Is there any easy way to make sense of fashion sense?

by | Apr 10, 2011 | Comment, Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Last year, with winter winding down, I went to the closet and picked out a light-colored suit.

“No, no!” I was scolded. “You can’t wear beige until it’s actually spring.”

Oh, I said.

Months later, I went to the closet and grabbed a nice black suit.

“No, no!” I was scolded. “You can’t wear wool until the fall!”

Oh, I said.

As you can probably tell, I am a “guy,” and by “guy” I mean “no fashion sense whatsoever.” When I was a kid, my mother told me not to wear red with green or I’d look like a Christmas tree. Other than that, I know nothing.

So here we are, another change of season, and I am once again lost as to what to wear. Are short-sleeve dress shirts for nerds only? Do you tuck in a sweater? Sandals – when, where, why?

But it’s time to declare that I am not alone. Many men stand lost in front of the mirror, confused, confounded, lacking the ability to distinguish Armani from Adidas.

We’re just too embarrassed to admit it.

Well, I’m coming out of my closet (stop smirking!) to announce that I have no idea what’s going on in there, shoes, socks, ties, shirts, they’re mingling, dancing, making up new colors, Lord knows what, and so I, finally, in print, must ask the supposedly simple fashion questions that we “guys” struggle with every day.

For example:

What are the rules?

Are skinny ties ever coming back or can I use them as luggage wraps?

Is it horizontal or vertical stripes that make you look fat?

When is OK to wear sneakers with a suit? Is it only if you’re Jerry Seinfeld?

Do blue and brown go together?

They say don’t mix a striped shirt with a patterned tie, but how come those NFL analysts wear both, behind a checkered suit?

Are flare bottoms still a no-no?

If you wear a denim shirt, do you have to wear denim pants?

What age is too old for corduroy?

Is that how you spell corduroy?

I hear silk suits are the best, but then I hear silk suits are only for guys in “The Godfather.” Which is it?

Shorts. Can they go past your knees if you’re out of high school? Is there a proper time to wear dark socks with shorts? Is there a proper time to wear any socks with shorts?

And Crocs. I don’t get them. Do they count as shoes? Or are they flippers?

Does this look good?

More questions, like: How low should the tie hang? And is it OK to tuck the back of the tie into your shirt if it exceeds the front by a foot?

Why do they make linen shirts if the first time you wear them, they are wrinkled beyond use?

Leather shorts. Always bad, right?

Same for male leggings?

Does brown go with green?

OK, and this is a common one for me: Do khaki pants count as dress wear?

Do suspenders serve a function?

Explain to me again: You wear black shoes with what, and brown shoes with what?

Must all sweater fabrics itch?

On a suit, should the pants cuff touch the shoe, cover the laces or cover the whole foot?

When can you get away with no socks?

If you can answer these questions, I’d feel much more confident when I enter that strange wasteland known as “my closet.” Until then, like many of my “guy” brethren, I remain confused by the most basic fashion issues.

Like, if you wear red and green, do you look like a Christm-

Never mind. That one, I know.

Contact Mitch Albom: 313-223-4581 or Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Also catch “Monday Sports Albom” 7-8 p.m. Mondays on WJR. To read his recent columns, go to


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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