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Mens Dress: The Look of Nonchalance

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by GBREAL, Apr 30, 2012.


    GBREAL New in Town


    I wanted to get some opinions of the idea that when dressing a man should arrange his outfit to give the appearance of nonchalance, that he spent no time thinking about his dress regardless of the actual time he spent getting dressed.

    I personally am not sold on the idea because at the end of the day the fact is that I do coordinate my attire so that it just looks right.

    What are your thoughts?
  2. Gene

    Gene Practically Family

    "A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them." - Hardy Amies
  3. Yeps

    Yeps Call Me a Cab

    I think that it is the same as the concept of "trying too hard" which makes one uncool. You just have to own it, and you can't look as though you are fussing about it. If you are comfortable in your perfectly elegant clothes, you will look good. If you are uptight, it will show. Fussing with your tie or pocket handkerchief all the time betrays a lack of confidence.
  4. Otateral

    Otateral Familiar Face

    It's a tough state to reach. To look nice, without looking like you tried to look nice. I think it comes from practice.

    If there's one thing I would like to stop doing is constantly having to adjust the cuffs on my shirt, so that they don't stick out too much or too little from my jacket sleeves. I think a bit of shirt tailoring would fix it though.
  5. WideBrimm

    WideBrimm A-List Customer

    It's true that you've got to own the style, and in a sense practice makes perfect.
  6. 1961MJS

    1961MJS Call Me a Cab

    Hi Yeps

    Good call. On thing I do is to make sure that the clothes fit and aren't too tight (especially) or really loose.

    Many Americans don't like to wear ties because they buy shirts to fit their shoulders or chest, not their neck. The day someone dies and they are supposed to wear a tie, they have a red face the whole day from restricting blood flow to their head. I usually have about a half inch space around my neck on my dress shirts. I can wear a tie all day, and it doesn't bother me.

    It's also helpful to wear something you can clean later. I tend to be a bit of a pig, so I don't wear light colored suits. I also wear a red shirt on BBQ day...

    Later Y'all
  7. Yeps

    Yeps Call Me a Cab

    Oh, I just thought about it this to add on. Fussing about looking like you are not fussing makes you look even worse. Kinda a conundrum. Just dress yourself how you see fit, and enjoy looking good.
  8. I think the simplest solution is not to try too hard. For example, unless I go hideously wrong, I never retie my tie to make it look perfect. Having it a bit wonky, or with the thin end a tad too long, or with the thin end rotated by the knot gives the look of nonchalance, simply by being nonchalant
  9. johnnycanuck

    johnnycanuck One Too Many

    Wear the suit. Don't let the suit wear you.
    Look good. Go out and buy nice clothing that not only looks good but looks good on you. Wash them like everyone else. Iron them, press them, polish them. Shave, brush your teeth, do your hair. But when you walk out the door, forget about it. Do everything you would normally do. Don’t avoid doing stiff just because of the way you are dressed. Don’t be scared to wrinkle your shirt, get scuffs on your shoes, dirt on your pants or have your hair out of place. At the end of the day you will be better because of the experience. The difference will come when you wash your clothing, iron your shirts, press your pants and polish your shoes. People will notice that you care about your appearance by the way your clothing always looks good at the start of your day.
    It’s the same as first impressions, most people take note at the start of the day how everyone looks. Rarely do people stop and take the time to actively look again later in the day. I have spilled coffee on myself during my lunch break and only my wife made comment when I got home at the end of the day. No one else noticed.
    With that said people will notice how useful you are during the day. So if you are afraid to get wrinkled and choose not to crawl under the secretary’s desk to plug her new monitor in. You had better believe that will be remembered.
    My opinion on the matter
  10. Flat Foot Floey

    Flat Foot Floey My Mail is Forwarded Here

    I like this. Some people look great in a starched and formal style but I prefer softer lines. It is also more practical for some reasons:

    I have a hard time finding vintage suits so I often wear combinations. Vintage jacket and wide repro trousers for example. I often do the puffy pocket square instead of a fold that requires ironing. I also love light striped shirts with floppy spearpoint collars (without collar stays) and prefer them to white dress shirts. All this makes my appearance less business like and more like I actually enjoy wearing this.

    Yes, I give the outfits some thought but already when I buy the pieces not every time I put them on.
  11. Undertow

    Undertow My Mail is Forwarded Here

    Forgive me, but I think we're comparing apples to oranges in that this advice is probably best suited for the gentleman who is not used to dressing well.

    If you dress well regularly, you will have little need for this advice because confidence will bring this effect naturally.
  12. I don't know. I look at people on TV who can't seem to get the tie knot up high enough or centered and I think, how sloppy. It doesn't take much to just pull up and center it. And I don't know if it's deliberate or not. Because if it's not deliberate then it's the aforementioned sloppiness, and if it is deliberate, then it's an attitude that is the opposite of how I like to dress, if not my values.

    I would never tell anyone how to dress or knot their tie. I just do it my way. Live and let live, ya know?
  13. fluteplayer07

    fluteplayer07 One Too Many

  14. Captain Lex

    Captain Lex One of the Regulars

    Case in point:

    I recently watched a short film about a gentleman who was portrayed as having reached enlightenment (in a vaguely Zen Buddhist sense), and he was dressed like this:


    I think they were going for this idea of nonchalance, that someone who had reached enlightenment would dress well, but carefree.

    However, consider another character who seems (much more subtly) to be portrayed as having reached enlightenment; namely, Agent Dale Cooper from Twin Peaks. He dresses like this:


    Note that Agent Cooper looks just as nonchalant--this is even more obvious when you watch the show. It's all about attitude.

    EDIT: Changed picture for the first reference for a medium shot, to mirror the second.
  15. I do agree to a certain extent; I never have it loose nor un-centred when I go out, and I do tighten and re-centre during the day...but perfectly dimpled Windsor knots that have been achieved after much trial and error in front of a mirror before heading out just isn't my thing. Similarly, and much like FFF, I press my shirts (-ish) but I don't wear collar stays. I'm not sure how to sum it up best, but the nearest I can put it is "I'm wearing a tie as I think it as article of clothing one wears" rather then "I'm dressed up for the day".

    Horses for courses, I suppose
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2012
  16. Noirblack

    Noirblack One of the Regulars

    It's an old concept called "sprezzatura" that goes beyond just how your dress:

    Coined by Baldassare Castiglione in The Book of the Courtier (1528): "[T]o avoid affectation in every way possible . . . and (to pronounce a new word perhaps) to practice in all things a certain Sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it."
  17. Yeah, I'll go for that, myself. :)
  18. Brevetti

    Brevetti New in Town

    As much as I love to make sure that all the little details are in place, there is something undeniably cool about looking like you just rolled out of bed and put on whatever was lying around.

    I think Matt Deckard is the master of nonchalance in his dress. Just look at the pictures of him, and read up on his ideas. Mr. Deckard has said again and again that clothing should be made for action. Clothing should be able to take a beating, take whatever you throw at it. For a boring day at the office, it's okay to wear your soft shirt collar without the stays, so it flops around slightly as you move. Instead of folding your handkerchief into a neat square, try loosely stuffing it into your breast pocket, so that the points loosely stick out. The uneven Four-in-Hand knot is more playful than the perfectly symmetrical Half-Windsor. Get a slick haircut that still looks good when strands are knocked loose and dangle at the sides of your head.

    It's these types of things that can keep you from looking fussy and unwilling to get your hands dirty. But like someone said above, the key to looking like you don't care is to not try so hard.
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  19. Skeptical about "nonchalance"

    I think of myself as being chalant.

    If it matters at all to you what you see looking back at you when you look into a plate glass window when you walk along a city street, you will soon enough learn to dress without giving it a great deal of thought. It's a matter of what you do habitually. Do you remember what is was like to learn how to ride a bicycle? I bet you don't think about keeping your balance now. You just get on the thing and ride.

    If the man looking back at you is making a face like he is making a sound like, oh, say, "feh", then you can benefit from being more chalant.

    Dressing and grooming are like that, too.
  20. i'm also more of a "sprezzaturist" than an immaculately neat chap. i don't think i could even be immaculately neat if i tried. any of my 40s shirts that had celluloid collar stays have had them removed.
    i favour the four in hand over the windsor. i roll my shirt sleeves up over the elbow and usually have stubble. i like to mix rugged with elegant.

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