Stuck in the Middle

Honestly, I had plans for a couple more Hunger Games posts (a Sam Claflin Spotlight has been in the hopper as long as the Josh Hutcherson one, it will happen one day), but I’ll probably just redistribute at this point.

On one of my other recent posts, I got a question about growing hair out, but maybe not committing to man-bun length locks. Growing hair out can be tricky for anyone- there are always awkward stages along the way – but mid-length hair can also be some of the best.

So I picked a couple stages in the middle, starting with…

mid-length.jpgThe Shaggy Stage

Now, fair warning, I was in middle school in the mid-2000s, so I’ll always have a soft spot for that surfer boy vibe (I was over it by Bieber, but it is back in a big way with men like Bob Morley).

The main rule of shaggy hair is that it has to stay out of your eyes, and not because you’ve developed a hair-flip-twitch, like so many of my middle school classmates. If you plan to keep it shaggy, consider cutting it so it stays at your eyebrows or a tiny bit lower.

If you are in the process of growing it out, comb it or style it in a way that sweeps it out of your eyes.

If you are working a combo style, like an exaggerated quiff, either style it to be pushed back or be prepared to have your hands in your hair a lot, which might not be a bad thing.

Having naturally textured hair helps this look a lot. If you’ve never grown your hair out before, you may be surprised at the texture that presents itself, and that it will vary continually based on the length and day. If your hair is smooth and straight, you can try to add some texture with product or – and I hesitate to say this, although its what I do – you can try not combing your hair. My hair goes straight if I comb it, but has a wave/curl if I don’t, so after a morning shower, I just let it be. Do not do this if your hair tangles easily, it will just look unkempt and dirty. If you do try it, you have to wash your hair, often.

mid-length1.jpg

A Little Bit Longer

So, some of these guys could probably go with a man-bun at the length their hair is, but these show ways to wear it down.

Again, texture and body go a long way with longer hair, but basic rules still apply. Keep it clean, out of your face, and never ever go the mullet route.

If you’re looking to add some body to your hair, consider adding layers. This will lessen the weight and allow any natural texture and lift to flourish. Eoin Macken is a perfect example of this. His hair is relatively smooth, but it has a lot of movement because of its layers. (I have a post saved in my drafts from like three years ago that is about Eoin Macken’s hair…I might need to dig that back up, I’m not sure why I never published it).

I’m terrible at getting my hair trimmed regularly, and that is a huge understatement, but my rule is that when my hair starts to bother me, becomes unmanageable, or I’m constantly trying to get it off my neck and shoulders, then it is time for a haircut. You don’t have to cut it all off when you get to this point, but you at least need a trim or a new style.

mid-length2.jpg

Your Go-To Guy: Gaspard Ulliel

This French actor has had some variation of shaggy or mid-length hair for the past decade. He uses it to change his looks from boyish to manly to mildly terrifying. Most of the time he keeps it solidly away from smarmy and creepy – the exceptions being for roles (like a young Hannibal Lecter), this is done primarily by keeping it clean – even when it has product in it, you can tell the difference between that and just dirty – and keeping it out of his face without being totally slicked back.

If you are pushing your hair back off your face, please, please, do not make it slick and hard with product. Movement and some lift are key.

Good luck!

 

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Guide to Semi-Formal

I think we’ve all received an invitation that included a dress code and we honestly didn’t know what it meant. The rules for these seem so fluid, but at times they really aren’t, which makes the whole issue more stressful. Some are easy – the ultra formal white tie and formal black tie  have pretty clear rules – but the more common ones are generally more confusing.

This post is inspired by an event I’ve been planning for work that is “semi-formal,” which in my area could mean really anything. The western US is, generally speaking, a pretty casual place, so I did some research.

Searching for semi-formal menswear is basically like typing “clothes” into google. And all of the more specific rules I did find varied from site to site, so here is my synthesis of what you should wear to a semi-formal event.

Evening Events (after 6 pm)

evening semi formal

Do not wear a tux – that is black tie or formal – but you should wear a dark jacket. I would also lean toward dark slacks or a full suit. A tie is probably advisable, although it can be colorful or patterned. Shirts can also maybe be colored, but I would avoid anything too wild.

Be sure to take into account the type of event. Weddings should probably be more formal, whereas cocktail parties allow for a little more play.

Day Events (before 6 pm)

day semi formal

Day events have the same basic rules, although suits do not need to be dark. In fact, it is probably more appropriate to go with khaki/tan or grey (even navy is better than black for a day event). By their nature, day events tend to be a little more casual, so you could forgo the tie or play with colors, but again read the event.

An outdoor wedding is going to be more casual than an indoor, especially during the day. A garden party is usually more casual than a cocktail party (unless the former is with the queen).

In more casual places, like my hometown, you could probably really tone it down and no one would bat an eye, but here I defer to Oscar Wilde’s immortal words “You can never be overdressed or over-educated.”

Oscar Wilde on fashion

And if you are going to trust any author about fashion, let it be Mr. Wilde.

Mixing up the Patterns

Full disclosure: I’m walking on risky territory with this post. Pattern mixing is an element of my own wardrobe that I rarely risk and when I do, I doubt myself the entire time. So we are taking this trip together.

If we are being honest, pattern mixing is an element of fashion that men actually probably have an advantage in. With the popularity of gingham and  the reemergence of patterned suits and jackets, all paired with usually patterned ties, you guys are basically old hat at this now.

One basic rule I’ve heard is that if at a distance your pattern looks like a solid, then it acts like a solid. In the pictures below, at least one, if not more, of the patterns are faint or easily appear as a solid. This makes them easy to pair with anything you would usually put with the predominant color. Often these will be monochromatic patterns, using slightly different shade of the same color to make the pattern. These are also the types of patterns most commonly found in suits, so that they can be paired with basically anything. The other type of solid appearing pattern is featuring a really small design, like in Michael B. Jordan’s shirt and tie.

Patterns as solidsAnother method of pattern mixing is picking a uniting color. This is where I struggle because I actually get uncomfortable if I’m matching. Neutrals work as an easy uniting hue without feeling too matchy. Coordinating colors work too. A basic way to tell if colors go is if they are on opposite sides of the color wheel, like orange and blue (shown both above and below). Here too though you need to be aware of color saturation. If your blues are too royal and your oranges too basketball-y, you are going to end up looking like a very dedicated Boise State fan. Tones with more grey will likely look more masculine and grown up.

One area where I would say you can definitely take a risk is outerwear. I have a navy plaid coat that I absolutely adore and for years I wore it with absolutely everything. Particularly with winter coats that you will ditch once you’re inside, have fun with it. The same goes for sweaters, where you will see just a bit of the shirt beneath, just make sure the colors go.

Pattern MixingAlso a safe zone is when your patterns a separated by a significant amount of unpatterned space. Just buy those polka dot socks, you will not regret them and they will not clash with your shirt or tie.

When mixing patterns also try to use different sized patterns. This will either make one seems like a solid from afar or at least provide enough solid space to not become an optical illusion/headache inducer.

Pattern mixing is definitely adventurous, but it doesn’t have to be. Just make sure you feel comfortable, check yourself out in the mirror and maybe get a second party’s approval. Baby steps are still steps. We don’t expect you to layer three different patterns well on the first try.

Maybe too ambitious for first timers