How To Roll Up Sleeves

This article is part of my Quick Tips series.

I’ll just cut right to the chase – there’s really only 2 good ways for how to roll up sleeves. Do one of these and never think about it ever again.

How NOT To Roll Up Sleeves Ashley WestonA quick note:

The images for how to roll up your sleeves below are from Esquire, whom I love and work with, but they’re rolling their shirt sleeves above the elbow. You should NEVER do this, because, while it looks great in pictures, it usually looks like the image to the left in person – lumpy and just, not good. It will never look as good as the pictures, I promise you.

 

The Basic Roll

How To Roll Up Sleeves - The Basic Roll - Ashley Weston

  1. Unbutton both buttons of the cuff. If there’s a button in the mid-forearm area, unbutton that one too.
  2. Flip the cuff over. Your cuff will dictate the width of your roll. If you have a stiff cuff, normally found on dress shirts, do not fold the cuff in half to make a slimmer roll. It will ruin that shirt’s cuff forever. If it’s not stiff, like with an Oxford button down dress shirt, then you can fold it in half for a less wide roll, although I wouldn’t advise doing a half roll. It usually looks better with the full cuff.
  3. Roll it again, and again, and one more time so that the top of the roll should stop just below the elbow, or mid to upper forearm (see the video for details).
  4. If you go above the elbow, the roll starts to get really bulky and it’s just not a good look. As a woman, I love when the shirt cuff hugs the muscular part of the forearm. It looks very… raaaaawwrrr!

The Italian Roll AKA The GQ Roll

How To Roll Up Sleeves - The Italian or GQ Roll - Ashley Weston

  1. Unbutton both buttons of the cuff. If there’s a button in the mid-forearm area, unbutton that one too.
  2. Fold the sleeve up, so the entire cuff is an inch or so above your elbow.
  3. Next, roll your sleeves up onto the cuff, using your thumb to sort of tuck in the shirt into the roll, but still allow a little bit of the cuff to be exposed at the top.
  4. The top of the roll should hit just below the elbow, by about half an inch. Then you hopefully have about an inch of shirt cuff exposed above the elbow.

The Oxford Button Down Dress Shirt

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.

One of the best collared shirts to own and what I recommend for all my clients, regardless of age or body type, is the Oxford Button Down Shirt. It’s versatile, comfortable and one of the more durable items you’ll have in your closet.

What is an Oxford Shirt?

Oxford Shirt vs. Dress Shirt – What’s the difference?

In my best Jerry Seinfeld voice: “So what’s with all these dress shirts?”

A dress shirt is any type of collared shirt with a stiff collar and long sleeves that may be worn with a suit or blazer. An Oxford Shirt is usually considered a type of dress shirt, but the Oxford shirt is different from a regular dress shirt in two ways:

  1. They usually have a button down-style collar which eliminates that problem of collars flopping around and/or laying flat and disappearing underneath a jacket’s collar.
  2. The Oxford Shirt is named after the specific weave of the fabric called, you guessed it, Oxford cloth. It has a basketweave structure and a lustrous aspect making it a popular fabric for a dress shirt.

While you can wear Oxford shirts with suits, I don’t dress my clients this way. The buttoned-down collar lends a more casual vibe to the shirt and takes attention away from the formality of a suit. Unless you’re going without a tie when wearing a suit, it’s just not my preference, but it’s acceptable. I normally pair them with a Gray Notch Lapel Suit (no tie), Blazer, Harrington Jacket, sweater, or by itself with the sleeves rolled up.

Why Should I Own Oxford Dress Shirts?

Well, because they’re awesome. But most importantly, because of these 3 points:

  1. Looks Good, Is Versatile
    They look great on every body type and they pairs easily with the rest of your essential wardrobe. They can also be worn in casual and professional settings and feel equally appropriate. Roll up the sleeves and leave it untucked over a pair of dark wash jeans and you’ve got a casual outfit. Button the cuffs, throw on a tie (or not) and wear under a suit or blazer and you’ve got a dress shirt. It’s one of the most versatile shirts in a man’s closet.
  2. Comfort
    The oxford material is typically woven in a basketweave pattern which allows it to be soft and comfortable and less prone to wrinkling than typical dress shirts made of silk or silk blends.
  3. Durability
    Due to the heavier fabric and weave the shirts are very resilient and durable, as opposed to non-weaved fabrics like silk or silk blends. I’ve got clients who’ve been wearing their Oxford shirts for over 5 years and they look good as new.

How should an Oxford Dress Shirt fit?

An Oxford Shirt should fit just like any other dress shirt you own.

The Best Oxford Button Down Shirts For Men

Since they’re all generally made of the same fabric and weave, the color is what matters most.

For my clients, I only recommend two colors to start because they look good on every skin tone, can be paired easily with the rest of your essential wardrobe and will cover any situation where a collared shirt is appropriate.

The colors are:

  • Light Blue
  • White

Designer Options

Brooks Brother Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt

Rag & Bone Thom Browne Oxford Shirt

Budget-Friendly Options

Club Monaco Classic Fit Oxford Shirt   

Uniqlo Mens Easy Care Long Sleeve Shirt

3 Ways to Wear Oxford Button Down Dress Shirts

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt

Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Stretch Jeans 

Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm

Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt

Converse Jack Purcell Signature Leather

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Merino Wool V-Neck Sweater

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Plain Front Trousers

Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm

Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Micro Check Suit Jacket

Brooks Brothers Milano Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirt 

Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Stretch Jeans

The Tie Bar Solid Pocket Square with Black Border 

Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt 

Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

Outfit Inspiration

Best Dress and Casual Belts

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.
Every guy only needs 4 belts in his closet, ever. Even though I always say your pants should fit without a belt – they’re still a must-have item because pants will shift as you wear them and belts help break up an outfit. You’d think belts would be simple and this article and video should be one sentence long. Unfortunately, I constantly see guys crapping the bed in the belt department. So let’s fix this. Here’s the best dress and casual belts for men and other tips and tricks you should know about.

Why do you need a belt?

Most guys only wear belts as utility items to keep their loose pants from falling off. Certainly, a belt is for this, but there’s other reasons to wear a belt.

  • You want your pants to hit a certain part of your waist, depending on whether they’re jeans or dress pants. During the course of your day, you’ll be standing, sitting, and moving around – this will tug and pull at your shirt and pants, causing them to move around. A belt ensures they stay in their proper place.
  • A belt is necessary to break up some of your outfits, especially with non-suit outfits. Let’s say you’re wearing a sport coat/blazer with a dress shirt, dark wash jeans, and some oxford dress shoes, you’ll definitely need a belt to help break up the outfit in your midsection. People who go belt-less in these outfits… ugh.
  • To hold up your pants as they loosen, not because they are already loose. Please wear properly fitting pants!

The Be-All, End-All Buckle Type

I have family from Texas (these are actually my relatives) and they take belt buckles very seriously – which is what every guy should do! All you’ll ever need is some variation of the standard belt buckle with a single square frame and prong – no matter if they’re casual or dress belts. There’s absolutely no reason for having anything else – EVER.

Ashley Weston Black Leather Casual Belt

If you have any other type of belt buckle, and you’re not a cowboy, sheriff, rodeo rider or douchebag, replace them immediately. I throw up a little in my mouth when I see guys wearing those horrible box-frame style belt buckles like the guy below. Whatever you do, please, don’t be that guy!

ThisGuyFucks

(“This guy f*cks!“)

The 2 Types of Belts Every Man Needs

1. Dress belt

You need a dark brown and black leather belt with a simple, thin and silver belt buckle. Also, is should absolutely be shiny. A matte belt as a dress belt is a no-no. Look how terrible a matte-finished belt looks as a dress belt in my image below!

Width

You want the width to stay as near to 1.5″ as possible. Anything wider will be more bulky and is considered more casual. Anything slimmer than that is a woman’s or a fashion belt and that’s not what we’re going for here. Even though the width is only slightly smaller than a casual belt, it makes a huge difference in appearance. Compare this picture of a guy wearing a wider belt as a dress belt compared to the image of my model. Night and day, in my eyes even though it’s only about half an inch difference.

Proper Dress Belt Width - Ashley Weston

Material

You only want leather, but if you’re averse to leather, then get a leather substitute belt. You want the luxurious look of leather to match your dressy outfits.

2. Casual belt

Just like the dress belt, you’ll want a black and brown casual leather belt, each with silver buckle. This is where the buckles can be slightly thicker, but not by much. Gold buckles may be allowed if you really, really must have gold, but it may clash with some of your outfits or accessories, so I like to keep it simple and avoid gold all together. Also, in regards to the texture or finish of the belt, you want to avoid super shiny belts. Shiny/Polished-looking belts = dress belts. Most casual leather belts will be pebbled or have a texture or be matte-finished. That and the width of the belt is how you determine whether a belt is dressy or casual.

Width

Have your casual belt somewhere between 1 3/4 – 2″ wide. Anything more than that is too wide and will look out of place. Slimmer than that looks more like a dress belt.

UltimateWarriorBelt cropped

Material

You can go with leather, cloth, or webbed belts. I personally think you should stick to leather until you’re ready to step out and get more adventurous with your belts. That way, your casual belts will work no matter the time of year or outfit.

Be careful not to get a belt that’s too shiny – like a dress belt. They should be more matte-finished. I see guys making this mistake a lot. Look at the differences between my dress and casual belt recommendations below to see the difference between shiny and matte.

What Size Belt to buy?

This is a question more men should be asking! Please check out my fit guide for details about how to choose your belt size.

The Best Dress Belts for Men

A quick note: Allen Edmonds are my absolute favorites because they’re high quality and they match their colors to their dress shoes. A lot of companies don’t do this, but it’s very important to match your belts with your shoes and AE takes the guesswork out of matching them.

Designer Options

Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Brooks Brothers Skinny Chino Calfskin Belt
Brooks Brothers Leather Dress Belt

Budget-Friendly Dress Belt Options

Zara Reversible Belt
Zara Leather Belt

The Best Casual Belts For Men

Designer Options

Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Brooks Brothers Deerskin Leather Belt

Budget-Friendly Options

H&M Leather Belt 
H&M Leather Belt 

3 Ways To Wear

Dress-Belt-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt
Levis 511 Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans
True Vintage Revival Glasses
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxfords

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

Casual-Belt-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Rag & Bone Jayden Workwear Jacket
Brooks Brothers Cotton Henley Sweater 
Levis 511 Slim Fit Selvedge Jeans
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic

Outfit Inspirations

 

The Harrington Jacket

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.
Timeless, casual, cool and sexy. It doesn’t matter if you’re old, young, running errands, or hitting the links – you need a Harrington jacket. It’s light and pairs well with nearly anything. This iconic jacket will never let you down.

Popular since the ’50s, the Harrington jacket was worn by pretty much every iconic star of yesteryear: Elvis Presley, James Dean, Steve Mcqueen, and most recently, Daniel Craig as James Bond. The Baracuta G9 is the O.G. worn by these stars and is still made today, but there’s a lot of great brands making them.

Lightweight, often teflon-coated cotton, standing collar, zip front, and the tartan lining, I just love the hell out of this jacket. The original Baracuta brand is a bit tough to find, but Fred Perry and Ben Sherman make killer versions that I actually prefer.

Why you need a Harrington Jacket

Lots of guys, my clients included, have a tough time finding a casual jacket that isn’t too sporty or dressy. A Harrington Jacket fills this gap perfectly.  It looks great with jeans and sneakers as well as dressier items like collared shirts and wool pants.

The fit and design is also very flattering on any body type. On top of that, the style hasn’t really change since it’s inception and with proper care, this jacket will last decades – easily. The mileage and value you’ll get from this jacket is some of the best for any menswear item I’ve seen.

Which Harrington Jacket Is Right For You?

Since we’re talking about essential/foundational pieces and the style of these jackets is pretty standard across brands, you really only need to worry about the color, which is simple: get a navy Harrington jacket.

If you’re a regular to slim build, you can pull off other colors, but your first Harrington should be navy. If this is your second Harrington, definitely go for a khaki color.

I don’t recommend other colors, like black or burgundy, because they’ll be much harder to match with other items in your Essential Wardrobe and/or it’s just a big swath of color. So if you went with black, it’s a lot of black and, I think, doesn’t look all that great in person. It looks much better in photos than in real life.

One small note: If you’re a larger build, you may not fit Ben Sherman, even their larger sizes tend to run pretty slim.

The Best Harrington Jackets To Own

Designer Options

My personal favorite is the Fred Perry jacket. It’s what I use for all my clients.

Fred Perry Harrington Jacket
Original Baracuta G9 Harrington Jacket
Ben Sherman Harrington Jacket
Ben Sherman Harrington Jacket 

Budget Friendly Options

Reclaimed Vintage Harrington Jacket
Topman Peter Werth Sand Coat

3 Ways To Wear

Harrington-Jacket-650-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials-3

Fred Perry Reissues Harrington Jacket
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Shetland Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt
J Brand Tyler Slim Fit in Levin
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxfords

Harrington-Jacket-650-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Fred Perry  Reissues Harrington Jacket Navy
Armani Exchange Pima V-Neck Tee White
J Brand Tyler Slim Fit in Levin
Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic

Harrington-Jacket-650-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials-2

Topman Stone Harrington Jacket
Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Henley Sweater
Levis 511 Slim Fit Line 8 Jeans
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Newland Ave Casual Belt
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Classic

Outfit Inspirations

The Oxford Dress Shoe

This article is part of my Men’s Wardrobe Essentials series.
These are the best mens dress shoes, no questions asked. Anything else pales in comparison. Every man should have at least 2 pairs of Oxford dress shoes in his closet. Not only are they one of the most versatile shoes a gentleman can own – which will work for nearly all formal occasions from business casual to formal – but they’re the de-facto standard shoes to wear with a suit. On top of that, they’ll also work very well with 99% of the items in your Essential Wardrobe. They’re that good.

When you imagine a well-dressed man in a suit, I guarantee he’s wearing a pair of these.

Black & Leather ≠ Oxford Dress Shoes

Don’t think that if a shoe is black and leather, it’s an Oxford dress shoe. I shudder at the thought of those square-toed and/or slip-on monstrosities I see men wearing in place of a proper, lace up, round-toed dress shoe.

Also, if you can see your reflection in your black leather shoes, those are not a proper dress shoe. Those are tuxedo shoes. As the name implies, they should only be worn with a tuxedo. I’ve seen quite a few guys wearing these shoes with jeans. It’s not a good look. Your Oxfords shouldn’t look like mirrors, they should be a little more matte finished. Go to a department store and ask to see their tuxedo shoes so you can see the difference in person.

The image below from RealMenRealStyle highlights exactly what I see a lot of men wearing in place of Oxford dress shoes:

Wrong-Square-Toe-Shoes

To Cap-Toe or Not?

My opinion about whether you should have a cap toe Oxford or not changes with the wind, so I’ll leave it up to you. There’s not a single scenario when you’d wear a cap-toe over a non-cap toe, so this is entirely up to your preference. 

My clients are split 50/50 on this, too. You won’t go wrong with either, so choose whichever you think looks great and fits your style best.

allenedmonds_shoes_carlyle_blackallenedmonds_shoes_park-avenue_black

Should I go for Quality or Value?

For foundational pieces such as these, I’d say go for quality. However, there is a caveat:

How Often Will You Be Wearing Your Oxford Dress Shoes?

  • If you’ll be wearing them more than a handful of times a month, definitely grab a nice, high quality pair. They’ll give you many good years of use and look great the whole time.
  • If you’ll be wearing them once a month or less, go for value. They’ll definitely get the job done and look “good enough”. What’s the use of having a high quality pair of dress shoes sitting in your closet most of the time? I’d take that money and spend it on other pieces you might wear more often](link).

Which Shoes Should I Get?

Since you’ve decided whether you like cap-toe or non cap-toe shoes, now it just comes down to color.

Every guy should have these two pairs of Oxfords in their wardrobe to cover every outfit choice:

  1. A solid black pair
  2. A brown/cognac pair

Anything outside of those two colors will have more specific uses and occasions and definitely falls outside the domain of an Essential Wardrobe item.

The Best Mens Dress Shoes

These are my go-to Oxfords for clients:

Designer Options

Giorgio Armani Plain-Toe Patent Leather Bluchers
Allen Edmonds Park Avenue Cap-Toe Oxfords
Allen Edmonds Carlyle
Prada Plain Toe Blutchers

Budget-Friendly Options

Aldo Craosa 
Jack Erwin Joe Cap-Toe Oxford
Johnston & Murphy Hyde Park ll Cap-toe

2 Ways to Wear

For other ways to wear your Oxford dress shoes, check out my Gray Notch Lapel Suit article, Dark Wash JeanSemi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt & Leather Jacket articles.

BlackOxfordDressShoeLook1640-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Model: Tommy Mckeown

Fred Perry Reissues Harrington Jacket
Brooks Brothers 3-D Knit Fine-Gauge Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button-Down Collared Dress Shirt
Burberry Straight Fit Japanese Selvedge Denim Jeans
True Vintage Revival Glasses
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-Toe Oxfords

BlackOxfordDressShoeLook2640-Ashley-Weston-Mens-Wardrobe-Essentials

Brooks Brothers Red Fleece Topcoat
Brooks Brothers 3-D Knit Fine-Gauge Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Milano Fit Button Down Collar Shirt
Brooks Brothers Fitzgerald Fit Wool Dress Trousers 
Allen Edmonds Poplar Dress Belt 
Daniel Wellington Classic Sheffield 36mm
Allen Edmonds Carlyle Plain-toe Oxfords

Outfit Inspiration

How Should A Dress Shirt Fit?

This article is part of my Men’s Clothing Fit Guide.
After being asked “How should a suit should fit?“, the next question I get is how should a dress shirt fit. So I put together this dress shirt fit guide for you. My friend Andrew, over at PrimerMagazine put together a great graphic for the proper dress shirt fit below.

Shirt_Diagram

Collar

The collar should just graze your neck without constricting it when buttoned. If turning your head causes the collar to turn with it, it’s too tight. You should be able to comfortably fit 1 finger inside of your buttoned collar without it choking you. Two fingers is too much (even though the image says otherwise) and looks a little sloppy to me.

Shoulders

The shoulder seam should be right where your shoulder starts sloping down to your arm. Somewhere above the armpit, basically. If the seam starts creeping past where your shoulder slopes down, its too big. If it lands before your shoulder slopes, it’s too small.

Armholes

Armholes should be comfortable in motion – they should not be so tight that they cut into the underarm. However, they shouldn’t be so loose that there’s a bunch of excess fabric around the armpit. An easy way to check this is to tuck your shirt into your pants – if lifting your arms 45 degrees lifts your shirt out of your pants more than an inch or so, your armholes are probably too low.

Sleeves

They should not be so tight that you can see the details of your arms, but they should also not be so loose as to billow and bunch at the wrist. When you bend your arm, your cuff should not move more than an inch up your wrist. If it does, it’s likely too tight.

The sleeve/cuff should end right at the bend of your wrist.

Cuffs

When speaking of cuffs, there’s two major types: French and Barrel. They should both fit about the same.

With the cuffs buttoned, and your arms at your side, when you bend your wrist so your palms are facing the ground, the sleeves should barely touch the top of your hand (see the video above for details). Ideally, they should be able ¼” above the top of your hand, but if it’s just lightly grazing, that’s OK. Anything more than that and the sleeves need to be hemmed. You want this length so your shirt sleeve slightly peeks out from under your blazer or suit jacket sleeve.

Your cuffs should be tight enough to not restrict movement, but not so loose that your thumb notch at your wrist doesn’t stop the cuff from moving up your hand. It should be a bit looser than a properly fitting watch.

Torso/Body

You shouldn’t be able to pinch more than 2-3” of fabric on either side of the waist. The body of the shirt should fit closely around your torso, no matter what your shape or size. A billowy shirt is no excuse, especially if you’re a larger man.

Length

Untucked

If you’ll wear the shirt untucked (not really what I’d recommend with a dress shirt) but either way, it should end around the mid-crotch area. Any longer than that and it’s too long and should only be worn tucked in. Shorter than that just doesn’t look good.

Tucked In

If you’ll always be wearing the shirt tucked in, which I recommend for dress shirts, then the longer the better. Traditionally, dress shirts were made very long – usually ending at the bottom or past the crotch. If you have this type of shirt, NEVER, EVER wear the shirt untucked. I can’t tell you how many times I see older guys wearing these types of shirts untucked and I vomit a little inside my mouth whenever I see it. It looks horrible.

My Dress Shirt Recommendations

Check out my Semi-Spread Collar Dress Shirt article for my favorite dress shirts.

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.

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.

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

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

Ashley-Weston-Semi-Spread-Collar-Dress-Shirt-Look-3-Full

Ashley-Weston-Semi-Spread-Collar-Dress-Shirt-Look-3-Detail

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.

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