FashionSpite: The first step

Hey kids, it’s Fashion Friday!

Just kidding, that would be annoying. I intend to write about clothing on occasion to fulfill of my pronouncement to propagate dressing well among the game nerd set, but it’s not going to be a regular thing. Nor do I have any intention of passing myself off as some sort of expert or valuable resource or anything; I’m hardly that. I am a schlubby chump who spent decades of his life under the assumption that looking respectable was something that only happened to other people; I required years of patient guidance from a kind woman in order to figure out how not to look respectable. Not that appearances are all that matter, but I realized entirely too late in my life that people do judge you by the way you present yourself… whether you want them to or not. What you wear is, in essence, how you choose to brand yourself. Bearing that in mind, why not shape others’ perception by controlling the message, so to speak?

The first step to controlling that message is to get fit. Or rather, fitted. It doesn’t matter how physically fit you are or aren’t; you could be a sickly little stick who has to wear heavy shoes on blustery days to keep from blowing away in the wind, or you could be an enormous mass who travels accompanied by a penumbra. You can still look nice — “put-together,” if you prefer — so long as your clothes fit well.

This is the basic truth I resisted for years. I blame the ’90s; I grew up in an age when oversized clothing was the norm. I was a skinny stick in high school and draped myself in oversized clothes and never broke the habit. As I grew heavier later in life, I kept upgrading the sizes of my clothes, which had the unfortunate side effect of making me look even heavier. It wasn’t until I slimmed back down a few years ago that I realized wearing clothes that fit properly make all the difference; whether you’re trim or scrawny or hefty, you can look really good by simply selecting clothes that fit well.

By “fit well” I mean that the shoulder seams of your shirt should rest at the actual curve of your actual shoulders; the torso of your shirt should offer enough give that it doesn’t stretch or strain when you sit, but it shouldn’t bunch, either. Your sleeves should end at your wrist rather than covering part of your hands; if you’re wearing short sleeves, they should end mid-bicep rather than coming to your elbow. The waistline of your pants should sit across your actual waist, and the inseam of your legs shouldn’t drag on the ground.

I realize these sound pretty much like no-brainer tips, but I certainly didn’t put them into practice, and based on my experience at events like E3 and PAX they are downright esoteric. Honestly, finding clothes that fit is more easily said than done these days, because most American brands aren’t really sized accurately anymore. I’m pretty short, and I have a small build; even if I buy the smallest standard men’s dress shirt size available — 14.5″ collar, 32/33″ sleeves — it’s probably going to be too big for me unless I buy it in slim or European cut, or from one of a handful of brands that don’t inflate their sizing to make people feel better about their weight. I can’t actually shop at Gap, since they sell practically nothing in their men’s section that fits me. And even shopping elsewhere, I almost always have to take up the sleeves of a smallest jacket sizes I can buy, which adds a hidden $20 to the price tag. I’d imagine it’s the same for most people in different ways. You need to figure out what your fit is, whatever your shape and size, and which brands you can count on.

Summary: When clothes fit, they can make you seem to look a lot better than you actually do. This is the magic of clothing! It is a lie to trick people into thinking you’re beautiful.

Like I said before, I’m not suggesting you wear fancy clothes. And you don’t need to spend a lot on nice-looking clothing if you’re smart about it. And if T-shirts and jeans are your thing, that’s great! All I am saying is that you should be aware that you will come off as vastly more groomed if you buy Ts and jeans that fit you correctly. It doesn’t matter what your shape is, or whether you’re proud of your body or embarrassed of it; clothes that fit right simply make you look better.

The one down side to wearing properly fitting clothes is that you’ll need to spend more time trying them on, and you’ll end up putting back items that you really like. Don’t compromise on this. Don’t buy clothes that look awesome on the rack if they hang like a limp sack when you put them on. It’s worth being selective. Better to own a week’s worth of outfits that look good on you than a month’s worth that make you look like a kid playing in his dad’s closet.

Anyway, this is my five cents’ worth of free advice on this topic. Feel free to ignore it. But it’s been a big help for me.

18 thoughts on “FashionSpite: The first step

  1. Jeremy, this is such a cool thing for you to have done on this blog – getting dressed is fun! Especially if one shares my obsessive-compulsive streak (I imagine many do here, given the kind of mind that gravitates toward gaming, classic gaming at that).

    A question – generally accepted knowledge dictates one wear a three button jacket with only two of the buttons done. Of course, these ‘rules’ are more guidelines, and are open to bending and stretching to accommodate personal style. How do you usually wear that jacket, and why?

    • I’m no expert, but I think not using the lowest button is more of a mechanical thing. On most jackets, if you use the lowest button, you’ll create a bit of a ripple along the front overlap because of the slight curve of the edge of the jacket. It’s also less restricting when moving. The superfluous button is just helps things look better.

      If you look at the bottom photo at this site,, you can see the bulge. And if one could pull off the european-cut jacket on the photo above it, it’s plain there’s no chance of using the bottom one.

      • thanks danferno, that’s some solid advice B^)

        i’m usually a two button jacket kind of guy, but a big part of that is that the extra button has always scared me a little – much the same way I tend to go single, rather than double-breasted.

        also, video games.

  2. Your fitting tips are sound, but of course, for some people (as you said, in the 90s), improperly fitting clothes is a conscious choice, and maybe even part of what you previously referred to as ‘finding your own style.’

    Personally I think too-small clothes are far worse than too-big clothes – tight shirts on a gut, short jeans on long legs, etc.

    Mostly, though, ill-fitting clothes look like hand-me-downs, and if there’s anything worse than looking un-beautiful in this country, it’s probably looking poor. Sometimes you take what you can get, and there’s no problem with that, but if you can help it, you should.

    This blog series might be a losing battle in this world, Parish, but keep it up, as I’m really enjoying these.

  3. Yeah, finding clothes that are the right size can be difficult. I’m going to be staying a T-shirt and Jeans guy for the time being, but even wearing those in the right size is difficult. I have on T-shirt that fits absolutely perfectly and I know exactly what you’re saying.

    Every time I wear that one my mom thinks I’ve lost more weight and starts telling me to eat more. However, I can never find shirts that fit like that. All I have now are shirts that drape over me, now some of that is actual weight loss’s fault (I lost about 60 pounds over the last year and most of my clothes are from when I had those 60 pounds), but some of them are recent buys that I thought would fit.

    • By and large, American T-shirts are sized at elephantine proportions and cut to be baggy. I question their business and advertising practices, but I find that American Apparel makes high-quality shirts with a slim, flattering cut. Their size small is actually small and fits me nicely. (By comparison, if I want to wear a shirt from The Gap, I need to go size XS.) More than that, though, AA shirts are cut more like clothes from the ’70s and ’80s, and rather than billow they hug. Obviously this works best if you have a small build, but even with a little pudge (i.e. my belly) they look very flattering.

  4. Coming from the UK I feel we don’t have the ‘oversized couch fashion’ that is prevelant in the US? that’s not to say we don’t wrestle with our own fashion faux pas though, I recently decided (as an direct result of one of your previous fashionspite articles) that now in my mid thirties I had to dress better, following your article I even anounced to my wife I wanted to be more ‘stylish’. She laughed!

    It all transpired as a simple move away from jeans and t-shirts to… well jeans and polo shirts instead. A small step I know but it’s surprising how a collar, a few buttons and and little more tailoring can make the difference in how you feel.

    I’m a long way from the bowler hats yet Jeremy but one step at a time. Keep it up – yours are the only fashion articles I can take serioously!

    • Well, I’m not sure how seriously you should take me. I guess you could consider me a sort of a Saul of Tarsus when it comes to fashion — a former non-believer until the scales fell from my eyes, and now I bring the gospel to the rest of my people. I speak as one of you, not as someone looking down on you.

      Anyway. I think the U.S. is the leader in oversized sizing. I love shopping in Japan because I can take things off the rack and they fit perfectly. I can even buy clothes that are too small! That’s almost impossible in the U.S.

      • That’s pretty convenient… as a slightly tall, broad-shouldered guy, I couldn’t tell you how many times I found something I liked only to be baffled by how small the L or XL was. My fiancee then took me to what I think was a Big and Tall-type of store… except those sizes were absolutely huge, basically the same as an American B&T store.

        But, I can shop at Gap. Win some, lose some.

  5. One must also be careful about weight loss and clothing purchases–your well-fitted wardrobe might have to be thrown out wholesale 30 lbs. later. If you’re in the midst of heavy weight loss (or gain, for those seeking to bulk up), then you’ve got to resist the urge to overhaul your wardrobe until your weight settles at a comfortable level.

    It is really hard to find guy pants with a longer leg than waist. Pants that fit me tend to hover awkwardly above my ankles.

  6. Excellent timing. After watching Mad Men, I’ve been looking at upgrading my wardrobe. Not to the point of wearing full suits, mind you, but it made me interested in fashion overall. Not even my t-shirts fit! I’m in fairly good shape, but all of that gets lost behind the clothes.

    So here is to properly-fitting clothes. Still, it’s going to be hard to get myself to buy an expensive pair of jeans (the shirts and dress pants I can swing, at least). Old habits die hard.

  7. When you’re a 5’0″ woman with a tiny waist, a bigg-ish bust, and enormous hips and a hugh jass, finding clothes that fit you well is rare, rare, rare.

    • Oh man, I am not even going to pretend to understand or comment on ladies’ fashion. Sorry, Nadia, the GameSpite blog is a boys’ club when it comes to my clothing posts.

  8. Jeremy, do you read “menswear” blogs? I’m not a fan of the scene, but putthison is okay.(maybe too esoteric for my taste) I also keep up with which is more geared to bigger gentlemen like myself. Anyway I’m looking forward your cheapskate post. All the popular blogs focus too much on high end garments I’ll never afford.

    • That focus on the high end is precisely why I don’t follow any clothing blogs. All they do is make me sad to be perpetually poor.

      • Well, if you ever change your mind, it’s not hard to find the pit where women’s fashion hangs out. Hint: It’s over at that big gate with the sign that says, “Abandon every ounce of body fat, ye who enter here.”

  9. this is why i like to shop for formal clothing in india. the tailors there measure you and have perfect shirts and pants and what have you the next day.

Comments are closed.