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.


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.


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!




We talk a lot about trends on this blog, for obvious reasons, but more than any of that we wish for you the basics to make a timeless wardrobe. These are staples in men’s clothing that will likely never go out of style, at least not in our lifetimes.

Exhibits A-C:

Harrison, Liam, and Jesse

Exhibit A is a picture of Harrison Ford taken in 1980, that’s 33 years ago. Now let’s be honest, Indie could have worn anything at this age and we would love it. But if you didn’t know who he was or his age, this picture could very well have been taken recently. He’s wearing dark jeans, a navy blazer, and a light button-up. Add some scruff and sunglasses and you have a pretty much no fail outfit, no matter what decade.

Exhibit B is similarly classic, even though it is just from earlier this year. Liam Hemsworth is wearing a well-fitting, crisp white button-up, nice grey slacks, and a black belt. Basically if these items fit and look new/quality, this is a homerun every time.

Exhibit C is another variation of the laidback, but sophisticated. We have long supported the blazer – t-shirt combo here at WAMSW and Jesse Spencer provides a perfect example. Grey is classic and the shades are different enough that it doesn’t look awkward. The jacket also has a nice texture that adds to the overall quality of the look.

Now for Exhibits D-G, moving from dressier to casual:

Daniel, Eoin, Josh, and DylanExhibit D is Daniel Sharman in one of my favorite staples in a man’s wardrobe, the peacoat. Pretty much a good peacoat makes you instantly ten times hotter, like disorientingly so (I’ve done studies). To accompany this already classic piece, he has paired it with a white button-up and tie, black slacks or very dark jeans, nice brown leather shoes, and a smirk. Yes, brown and black can be worn together. Buy this outfit.

Exhibit E is a totally work ready outfit (Bonus: also good for family pictures!). Eoin Macken has layered a patterned button-up under a dark sweater. Pairing this with slacks and simple black shoes make this look perfect for a semi-dressed-up event, maybe even a holiday if your family dresses up for those. He also could have put the top combo with some nice jeans for a more casual look.

Exhibit F is a manly staple: the button-up plaid flannel. Here Josh Hutcherson has it half un-done with a white-tee underneath, but buttoning a couple more buttons and skipping the undershirt would also have been acceptable. Put with jeans and roll up the sleeves if not layering anything over the top. Ray Bans are another classic.

Exhibit G is our most casual of the post and perfect for days off. A well fitting t-shirt and khakis are comfy and relaxed. Long sleeves on the tee can add a little different flavor and jeans would be great with it too. The good fit keeps the look simple and not frumpy.

I’m willing to bet that you can find some variation of these looks anywhere in the last several decades and will keep seeing them for years to come. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t update your closet or try out some trends, but these are easy go-to’s for almost any day.

A Day at the Beach

InexplicableAs much as I enjoy the inexplicable picture above, and every article of clothing is quality, you probably shouldn’t be wearing this to the beach. (Notable exception: beach weddings, but in that case you probably shouldn’t be in the water…). So here’s a guide to what you should do.

Now we’ve already talked about swimsuits–solid or basic patterns, nothing too short or tight–and those rules still apply. Even Olympic diver, and famous speedo wearer, Tom Daley wears normal trunks to the beach. Now guys have the lucky ability to wear their swimsuits as totally appropriate pants, so all you really need to add is a t-shirt or casual button-up. It may sound counter-intuitive, but a button-up on the beach is a great look. Avoid the notorious Hawaiian print unless the one in question looks particularly modern and/or makes you look ultra-cool and manly a la Daniel Craig.


Footwear is one of our favorite topics here at WAMSW, in case you haven’t noticed, and Rachel’s last post The Big 3 plays perfectly with what you should be wearing to your day (or week) on the beach. Primarily canvas shoes are perfect for a day out, they are easy to move around in and clean. Another great choice? Sperrys. I will always support Sperrys and I mean, they are called “boatshoes” how could they not be great for the seaside. If you really insist on going the flip-flop route–an understandable, if unfortunate one–please buy ones made with leather or canvas or something other than rubber.

Beach footwear

Shorts or pants on the beach should be khaki or colored. You could maybe get away with regular jeans, but never with denim shorts. It is also totally acceptable to cuff pants on the beach.

If you’re around after the sun goes down or you are hitting one of those not so warm coasts, knit sweaters are always delightful.

And apparently this is the required beach pose:

pensive on the beach

The Manly Art of Jewelry

The first rule of jewelry is don’t call it bling.

The second rule of jewelry is don’t call it bling or any other such terrible word. If you do, your jewelry rights are thereby revoked by WAMSW.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can move on to our more guidelines than rules. A lot of guys stray away from necklaces, bracelets, rings, and the like because they are considered feminine, but really let’s get with it, even Paul Newman wore a necklace sometimes. If you aren’t sold by the end of this, you can always go pick out a nice watch and call it good.

Here are some items we always approve:

  • Wedding rings — with the provision that you actually are married.
  • Medical bracelets — please do not put yourself in danger because you aren’t sure if it goes with your outfit.
  • Any other single piece with personal meaning — like Eoin Macken’s necklace that has his father’s wedding ring and a gift from his mother.

Keep it simple

Here are some things we strongly advise against:

  • Anklets and toe rings — not only are these pretty girly, but they are pretty 90s too.
  • Excessive amounts of adornment — sure sometimes layering necklaces or bracelets can be good, but if they are already large or flashy in any way, keep it down to one.
  • Tongue rings — I have a friend who has one, and he is a lovely guy, but the tongue piercing is not helping him out. You can say that you don’t see it often, but really it is just going to damage your teeth and make you prone to infections. Also it will probably impede your speech.
  • Diamond earrings — real or fake, these babies just look trashy. I’m not particularly partial to any earrings on men, but if you are going there, at least make it something that is unique, interesting, and doesn’t make you look like my friend’s brother who got his ear pierced at 13 (pretty sure he doesn’t wear it anymore in his mid-twenties.
  • Ear gauges — You can’t come back from this one. Here at WAMSW we strongly advise against any jewelry or wardrobe choices that would require surgery to reverse. Small ones are less offensive, but do you really want those around you wondering what they could stick through your ear?

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Leather is always a simple, masculine way to accessorize.
  • Also metal, as long as it kept simple.
  • Jewelry shouldn’t dominate a look, but compliment it.
  • I just googled “men’s jewelry” and it was all bad. Don’t wear anything that will remind someone of Nickleback (not sorry).
  • Unless you are Richie Tenenbaum you probably shouldn’t be wearing a sweatband casually, on your head or wrist. You don’t want people thinking you are excessively sweaty.


Keep it or Cut it

Okay, so this post has been a long time in the making for many reasons. First of all, my feelings have become more and more complicated on the matter. It’s a big topic and I want to treat it fairly. Also, and perhaps weighing most heavily on my mind, is how to address Kit French and Eoin Macken on this blog (Let’s put this out there now, there will be more posts on both of them, also Ezra Miller). So now I am ripping off the bandage, WAMSW is tackling long men’s hair in three parts with the help of actor Ezra Miller, musician Kit French, and actor/model/director Eoin Macken.

Let’s start with Ezra because to me at least, his case is the simplest. If anyone is king of personal style and owning life and self it is Ezra Miller (you might recognize him from Perks of Being a Wallflower, We Need to Talk About Kevin, or just being “a young, bizarrely awesome technicolor dream of weirdness”). First off, I would never try an dim Ezra’s personal flair because that is who he is, but he looks better with shorter hair. Just putting that out there. When it is shorter he can pull off the crazy dishevelment without looking dirty or homeless. It is still as fun as he is and keeps him looking young.Exhibit A: Ezra Miller

What you should take from Ezra: There are more options than long or buzz cut. Find a length in between that shows your personality without misrepresenting you.

Next up is the man who made me question my dedication the anti-ponytail tribe, Kit French. But stay tuned, the issue is, as I said, complicated. Kit French provides saxaphone, keyboards, and backing vocals in the band Parachute (featured in Double Denim). And I’d be lying if I said he didn’t catch my eye right away and my complicated relationship with his hair derives mainly from the fact that it wasn’t always long. When I first encountered the band back in 2009, namely their “She is Love” video, he was fresh out of college with dreamy elegantly disheveled hair, cue weak knees. But then his hair kept growing and he did nothing to stop it. Although he has the facial structure that will always be good looking, the long hair distracts from his naturally strong features, which ironically is why ponytails work on him. I am ashamed to admit, but that man can rock pulled back hair.

Exhibit B: Kit FrenchWhat you should take from Kit: Okay so you have strong enough features to not look terrible in a ponytial, that doens’t mean you should wear one. Kit’s enviable bone structure was highlighted by his shorter hair. Like Ezra’s, it was still shaggy and looked rock and roll, plus it is way lower maintenance. Demetri Martin puts it best:

from Demetri Martin's "Person."

And now, for the master class on hair. Not just long hair. Not just men’s hair. ALL hair. Eoin Macken is the god of hair. Literally there are sites devoted to his hair, in fact I was going to devote an entire post jsut to his lustrous locks as well before I decided you would benefit best from a comparitve study. What, you’ve never heard of him? Well he was Gwaine on BBC’s Merlin and has a new pilot of US tv coming up this fall. It is best if we all keep in mind that Eoin has some natural gifts that mere mortals just cannot achieve, but let’s break down what he does best hair-wise:

1) It is neither straight, nor limp. He’s obviously got a little curl that comes out when his hair is longer, which is lucky genes, but he helps it by having layers. This is a real style; he hasn’t just forgotten to get a hair cut. The different lengths of hair give it body, movement, and play up the natural curl.

2) He washes it. Please, I don’t care how long or short your hair is, make it clean. His only looks greasy after a week in a dungeon having to literally fight for food to keep himself and two other men alive, what’s your excuse?

3) Ponytails are only allowed when safety is an issue. Like Kit, he has the face that can pull it off. It doesn’t mean he should.

4) During the off-season he cuts it a little shorter, but similar principles apply. It has texture, purposeful disshevelment, and even at its shortest, different lengths.

Exhibit C: Eoin Macken

Seeing as Eoin is an actor and a model, I’m sure there has been product in his hair for work, but here’s what he has to say:

“I don’t use hair products. It’s probably something in the Irish water. And bread. I eat a lot of bread. And chocolate and coffee. Probably apples too. Yes, bread, chocolate and apples. That’s it.”

Did I mention he is Irish? And has a sense of humor about all this hair business:

Eoin Macken hairWhat you should take from Eoin: Unless the hair gods have personally blest you, keep it shorter. If you are going to have longer hair, or not, keep it interesting with layers. And don’t take your beauty too seriously.

What you should take from this post: It’s long, so is your hair. I didn’t cut this short, you can avoid making the same mistake. As someone who was a life-long long hair haver who sort of recently cut off a bunch, it can be freeing. Also, long hair isn’t always bad. These men proved me wrong, you’re welcome to try as well. But keep it in check, out of the creeper style, and never a mullet.

Black Tie Done Right

Black Tie Done Right

Whether you find it unfortunate or not, the average modern man has very few excuses to don formal wear. However, outside wedding or prom season, awards season seemed like the most appropriate time to discuss tuxes and formal suits. Here at What a Man Should Wear we love a good suit, but this special occasion wear. Now I’ll admit I’m no expert on the exact tailoring and terminology of tuxes (or dinner jackets), but with a little research I think I can give you a layman’s guide.

Now I bet some of you think that all tuxedos are the same; wouldn’t that make your life easy. While the men who walk the red carpet this award season all look more or less the same, especially when compared to their female counterparts, there are tons of thoughtful decisions in each penguin suit.

First off: color. While traditionally black, the color of one’s tux or formal suit (a tux is technically defined by the presence of satin or another material on the lapels, buttons, and down the side of the trousers; some of what we are discussing don’t fit this description) is not set in stone and depends on the event you are attending. Personally for weddings, I love to see a groom and/or his men in grey. I’m also personally a fan of grey paired with a deep purple like in the picture, or navy blue like the groomsmen at my best friends wedding. Also any dark jewel tone adds some interest, the bolder the color for the bolder the man. And the truly daring (or more casual, still formal wedding goer) might even try a white or khaki. (However, Esquire does suggest darker and simpler for bigger men, perhaps with stripes).

A tux of a different color

Now we are going to get a little more technical: Jacket lapels. There are basically three different types of lapels notched, peaked, and shawl, here demonstrated for us by the dashing men of BBC’s Merlin (RIP). Starting on the left we’ve got Tom Hopper with a notched lapel. Now I can’t tell if his lapel is unusually thin or if it just looks that way because he is possibly the largest man in existence (probably the latter). Next is Adetomiwa Edun in a peaked lapel. Then Eoin Macken in a much more casual look (forgiven considering most of his day jobs don’t involve any shirt at all). And finally on the right, Rupert Young in a traditional shawl collar. Honestly I don’t particularly have a preference between these, but now you know what you are asking for.

The Knights of Camelot at the 2012 NTAs

Lastly: the details. Pocket squares, cuff links, ties, the amount of buttons. Okay that last one isn’t so much a detail as an integral part of the suit, but you get the point. When doing a traditional single-brested suit, the number of buttons should depend mostly on the style of the jacket and the length of your torso. Longer body means more buttons (see above). This works for the double-breasted jacket as well, best attempted on tall men. Personally I think a look this formal demands French cuffed sleeves with cuff links (see image below for an example of a French cuff). The links don’t need to be anything too fancy, just nice and a little personal. Pocket squares. Do it, add some color or pattern, this is where you get to add more personality.

And ties. Bow tie is traditional and making a comeback in a big way, even in more casual wear. But I’m also a huge fan of the skinny tie. This is another personal choice, just one rule, no clip ons.

More help from Merlin

For a little extra help check out these posts:

The GQ Wedding Primer Starring Darren Criss

Esquire’s Tuxedo Suggestions for Emmy Night

Esquire’s Behind the Scenes Tuxedo Lessons with Roo Panes