Dapper District: Checking It Twice

A simple list can help sharp dressers avoid sartorial missteps

It happens to you. It happens to me. We forget stuff. Sometimes, it’s Valentine’s Day. Or that the politician we most revile is a human being who has children who probably love him or her.

Another thing we forget is those little nagging sartorial details before we walk out the door. We’re in a hurry or we’re preoccupied, or we’re on the phone and we just forget. Kind of like how I forgot I wasn’t supposed to park in the “compact cars only” spots in my apartment’s lot. No one is to blame, least of all me! Yet we must be diligent. So as you’re putting on your suit, assuming you dress in the same order I do:

1. Check for a zipped fly and buttoned waist. Also check this every time you wash your hands in the powder room.

2. Did you manage to pick out matching socks? No? How about matching shoes, at least? While you’re at it, make sure those navy socks aren’t actually black.

3. Make sure all your shirt buttons are firmly buttoned.

4. If your shirt has a button collar, did you remember to button it down? (Unless you’re deliberately leaving it unbuttoned, in which case, tread carefully.)

5. Collar stays! Always wear them. I like to pre-bend mine some to give my collar a convex look. I would recommend this only on wider collars.

6. Is your tie peeking out from under your shirt collar in the back? Run your fingers under the back of your collar and verify that the bottom edge of your tie isn’t visible beneath the bottom edge of the collar. If it is, you may have to refold the collar.

7. Don’t forget the gauntlet buttons on your shirt—the ones on the sleeve opening just above the cuff—and verify that you pegged all four holes in your French cuff, if that’s what you’re sporting.

8. Use your highly evolved sense of touch to ensure that your belt went through all the belt loops on your pants.

9. Use echolocation or your eyes to make sure that the rear blade of your necktie is shorter than the front blade. While you’re at it, make sure the tip of the front blade reaches the top edge of your belt but doesn’t hang too far below the belt’s bottom edge.

10. When you put on your jacket, don’t let the collar flip up.

11. Double-check that you fastened your jacket button around, not behind, your necktie.

12. One time, I managed to button my left-hand overcoat buttonhole into my right-hand suit-jacket button. The odds you’ll do this are vanishingly slim because you’re not a doofus, but now I always check.

13. Finally, keep an eye out for stains throughout the process, but don’t beat yourself up if you miss one—I don’t think I ever noticed a stain until I got to work and it was too late. That, or I get a lot of stains on my clothes at work.

Eventually, it all becomes part of your morning routine. Take it from a guy who learned the hard way.

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