idea of this series, this was the article of clothing that started it all because it embodies everything an Essential means to me:
  • It works for everybody – regardless of age, face shape or body type.
  • It works in all scenarios.
  • It will never go out of style.

A semi-spread dress shirt will look great dressed up or down, with or without a tie, with the sleeves rolled up, underneath a v-neck sweater or even a leather jacket.

In all your outfits, but especially when dressing up, you want to put your best foot forward, and a pillar of a sharp outfit is the dress shirt.

If you’re new to dressing, looking and feeling better, it’s extremely easy to get bogged down by the minutia. So let me save you the time and just say don’t worry about other collars until later on in your style journey.

What is a Semi-Spread Collar?

Let me show you via the simple image below. There are other types of collars such as the club, mandarin, tab and contrast collar, but those have extremely specific use cases and won’t work for most people, so let’s stick to the most common ones below:

DressShirtCollarTypes

Why A Semi-Spread and Not..?

The collar is very important. It makes or breaks an outfit. The collar of a shirt borders your face, so this is the first thing people see when looking at you since our natural tendency is to look at the face/head and move down.

Also, the type of collar informs the viewer, often unconsciously, what the rest of your outfit should be and how to perceive you.

Point vs Semi-Spread

A point collar, the most common one you’ll see in stores, simply doesn’t look good on most guys because it doesn’t fit most faces or body types. I rarely dress my clients in them because it’s just not worth the hassle when there’s something that looks good on all men. Whenever I see someone wearing a point collar, they almost always shouldn’t be wearing it because it’s not for them. I’ll do a more detailed post about this later, because I can go on forever about my dislike of the point collar.

Full Spread vs Semi-Spread

The full spread collar is similar to the point collar in that it is acceptable in only specific contexts and body shapes. These have gotten more popular over the last few years and I’d choose them over a point collar, if given the choice.

They’re great if you’re wider or broad shouldered, but I see a lot of guys wearing them who really shouldn’t be. These are also the same guys who have a full windsor knot to fill in the space of a spread collar, and on thinner guys, this is style suicide! Don’t do it!

What Colors Should I Get?

You’ll want to stick with white and light blue because like the gray suit, it’s a blank canvas that goes with anything you pair it with and you can easily add your personality via accessories (ties, pocket square, etc). Later on, you can play with the color and pattern, but for right now, these two colors are timeless, sharp, and don’t require any thinking when you put an outfit together.

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How Should a Semi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt Fit?

I’m glad you asked. Head over to my Fit Guide for details about how all your dress shirts should fit.

The Best Semi-Spread Collar Dress Shirts

Budget Friendly

J Crew Ludlow Semi Spread-Collar Shirt
Zara Semi Spread Collar Shirt 

For the price and quality, I love J.Crew’s and Zara’s semi spread collar dress shirts. The collars are just the right spread and height, and the fit is nice and tailored. It’s a staple shirt that they always have year after year that I can always count on.

Designer

Burberry London Slim Fit Stretch Cotton Blend Shirt
Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Shirt 

My, hands down, favorite dress shirts come from these designers. The quality and fit is spot on. Burberry London and Emporio Armani’s collar height is perfect for most men, while Brooks Brothers’s tends to be a tiny bit taller so if you’re slim and under 5’7′, then I’d advise to go with the former brands. Side note, the Brooks Brothers dress shirt says it’s a spread collar, but it definitely fits like a semi-spread.

3 Ways To Wear

Ashley-Weston-Semi-Spread-Collar-Dress-Shirt-Look-1-Full Ashley-Weston-Semi-Spread-Collar-Dress-Shirt-Look-1-Detail

True Vintage Revival TVR504Burberry Lightweight Lambskin Bomber Jacket 
Brooks Brothers White Milano Fit Spread Dress Shirt
Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Plain Front Flannel Trousers
The Tie Bar Knitted Tie
The Tie Bar Brushed Straight Silver Tie Bar
Brooks Brothers Calfskin Belt
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Dress Shoe
True Vintage Revival Glasses

*NOTE: You choose the type of lenses (shaded, etc.) during checkout for the sunglasses above.

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Ashley-Weston-Semi-Spread-Collar-Dress-Shirt-Look-2-Detail

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Grey Suit Jacket 
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Grey Suit Trousers
Brooks Brothers White Milano Fit Spread Dress Shirt
The Tie Bar Grenafaux Midnight Navy Tie
The Tie Bar Solid Pocket Square with Navy Border
IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Dress Shoe

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Burberry Prince of Wales Virgin Wool Suit Jacket 
Brooks Brothers White Milano Fit Spread Dress Shirt
J Brand Tyler Taper Fit in Rasalas
The Tie Bar Solid Pocket Square with Burgundy Border
IWC Portugieser Automatic Watch
Brooks Brothers Calfskin Belt
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Dress Shoe

Outfit Inspiration

 

Model: Michael Tribby

The Gray Notch Lapel Suit

If you’re over the age of 15 and don’t own a 2 button Gray Notch Lapel Suit (sometimes called medium gray, grey or charcoal), we have to rectify this – immediately! It is the most important suit you’ll own and is the quintessential foundational piece that will work for you no matter your age or body type.

FashionBeans.com put my love for a gray notch lapel suit perfectly:

“It can take you from your first interview all the way to your final address to the board – including all those weddings, funerals and formal events in between. There is nothing it can’t do. Even if you’re only going to need your suit for weddings/funerals/special occasions, this is still the one suit you should always have in your wardrobe.”

The suit is a perfect blank canvas from which to experiment with. You can imbue your personality easily into an outfit via colorful shirting and accessories. If you’re going to play with shirt colors outside of white or light blue, keep the tie a basic/neutral color – black, blue or gray. Same goes for a colorful tie, keep the shirt neutral – white or light blue.

“But a Gray Suit is Boring”

A lot of my clients say this when I first start working with them and building their wardrobe. The reason we choose gray is because it is a neutral color and works with everything in virtually every occasion. If you want colors and/or to spice it up, it can easily be done with the colorful & patterned accessories and shirting. There’s a reason painters start with a white canvas and not a colored one, because you can make it your own!

The classic rookie mistake is thinking that suit colors = more fashionable or stylish. Menswear is all about the details. So leave the large pieces “boring” and spice up an outfit with subtle details and punches of color.

Trust me on this one.

What is a ‘notch lapel’?

It’s the style of lapel that has a little “notch” on each side of the lapel. See the below graphic for the different lapel types. You want a Notch lapel because a Peak lapel is very aggressive and doesn’t work on everybody and a Shawl lapel should never be part of a suit. A Notch lapel is as classic and timeless as it gets.

lapel types

How Many Buttons?

Two buttons, nothing more, nothing less.

Sometimes you’ll see 3 button suits and 1 button suits, but trust me, you NEED a 2 button suit because it never goes out of style, every other variety will come and go as fashion dictates.

Vent Type?

Ideally, you’ll want to go with a double vent. This style of vent has been around for quite a while and is flattering on every body type. With that being said, a single vent is not a poor choice, but it’s definitely second in my book. Just make sure that, no matter what, you never go with a suit that has no vent.

suitvents

Can I Break This Suit Up Into Separates?

My suggestion for now, is to avoid breaking this suit up unless you really understand fabric weights and texture pairings.

I see a lot of sites saying that a gray suit is great because you can break it up – wearing the pants and jacket separately with other pieces – like jeans.

While this can work sometimes, in my experience, pairing suit items with other non-suit clothing, like jeans, looks great on camera, but really weird in-person if the fabric is too lightweight. You should really know what you’re doing to pull this off. If there’s any doubt, go without.

Fabric

Depending on how much you’ll be wearing this suit, I’d highly suggest getting a wool or wool-blended suit because it’ll last much longer than non-wool or polyester blends and just looks better and will be more comfortable.

It’s also important that your suit not have too much of a sheen or shine to it. You can tell a cheap (or really tacky) suit by how shiny it is. Don’t be afraid to compare suits while at a store to see which ones are more matte finished.

How Should My Suit Fit?

Fit is the most important part of a suit. Head over to my Suit Fit Guide and see how every suit you own should fit.

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The Best 2 Button Gray Notch Lapel Suits

Budget Friendly

Topman Grey Twill Cotton Slim Fit Suit Jacket
J.Crew Ludlow Suit in Worsted Wool

If you’ll be wearing a suit less than a handful of times a year and/or are budget-conscious, I’d go with Topman’s Slim-Fit or Skinny-Fit suits or J.Crew’s Ludlow wool suit. Don’t let the horrible image of the Topman suit fool you, it looks much better in person. For the price, they’re constructed well and as long as you make sure the fit is spot on, it’ll look great.

Designer

Emporio Armani Single Breasted Suit in Worsted Wool
Z Zegna Gray Super 110 Wool Suit
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Grey Suit Jacket 

My preference, if you want high quality, is to go with Emporio Armani, Z Zegna, or Brooks Brothers wool suits. My clients have topped GQ and Esquire’s “Best Dressed” lists in these and I use them often because the construction, fabric, and overall quality is impeccable and well worth the investment.

3 Ways To Wear

Ashley-Weston-2-Button-Gray-Notch-Lapel-Suit-Full-LengthAshley-Weston-2-Button-Gray-Notch-Lapel-Suit-Detail-Short-Edge-650

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Grey Suit Jacket 
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Grey Suit Trousers
Brooks Brothers White Milano Fit Spread Dress Shirt
The Tie Bar Grenafaux Black Tie 
The Tie Bar Solid White Cotton Pocket Square 
IWC Portuguese Automatic
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Dress Shoe

Ashley-Weston-2-Button-Gray-Notch-Lapel-Suit-Look-3-FullAshley-Weston-2-Button-Gray-Notch-Lapel-Suit-Look-3-Detail

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Grey Suit Jacket 
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Grey Suit Trousers
Armani Exchange Pima Crew Tee
IWC Portuguese Automatic
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Dress Shoe
Brooks Brothers Calfskin Belt

Ashley-Weston-2-Button-Gray-Notch-Lapel-Suit-Full-Length-Look-2Ashley-Weston-2-Button-Gray-Notch-Lapel-Suit-Look-2-Detail

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Grey Suit Jacket 
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Grey Suit Trousers
Brooks Brothers White Milano Fit Spread Dress Shirt
The Tie Bar Grenafaux Satin Dot Tie
The Tie Bar Silver Shot Tie Bar
The Tie Bar Solid White Cotton Pocket Square  
IWC Portuguese Automatic
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Dress Shoe

Outfit Inspiration

Graphics: FashionBeans | Model: Michael Tribby

Chambray Shirt, Sport Coat, Chinos, and Dress Shoes

The casualness of a chambray combined with the sharpness of a sport coat is a guaranteed to turn heads in the office or at any wedding. Wear an indigo button-down chambray shirt, a grey wool sportcoat, blue chinos, and black oxford dress shoes. Spice things up with a lively pocket square and a simple plaque buckle belt.

 

Designer Options

Budget-Friendly Options

 

H&M Sweater & Seersucker Shorts, Next Oxford Shirt, Sperry Boat Shoes

Overall, with minor adjustments, this is a great summertime outfit. The shirt looks like it’s an excellent fit in terms of collar and cuff. The seersucker shorts are awesome with the white oxford button-down shirt. Pair the outfit with some navy or tan Sperry Topsiders and you’ve got the perfect “keep it simple” summer outfit.

My Critique

Wearing a sweater with shorts looks odd. If it’s cold enough to wear a sweater, it should be paired with trousers; but, if it’s hot enough to wear shorts, you shouldn’t be wearing a sweater. I would never put a client in something like this because it’s just… weird. Like wearing a scarf with a bathing suit.

How The Outfit Should Look

This outfit can be worn with the shirt tucked or untucked, I prefer it tucked, but it’s up to you.

How To Fix

My suggestion would be to take off the sweater and roll up the sleeves on the oxford shirt. Bring the sweater along with you and wear it if you’ll be out all day without the ability to change, but pairing the sweater with the shorts for an all day outfit is a big no-no.

Get This Outfit

 

 

 

Get This Look: Nautical Striped Sweater & Jeans

I love this classic, casual outfit. It works in a variety of settings from meeting up with friends over the weekend to going to an outdoor bbq party. You can’t go wrong with it.

Wear a nautical striped sweater or t-shirt with jeans or colored chinos. Rolling up your pants is optional. Finish with a brown leather belt and clean, white sneakers.

Designer Option:

 

John Varvatos Cotton Striped Sweatshirt, $128
Rag & Bone Standard Issue Fit 1 Skinny Fit Jeans, $195
Polo Ralph Lauren Leather Buckle Belt, $125
WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie leather sneaker, $295

Budget-Friendly Option:

 

H&M Premium Cotton Sweater, $50
Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Jeans in Rigid Dragon, $58
H&M Leather Belt, $18
Converse Jack Purcell Sneaker, $55

 

Photo Credit: GQ

The Holiday Party Series – Part 3: How To Dress For A Family Party

In Part 1, How To Dress For The Office Party, we went over what to wear and how to act at this year’s formal or informal work party. In Part 2, we covered How To Dress For A Friend’s Party. In this, the final post of the series, we’re going to go over how to dress and proper etiquette for a family holiday party.

If you’re going to your in-laws or (maybe) future in-law’s holiday party, your girl will use this as an opportunity to show you off to the people who’s opinion probably means the most in her life. If you show up looking like a slob and her family is similar to most, there’s going to be gossip. Yes, it’s not the end of the world to you, but to your girl, it might as well be. Trust me on this. How you’re presented to the family matters a lot to the woman in your life. So it’s your job to be her arm candy this time.

If you’re single, you’ll likely be with your family. So yes, you’re not there to show off to your potential future in-laws, but you should at least want to show your family that you’ve got (some of) your shit together.

H&M Black V-Neck Merino Wool Sweater, $50
Zara White Plain Shirt, $50
Topman Grey Check Ultra Skinny Fit Suit Pants, $75
H&M Leather Dress Belt, $20
Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxfords, $395

Pair a black v-neck sweater over a crisp, white dress shirt. Tuck the shirt into a pair of charcoal wool pants. I don’t recommend jeans because they’re too informal when you’re trying to make an impression – regardless of the audience.

Just like I recommended for How To Dress For The Office Party, finish everything off with a black belt and dress shoes.

Tips & Etiquette

  1. You should never show up to a family function empty-handed. Grab a bottle of $10ish Merlot (red wine) and present it to the host(s) when greeting them.
  2. As soon as you enter the party, greet each person. If you haven’t met them before, introduce yourself, and tell them who you are in relation to the family. Example: “Hi, I’m Daniel – Sara’s boyfriend.”
  3. After greetings have been exchanged with everyone, ask the host(s) if there’s anything you can lend a hand with.
  4. Once the meal has concluded, don’t ask, just walk over to the kitchen and start putting things away or cleaning up or doing the dishes. And yes, they’re going to tell you it’s OK and not to worry about it. But you just keep doing it anyways. The in-laws or future in-laws will especially love you for this, and you’ll win major brownie points for years to come. If you’re at your family’s place, your Mom or Grandma will appreciate this just as much.
  5. When it’s time to leave, if you came with your girl, put her coat on first, in plain view of everyone else. She might not know it yet, but she’ll love the family watching you attend to her.
  6. Say goodbye to the oldest people first and then down the lineage line until you say goodbye to the hosts last. You’ll thank the hosts again for having you over and then leave the party immediately.