Sunday, October 14, 2012


As noted previously, we live in an informal age. I recently had dinner at an expensive restaurant in Manhattan, which in the past would have had some basic dress code, but although I was properly dressed I was surprised at how few other people were. It is true that many, if not most people still dress for work, but outside of the office standards have deteriorated to the point where just about anything goes.  As a result casual wear is big business these days, and even the best designers have tried their hand at it.  Generally this consists of what one wears at home, on the weekend, in the evening, when traveling, or at leisure.  But you are still presenting yourself to other people in one way or another, so you still must consider deportment.  That entails dressing casually with some class and good taste, which we can summarize as casual elegance. 

Casual can mean many things from a jacket without tie, a sportshirt, sweater, or shorts with sneakers and white socks to a sweatshirt and pants. Wearing the latter in public it is easy to look like a slob unless the outfit is unusually well crafted. A sweatshirt or hoodie is better offset with a pair of jeans or slacks. Unless the weather requires it being up, a hood should be worn down to avoid the impression that you’re up to no good. 

A jacket without a tie is now quite widespread as office casual or after work attire. Avoid wearing jackets with pinstripes because it will look like it came off a suit with the pants missing. All of the parameter mentioned previously with regard to sports jackets still apply, but in this case the jacket may frequently be worn unbuttoned. Under these circumstances there is little point in wearing a dressy shirt with french cuffs with more casual attire. This calls for a more casual shirt, but depending on the season could also be a fancy t-shirt, or sweater and shirt worn under the jacket. 

However, it has to be the right sweater. Many sweaters are intended to we worn alone, particularly if they are patterned and bulky. Under a jacket one would wear a slightly lighter sweater that doesn’t bulk up, such as a v-neck (which looks incomplete without a jacket) or light crew neck. At the top of the sweater heap is Missoni, but if you’re going to spring for such high priced goods it is pointless to wear them under a jacket. Top line store brands such as Saks, Neiman Marcus, etc. are of consistently high quality. For excellent sweaters at very reasonable prices check Tasso Elba. However, color, pattern and material should be your primary concern when considering a sweater. 

TIP: When buying sweaters it pays to buy one size larger than you normally would, because manufacturers now size them on that assumption. Thus “XL” is what “L” used to be. It is also far better to err in favor of larger rather than smaller, which will be unflattering. But sizes are still likely to vary so any sweater purchase should be returnable or tried on first. 

Avoid wearing anything with someone else’s name prominently displayed. It is tacky and just says you’re insecure because you want people to know you’re wearing a particular brand. Wear pants that fit properly and avoid baggy pants hanging off the butt, otherwise you will look like a silent movie comedian. 

In anything casual the first consideration is comfort given more relaxed settings. If you’re not comfortable in your clothes that is how you will appear. In addition your outfit should be put together harmoniously with components that go together well. That means coordinating color and patterns so that they do not clash, but rather provide a relatively subdued, but appealing combination. It also means avoiding an incongruous outfit of elements that don’t belong together, such as sneakers and a sports jacket. Paying attention to such things will give you a classy appearance that is pleasing to the eye, while making a pleasant impression on others. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


While the best items you can buy are custom-made or fine clothing brands previously mentioned, there are many others that qualitatively can be nearly as good if you pay attention. We'll start with shirts and sweaters. The store brands of Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus are consistently excellent, on par with the best designer brands, apart from exceptional firms like Luigi Borelli, where shirts are hand-made with mother-of-pearl buttons.  These stores carry shirts that are Italian-made. along with other garments that are of top quality. under their store labels . Bloomingdales, which has faded somewhat, Barney's, and Nordstom are also good, but you have to look at the label to be sure where the item is made, as they have started to carry some cheaper goods that are not the same quality. You can find things at Macy's if you shop with careful discrimination. They carry clothing from Tasso Elba which is quite good, along with his excellent sweaters. You can also get a good product from the British shirt company Charles Tyrrwhit. When it comes to low-price bargains you can't do better than JC Penney, where custom monograms are provided on their serviceable Stafford brand at half the price everyone else charges.

Suits, sports jackets, pants, and overcoats are all over the map, ranging from very cheap to very expensive. Generally you get what you pay for, apart from coutoure and inflated designer brands. Fit, of course, is paramount, but otherwise the first thing to look for is fiber content. You want to stick with natural fibers like wool and avoid synthetics. A cheap polyester suit is going to look like one, and unsurprisingly will originate from somewhere like Pakistan or China. Blends are acceptable if the natural fiber predominates, particularly in pants, where they can reduce wrinkling. The second thing, as previously noted, is where the item is made. Again clothing from Italy, followed by some other European countries, the US, and Canada (i.e. Jack Victor)  is superior. The third thing is a don't-do. Don't choose by designer name unless it is from one the best, previously mentioned, who don't make multiple lines of varying quality. Too many are now less than trustworthy when it comes to mass produced goods. For example, I would completely avoid anything by Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren these days as stores are flush with cheapie good carrying their name.

That doesn't mean you have to spend a small fortune to dress well. There are men's clothing stores with an acceptable line of suits, such as Joseph A. Bank, whose apparel runs on the conservative side, where there are frequent sales. Brooks Brothers is a step up, again mostly traditional and  and ideal for business.  Some designers produce some surprisingly good middle-priced suits and other apparel, such as Pierre Cardin, who ironically was the first one to license his name on everything and thereby diminish it, but there are still appealing designs under his brand. Other firms in this category include Adolfo, Daniel Cremieux, Geoffrey Beene,Valentino and some others. I would avoid the "brand" of anyone who is not a bona fide designer and knows nothing about tailoring. 

There is one way you can sometimes purchase high end clothing for a low price, within limits, on Ebay. Ideally look for something labeled NWT (new with tags) because it can usually mean that someone bought something that doesn't fit right, or their wife bought it and they don't like it, or it is part of a discounted lot. Occasionally you can find something with minor imperfections. Just be sure to be completely informed on any of them and ascertain whether they are visible. Another variation is NWOT (new without tags), for which you should check the reputation of the seller. There is also used, provided it is specified as being in excellent condition, hardly worn, etc. Be sure the seller accepts returns, has a high rating, and that there is a thorough, detailed description. Measurements should be provided, which you should check carefully to match your own. This is at best, an occasional way of doing things, since whatever is was selected by someone else, and generally you should otherwise buy something new that is completely suitable for you and within your budget. 

Thus things to look for are the fit (more on that subsequently), the material, where the item is made, what firm it is from, and whether the cost is reasonable. Lesser known designers can sometimes make fine goods, while big names can produce mediocre products, so don't worry too much about labels. No one is going to see them. Instead look for the best material you can afford, the most elegantly finished product, and what is most suitable for your circumstances.   

Friday, June 29, 2012


No matter how good the label is it can never be as good as something that starts with no label, but subsequently may have one; -that would be your own name. The very best suit you can get is one that is made just for you, which is a “bespoke” suit. However such a suit can be delivered in two ways: a custom-made suit or a tailor-made suit. A custom suit can mean your measurements are taken in one place, but made somewhere else. A tailor-made suit is one that is actually made by a tailor, perhaps with fabric you’ve picked out, to your specifications. Assuming you are using high quality fabric and your tailor is skilled at what he is doing, you can’t get any better than that. 
A custom suit can be just as good if rigorous standards are met. Your measurements are taken and then the suit is ordered for you. But nothing is more important than where it is made, apart from the material it is made from. If your measurements are taken here and then the suit is made in Shanghai, it isn’t likely to be very good. I have yet to see a really good suit made in China; the fit is wrong, the proportions are off, or the workmanship is poor. The Chinese still don’t know how to make a good suit. The exception is Hong Kong, where suits of the highest quality are custom-made, probably as a result of the British influence. As stated previously, Italian made clothing is consistently superior. However, suits of equal quality are also made in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, and some other European countries. 
Wherever it is made a custom suit will be made to  your exact measurements, and will fit you better than anything you can get off a rack. The same applies to shirts, and of course sports jackets and pants. The down side is the cost, although these items are surprisingly affordable and often less expensive than designer label clothing. Custom shirts particularly compare well to retail prices on ready-made versions. But to the extent the shirt is covered by the suit, the suit is far more important. 
Another kind of suit could be considered semi-custom, in that it comes from a fashion label, but is tailored and finished for you. These come from some of the high-end brands. Tailored suits will cost more than something off the rack, so you should consider it carefully, like an investment. That is where the classic look comes in. You want it to be something you can wear five or more years from now and still look good. That can be accomplished by avoiding extremes of any kind or the trendiness of the day. You don’t have to go to London to have a fine classic suit made for you. You should be able to find a good tailor in your own location. If not, they will find you. There are men who travel from city to city taking measurements for clothing that is then made elsewhere, i.e. Hong Kong, which can produce a good quality suit for you. But a lot depends on what it’s made of. You should try to buy the very best fabric you can afford for best results. If you’re not familiar with the tailor look at some of their other work, or seek out recommendations. 
If you need a good suit it is well worth the cost. It is not something you buy that frequently. Another item that you can also find custom-made is a pair of shoes. Here again the best come from Italy, but there are also companies like Johnston & Murphy who make personally customized shoes in the USA, which they will also refurbish for life. Most of their products are now imported- the better ones from Italy, but the very best are American-made. These are more costly, but it is something like a custom suit, that is a long-term investment, and works with something like a pair of classic wing-tips. 
Clearly not everyone can afford these things, but sometimes if you add up money you’ve spent frivolously or on inferior goods you can come up with the funds. Again these are not just purchases for today, but tomorrow as well. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012


When it comes to the very best of men’s clothing one term towers above all others: Italian. Simply stated, the best garments are designed and made in Italy, and this includes everything from ties down to shoes, at least for men. (The considerations for women’s wear are quite different). So powerful is the allure of an Italian designer name that many stores will often carry cheaper goods made in Asia with an Italian-sounding name, whether real or not. But the important part isn’t even the designer as much as the “Made in Italy” label, (although some high-quality brands will also use facilities in a few other European countries, the U.S. or Canada). That label otherwise remains the most frequent and reliable key to identifying high-quality goods, although as we shall see there are others, especially with regard to particular apparel.
At the pinnacle are brands like Gucci, Prada, and Fendi, although the latter two are far more prominent in women’s wear. Fendi is primarily known for men’s ties and watches, while Prada makes excellent sneakers and sunglasses. That is not to say they don’t make everything else, they just aren’t that big of a factor in other parts of the menswear marketplace. Gucci has managed to stay on top for generations with fresh designers like Tom Ford, but it is also one of the most widely knocked-off brands this side of Luis Vuitton. If you find something with their labels unusually cheap, they are almost certainly fakes, and you should be able to discern a qualitative difference. Everything Gucci makes is of the highest quality, and priced accordingly. (One caveat- they tend to be cut tight, so you usually need to go up one size to get the right fit). They do make some occasionally over-the-top items that only really work in Hollywood, and not surprisingly they are more popular on the west coast. But pricing is generally not outrageous for what you’re getting, unlike French luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermes, for which there is no possible justification in terms of content. But with these brands you have to be discriminating. For example, I was visiting some friends recently and literally all of the men other than me had on the same Gucci loafers, or a close imitation of them. These loafers with the metal horsebits have been so overdone that they’ve unfortunately become a cliche. Unless you want to make a statement that is part of a chorus they make plenty of other fine shoes.
Other Italian firms tend to be specialized and produce the very best of a particular item. The best shirts are hand-made in Italy by Luigi Borelli. The best pants are made by Zanella. They just seem to drape perfectly and come with many small details in construction you won’t find in many other brands. When it comes to suits it’s Brioni.
 Another distinguishing thing about these companies is that they do not produce any cheap mass-market lines unlike many, if not most other designer brands. That trend was started by Pierre Cardin years ago when he started licensing his name on everything under the sun. (Despite that Pierre Cardin is actually one of those companies that still produces a fairly good mid-range line). Now just about everyone does it on everything from underwear to cologne. (Since hardly anyone wears cologne any more I suspect most of it is purchased as gifts that sit on shelves for years).  Even Donald Trump has a line, along with other celebrities, but the only ones that matter should come from bona fide designers. 
This kind of activity otherwise cheapens the brand and the very best firms avoid it. Even some of the Italians have gotten into the act.  Armani has an Armani jeans line and A/X (Armani Exchange) which consists of some pretty mediocre wear for kids. The better Armani stuff comes out in lines like Armani Collezioni these days, though the very best are older which you may occasionally find new, or otherwise used. Dolce and Gabbana is now a kiddy brand like Abercrombie and Fitch, offering little of interest to anyone but gullible teenagers. Many other names like Calvin Klein produce so much cheaper junk that the brand is now meaningless. 
Gianni Versace was one of the greatest clothing designers who ever lived. He created some truly original stuff that still never managed to be too far out. Unfortunately he was murdered in 1997 and most of the really good stuff was produced up to then. Not surprisingly these items still sell at a premium and/or have been reissued. The brand continues but is not the same and has a Versace Jeans line as well. In good clothing you want originals, so when it comes to jeans you can do a lot worse than Levis. Otherwise you're paying for little more than a designer label and a few embellishments. For that matter designer brands are a total waste of extra money on things like underwear. You won’t really even impress your lady friend with those, should you get that far, but instead will simply signal you are trying to make an impression.
The most important and expensive part of your outfit is the suit, or alternatively a combination of blazer and pants. Here again the best Italian firms are unrivaled. The leading maker of top quality suits is Brioni. There is also a less expensive line with the label B.Brioni, but it isn’t the same, and Brioni won’t quite acknowledge whether it is theirs or not. In this case however, these suits are also well-made in Italy and are quite good on their own. They just aren’t the same as the top-of-the line Brioni brand, which can run into thousands of dollars, but you get what you pay for. Leaving even Brioni in the dust price-wise is Kiton, based in Naples, whose suits are worn by many of the world’s elite leaders. Their suits are distinguished by an elegant drape on the body but the prices are beyond the reach of most people, and personally I don’t see all that big a difference from Brioni’s, or for that matter other high quality Italian brands. One of my favorites is Ermenegildo Zegna, which, while carrying premium prices,  dollar for dollar probably provides the most value. Canali is an equivalent high-quality brand, and Loro Piana, which is primarily known as the manufacturer of some of the finest fabrics in the world, and a supplier to many of the best brands. Loro Piana fabric is a sure sign of top quality no matter what the brand, and you can often find it in lesser known labels. There are others but all the ones mentioned here are those that I have had first hand experience with. 
These are brands that have maintained their integrity over the years (most are generations old) by not allowing their name to be purloined on inferior, cheap products. Many, if not most people cannot afford these brands (although there are some ways to get some of them less expensively which I’ll explain subsequently). The point here is that they are benchmarks as to what the best looks like and how it is made, and in that respect no other country in the world comes close to Italy. There are however, many fine mid-level brands made elsewhere we’ll look at subsequently. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

PROPORTIONS 2: Ties and Lapels

Question received- What is the proper width for a tie? 

The answer is directly related to the topic of proportions, which continues here.  As a general rule tie width should be comparable to the lapel width on a suit jacket. Thus, while the actual width in inches or centimeters matters, what is far more important is that the tie and lapels correspond. A suit with narrow lapels would warrant a skinny tie; with wide lapels a wide tie. However neither extreme is particularly desirable. If there is a magic mean it is 3 inches; that is to say that the tie should virtually never be more than an inch above or below that number. For a classic look the ideal range hovers in fractions above 3 inches to below 4 inches in most cases. 
The same applies to lapels. Even a lapel that is 3 inches at its widest part is quite narrow overall. I wouldn’t go below that on a jacket if you are going to spend a significant amount of money on it or want to wear it over a long period of time. Generally on a single breasted jacket from 3 to 3-3/4 inches maximum is possible. The only exception is double breasted suits which usually have wider lapels and can go to 5 inches at the edge of a peak.  
The other aspect of lapels is the notch. There is a trendy move to place the notches virtually on the shoulders these days, which I would avoid. That is going to look as out of place as the notches that were located down in the middle at a sharp angle in years past. Again use common sense and apply the principle of moderation. Further up is okay but not too far up. The notch should be located somewhere parallel to the shoulder seam armpit, but not too far above the seam so that it is still visible from a lower height. 
The photo below is of a new, current “Joseph” suit from the clothier Joseph A. Bank, which manufactures and sells conservative business suits and other clothing. Notice the lapels are fairly narrow while keeping within classic parameters, but still measure 3 inches at their widest part.

In an older suit of a few years ago there would be less territory between the end of the lapel and the shoulder seam, but it could still be worn today without looking out of place. You can see the placement of the lapels is relatively high with the notch facing the end of the shoulder seam. That is about as high as you can safely go and anything more would be too extreme to last. The bottom part of the notch is placed nicely to avoid the vicissitudes of extreme angles. This suit will serve its purpose for many years. 
If the above is as thin as you should go the image below is as wide as you can go. In a double-breasted suit like that depicted here lapels can be wider and somehow don't look right if they aren't. This type of suit is less common, although personally I favor them, and they don't change much.

In this instance the tie is wider to stay proportionate to the lapel width. A thinner tie would not look right with this outfit, which is an older Armani Collezioni jacket. If you were to switch the ties from these two outfits they would not look right, but do show correct proportions as depicted. Thus the basic rule is to wear ties that are proportionate to your lapels, depending on the type and cut of the jacket. 

TIP: If your tie drawer looks like this, when you reach for one it will likely have folds and creases because of the way you tossed it into the drawer.

The best way to store your ties is to roll them up after you've used them, and keep them in a shallow drawer if you have one. 

This batch isn't exactly neat, but rolled up like this the ties will be free of unsightly bends and creases. In fact this is also an excellent way to resuscitate a tie that has become bent out of shape. Roll it relatively tightly and you'll be surprised at how well it straightens out after a while. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


The first and most important item in achieving a classic appearance is proportion. That simply means that the elements of your outfit should complement each other in terms of their size and measurements. This would include items like jacket fit,  lapels, ties, shirt collars, etc. that can be variable, and the width and length of each element. If any one of them is out of harmony with the rest it can throw the whole outfit off. In much of what follows you are going to find me somewhat out of synch with what passes for cutting-edge fashion these days. My advice is to avoid it like the plague, but you should make an informed decision based upon what you read here and see elsewhere.
For example, nowadays there is an unfortunate trend towards overly skinny lapels, as though designers are channeling the Mad Men television series. The first problem is that look was peculiar to the era circa 1962 and does not translate well in today’s world. Keep in mind that following that extreme, fashion went to the other, with super-wide lapels and ties that look preposterous to us now. In the intervening years clothing has settled within some parameters that could also have applied to the years before these two anomalous periods, and which are reliably consistent over time. If men were to go the skinny lapel route they would basically have to trash all their other clothing, in which they probably have an enormous investment.  This is not likely to happen so this particular design choice is probably ephemeral. If you buy anything with lapels two inches or less in width I guarantee you they will out in your next garage sale. 
What’s even worse is that they have come up with this jacket design without any adjustment to ties, and especially shirt collars. As a result you get a downright silly look with shirt collars that are too big and ties that are too narrow even with slightly thinner ties. The shirt, tie, and jacket are totally out of proportion and look terrible. Clearly not a classic look. 
Another objectionable trend is towards impossibly short jackets that are almost vest-size and end somewhere above or at the butt, (and certain fashion magazines are even promoting this look). But to most people it simply looks like a jacket that doesn’t fit, and if you add some baggy pants to that you’ve got a look that makes Charlie Chaplin’s outfit seem sophisticated. Yet I’ve seen some young men in Manhattan walking around like this and again the overall impression is that the clothes don’t fit. If current designers want to keep raising jacket lengths why not dress like matadors then? If this trend were to stick you’d have to trash all your suits and jackets, which again is unlikely to happen. For a suit jacket or blazer to look right it should cover or nearly cover your butt; personally I prefer the longer variety. A suit jacket is not a sweater or vest and should be nowhere near as short. Consider how a vest is proportionate to a jacket in a three piece suit. That jacket is the proper length. Perhaps they’re trying to put this over to save on material costs, or simply to be “different,” but whatever it is, it is the opposite of the classic look we’re concerned with here. 
To save yourself subsequent buyer’s remorse, always avoid the latest fashion extremes. You won’t be sorry and your wardrobe will have a long and useful life. That is of course assuming you’ve stuck to some of the classic guidelines we’ll outline here. One of the first is to carefully select your clothing based on how you look, not on what it costs. A good classic wardrobe is going to cost your more than a haphazard combination of mediocre clothing will, but it is well worth the price difference. Mens fashion is not like womens. The changes are far fewer and less extreme, and the best clothing consequently costs more. Thus when shopping you should be thinking not just how this outfit is now, but how it will be, say, five years from now. You could do worse than look over the past several decades, going all the way back to the 1930s and average things out to get an idea of what is true and lasting. For as with anything you do seriously, the best advice is always to pursue moderation in all things. 
Thus the first clue as to a good classic design is proportionate components that complement each other. The combination should make sense in the simplest terms.This is not just a matter of opinion for there is a reason our instinctive reactions to visual elements so often coincide. Ultimately If things do not look or seem right they probably aren’t, and should be bypassed by the man with good taste. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The classic look in fashion (as well as in anything else), is all about proportion and harmony. All components of an outfit should be synchronized in a way that makes pleasant sense to the eye. The cut and color of the shirt should integrate well with the cut and color of the suit. Both the tie and shoes should complement the outfit, that can be completed with details such as a pocket handkerchief and jewelry, i.e. a watch and cufflinks, which embellish the overall look. None of these elements should ever clash in ways that are out of synch with the rest of the outfit, but instead contribute to an overall appealing presence. 
The goal is to stand out subtly rather than with a shout, so that you do not stick out like a sore thumb, but instead produce a pleasant reaction in the beholder when you are noticed. This is in contrast to a strained effort to be noticed. That is easy enough to accomplish with overly flashy, loud or inappropriate dress if your goal is to amuse people or otherwise induce a negative response. The right way to be noticed comes from avoiding trying to be noticed. Ideally it results from something rare but attainable with experience, namely an effortless grace in comporting oneself. What I mean by effortless grace is what you see when Fred Astaire dances, hear when Heifetz plays the violin, or experience when an Olympic athlete excels beyond all expectations in a golden moment of flawless perfection. 
In keeping with the purpose of the site the surest way to achieve this kind of impression is through a classic look. Historically the classical ideal was expressed in an elegant symmetry of elements comprising the whole of an object. These were proportionately balanced and harmoniously integrated to produce exquisite form never surpassed, echoing down through the ages. Thus the classic look is also something that has stood the test of time. It is not something that will be fashionable today and out of style tomorrow, but will transcend the vicissitudes of taste (or lack of it). Obviously clothing is not in the same category as say architecture in substance or historical time, but can still have a long life cycle. So for our purposes here a classic is something that will last as long as the garment is wearable.
 A classic look is also the most time-tested way to appeal to the opposite sex, not on a visceral level so much as to enhance that by indicating that you are a man with some class. The guy with the flash or trendy outfit that conforms to what everyone else is wearing may think he’s appealing to women, but he's not. 
There's a reason a guy dressed like Clark Gable gets the girl, apart from his natural appeal. 


Thursday, May 17, 2012


The primary purpose of this site is to provide some basic style and fashion information to men based upon standards that have stood the test of time, while remaining free of any commercial biases or interests. This site came about accidentally, as a result of the response I received to a side comment on my main blog, mostly from young women distressed by the cluelessness of their male contemporaries. So the intent here is to lay down some basic principles about classic dress, rather than to go on indefinitely. It will probably make more sense to read this in the order written, which means going back to earlier entries if you come to this subsequently. Questions are always welcome. 
I am far from a fashion maven, and have little interest in ephemeral trendiness, relying rather upon decades of experience and observation of what constitutes a good look over time. At the outset this site will be decidedly simple and without any flash, although subsequently there may be some enhancements and pictures or illustrations to elucidate various points. All of this implies a certain formality, which may be true, but we will also touch on more informal appearance as well, in terms of a relaxed casual elegance instead of looking like a slob. 
We live in an age where it is no longer possible to tell the rich from the poor by the way they dress. This is a relatively new phenomenon historically, beginning only in the twentieth century. Prior to our own time, the class to which a person belonged was obvious by the way they dressed. From a socioeconomic standpoint this may not be such a bad thing to the extent that the miracles of markets and mass production have enabled billions to be adequately dressed. Nevertheless when you look at fashions over the ages, what you see is only the upper end; rarely do you see ragged people in hovels. Nowadays since it is common for young technology billionaires to dress down, there is no longer that much correspondence between appearance and wealth. But that also means you don’t need to be a millionaire to look good, without dressing down. Today it is not income but good taste that separates the class from the mass. Here we are focused on the former. 
From old photographs we can see how well people in crowds used to dress before going out in public well into the last century. Now we are in a decidedly informal age, and this is about standards and rules in a time without any. So why bother? The first answer is that when there is an overabundance of options there is effectively no real choice as things are too overwhelming. However, if you limit yourself to certain parameters, within those guides you can produce a fine, and still often original look, much in the way that many of the greatest symphonies were written within the constraints of the classical form. 
Second, the reality is that when you are well dressed people take you more seriously and treat you differently. I know this from first hand experience, time and again. To cite one example, I once got a ticket dismissed with a less than solid excuse when the judge clearly reacted to my appearance in room full of people otherwise for the most part poorly dressed. She paid more attention to me and treated me more politely mainly because  was wearing a three piece suit.  So putting yourself together with some thought can pay off. 
Finally, when you dress well you tend to feel better about yourself. Your appearance will often correspond to an uptick rather than a downer in your circumstances or life. I’ve also gone through indifferent, sloppy sweatsuit periods, It doesn’t take all that much time to put yourself together well once you’ve developed some awareness of how you look, and the extra mileage you get is well worth it. Just remember that whatever you are wearing is making a statement about you whether you like it or not, even to people not at all style conscious. Of course there are different looks at different times. A power suit has an impact on men, but most of the time how you’re dressed says something to women, and since most men are attuned to the opposite sex, how you’re dressed is going to govern the impression you make. These are general observations, but this site is concerned with a particular “classic” look, and that is what we will focus on now.