Too Clean

cardigan and jeans

This picture has been sitting in my queue for months. From both a casual and a detailed observation it’s pretty easy to see that this guy nails every aspect of dressing well. Dark, slim jeans that appear to have a natural fade, brown desert boots, perfect fit in the cardigan, the tones and colors are all great with each other and his complexion, top two buttons are undone, his hair cut is clean and frames his face well, etc.

But still this picture bothers me. This man looks to be the epitome of a cubicle jockey, the beta male who takes orders from everyone else and has a hard time building any real attraction from women. That may not be the case, but that’s the impression his overall appearance gives.

If he had even the slightest affected detail – like a gold pinky ring or a more aggressive haircut he would have a more masculine presence. Instead, he looks like the everyman.

The thing about all these style rules I talk about is that you need to learn them to learn how to properly break them. You don’t want to be so put together that you end up looking too safe.

breaking style rules

Look at this picture. His shoes don’t match his belt, his jeans are extremely light, the small blade of the tie is twisted in the knot so it sits parallel with the large blade instead of behind it, the shoulder pads are way too big. All of these are broken rules, but since he does well with everything else, he can get away with it. It helps that he’s young so he can break more than one rule at a time, but even older guys can follow this advice : don’t look too neat or too clean.

PS. I’m having a holiday sale. You can get a Basic Consultation for only $15 and that $15 applies to new clients pursuing Event or Online Consultations as well.

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Meet The Author

Tanner is the founder and primary author of Masculine Style. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife and two kids, and helps run Beckett & Robb - a men's clothing company built around custom suits and shirts.
  • rivsdiary

    love this did you get so good at style?

    • Thanks Riv. Lots of casual observations, blog reading, and trial and error.

  • Rob

    It’s the body language – slouched shoulders, hand in pocket, jacket held high, and a “my dog just died” facial expression. Doesn’t help that he looks soft and pillowy

  • The top guy is breaking one small rule: his shirt collar is falling outside of his sweater. In fact, I think his breaking of this rule is, ironically, contributing to his “too clean” look.

    IMO that “collar-points-inside-sweater” rule is very key to observe. I have seen it broken well on some rare occasions, but 19 times out of 20, it looks douchey, affected or try-hard.

    But the real problem here that gives him that the beta, cubicle jockey appearance is the terrible posture and protective positioning of the hands. If he opened up his body position by straightening his spine, lifting his chest, and keeping at least one hand away from his body he’d be looking much better without even touching that collar.

    • lemmy caution

      This could just be the picture. He probably makes a better presentation in real life.

  • sconzey

    It’s ironic because the guy at the top is a British tv presenter who presents a spinoff from a British dating show: Take Me Out — The Gossip

  • Might I suggest that by dressing perfectly, it is clear that he has poured entirely too much of his effort into his appearance, and we assume that he has therefore neglected other aspects of his life, which are essential to being a man.

    • Interesting idea. I would argue though that – especially for men – dressing well should be an effort when you’re shopping for clothes and a minimal effort when you’re getting ready in the morning.

      I spend more time worrying about the site, my family, my checking account, and (currently) my Halo stats than I do on how I look at any given moment, and that’s largely because I invest more quantitative and qualitative time to selecting clothes and getting ready in the morning.

      • Samuel

        I’ve noticed that exact thing. Many of my friends often complain about the time it takes to dress up. My argument is that once you understand the concepts, whether that’s through trial and error or through one of your consults, getting dressed is the easiest part. When you take the time to shop and build your wardrobe around clothes that fit/frame you well, colors that compliment your skin/hair, it’s simple to reach into your closet and pick something out.

  • Aggy

    I think a lot of it with the top picture is just that it’s a bad picture with him in bad body language positions. I’m from the UK and dislike the bloke immensely, but he usually dresses quite well actually and does more than ok with the ladies!

    But I agree with the main point of this article – I think especially for younger guys and in casual situations you don’t want to look too polished. I’m at college and sometimes I have put on an outfit that technically was one of my best ever put together, but then looked in the mirror and thought “this is almost too good to wear at college”, and ended up changing a couple of items.

  • DB

    This seems like a good example that shows it’s not just what you wear, but how you wear it. With a more alpha posture, the same clothes would look very different.

    It just tells us we have to be aware of our posture at all times and if you’re addressing your style, you should address how you carry yourself at the same time.

  • emilio

    ” the small blade of the tie is twisted in the knot so it sits parallel with the large blade instead of behind it…”

    This guy on the foto is wearing a twin tie!
    Dior Homme tried to make this popular in the fashion scene a couple of years ago.
    Here is an example (the only one I’ve found):

    And yes,
    I am a fashion victim!

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