You know what bros love? Barbecuing on a sunny day with a hot dog in one hand and a beer in the other. You know what else bros love? Making money and wolfing it up so they can afford to throw said barbecues on their nice-ass grill. Which means changing out of a jersey and shorts, and looking the part of Don Draper while you rake in the big bucks.
For those who are just leaving college, or maybe just still feel a little uneasy having their bank account hit 4 digits for the first time ever, here are BroBible’s 5 tips for how to look like your inner gentleman.
1. Know How to Tell A Quality Suit
The uniform of all successful men outside of the music industry, a suit is the most important apparel item you’ll need when applying for work in the real world. Graduating out of Men’s Warehouse without spending your savings on a tailored black label can be confusing without the right knowledge. So if you want to navigate your small Mom and Pop tailors, which often hide the best suit bargains, here’s what you’re looking for:
The most important aspect of a suit is material, and the best material for a suit is wool. Some modernists argue the merits of cotton, but that’s a conversation for another time. If a suit is wool, it should include “Super” next to its S number on the label. A suit’s “S number” indicates the fineness of the thread, which in turn affects the tightness and thus wrinkle-resistibility of the suit. So If you see a Super 100, 120, or 130 on your suits, you should feel somewhat assured about its quality (the higher the number, the finer the thread).
If you want to test a suit a little further, give the suit pant a hard squeeze. If it’s still wrinkled after a minute has passed, then it’s not going to last a whole day in an office chair. And if you’re worried someone’s trying to sell you a counterfeit suit, look at the shininess of the suit; polyester is the substitute cheap material of choice, and it will give suits a shiny, plasticy look, which you want to avoid.
If you’re really a stickler, you can check to see if a suit is “fused” or “floating”, which refers to how the innermost lining of the suit was attached. “Fused” indicates it was mass-produced instead of by hand, and leads to a stiffer suit. If your lining is hand stitched or “floating,” you should be able to a feel an inner canvas layer when you rub the fabric between the buttons of the coat. A “fused” canvas is machine glued, and will be much stiffer. If you’re confused how this should feel, do this first on a suit you know is quality and you should get the feel for it pretty easily.
2. Know How to Talk to Your Barber
Following the suit, a good haircut is the best power play a bro can make for a proper appearance. While we won’t recommend specific hairstyles to anyone, we will emphasize the importance of knowing how to tell your barber what you want. At this point, every bro probably knows what number clipper he likes to use, but if you want to experiment around with length, just know that the numbers go up in increments of 1/8 of an inch, all the way up to #8. If you feel like you’re always dissatisfied with your haircut, try telling your barber to mess around with the volume of your hair. By thinning your hair, especially around the top corners of your head, can help give you a nice squaring affect to your hair, and can help to give you more varied texture if you like messing around with gel on weekends. Squaring, or tightening the corners on the back of your head just means giving them a 90 degree angle, and it’s a good way to add some detail an otherwise overlooked area. Apart from that, the rest is up to you; if you like a particular haircut, just bring a picture to your barber and ask him to do it.
3. Know to Wash Your Clothes
A large part of looking nice is buying the nice clothes. Nice clothes cost money, and until you’re wifey’d up or have a maid, you’re going to need to learn how to wash your clothes without disintegrating them. Knowing what those little shapes and alien symbols on your label mean is a big help, so just refer to this easy key before you pop your clothes in the spin cycle.
But here’s a basic rundown for all your Laundromat newbies: wash on cold unless you have a reason not to. Cotton and wool shrink considerably in warm and hot water, and colors run and fade at high temperatures. The only time to really wash on hot is when you need to remove heavy soil, and its recommended you use it mostly on whites (bed sheets and socks especially), as they don’t fade and tend to show dirt the most. Warm cycles are for in between times, like when you need to wash your blue polo T-shirt with a mustard stain. If you’re at college and have one of those dumb-downed washing machines, remember this cycle: Whites or Regular= Hot, Bright Colors = Cold. “Permanent Press” is for clothes where wrinkles are a concern and “Gentle/Delicates” use little agitation for things like hoodies, polos, or wools.
For the dryer cycle, just follow the same cycle you did for the washer, and just remember the higher the heat, the more the clothes will shrink. I would strongly recommend hang drying all woolens and fancy synthetics (like the under armor shirt you just picked up), and give jeans a quick vertical tug on the pants leg to help prevent shortening.
4. Know How To Tie More Than One Knot
I’ll admit, I struggled really hard with this one. From the first time I had to tie a tie in 8th grade all the way through college, I went the same Four in Hand knot, which if you don’t know it by name, is the simplest knot known to man. You cross once, wrap the wide side around the skinny end one full time, pull it up the back through the middle, then tuck and tighten.
As you start doing the rounds at interviews, it will help to know how to tie more than one knot. I personally don’t like dealing with the nuisance of a full windsor knot, but I think the half windsor is a nice way to showcase a fuller bodied knot that gives you a little collar swag to sport for the boss. An easy tutorial can be found at Tie a Tie.
5. Know How To Work With Facial Hair
It’s no longer the 80’s, which means unless you’re a firefighter or a hipster you don’t rock a mustache. But thanks to some celebrity endorsement, the clean stubble is bringing facial hair back, and it’s a good way to add a bit of man to your appearance (especially if you suffer from acute baby face-itis).
But there’s a difference between looking like David Beckham and like you’ve just gotten back from a weekend bender at the Palazzo. The key to good scruff is to make sure that while it looks rugged, it’s still shaped cleanly. Make sure to give a very clear line on your jawline and cheek to show your intentionality. You should cut off your hair pretty high up on your neck, and I personally like to have my beard match the contour of my chin. If you grow facial hair fast, you can just shave every few days to maintain a nice shadow. If you’re willing to drop the big bucks and want to maintain an even length, I’d recommend the Panaonic Milano series for a shave as close as 1mm. I bought the cheaper Gillette beard trimmer and it was basically useless outside of the razor function.
Kamran hails from from the great city of Boston and is currently living up the California dream in San Francisco. He’s a gangster movie and hip hop buff, and hopes to one day write a successful screenplay. Follow him on Twitter.