You Simply Must Have These Items In Your Closet


I’m tired of seeing people who have no clue how to dress for business. I don’t give a hoot that you’re a “creative” person, or that you feel “more comfortable” in jeans. I don’t think that you’re hip or trendy because you’re wearing square-toed shoes—I just think that you shop at Kohl’s. I’m not impressed that you went to the gift shop at Pebble Beach once—stop wearing golf shirts to the office.

But I’m a giving, generous man, and I always say that you shouldn’t complain about things without offering a solution. So, I’m going to give you the Bark-approved man’s must-have closet items. It’s damned close to a listicle, but whatever.

Click to read what’s missing from your wardrobe, and how you should rectify it.

You must own at least three suits, but you may only wear two of them.

I’ve already confused you, haven’t I? No worries, I’ll explain.

Every man must own one of the following colors of suits:

  1. Gray
  2. Navy blue
  3. Black

However, you must ONLY wear the black suit for funerals. Don’t ever show up to a meeting in a black suit. Like, not never. As I heard my father say several times, “Whenever you think it’s time to buy a black suit, it’s really time to buy another blue suit.” He was absolutely right.

Your suit can only have two buttons. Three buttons or more is incredibly passé. This is 2015, not Aaron Hall circa 1994.

So, if you already own a navy suit, then feel free to buy another one with a stripe or a light pattern. Then you should buy another gray suit—perhaps a lighter or darker gray or charcoal. THEN, you may buy an earth tone color, preferably a brown. Tan is okay, but you should only wear it in southern climates. Don’t buy a green suit. Just don’t.

Bonus: When you travel, you can pack your navy suit and your gray suit, and you’ll actually have FOUR outfits—you can mix and match them. I do this with my navy and charcoal Jack Victor suits. Works like a charm.

You also need three sportscoats/blazers.

Again, gray and blue are your friend. Every man needs a Hart Schaffner Marx blue blazer. You also may own a charcoal blazer, or black if you plan to wear it with gray pants. I like earth tones for sportscoats, as long as they are of the tweed variety.

Own both black and brown shoes, but wear the brown ones more often.

Black shoes are for black suits. That’s really about it. Brown shoes with gray suits? Yes, it can be done, and done quite well. However, I won’t begrudge you if you decide that’s a bit fashion forward for you.

But, wait—there’s more!

However, my favorite shoes for nearly everything are my Allen Edmonds Park Avenues in Merlot.


Closed-lace, captoe shoes that are perfect for nearly any occasion. Can you wear them with navy or brown suits? You bet? Black? Sure—be fashion forward and spice up that boring black suit. Gray? Okay, let’s not go TOO crazy. Of course, you need the matching belt to go with it.

Shirts have to be on point.

I’ve covered this before. Keep your shirts simple and elegant. White is almost always right (I know it sounds racist, but I don’t mean it that way). Any other colors can lead to potential fashion disasters—if you know what you’re doing, you can get away with a blue or pastel. But, for G-d’s sake, stop wearing red, black, and gray dress shirts unless you sell furniture at Value City.

Solid colors (or close to it) for ties are never wrong.

Listen, if you need my advice here, you probably aren’t capable of picking out a shirt/tie combo for yourself. That’s okay—I’ve done it for hundreds of people in my life, so there’s no shame in that. Keep it simple. Solid color ties that are made out of high quality silk (preferably US or European made) are a safe bet. That way, you can avoid the whole patterns vs. stripes thing when it comes to coordinating with your shirts and suits.

However, if you’re feeling adventurous, just remember—no more than two patterns can be going on at any given time, meaning that of the three things on the upper half of your body (jacket, shirt, tie), only two may have a pattern. Jacket+tie=okay. Shirt+jacket=okay. Tie+shirt=okay. Jacket+shirt+tie=NOT OKAY.

Keep the socks simple to start.

I admit it—I like a splash of color with my socks, especially with a dark suit. But if you want to stay under the radar, just match your sock color to your pants color, so that there’s a single line of color from waist to toe. Here’s a pic of what I’m wearing today:


Leave the accessories alone.

Dude. Nobody wears tie bars or pins anymore. Just stop it. Unless you’re a vampire or an Italian gangster, just ignore the little doodads counter in the men’s department. Possible exceptions to this are cufflinks—they’re appropriate with a suit or a blazer. But don’t try to make them interesting, ok? Nobody wants to see your Harley Davidson cufflinks.

Keep your watch simple and classy. Sport watches aren’t okay with suits. I have a gazillion watches, but I never wear a flashy watch for business.


So what should I buy?

Okay, that’s all fine and good, but what brands should you get? That really depends on your budget. I’ve tried to give you a list of the essentials here, assuming that you need to dress well for work on about a thousand bucks or less.

I recommend Jack Victor suits. You can find them on Sierra Trading Post for $350 or less during most of their sales. They’re cut conservatively—you don’t have to be built like a male model to wear them. They’re mostly two-button, single-vent jackets with flat-front pants—in other words, they’re exactly what you want for the modern office environment.

I’ll go ahead and double down on Hawes and Curtis shirts. I’m wearing one as I type this. They fit well, they look great, and they don’t cost very much money.

Don’t be afraid to let shoes eat a lot of your budget. If you’re spending less than $200 on a pair of shoes, you’re probably buying something disposable. Allen Edmonds are the best, bar none. You can spend more money, but you won’t get much more shoe. And they’re having a big clearance sale RIGHT NOW on their website.

Remember, in today’s business environment, lots of people are dressing down—EFF THAT. The way you dress says everything about you, and you might want to reconsider the message you’re sending with your pleated khaki pants and black square-toed shoes.




107 Replies to “You Simply Must Have These Items In Your Closet”

    • Bark M Post author

      If you’re comfortable with never making six figures and being alone forever, then you don’t!

      • Don Curton

        Most of the men I know comfortably make 6 figures, are happily married, and wear Nomex to work. Your advice is tailored to narrow range of men who need to dress a certain way for an specific office environment, but the 6 figure remark doesn’t take into account that some auto mechanics make that much and more. Hell, I know plumbers that make that much. The guy that put the fence in my yard drives a $70,000 truck and lives in a nicer neighborhood. There’s lots of professions out there that don’t need to dress in that manner.

        That said, I’d like to have one nice suit for church, so I might look into some of your tips. Probably grey.

        How do you feel about nice cowboy boots with a suit (I’m in Texas)? By nice, I’m talking $400+ without being exotic animal expensive.

        • Domestic Hearse

          Where I grew up, dress boots were de rigueur. Under the pastor’s robes and even under the judge’s robes, one would find a fine pair of polished cowboy boots peeking out. One’s lawyer, doctor, and congressman/person all wore dress boots.

          So I’d imagine in Texas, the practice of substituting dress shoes with dress boots would be fairly common, with the argument being between riders or ropers, style-wise (I’m told in TX, the really rich guys wear ropers, preferring the lower, walking heel).

          In any case, the only two styles I had were my 1) everyday boots, and, 2) Sunday boots.

          I live in an area of the U.S. where cowboy boots are considered an oddity by the majority and an eccentricity by the minority. Still wear them occasionally, and yes, even on Sundays.

      • jz78817

        I’m an engineer. I intend to stay an engineer for as much of my career as is possible. The next level up from where I am is middle management, and I want none of that bullshit in my life. If not wanting to dress formally helps me in that goal, so much the better.

        not everyone has eyes on the corner office, you know.

        • Don Curton

          jz78817 – I’m also an engineer at a major chemical company. The company I work for makes people going into management live through absolute hell. It’s not unusual for a person newly promoted into a entry level management role to work 80+ hr a week. Usually for less compensation than someone at an equivalent technical position. Everything is last minute, rush rush, and you better have the right sugar daddy or else your career dies at that level. Most promotions past that are more personality based than performance. The very few good managers tend to leave quickly. Very few people at my level want to go the management route, and like you said I’d rather spend the remainder of my career in a technical role. It’s just not worth the BS when I make a very good living as-is.

        • mjolnerd

          @jz78817; I could not agree more. I work as a engineer and have resisted the attempts to coerce me into management roles. I can step up when needed, but don’t want the liability that being a manager entails at my current company. I usually wear the standard cargo pants and nice tshirt gear to the office. If I show up in a suit, they are going to assume I am interviewing somewhere else.

          I did bookmark this story though. There are times when I do *want* to look spiffy. This is a good guide for those times.

        • kvndoom

          I did the engineering thing for 2 years after I got my degree. It took less than 6 months into it to know it wasn’t for me. Sadly it took over a year after that revelation to finally get a worthwhile technician job again. The bickering, the phone ringing nonstop, spending upwards of 10 hours in meetings some weeks, bosses who could never be made happy… Took years off my life.

          Now I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had in a job, have an awesome boss, and with OT am more than making up the $8000 pay cut I took to transfer. A price tag cannot be put on quality of life.

      • Dave L

        I hope the “If you’re comfortable with never making six figures” statement is hyperbole. Dressing like this in the MA or CA biotech industry would get you laughed out of their buildings. Everyone up through senior leadership is business casual- jeans and a dress shirt.

        • Bark M Post author

          Yes, but keep in mind that earning $100k in the “MA or CA biotech industry” is about equivalent to earning $48K in the flyover states. Making 100K on the coasts is no big deal. Like, at all. In Kentucky, it makes you a one percenter.

          I’m pleasantly surprised by the affluence of our readers, however. Considering that only around 7% of American individual earners and only about 19% of American households surpass $100K annually, we are blessed to have some wealthy peeps around here. TRUMP 2016!

          • VolandoBajo

            Bark, oh Bark…what am I going to do with you?

            I try to get into your viewpoints, as I totally can dig the things your brother is into.

            But your grip on my attention was tenuous at first, and in dire trouble now.

            I ditched the suits and ties when I left wall street, except for the occasional show and tell dog and pony show presentation, or the “meet the new clients and show off the staff” meetings. As noted elsewhere here, in many jobs if you show up wearing a suit, they think you are interviewing. So much so that I have had to do quick change telephone booth type changeups sometimes.

            I was on a first name basis with the former mayor of NYC years ago, when he first started his own business. His viewpoint was that you must be a workaholic to show that you are a team player before all else. I deliberately chose not to further cultivate that relationship…that is not how I wanted to live my life. I respect his accomplishments, but do not drink that flavor of koolaid.

            My consulting work took me to the Midwest a few times. And believe me, I’d rather be making $100K in the Bos-Wash-NY-ia corridor, than making 48K in Ky or Iowa, or such.

            Besides, you can always step down to the lower flyover salaries, but it is very hard to step back up to the “major league” game once you have left it.

            But I digress…two button suits only? Been reading a lot of GQ lately, have we? They may be acceptable these days, but they do not make a three button suit look dated, except for the narrow-minded fashionista dudes who think that they are ahead of something.

            Your suit color advice isn’t bad, but you left off a mohair camel colored blazer, something that should be in your closet right next to your navy one. And if you are in Florida or California or perhaps some of the Southern border states, a more colorful blazer might fly for evening wear, also.

            Solid color ties only? What, to be sure that you show that you are afraid to make a mistake, and don’t want to take a chance on even some of the nicer and safer namebrand ties that seem to go in and out of fashion every few years? A solid color suit in one of the basic colors, plus a white, or possibly blue dress shirt, and a yellow tie with small white polkadots, for example, isn’t going to set off any radar detectors or security warnings in your $100K midwestern cocoon.

            As much as I try to be charitable in my thoughts, I can’t help but get a feeling that some of this is a bit of a backlash towards your older brother, whether conscious or not, given his penchant for blazers and bluejeans, for example. Or at least it seems I see pictures of such dress fairly often. Yeah, your dad would probably approve of your dress code more than of his, but it’s time to stop letting that be the major determinant of your conduct at this stage of your apparently adult life. To thine own self be true…

            And only one brand recommendation for shoes and for shirts? What ever happened to Brooks Bros., for example? Perhaps a bit dated, but I have never had a bad fitting shirt from them. And their red or blue striped shirts on a white background look great with a solid suit and a subdued tie. Not bad either when the suit jacket is on the back of your office chair, and your tie is fashionably loose around your neck and your sleeves are rolled up to the middle of your forearms. Never been chastised for breaking a dress code with that choice.

            Likewise, there are several good top of the line or near to it makes of dress shoes. Yours is not bad, but does not deserve to be listed as if all others are in distant second place.

            But you lost me the most, and for sure, with your politics…I am the product of a middle-class American middle of the road family, and my contact with Latin America didn’t take off until I travelled there for a while after college. But it has continued over the years, til now I am fairly fluent in Spanish and really enjoy Spanish styles of cooking and Spanish-based cultures. And by now, I have personal friends who are native to a half dozen or more Latin American countries, including Mexico.

            And as much as I deplore the politicians’ attempts to stuff the ballot boxes with questionable new arrivals to this country, Trump’s statements about Mexicans, which he clearly indicated applied to the majority of Mexicans, is just pure BS.

            I refuse to support such fear-mongering, such ignorance and such pandering to the lowest common denominator in American electoral politics. And while I don’t object at all to your desire to have some decent representation for conservative American political principles, there are a helluva a lot more candidates whose politics and economics are sound, and whose appeal to the electorate does not hinge on blatant and misguided racism.

            Sorry, buddy, you need to broaden your views on both men’s wardrobes and on the American political spectrum.

            After your Trump comment, I cannot find any reason to think that you have produced, or will produce, any kind of insightful analysis whatsoever, with the possible exception of that which is auto and track related. And I wasn’t really terribly impressed with your “continuation” review of your brother’s absolutely golden review of the Huracán.

            Donald Trump! White boy, puh-leeze!

            Show me something meaningful and profound outside of autos and tracks, and I will reconsider my views of your work and your opinions. But for now, they look like they need to be filed under “birdcage flooring”.

          • -Nate

            Volando ;

            Remember :

            Mark’s still a kid and obviously hasn’t lived anywhere out side of America…..

            Don’t take his racist comments to seriously , it’s not like the trumpster has a snowball in hell’s chance anyway .

            BTW : Conservative is good , just not crazy whacko false conservationism .


          • Bark M Post author


            I can only assume that your irony detector is broken when it comes to my Trump comment. Go back and read it in context.

            As for the rest—I would have assumed that English was your second language, not your first. Your comprehension of what I’ve written here isn’t so strong. I don’t read GQ, I simply live in the real world. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY wears three button suits anymore. I donated mine to a local suit drive. One cannot help but feel impossibly dated when wearing one.

            I specifically stated that if you’re not comfortable making fashion decisions, then you should go for a solid color tie. My own tie collection ranges from solids to stripes to patterns. This article refers to the basics needed by a man.

            Your contempt for the flyover states isn’t uncommon for a coastal, but having lived on the East Coast, in the Midwest, and in the South, I would pick a flyover state any day of the week. Traveling here isn’t the same as living here.

            You’ve got to be kidding about my brother, right? His wardrobe dwarfs mine. For every pair of AE shoes I have, he has four. For every suit I have, he probably has three. Don’t make assumptions.

            For what it’s worth, since you’re somewhat of a speed reader but a slow, lengthy, drawn-out writer, I’ll state my political opinion in clear language: I support Rand Paul for the Republican presidential nomination.

            I have no idea what you mean by my “continuation” review of the Huracan. I have never set foot in one, and I’ve certainly never reviewed one.

            I am not terribly concerned if you ever read anything I write. This is my personal blog, and I make exactly zero cents from your clicks. However, I would encourage you to read a little more carefully and thoroughly, and dispense with your low-level psychoanalysis.

          • Jonathan H.

            Six-figure, polo shirt wearin’ Kentuckian checking in. I’m the lead project manager for an industrial construction company and don’t own a suit. It’s one of the reasons I like this line of work. I don’t have to get my hands dirty but I never have to wear a suit either. My customers aren’t dress up types so it’s never been something I’ve had to concern myself with. And if I show up on the jobsite in something other than jeans and a polo the ironworkers that work for me will never let me live it down. I don’t go to funerals and by some stroke of luck I tend to be acquainted with people who don’t get married or are already married.

            I’m not trying to shit on your main point because generally speaking you’re correct on all counts. I count myself lucky for being an exception. It really bugs my girlfriend which an added bonus too. And if I’m being completely honest with myself the weight I’ve gained over the last couple years isn’t very flattering in dress attire. If there ever comes a time when I need to buy something I’ll come back to this post.

        • Shaolin Six Sigma

          Yup, that’s my world as well, and I emphatically do not get to wear a suit, or tie, ever, at the office. It would actually lose me credibility, not gain it.

          The suit and tie are reserved for trips to New York to interact with hedge fund managers, who themselves never wear a tie, and seldom a jacket, these days. I always wear an Omega Speedmaster (blue face, Hesalite crystal, because originality), and nobody at my office has any idea what the hell it is. My CEO is well into the 1% and wears some sort of Fit-bit-y sports watch with a built-in accelerometer and a rubber wrist strap.

          I guess I’ll drag out a blue blazer for Pebble Beach next month.

  1. MmM

    Check out, looks like some interesting spanish built shoes at affordable prices.

    I personally prefer Churches to Allen Edmonds.

  2. E. Bryant

    Hmm, I’m married, make *ahem* sufficient income to qualify for the above statement, and yet right now I’m wearing a Blipshift t-shirt, Woolrich Tactical khaki pants, and some Merrill hiking shoes – pretty typical weekday apparel.

    If one were to ask my employer – and, more importantly, its clients – why I’m valued, it’s certain that fashion sense is going to rank pretty low on that list 😉

    Knowing how to dress is great – every man should know how. Looking down upon someone for their dress is a bit too middle-school for me, though.

  3. VTNoah

    Good tips. Not necessarily applicable to my office environment as we explicitly have a “No Tie Zone” sign on the front door to our main office. I always go by the rule of dressing one or two steps above everyone else at the job I’m at and it’s worked out for me.

    • Bark M Post author

      It will continue to work out for you, based on what I know of your future work environment. 🙂

      • VTNoah

        Ha thanks! Funny thing is that since I grew up in such a casual state I look forward to the opportunities to wear my suit!

    • Danio

      This is an easy way to move ahead of your peers. The average person wants to try and dress as shabbily as possible, so it’s not really that hard. Really, this applies to all areas. Look at what your peers are doing and make sure whatever you do is a few levels better. What you’re wearing is secondary and varies by employer, industry, and job.

  4. dal20402

    “However, you must ONLY wear the black suit for funerals. Don’t ever show up to a meeting in a black suit. Like, not never.”

    Way too old-school. The black suit can work. The key is not looking like someone at a funeral. Use a splash of color (pastel shirt, or your merlot shoes/belt are perfect). And the black suit has to fit well. I have one, and I don’t wear it often, but it works great to break up the monotony.

    “Tan is okay, but you should only wear it in southern climates.” Works fine in the north too, as long as it is actually warm outside. I’ll be wearing my tan suit to a New England outdoor wedding next week.

    “Every man needs a Hart Schaffner Marx blue blazer.”

    I’ve had a reasonably successful professional career without a blue blazer, and it’s not time to start now. I have an irrational hate for them. More than any other men’s attire, including much more formal and expensive stuff, they say “I’m too fancy for you.”

    “I’m tired of seeing people who have no clue how to dress for business. I don’t give a hoot that you’re a “creative” person, or that you feel “more comfortable” in jeans.”

    In my aggressively casual, tech-centered Northwest city (the one with fish throwers) I quickly learned that showing up to meetings dressed the way I did in DC just made people feel uncomfortable. I got better results by dressing down a bit in this particular place. For client meetings with unfamiliar or unusually formal clients I now wear sportcoat/slacks with no tie. The rest of the time it’s an oxford and slacks, no tie, no jacket, nice shoes. With that level of dress I don’t look bad in a local context, but, also, no one either feels intimidated or thinks I’m out of place.

  5. Nick d

    I’m married with kids and am Midwest based. I am well paid and would also be well paid if I moved to CA without a COLA.

    My company is now jeans all the time, from the CEO down. But there is a huge difference between paper thin crap and quality selvedge denim. A good shirt and AE shoes (though I do rock some red wing heritage boots from time to time) work with anything.

    I still get to dress like a big boy from time to time and agree with the suit comments because you only get one first impression.

    However, clothes will not mask incompetence or lazines for long. The inverse is also true – good work supercedes just about everything in my line of work. One of the smartest and most successful people I’ve met at work wears flip flops, shorts, and company branded polos on a good day. Underestimate him at your peril.

  6. Disinterested-Observer

    The last two job interviews I went to I wore a suit, the first of my own volition and the second at the behest of the the recruiter. In both cases it was wildly inappropriate. I actually apologized to the interviewers. Both jobs (and my current job) were well into the sixes. You bring new meaning to the word “conservative”.

    • jz78817

      no shit. I think there are too many people who believe:

      1) the US in the 1950s was the pinnacle of everything which could ever be, and

      2) Leave it to Beaver re-runs are an accurate depiction of the US in the 1950s.

  7. bkl

    One if my best friends could have written this article almost word for word. Definitely an East Coast guy ( Boston, DC, NYC), he has done all right. Last I knew, he was making 4 million annually, before stock options. bonuses, etc.
    Popular clothiers come and go, but style remains. Notice I said “style,” not “fashion.”
    He once told me you should only wear a black suit if you were attending a funeral or protecting the President.

  8. arbuckle

    I’m a bank auditor and I’m also very not rich.

    90% of the time I dress like one of the agents from “The Matrix” (black suit, white shirt, black shoes (they are AEs though!), black belt, black socks, silver face Hamilton Jazzmaster). You are really going to take my tie bar away?

        • Bark M Post author

          Cole Haan is the Nike of dress shoes—which is not surprising, considering that Nike once owned them. They make a decent looking shoe, but the Chinese build quality is somewhat suspect.

    • Nick D

      I’m terrified of you already! A friend was an FDIC contractor during the height of the banking bust and they’d go into failing banks before take-over in street clothes so as to not cause a run, then full suit and tie for “day 1” of FDIC control.

  9. JP

    It’s funny, I read this mainly for the auto stuff, yet it’s this article that draws my first comment…. I think this is an entirely excellent piece, certainly as it applies everywhere except certain elements of the IT industry and those that would ape that industry.

    If you would like a few hodgepodge musings from someone in the UK (and let’s face it, you probably don’t), here you go:

    How to dress well is not innate; it is something everyone has to learn. And it’s a shibboleth, a dead giveaway. The neon-lit banner to so much about you. If you were born into the right circumstances, this is learned early and as a grown man you will not be wasting your time reading blog posts (or, much worse, comments sections) on dress. For the great unwashed rest of us, the road to dressing well is full of pitfalls. Perhaps the best possible guide is to always err on the side of undemonstrative if in any doubt. This presents an immediate problem – many of those who would hold themselves aloft t’internet as your guide are themselves demonstrative and their judgement poor.

    No branding, ever. A little embroidered gewgaw peeking out from your jacket on your shirted left moob cannot in any way communicate about its wearer anything positive to anyone. To the likewise branded, it is a meaningless token. To everyone else it speaks of insecurity, conformity, ignorance, the elite… no, wait, that’s turning into a rage against the machine lyric. Still, it says nothing good.

    Do not confuse avoidance of branding for avoidance of brands, not at all. But you should avoid the inauthentic, and anyone who needs to emblazon their product is inauthentic. Let the cut, colour, materials and style speak to the brand. Labels should face the wearer, not the world.

    While on this topic, pay attention to the “real” manufacturers behind the inauthentic. For example, The slightly ersatz-styled Ralph Lauren heritage-type shoes are often made by the excellent Crockett & Jones. By going straight to the stables, as it were, you’ve now found a double score: Crockett & Jones own boots are sublime, sans RL frippery, imbued with centuries of craft and tradition, and around 30% cheaper. Purchasing proper boots like Crockett & Jones in this way, you will also get the individual last number stamped proudly on the box, so that you your grandson can return them to the factory for repair on the original equipment, maintaining the shape and fit of the upper. It is in details such as these that the quotidian numinous may exist; these established makers always repay the effort of seeking out.

    But I’ve got into footwear without realising it… So, footwear. Bark’s right that it’s the single most important point of expenditure. Always polished, even the oldest and most battered of decent shoes will add elegance, class and patina to an outfit. This is a smashing place to spend your money.

    But, pace our author above, brown shoes must be used with great care, certainly in the UK. In most walks of life here, those with the power to pay you more money will sit around in their staffing meetings disparaging your brown shoes and your conceit. You don’t know it, but the Powers That Be invariably refer to you as “the estate agent” or “the Italian.” These things really do get noticed, and these are not sobriquets you want.

    On suits, fit is important. Find and get to know your local tailor. This will be hard, the industry is dying out, but it will be worth it. And by tailor, I don’t mean that you have to get all your suits made. I mean that made-to-measure and off-the-pegs suits are invariably improved by tailoring, often to the extent that they look as good as bespoke (really, a tailored off the peg suit does become a kind of ex post bespoke). And while we’re at it: pay attention to the construction of the suit you’re trying on. Too many off-the-peg suits today have been cost-manufactured to reduce material used in the rise, the seat, and other areas. A suit will always make your jeans feel uncomfortable and restrictive by comparison; if it is the other way round, you’re in a cheap suit. (And unfortunately “cheap” increasingly has no correlation to the price you paid.)

    Learn. Seek out guides such as the the UBS dress-code. The original 44-page one that is lazily described as “much maligned” or “crazy,” and was the subject of prissy genY revulsion on launch, I always find endearingly democratic, in the best traditions of the grammar school. Herein, you will find a well-meaning corporate proxy of that parental chat about business dress that no-one ever gave you.

    Revise. Look with discretion at those cufflinks that you’re stuffing, bleary-eyed, into your sleeve ends this Monday morning. How did they get on your wrist? Gifts from our loved ones (including our younger selves) may occasionally need retired. Not because fashions change – we’re never, ever, going to let something subject to the f-word into our wardrobe in the first place – but maybe because we grow to realise on occasion that items are less appropriate than we once thought.

    Never a sportswatch with a suit (other than a bathing suit).

    In addition to the colour of your suits (Bark’s spot on here, and I don’t believe he precludes exploring the world of pattern as one expands beyond a handful of outfits), be aware of what the detailing says about you and ensure that this message is appropriate to the circumstances. Make sure that you understand what you’re saying with jets, breaks, darts and pleats before you deploy these in the field; they each say more about your clobber than you think that pochette does.

    For all the ire directed at square toe’d shoes (yes, back to shoes), pointy ones are as bad. Normal, rounded toes only. Boots are fine for both town and country.

    Oh yes, and waistcoats are reserved for snooker players and those with ailments of the circulation.

    • Nick D

      This post raised my IQ by a few points. Thank you and God save the Queen.

      I’m sheepishly slightly glad that American business doesn’t apply such an exacting standard, but we also have no Garden Parties or Royal Ascots.

      • VolandoBajo

        But there is the Kentucky Derby, with a stringent dress code or you are clearly found out before you get in the door for the good parties, the Governor’s breakfast, etc. I’m sure there are a few others, but like it, they are exceptional rather than the norm.

    • jz78817

      If you would like a few hodgepodge musings from someone in the UK (and let’s face it, you probably don’t),

      no I don’t, given your country’s inherent classism.

      Demonstrated by this:

      The neon-lit banner to so much about you. If you were born into the right circumstances, this is learned early and as a grown man you will not be wasting your time reading blog posts (or, much worse, comments sections) on dress. For the great unwashed rest of us, the road to dressing well is full of pitfalls.

      look, if you’re a wannabe big-swingin’-dick, you might need to worry about this shit. If you’re the kind of person who actually likes doing useful work, then you don’t.

        • jz78817

          you tell me. you’re the guy who posted something about how every man needs a certain wardrobe if he wants to be CEO within the next 10 years.

          • Bark M Post author

            And this somehow offended you? There are likely hundreds of sites about men’s fashion on the Internet. I don’t think they’re all intended to offend you.

      • JP

        So, first, let me apologise for any offence caused. I should have been clearer that I see myself as one of those who needs to learn this shit, not one born into it.

        But my experience tells me that the ability to dress is not merely a requirement for the “classism” of the UK, but in every western society. Outside IT-type industries, this stuff still matters. I’m not saying I approve or otherwise – I’m saying that in life you come up against certain pre-existing conditions. You can try to change those conditions, but in some cases it is clear that those conditions will resist change as surely as the windmills resisted Quixote.

        In which case, it might be sensible to adapt to those conditions. It’s more important for me to provide well for my family than to carry some things on my thighs, so it was easy to chose suits over cargo pants. YMMV.

        • Will

          As Stanley Marcus always said, “You cannot teach flair. You can learn style, but flair is innate.” I believe that style and flair are often misunderstood as flair does not necessarily mean wild, but rather ahead or above trend.

          It’s not a class thing and anyone who thinks that is a fool. Just most people have poor taste. H.L. Mencken is always correct.

  10. Thomas Kreutzer

    This is a good guide that I could have used a long time ago. I moved from blue collar to white collar about 15 years ago and the transition is still hard. Although I am highly placed today, I tend to wear my blue collar roots on my shirtsleeve. Fortunately, I move a lot so I have the opportunity to recreate myself every so often. Still, guys with my background aren’t supposed to be interested in male fashion so I have had problems at time.

    I am jumping to the next level now so I’m upping my game again. This is a good starting point. I’m glad to see it here, written by a man I respect and trust.

    • VolandoBajo

      Personally, I used to find Esquire a good source of both dress advice and etiquette. Haven’t kept up with it, so I can’t vouch for its present state.

      And Molloy’s Dress for Success book, while probably not revised for Bark’s particular tastes and preferences, is likely still a safe point of departure for men’s clothing in business.

    • Will

      If you have trouble, find a men’s store that you want to dress like and find one salesmen that understands you or picks things that you can slowly evolve into as change requires time. Avoid Trunk Club at all costs. As you develop the relationship with the sales person, you will see everything get better and be more in point with your style. Remember, dress for the ladies guys will respect you. Pull compliments from women, guys will start to copy.

  11. -Nate

    So then ;

    My glossy black wingtips are passe’ ? .

    Good thing I’m too old to came I guess .

    Never going to see six figures unless I win the lotto .


  12. rambo furum

    We live in clothing. It should fit well, be comfortable, and look good and appropriate.
    If children’s clothing no different from what one would wear to go on a nature hike is how people choose to dress for serious business, that says something really bad about someone or something.
    Seriously, people are showing up at weddings and funerals in the level of clothing that JFK wore to play on a sailboat.
    Dressing well is for leaders. Blending in with the herd via lowest common denominator tripe is follower behavior.

  13. Will

    I’ve never heard of square toed shoes being considered “hip”. Though much of this advice is rather basic, the clothing suggestions are too basic. A black suit with bold pinstripes works just fine for a business meeting. I only wear 3 piece suits when wearing a suit; it does just fine and should be worn more often. It also gives you an air of style and imposing that you don’t normally get. Women dig it, men respect it.

    Shoes are the most important part, next is the suit. Spend money on those as they will break any outfit or make it look great. Ties suck and don’t spend too much on those. Avoid fused canvases.

    Socks and cufflinks should show your personality. They can be whatever you want them to be. Make sure your belt matches (or is close) to your shoes, though it doesn’t matter to much.

    Lastly, for the moment, find a great tailor and stick with him. Make sure everything “fits” so that way it never goes out of style. Most importantly, wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident. Also, look at GQ and Details and just tone it down, that’ll give you a good base.

    The slavishness of silicon valley annoys me; you don’t need to dress like a coach, but looking like a slob doesn’t help much either. Just always go for looking nice.

  14. Athos

    I didn’t read all the comments and will cut to the chase, what’s your advice for a job interview?

    I bought my last suit in ’10 and was helped by the locals in getting a good shirt/tie combo. Needless to say, I feel the suit is a bit on the old side (I’ll count the buttons tomorrow) and would probably need an update.

    For the engineers above, I am an engineer myself and had the privilege of joining the middle management of a company. I learned a LOT from my bosses, the General Manager and the President themselves and enjoyed immensely the ‘firepower’ I had with my subordinates. The amount of things I could do and influence were much bigger than when I was a just an engineer. I f²³¤%^& kicked a$$ left right and centre and got a lot done. It’s been a long time since that and I don’t think that will happen again in the near future, but would not hesitate for a moment to do it again.

    • Will

      Depending on the industry, conservative except for the tie. Gray is better than blue as it can be a bit snazzier. Blue or white shirt with little to no pattern tie should have some pattern to it, just don’t go wild.

    • Bark M Post author

      Job interviews can depend greatly on the culture of the organization. As mentioned above, wearing a suit and tie to a tech start-up might seem a bit inappropriate.

      That being said, I don’t think you can go wrong at any company by wearing a navy suit, white shirt, and solid color tie. If it’s a more conservative industry (finance, law, etc), go with black shoes. If it’s a younger, trendier company, I’d wear brown shoes. Cap toe, closed lace.

      Keep in mind, you’re likely going to have more than one interview, and those interviews can often come in quick succession. Be prepared with more than one suit, if possible. You don’t want to wear the same suit to the same office twice.

    • Athos

      Thanks for the advise. I have usually worked for a very conservative industry. You just don’t wear jeans in the office. Period. Even in a factory environment, I was required to dress ‘business casual’. It is very tricky to buy cheap and look good. You don’t want to ruin $100 shirt/pants with ATF/engine oil/grease/whatever. The material racks can easily cut your pants if you are not careful.

  15. Morgan

    Interesting article, and some good comments.

    Anyone know of a good tailor in Denver (preferably west side of the city)? I had a great tailor years ago, he sadly passed on…

  16. jz78817

    I apologize for the derailing last night. bad day combined with liquid attitude afterwards. I need to learn not to look for things to get bent out of shape over.

      • jz78817

        It’s not that I intend to piss in your pool after you’ve invited me in your backyard, just that sometimes I put myself in the position where I can’t hold it anymore…

  17. Ronnie Schreiber

    An adult man should also wear adult headwear. Nothing wrong with a baseball cap when you’re going informal, but a proper hat completes a man’s clothing. I’m partial to fedoras with medium brims and crowns, somewhere between hipster narrow and rabbi wide. Some favor European brands like Borsalino but I’ve found that good ol’ American made Stetson Sovereigns are made just as well and are significantly less expensive than the Italian hats. I have two black Stetson Sovereign Temples (one is almost brand new for special occasions) and a gray Selentino (Italian brand but made in Czech Republic) that’s a little lighter weight that I wear in the summer.

    If you’re not quite comfortable going full fedora, a step up from baseball caps would be a Kangol style cap. You can wear them with informal outfits as well as with a sport coat.

    • Danio

      Can’t do it. I hate hats. Must be the shape of my head or something.

      The last hat I wore formally was the Abe Lincoln stovepipe “coaching hat”. It really broke the atmosphere when doing into people’s offices to tell them about what they fucked up.

  18. Graham

    This is a nice summary for those with customer-facing positions. Growing up with a banker dad, I was always impressed with his 6′ 4″ stature in his myriad suits.

    Of course, the desire to wear Hawaiian shirts is a very real thing among the Harvard Business School crowd. But, I don’t think wearing black turtlenecks is a great way to get to the top of Apple, and likewise with hoodies and facebook.

    As an engineer, jeans and modest Polo shirts are all you ever need. Those seeking distinction can choose a large, garish watch.

  19. VolandoBajo


    I will try to address all the points, in some semblance of organization, though not necessarily in the order you presented them.

    As to the review, mea culpa. I do read a lot of things, and I did read another review of the Huracán that referenced your brother’s, but now that I see your reply and think a bit harder, I realize that I mistakenly ascribed that to you. Sorry…

    As to your brother’s wardrobe, it, like everything else I have learned about him, doesn’t really surprise me. But I have seen him only in photos and videos, and mostly on either race days or travel days. So my view of his wardrobe is obviously skewed.

    I don’t think my irony detector is broken when it comes to your Trump comment. I would offer instead that you offered the statement without any emojis or other indicators of sarcasm. On the printed page, it appeared to have been presented as a straightforward statement. I am, however, glad to see that you do not subscribe to his essentially politically motivated race-baiting. And though I have not yet zeroed in on who I believe would be the best for the country, I too think Rand Paul offers a lot of good points to consider. But nothing in your statement “Go Trump 2016!” gives any indication that your true opinion lay outside of the Trump worldview. Glad it does, though.

    As to my contempt for the flyover states, it is not in fact contempt. It is more just boredom. And I do not speak as only a visitor. You accuse me of over-simplification and engaging in amateur psychoanalysis, yet you turn around and engage in amateur sociology and/or anthropology, and wrongly deduce that my experience with the Midwest is solely that of a visitor.

    In fact, I was born in a midwestern state, and lived there until I was a teenager, at which time my family moved to the central west coast of Florida. Later, during my younger adulthood, I gravitated towards NYC as the capital of universe. I lived there from my mid-twenties to my mid-thirties, the first half married to an NYC woman and the second half enjoying the perks of being a bachelor with a successful career as an IT guru on Wall Street.

    As I matured a bit more (or aged might be a more honest word), I gravitated towards what I consider to be the more intelligent and politically moderate state of Virginia.

    Life has since taken my to Delaware, following a career move of my wife’s, when I was still dating her, and later to the suburbs of Philadelphia.

    So I too have lived in a reasonable sampling of the same parts of the country that you mentioned. I have also traveled between them for business while living in all three.

    And I find the Midwest quaint, slow-paced and often devoid of things that are easy to enjoy on a regular basis on the East Coast. But I am not contemptuous of the great American Midwest…it is just that I like the variety and pace of the East Coast a bit more.

    As to three button suits, Wikipedia notes that they went out of style in the mid-80’s, came back in around 2000 and began to go back out of fashion around 2010 plus or minus.

    But first, I have been in technical environments pretty much for the entire last half of my career, in places where wearing a suit was considered an attempt to try to look like you thought you were better than those around you. So they came out only for formal meetings every few weeks or months, and/or for certain job interviews and contract negotiations.

    But I was also taught that a gentleman was never a slave to the fashions of the moment, but rather tended towards those looks and types of clothing which tended to transcend momentary styles…hence no wide-lapel suits, or other unusual cuts. Two button suits were OK, but certainly not de rigeur, and I doubt that the three piece suit has ever vanished from, for example, legal circles, or financial circles, especially as in investment banking and high net worth individual banking.

    So if you want to be a slave to fashion, ditch the three button suits. But if you are a slave to fashion, you had better ditch them into your closet, instead of into the thrift shop, as they are likely to come back into fashion again. After all, per Wikipedia, they have gone out, come back, gone out, and are now starting to come back, all in a period of thirty or so years.

    Perhaps if you are young, lean and don’t have to interact with people who are not slavishly relegating their three button suits to the closet or the thrift shop, have fun with them. But I would hardly think that it can be said that they are universally out of fashion. Just not trendy, which is not the same thing.

    If you’re not comfortable making tie decisions, I personally think that sticking to all solid color ties advertises that you are not comfortable in dress clothes at all, which is as dangerous as possibly wearing a weak choice for a patterned tie. Just don’t, as you noted, combine three articles all with patterns.

    And I will agree to dispense with my low level psychoanalysis when you agree to dispense with your low-level sociological analysis of what is and what isn’t required for good taste in business throughout the entire country, based on your perceptions in the Midwest, and likely in a specific industry segment.

    That sort of thing comes off as more than just a little pedantic, and you do show signs of being able to rise above that. I just wish you were more consistent in doing so.

    But since your writing isn’t atrocious, just a bit annoying to me at times, and since I regularly try to read your brother’s work, I will doubtless continue to click on your articles as well, if only to see what you are up to.

    But I really think you swung for the fence with your article on your fashion pronouncements, and whiffed mightily. Perhaps you would have done better not to try to dictate the be all and end all of men’s current fashions, and simply dispensed some good tips without the mandate that all men must be able do dress like that, or risk career suicide. Some do, but others do not, and some may even risk career suicide, at least temporarily, by trying to pull off a look that may be popular in some circles these days, but is far from universally accepted even in the halls of serious business.

    YMMV, but I just don’t see your viewpoint as being universally correct, even across all businesses throughout the US, yet you present it as if it is the one true best and only way for a man to dress in business, regardless. And it seems from the general mix of comments that you have found some people, apparently those who are insecure about their dress, who welcome your guidance as being better than being devoid of guidance, but it seems that there are at least equal numbers of individuals who offer rebuttals of your supposed universal rule for correct business dress.

    So in conclusion, I will concede that your points are adequate as a guideline for one style of dressing for business, but it is not the only correct one, and it is not universally applicable to all types of business. You would do your readers more of a favor if you would acknowledge that your pronouncements are not cast in stone, but are simply a set of preferences that work better than having no idea at all how to dress up, nothing more and nothing less.

    Once again sorry about the mistake in thinking that it was you who wrote a second article about Lambos, that referenced Jack, and sorry for my inability to discern irony when I could find no evidence of such irony on the printed page. Perhaps your friends might know that you would never feel that way in a million years, but a reader who doesn’t know you personally has no reason to think that an exclamation point indicates irony.

    But I am curious about one thing. What is it about my grammar or composition that gives an appearance of English as a second language, or was that another unsignalled attempt at irony or sarcasm?

    I occasionally end up inserting a typo here or there, but I do not recall making errors such as its/it’s, there/their, or the literal use of idioms from a foreign language. Perhaps you’d care to explain that one.

    Or was it just a reaction to the fact that perhaps I had deconstructed your argument a bit too harshly? Yes, perhaps I could have been a bit milder, but by the same token, you could have been a bit less pompous and imperious in dictating fashion.

    Mr. Blackwell, the last time I checked, was also out of fashion.

    That’s it…back to you.

  20. the passenger

    This is certainly solid advice for guys who need to dress a certain way for professional reasons and (presumably) don’t know where to start, or have not previously had an interest in putting together a usable dress wardrobe. But it’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all guide. As one of the other commenters mentioned, I have an intense dislike of navy blue and have not owned a blue blazer in over three decades. I also dislike white dress shirts. I have two of them, but depending on the situation I will almost always choose another option.

    Aside from ensuring your clothing fits properly (something many men could use a lesson in), the other crucial component of dressing well is figuring out what you like and what works best for you, and eliminating/avoiding those things that do not.

  21. Suspekt

    Terrible column. Terrible advice.

    First. Get your Confidence. If you lack that, you will get nothing least of all being respect.

    Second. Get your body in shape. Your a man. Get those shoulders squared off. Get your chest into a box. Be a man.

    Third. Dress normal. Don’t be cheap. Don’t dress odd. Just be normal.

    Men that spend a lot of effort dressing themselves are annoying. Period.

    Those shoes are disgusting by the way. Hideous actually.

    I work in senior strategic finance. Salary in low 6 figure range. West coast.

  22. VolandoBajo

    But is the Orthodox Jewish suit now a two button suit, or, being orthodox, have they stayed with the three button model?

  23. VolandoBajo

    “…blues musicians?”

    Only if they drive/own a car with cop shocks, cop tires and a cop motor.

    Or at least a reasonable semblance of the same.

    Panther platform owners in particular may wear them whenever they like. However, a good pair of retro sunglasses is de rigeur…Oakleys, however up to date in their styling, simply won’t do.

    Raybans or cheap but well-made throwaways, however, complete the look perfectly.

    Rubber biscuit…

  24. Power6

    Good stuff I am one who worked in IT so never had to care too much about dress. I spent the last 6 years on the sales side so I had to dress up working Northeast, lots of meetings at law firms and whatnot in NYC. I have always gotten by, but my shoes are cheap, suits are OK etc. Now I run my own business and I work with small business owners and execs as clients so they typically are not dressing up, but I still do all sales activity in a suit. It really does put me in a better light, every single person thinks my business is way bigger and further along than it actually is. I have always had a sort of philosophy like Obama and Zukerburg, just wear my “uniform” to business meetings, don’t let it be a thing I think about like “Oh did I dress up enough?”, and get on with the business.

    I did do some reading and clean up my style a bit recently. Some of the advice you give is a little contrary to that maybe you could clear it up?

    – Cufflinks are going the way of the doo-dads, way over used. So I had read don’t bother with these in general. I skipped them when I bought a some shirts.

    – No black shoes? That’s all I have LOL. And according to you, you should not wear the merlot shoes, or the brown with the grey shoes, and the black shoes not at all, so what do you wear with the grey suit?? I will buy some nice shoes soon, I swear.

    – Fitness tracker. I got the Microsoft Band, and the whole point of the thing is to wear it 24/7 and track steps, heart rate, etc. So I have a problem because it doesn’t fit well with a cuff, and doesn’t fit with the fashion advice. I have a nice titanium Casio I used to wear. That’s the nicest watch I am going to wear.

    – I have a tie bar. I wear it. That’s my thing. I am not going to stop. I don’t wear ties to often, it is a bit much for meetings with small biz owners.

  25. VolandoBajo

    I am guessing that imipramine was an auto spell correction of important or importantly.

    I fail to see the connection between watches, the Cole Haan brand and a drug used to treat depression.

    Aleksey can be forgiven if English is not his first language, but he should take caution when autocorrection is in use.

  26. atonge40

    I’ve had good luck with Allen Edmonds seconds via their site. Sometimes AE’s regular site has better prices when it’s clearance time. So just keep an eye out. If you buy conservative AE shoes with shoe trees, and take care of them, you really can’t go wrong.

    I have the strange distinction of dressing more casual now that I have a higher level job. Different company, different expectations. Still, make sure whatever you’re going to wear is on point. If you are wearing a polo and khakis because that is the company expectation, fine. Make sure they fit, are made well (hopefully in the US), the shoes and belt match, and it doesn’t look like you grabbed them off the floor.

  27. Zykotec

    I just thank God that I don’t really want to earn 6 figures, and that I would not want any of the kind of jobs that usually make that kind of money, (and I’m an atheist) even if I almost made that much anyway the last two years in my current job (totally by accident).
    I don’t own, or understand how to use formal clothing, suits are even worse.
    I do own some sort of suit ( I don’t think it’s black, but if it is, it’s pinstriped at least, and has been used twice for my younger sons baptism (my SO’s not really an atheist) and similar ‘churchy’ stuff. And I think I still have a slightly too large grey fleamarket suit, bought ironically in my late teens.
    Telling me I have to wear a tie, and keep the top button in my shirt buttoned for hours is the same as saying I’m not invited…(luckilly you can often use a tie to hide that open top button so that you can breathe)
    I will also pull up the sleeves on my shirt as soon as people start ‘loosening up’.
    As I’m nearing 40 I think maybe having some sort of blazer thing would be nice, in case I someday have to go to a job interview, or go testdrive an expensive car, as long as it matches my white sneakers and well worn jeans (and I only own black or dark grey socks,seriously, who wears coloured socks?) , and I have bought some simple white and black T-shirts so that I don’t have to wear a Simpsdons or Metallica T-shirt every day.
    Watches that cling to your arm, as a constant reminder that death is getting nearer every second, can go F themselves, but I honestly have a problem with clingy accessories , that includes sleeves, polos, scarfs, jewelry and rings, even sweaters (one reason I just can’t get married, and have worn contacts instead of glasses for 15 years ) Having a cheap rubber wristwatch that an handle a beating and some water is OK to have laying around for situations where you can’t look at your phone once every two hours though (whenever such a situation will occur, I’m not sure, yeah, I haven’t owned a wristwatch for at least 5 years)

    I must say it does matter a lot how you wear whatever you wear. And naturally having a body that follows most manufacturers standard measurements does help, Having hair that can ruin the most experienced hairdressers day whenever it gets longer than half an inch does not…
    I try my best to look confident and ‘manly’ when dressed as a slob/punk, and do my best to look relaxed and ‘slobby’ whenever I’m forced to dress formally…
    Acknowledning false authority isn’t one of my strong sides tbh….

  28. Domestic Hearse

    You know, if you want a suit that never goes out of style, the English cut made famous by Savile Row will classically endure no matter what GQ proclaims as the suit(e) du jour.

    Big proponent of the blue blazer myself. With gray flannel slacks, it’s a suit. With raw dark denim dress jeans, casual cool. In fact, it’s the only suit I own (not counting the black suit, which is for formal events, mostly funeral duty lately).

    Work-wise, I’m one’a those “creatives” that were I to dress up, I’d disappoint clients. In fact, they positively love it when the young art directors and copywriters are trotted out in tattered jeans and snarky t-shirts which reveal full sleeve tats — and piercings like nose rings add to the creative cred, yo. I’m too old for that stuff, and will not, under any circumstances, resort to the creative-director-in-a-pony-tail cliche.

    My wife, Dr Hearse, is a clothes hound, however. Her clients’ expectations of her appearance are quite different from those of my clients.

    As for six figures, all I can say is we’re very blessed — which is not to say we didn’t work quite hard and diligently stick to long-term plans and goals.

    Along with that, we both believe that more than appearances, it’s what we give back that generates the greatest rewards, like her pro bono work with veterans and my volunteer work through our church. Karma is returned whether I’m in blue jeans or she’s in a Michael Kors jacket and skirt. Though I must admit, Karma can’t take his eyes off her.

  29. Hogie roll

    This column makes me feel underdressed. I like looking good. But it wouldn’t be appropriate in my position. I spend lots of time in a lab and around heavy machines. My mechanics wouldn’t respect me running around in suits and ties aren’t even allowed.

    I live in a flyover state, I’m younger than you and make more. A fortune 500 company outside of major metropolitan area actually has to pay people more to attract good talent.

    I’d suggest that if you are smart technically you will likely never have to have this sort of dress code for the work place.

    I’m a little nostalgic for the time when all engineers wore suits. But I still feel dressing appropriately relative to your bosses and peers is more important for my career than trying to make a fashion statement and bring mad men back to reality.

  30. -Nate

    D.Hearse ~

    Thank your Wife for helping our Veterans .

    I’d be nowhere to – day but for the many Vets of WWII and Korea who took time out to teach me most of what I know to – day .


  31. corey_trevor

    All of these comments that are in the vein of “hurf durf at my engineering/IT/compsci firm even the CEO wears jeans I don’t see the point of this article” are losing sight of the fact that Bark is simply trying to help people who actively want to dress professionally to do so. He’s not telling you that you shouldn’t wear a polo if that’s what everyone in the office wears. He is telling you that if you are in a more formal work environment, don’t wear a black suit with a weird colored dress shirt underneath with a tie bar affixed to a horrible patterned tie capped off with a pair square toed shoes and think you’re dressed up because you are wearing what are *technically* dress clothes.

  32. VolandoBajo

    You say that Bark is not telling us what to wear, yet he leads off that these are things we “Simply Must Have”.

    At the risk of cutting myself on a sharp meme, I will say that one does not simply HAVE to do something if it is only a suggestion.

    His tips are for the most part good, IF you must dress up. He does, however, seem to follow the recent rush to two button suits a bit slavishly, simply because it is a trend that has taken over the popular and fashion press.

    I believe the evidence is fairly clear that near the top the tendency is to remain more traditional, with the three button suit if not de rigeur, at least not mandated to the thrift shop. Not only is it pointed out elsewhere that the three buttoner, which Bark clearly disdains, is still seen, perhaps even preferred, in the highest echelons. And it is still carried at what are described as the best and most top end men’s stores.

    So I believe he makes the error of presenting his views as if he is a 21st century Mr. Blackwell, whose word on clothing is authoritative. Taken as guidelines that work in most corporate environments, he hits a home run. But when treated as definitive, even at the top, he diverts from the reality of those environments, at times in ways that could be detrimental to one trying to slavishly follow his every pronouncement.

    That is the only issue I have with what he is doing, or trying to do…that he presents guidelines that are good for most environments, as being a) universal and b) the best and only correct way to dress.

    And I believe he has been rebutted fairly soundly on both of those points. Nevertheless, the corpus of his advice stands as a decent guideline for the clueless younger man to find his way into appropriate dresswear in most environments where dresswear is standard. No more, but certainly no less, either.

    I think Bark undermined what was an otherwise well constructed set of guidelines by over-extending the extent to which they were the definitive boundaries, and that they should be used universally in business.

    The boundaries are not as rigid as he portrays, especially in the area of alleged obsolescence of three piece suts, and they are not as universally a way to step up the line as he portrays…in certain environments, dressing that way can even be detrimental.

    But if one is aware of those two points, the rest of his advice is solid, and can safely be applied wherever dress is required, EXCEPT in the most conservative and upper echelon environments. But in those cases, it is highly improbable that anyone who is in that league needs to be told to throw out his three button suits and to switch to two buttons, when and if he is surrounded by counterexamples who hold more clout than he does.

    But having said that, please keep off my lawn.

  33. -Nate

    _Especially_ keep your butt off my 70 year old St. Augustine lawn !! =8-) .

    Damn kids .

    Trends , whether dress or transportation , are a total waste of time .


  34. VolandoBajo

    Beautiful Nate!

    Got love in my heart for you (like a brother, not gay). Just wanted to clear that up.

    But about that St. Augustine grass, when we moved to FL developers tried to sell us new houses with St. Augustine grass lawns. My father, who had come out of a farming lineage in WI, said no it wasn’t, it was a weed.

    And he diligently got rid of all of it in the house we bought, and replaced it with a nice “real” zoysia grass lawn.

    I’ve never liked the other stuff, ever since the first time I landed on some without a shirt on. Makes you itch almost as badd as fire ants.

    • VolandoBajo

      (There should be an edit function, like TTAC. But better threading than them, also.)

      I left out the rest of the story…in the Midwest, everyone called “St. Augustine grass” crabgrass, and it was considered to be not just a weed, but a highly invasive one.

      Coarse, hard stems growing at every angle, almost non-existent blades laying close to the hard stems, capable of choking out any other grass that grew near it. Its only redeeming value was that it could withstand high heat, not much water, and could almost grow on sand.

      But it was still an itchy and annoying weed that everyone who had a nice lawn tried to eradicate as quickly and thoroughly as possible.

      Still, there were whole neighborhoods of the stuff in FL. Just not in ours, cause it was hell to try to play on.

  35. -Nate

    Yep ;

    Every point you made , is true plus , it turns yellow in Summer no matter how much you water it .

    That’s why I love it so ~ it chokes out everything else and if you trim the edges sharply , .it’ll grow deep roots and be *very* drought resistant , even the drunken b*tch next door who feeds the local feral cats , they can’t kill my lawn…..

    I’ve had so many ‘ Landscapers ‘ tell me how I need to dig it app up and sterilize the dirt so they can re plant it….

    Idiots .

    I only have to water it a few times a _year_ , when I do it’s always after sun set and I deep water , not a drop wasted in the street but I make sure those roots go deep .

    Stop leaning on my car too ! it’s not a f*cking park bench .


  36. Danio

    This post is timely as I recently accepted a promotion, so time to go new suit shopping. I’m not a fashionista, but realize the importance of dressing well, so I often bring a lady friend who is well versed when shopping for new menswear.

    I picked up 3 Savile Row suits at Freed’s in Windsor in exactly your 3 top recommended colors and couldn’t be happier with the way they look. As for shoes, I like my Bostonians just fine.

    I was recently looking through a box of shoes my deceased grandfather had passed on to me many years ago and found a pair of brown Gucci loafers from the 70’s in very nice condition. I wan’t to wear them so badly, but they would draw a lot of attention.

  37. -Nate

    Ties , heh .

    My Son gave me a Christmas tie when he was 6 , I still drag out out every Christmas and will until I’m dead .

    You don’t like Christmas ties ? who gives a shit .

    I thought Loafers were supposed to be comfy , that fact that you lucked into a nice pair of Gucci’s just means you’re ahead of the curve , non ? .


    • Danio

      I take pride in being ahead of the curve on many things, but wardrobe isn’t one of them. I’ll give them a test run some time and see what happens.

  38. VolandoBajo

    I understand completely, Nate. You’ve got to do what you have to do. And some places only work with a hardy grass. Just curious what kind of climate you live in if you don’t mind saying.

    As to grass/weed idea, my son was doing some gardening for a customer of his, and she asked why we hadn’t pulled out a certain plant/weed while she wasn’t there. Told her we wanted to be sure she wanted it out before we did it — with the explanation that one person’s weed is another person’s wildflower. After that she saw our point.

    I taught my son never to assume anything about a person’s lawn or garden…find out what they want to do with it, don’t assume they want the same as everyone else.

    There is one older guy in our neighborhood who apparently is a partially disabled former Marine. And one of the local powers is a woman who is the daughter of the guy who has half the stuff in town named after him, and she drives by there every day on the way to her business. Apparently she put some pressure on the town to have him keep his grass trimmed short.

    He didn’t like being told how often he had to cut his lawn (had a “don’t tread on me” flag on his flagstaff for a while), so he ripped out all the grass, and put a rock garden with lots of cactus in for a front yard instead.

    Looks more like a Hawaiian shorefront than a lawn, but it looks nice. And he never has to take a lawnmower to it.

    And besides, he never has to tell anyone to keep off his lawn…there’s no place to stand flat on it.

    For every problem there is usually more than one solution.

    • -Nate

      Currently I live in the Greater Los Angeles metro Area , always in some less than trendy part of town .

      Decades ago I lived on a hill top in Highland Park , L.A. , I can always find some St. Augustine roots and plant in a lawn but the soil there was beyond bad , it (the St.Augustine) died (!) .

      I always had that damned crabgrass so I watered it heavily and kept it trimmed within specific borders , as anyone who grows anything knows , this forced deep roots , in about a year I had a nice little green parch in front of my house , I’d ask visitors how they liked my ‘ lawn ‘ and everyone said it looked nice if odd .

      I told them ‘ it’s 100 % crabgrass , no weeds as crabgrass kills the weeds off ‘ and they were amazed .

      Like you said , there’s many ways to skin a mule .

      I’ve done the dance with Code Enforcement , that a-hole made a serious mistake : first he told me to give him a free car to be left alone , then he _lied_ at the hearing , by the time I was done he was nearly in tears .

      “Is laziness a virtue?”

      No, but economy of motion is. << THIS .

      As far as I'm concerned , anyone lazier than I is ready to die .

      I hate wasted effort so I try to work smarter , not harder .


  39. VolandoBajo

    “Is laziness a virtue?”

    No, but economy of motion is.

    All depends on your point of view, like many things.

    I have experienced the benefit of working as if you were a level or two up, in order to advance. But it has also been my experience that while dressing the part can be helpful, companies that place a premium on promoting people with a taste in ties similar to the bosses are usually places that do a lousy job of recognizing and rewarding talent. That was one of the reasons I chose to spend most of my career as a consultant, doing the job I was hired for and moving on, sort of like a modern day “Have gun, will travel”, minus the gun and plus the computer and project management skills. The entire contract and set of expectations was all upfront…no doing most of the work and watching someone else get a raise and become the new boss.

    If you have to endure that I don’t fault you, we all have to do what we have to in order to survive and to care for our loved ones, but I felt fortunate in being able to grab the money and run. And many years I ended up making more and working less hours than I would have with a 9 to 5, or 8 to 6, or 7 to 7 job.

    And I never ended up having to listen to someone tell me how there wasn’t any money in the budget this year for raises for anyone, but thanks for the loyalty. Not a lifestyle for everyone, but for me it enabled me to skip a lot of office games and politics, and to concentrate on the task at hand.

    I did dress up if the clients dressed up, but I never had my compensation or advancement controlled by a fashion contest.

  40. VolandoBajo


    St. Augustine not growing is seriously bad soil. Had a similar problem on our front lawn. Been here thirteen years. First seven or eight nothing would grow in front. One half inch of sandy soil on top of hard dry clay.

    Finally had to dig down about six to eight inches, and install a boatload of bags of I believe first a mix heavy in peat moss for drainage then heavier with black dirt for the top two thirds. We have had a passably nice lawn since, though I don’t do the heavy chem thing to kill off all the weeds.

    What was the code enforcement guy harassing you for? The lawn being bare?

    I had the cops tell me that my Jeep XJ up on solid jackstands on one end was a “dangerous nuisance” that kids could crawl under, tip over and get crushed. I challenged them to even rock it with three of them.

    But one cop, who had objected to our former mayor speeding to traffic stops in his Jag with a siren and light, and who was leaving for a more “real” force when he finished his masters, took me aside and said it was the realtor daughter of the guy who had everything in town named for him. Former car salesman/dealer.

    The irony was it was only up for two days while I waited for my local auto parts store to get me some parts, calipers I think.

    But although you CAN fight city hall, you usually lose, since they are also the referee. So I had to put it back together for a day then tear it down again to rebuild.

    But I agree with you that for difficult apps St. A grass a/k/a crabgrass is ideal. And especially out in SoCal, where water is scarce, and using it unnecessarily will likely be a jailable offence within a few years.

    Like you said, work more efficiently. To be truly lazy you must be truly efficient.

    But then there is also the story told by Wm. Burroughs, which describes some DMV offices to a T.

    He said he was waiting to see someone in an office in the back, and was seated in front of a clerk at a desk. Every fifteen minutes exactly the clerk would turn one paper over and move to the next.

    Burroughs said the clerk was the most perfect bureaucrat he had ever seen – fifteen seconds slower and someone would have come up and approached him about taking too long, necessitating more energy expenditure, and fifteen seconds faster and he would have done more work than necessary.

    He said that the clerk had figured out the exact pace to minimize his total energy expenditure.

    I’ll bet you’ve seen this too.

    The way the drought is going out there you could start a business consulting on the growth of low water lawns.

    The time is right…it should just now be taking off.

    Adios. Always good chatting with you. Wish you were on the other coast — I’d hoist one of whatever your favorite beverage was with you.

  41. -Nate

    Thanx for the drink offer ~ you just missed me , I was in Maine and Ma. burying Moms in July .

    The code enforcement boob was called on me by the drunken bitch next door to me , the one who has whiskey for breakfast and foolishly came over horny once after my ex Wife left…. I foolishly didn’t keep my mouth shut ~ i told her I’d not screw her with someone else’s dick , she took that badly and began a harassment campaign against me using the City….. oops ~ mistake , I showed up with a lawyer in tow , they leave me alone now and that boob isn’t in Code Enforcement anymore .

    They claimed i had junk cars in my back yard , I showed up with a folder full of current tags & titles , there was other hassles too but I think it’s all good now

    I bought the worse house within many blocks and keep it tidy and clean , always mowed lawn , I pickup the trash and bottles my fellow denizens scatter about , rake the leaves , etc. , etc.

    Harassing and asking for BRIBES , the -ONE- guy in a crappy neighborhood who makes an effort , is a special kind of stupid .

    We’re only allowed to water twice a week now , of course i have neighbors who over water daily , the gutter running past my corner lot rarely dries out , even in this heat (it’s 94° F & sunny to – day) .

    Me , i never allow and lawn water to clear the side walk , that’d be wasteful and waste costs me money .

    The place that wouldn’t grow St. Augustine was a rental so I didn’t want to put too much work into it , I did a lot of cleaning up and growing etc. so the landlady’s best bud decided he should live there for free instead of me who paid and maintained the place better than they ever did , typical B.S. I guess .


  42. -Nate

    OBTW :

    I’m in the Civil Service now ans yes , I could tell you some stories .

    Example : my first or second year in Motor Transport , I made sure the Police cars didn’t run out of wiper blades , the first winter that ever occurred ~ they gave me a commendation to hang on my wall .

    Then , three months later , I got a ” Notice To Correct Deficiencies ” for spending too much money one buying one slow moving item ~ those same wiper blades .

    Some bean counters simply don’t understand how to run a business , they focus on pennies and waste dollars .


  43. VolandoBajo


    Sorry about your loss.

    That would have been the East Coast, and I used to run up from DE to do IT projects in Boston several years ago, but usually don’t roam that far afield of the Philly suburbs anymore.

    And the closest I have ever come to Maine is that my wife once attended a private school there, when she was in high school. And though I was a dirty old man who married a younger wife, I did at least wait til she was in her twenties, which was when I met her.

    To me, Maine seems a bit like Louisiana Cajun bayou country, without the French accent — lots of Rockwell Americana charm, salt of the Earth people, but not much to do. But that’s just my East Coast, big city biased viewpoint. Though I do like the idea that supposedly lobster tail is dirt cheap up there.

    I may end up visiting my best friend sometime in the next year or so, who lives in the San Francisco Bay area, and who travels back and forth to Baja California Sur every winter. If I end up going there about the time he makes his run south, there is a chance I might spend a couple of days in SoCal too. But right now that is all just speculation.

    Sometimes I wish that there was an easier way for people to just end up closer to people they end up finding to be good people they are compatible with. But I suppose that is one of the “occupational hazards” of online life…some of the people you meet and would really like to get to know IRL are halfway, or all the way, across the country.


  44. VolandoBajo


    That is classic.

    I have studied bean counting as well as engineering, but I have always thought that bean counters should be forced to study the mathematics of operational research, including what happens when you fall outside the area of feasible solutions.

    But I expect the day that that will happen will be the day that the weather report for Hell will be “sub-freezing temperatures.”

    I once worked in a Fed Inspector General’s office for one of the big Cabinet agencies, and we had about a hundred people, all printing reports and spreadsheets, the former standard text, standard page orientation.

    The spreadsheets were all small text, and printed sideways. And all hundred plus people shared one departmental printer. They would run down, set the printer, run back to their desks and print their output, usually right after someone else had just changed the settings again.

    So I lifted a thirty some byte program from a PC magazine, and set up a batch file that would set the printer remotely just before queuing the job. Printrpt and Printss.

    Two or three days later, one of the guys from the three person departmental Resource Management program came down and told me that I could be fined, jailed and fired for putting unauthorized code on the departmental machines.

    Never mind that a hundred people were wasting thousands of sheets of paper a day, and also were wasting countless manhours a month — and never mind that even the Deputy Department head thought it was a great solution. The solution was the Resource Management team’s turf, and their toes had been stepped on.

    Shortly after that I received a glowing first review, and shortly after that, I went back into computer consulting.

    I couldn’t stand the idea of silently enduring stupidity day in and day out.

    But now I understand WHY there is so much government waste (besides the “profit under the table” motive, of course).

    • -Nate

      Why suffer 31 years of stupidity and foolishness ? .

      Easy : when I was self employed , I stupidly didn’t make plans for the future .

      Then one day the light came on and so I folded up my tent (I still miss that VW Shop/Junkyad/Sales Lot/Partshaus) and grabbed on tight , I’m ready to pull the pin and retire this year , I also got off my duff and invested so I’ll have a _little_ cushion to carry SWMBO and I on , we’ll see hop it all goes .

      Right after I posted the example of waste/ignorance for you , I remembered another but have now forgotten it dammit .

      The travel thing , I travel often and whenever I mention I’m hitting the road , someone somewhere pops up and invites me to drop by if I’m in their State ~ I hope to do more of this getting to know folks I’ve met OnLine , I do Technical Help and writing for numerous old vehicle groups , clubs and so on .

      If ever you get to Los Angeles , just ask , I’ll spring for coffee , prepare to be underwhelmed .


  45. VolandoBajo

    Thank you very much Nate. The offer is reciprocal and the vicinity is Cherry Hill NJ.

    And those damn senior moments are annoying, but we tend to forget that we used to forget things now and then when we were younger and we can always fall on the excuse that, being older, we have accumulated more memories to sort out and recall.

    At least it makes a good excuse…

    What was that excuse for again? Damn, I forgot…just kidding.

  46. -Nate

    My Father lived in Short Hills , NJ for a while .

    I think you’re referring to ” C.R.S. Syndrome ” but for me , ‘ O.P.P. ‘ works fine =8-) .

    Damn kids left an empty Mickey’s 40 Ouncer on my parkway Saturday….


  47. VolandoBajo

    Nate –

    I’m familiar with CRS syndrome, but OPP is a new one on me, in that context.

    We have a corner lot, about a half acre, about std width, but long, and the long side is sort of down in a valley towards a small creek, and has a fence rail next to the sidewalk on the street that leads down from the local train station two blocks away.

    So of course we get more than our fair share of empties tossed over the fence and down into our back yard.

    But the really strange one was the following. My son is starting his own lawncare business, and we went to see a new customer, that lives in a pretty upscale neighborhood, right next to a county park, and with little to no foot traffic.

    Yet when we did our initial walkaround to size up the job, behind a bush in the backyard were about twenty Corona bottles, full, with their caps still untouched. Talk about a WTH moment.

    When my son was younger, he and his friends would try to hide beer in the back yard at our place, to sneak in and drink at night. He has gotten that out of his system now, but this was my first thought.

    While we were still there, the husband came out to get in his car with his young son, so we asked him about it.

    At first, he drew a blank, puzzled as we were. Then he remembered that they had a cooler full of them, that had been left out, and ended up in an ice chest for days after the ice had melted. So his wife had dumped them out and they were intending to dump them because they figured they had gone bad after being warm for so long.

    But it was a strange few moments, as it appeared as if the beer fairy had just left them in the back yard for no particular reason.

    When I was a kid, we would have considered it a major coup to have found something like that. Now, it’s just not a BFD. Been there, done that, already exceeded my quota…but for a minute it almost looked like they had grown on the bush, and fallen off like ripe fruit.

    Short Hills is up the road a good bit, more towards the middle of the state, I believe. We aren’t way way down by Cape May, but we are outside of Philly in a smaller town near Cherry Hill.

    They have a Cars and Coffee in Mt. Laurel on Saturday am but haven’t had a chance to swing by with my 97 Grand Marquis. Ditto for the monthly car show in Collingswood. The former has a few douches, like the guy who shot a fifteen minute video with his GoPro camera, showing him getting up, stumbling into his kitchen for coffee, going out to his three or four car garage, and then rolling down the road, with nothing spectacular happening, and an over the left front fender shot for the laslt five or six minutes. It ends with him arriving at the Cars and Coffee parking lot. Never even showed a good shot of his car, which I think was a garage queen Mustang, or any of the other cars at C&C.

    Total waste of fifteen minutes. Guess I’ll have to get there one of these days, to see if anybody has anything like that lime green Huracán Jack road-tested.

    Knowing the area, I’ll clearly be outgunned in style points in the upscale fast hardware category, although the almost mint tan Panther I picked up certainly qualifies as the most for the least, if nothing else.

    Hope you get to do that travel thing. I pulled the pin on retirement about five years ago, and haven’t missed IT a single day since. Though of course I am the kind of guy who tries to stay active and fit, both mentally and physically, at least to the extent I was before retirement. And with a younger wife and a twenty one year old son, I don’t have time to be old, or feel sorry about it. But that is about as good as it gets, IMHO, when you get up there and aren’t a young whippersnapper anymore.

    Well, it’s time for my afternoon nap…we were supposed to have a thunderstorm today, so we didn’t do lawns. And so tomorrow we’ll play catch up, but that’s life. As I always say, it beats the alternative.

    I doubt you’ll miss your job at all, as long as you stay involved in a lot of different things afterwards. And for me, chasing a little dimpled ball wasn’t enough of a challenge, so that helps keep me sharpened up, too.

    Later, amigo. Don’t let those whippersnappers walk on your lawn, especially with those Mickey 40’s.


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