5 Things Men Are Not Allowed To Wear

As a woman, I spend approximately 23.6 hours a day being told what I should and should not wear. And while I’ll never be able to thank Cosmopolitan Magazine enough for steering my pear-shaped body away from a low-cut bias dress (and in all seriousness, they do make me look like a marshmallow with a rubber band wrapped around it), I must say it can get a bit exhausting. I feel it’s only fair that men should suffer a similar fate. Yes, it’s true, they have GQ and The Sartorialist and other outlets to direct them to the proper number of buttons on their suit jacket, but how many average men regularly read these things? Not many. So I feel it is up to us to tell them just a few things that, under absolutely no circumstances, are acceptable to wear in public.

1. A Short-Sleeved Button-Down Shirt. For my money, there is absolutely no worse a sin a man can commit against those who must behold them — and humanity in general — than wearing a droopy, oversize, short-sleeve button-down shirt. Sure, we may have seen the errant salt-and-pepper Italian man who wears a well-cut one with some linen pants and suspenders, but YOU ARE NOT HIM, AVERAGE MAN. You are the one wearing the used-to-be-white-but-is-now-vaguely-eggshell abomination to do your programming at work because god forbid you do anything more than the minimum dress code requirement. Yes, technically, there are buttons on this shirt. No, that does not make that shirt anything close to business casual. It is the shirt of a man who has given up on life, who has few things left to live for, save a lukewarm Hot Pocket and a rerun of Two And A Half Men. Wearing this shirt will actually prevent you from succeeding in life, from prospering, and from fulfilling your dreams. Avoid at all costs.

2. Running Shoes In Any Context Other Than Running. If you are the kind of man who, on his way out for a night on the town or an afternoon with friends, decides to finish his otherwise respectable outfit of decent jeans and a well-cut shirt with a pair of scuffed New Balances, ugh. That’s all you deserve, a resounding “ugh.” It’s the exquisite disappointment of scanning a good-looking guy who seems to have his sartorial act together for the most part — who at least decides to present himself to society with a modicum of effort — and stopping just below the ankles to realize the outfit was all for naught. He finished things off with the footwear equivalent of room-temperature McDonald’s french fries. Were you not aware that a well-made pair of loafers are just as comfortable, and require the same amount of lace-tying, if not slightly less? Well, now you are. Now there is absolutely no excuse to ever appear amongst fellow humans wearing such unfortunate shoes.

3. Deep V-Neck T Shirt. I know that this may be controversial, as there are some who are ardent fans of a man in one of these, but I stand by my assertion that they are horrendous. First of all, a man who is so insistent upon showing off his chest hair and pecs is far too vain to consider — it’s all of the trappings of cleavage with absolutely none of the bouncy, voluptuous benefits. It’s also so awkward in social situations — do you address how much of your friend’s upper body you can now see? Does he want people to notice? Is this a strange, hairy attempt at getting female attention? Does he know this is not how you get it? So many questions, so little shirt. There are just far too many things wrong with this item to ever excuse it. Oh, and if you’ve ever worn a V-Neck T Shirt with a scarf, you are too much of a douchebag to live on this planet anymore.

4. Cargo Pants/ Shorts. Unless you are currently a member of a branch of a military, in which you are required both by your superior and necessity to wear a pair of these, you must never put them on. Just because your gender wasn’t given the awesome privilege of carrying around a purse (Which is so much more amazing than it looks — do you realize the amount of stuff you can put in there?! And no one’s allowed to touch it!), it doesn’t mean you can just sidestep the rule and carry around your entire life in a bunch of awkwardly-placed, overfull sacs on your legs. It just looks so incredibly uncomfortable, a pair of leg tubes being weighed down by these plush pockets filled with — what are they filled with? Spare change? Extra wallets? Condoms? (Just kidding, no one in cargo shorts has sex.) In any case, it’s just incredibly unflattering. And this goes quadruple if they are made out of that swish-swish windbreaker material.

5. Tribal Necklaces. Whether made of hemp, pooka shells, tribal beads, leather cords, or all of the above (good God, all of the above) there is never an occasion to wear these monstrosities. You know where they are acceptable, and even attractive? When they are on the people who actually wear/ create/ have some significance tied to them. But you know who you never see wearing them? Said people. You know who walks around in these, slapping you in the face with all of their unfortunateness? Whitey McDudebro. That’s who. The same white guys who used to wear JNCO jeans and get really, really into Papa Roach songs. Apparently the heinous tribal necklace is the last bastion of these kind of guys — the ones who get tattoos of flames and chinese characters that actually translate to “picnic table” or some other nonsense. These necklaces are just the worst in every way. You may think they add a bit of culture or exoticism, but they just make you look like the whitest whitey to ever resemble a sheet of paper. Avoid at all costs. TC mark

image – Ash Violette

Chelsea Fagan

Chelsea Fagan founded the blog The Financial Diet. She is on Twitter.


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  • http://www.oneyearintexas.com Perfect Circles

    With you on everything but cargo SHORTS.  I think those are fine.

    • http://twitter.com/scottneyspears Scott

      it’s not 2002 anymore…

      • John Dowland

        That is what this article could have itself been called – “Don’t dress like it’s the early 2000s.” Decades fall in and out of popularity (’90s nostalgia is, I expect, the thing now) but will anyone ever be nostalgic for 2003?

      • Anonymous

        Everyone said that no one would be nostalgic for the ’90s but here we are…

      • John Dowland

        You know, it’s funny, because ever since I said that I have actually been a little nostalgic for 2003 – only it was PC gaming that was good then, not fashion (an interesting correlation there really).

  • Anna Brozolo

    “So many questions, so little shirt.” <- Perfect.

    Also, short-sleeved button-downs are way too close to fast food uniforms for comfort.

  • Aurora_lupess

    “no one in cargo shorts has sex”

    Translation: “I have never met a roadie”

  • http://mason-jar-memories.blogspot.com/ Grace Elizabeth

    Psh, my husband would look flyyy in any one of these. Cargo short in a dark grey or olive wash totally work, the short sleeve button down in a funky plaid combo is super hot, and don’t even get me started on the sex appeal of a good deep V. I’ll give you tribal necklaces and running shoes though- that’s just got tool written all over it.

  • MSA

    Yes a short-sleeve button down can be a crime (as are the other 4), but I can rock a linen, fitted, rolled up sleeves Uniqlo button down like no one’s business

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=2311203 Kevin Pritchard

    Hawaiian shirts and gold chains. 

    Whew! I’m in the clear. 

  • Samanthakristine1

    I think the context of the short sleeve shirt really matters. I’ve known a few men to be able to rock the button down plaid short sleeve in the heat of summer.

  • Oliver Miller

    “Oh, and if you’ve ever worn a V-Neck T Shirt with a scarf, you are too much of a douchebag to live on this planet anymore.”

    HOW DARE YOU!!!! You and I are done professionally, Fagan, blah blah blah, Christian Bale rant.  For chrissake, man, that’s amateur.

    • Oliver Miller

      And no running shoes!  What about hipster sneakers, aaagggh?  Asics?  What about Kangaroos?  ‘Roos are the best sneakers ever — they’re SHOES WITH POCKETS MY GOD.  In conclusion, I can’t deal.

      • Anonymous

        i agree – if the “running” shoes are not actually made for running, does that count??  there are some sweet pumas, roos, etc. out there that, IF KEPT IN NICE CONDITION, are not only acceptable, but pretty effin’ fly, in my opinion.

  • amanda

    i am 100% against short sleeve button downs. i told my ex-bf this alll the time (he’s my ex-bf for a reason.)
    dont forget a very important addition to this list: Jorts. as in jean shorts. as in Disney World tourists.

    • Edeson

      “(he’s my ex-bf for a reason.)”

      sounds like a good one

  • http://dirtyyoungmen.wordpress.com/ Maxwell Chance

    Well made loafers ARE NEVER more comfortable than running shoes. Check it out: can you run for long distances in well made loafers? No. Why? They are too uncomfortable. LOGIC.

    Also, I totes get laid and I wear cargo shorts. (However, I do try to not wear them if I suspect sex may be lurking somewhere in my soon-enough-that-I-won’t-have-a-chance-to-change-my-shorts future)

    • Belle

      You obviously have never put your foot in a Johnston and Murphy Venetian loafer.  I used to secretly wish I could be a guy just so I could steal these from my boyfriend and feel like I, too, was walking on air.

  • Chewbackes

    Let’s get something straight… there’s a difference between wearing a Charlie Sheen 2.5 men esque oversized short sleeve button down and one that is more fitted. It’s nice to have them when it’s warm outside. I can agree with you on the other things, but you really exaggerate and misrepresent what a short sleeve button-down looks like.

    • http://www.facebook.com/tsdyke Thomas Dyke

      I dunno about that one man…short sleeve button downs are generally considered to be very loose butt-hole.  Except for maybe if you’re in Miami…or are Jimmy Buffett.

      • Chewbackes

        But why and by who besides you and the author? You can’t just say they’re “loose butt-hole” without a good reason. Well, you can, it just doesn’t give you a strong argument.

  • cw

    “really, really into Papa Roach songs”

    • Anonymous

      You totally know that guy, too.

  • http://twitter.com/bethanie_m Bethanie Marshall

    Add to the list: Flip Flops. A man should not be wearing running shoes unless he is, RUNNING. And a man should not be wearing flip flops unless there is a pool or beach within 50 feet. There is nothing worse than going to a bar at night, seeing a well dressed dude, and then scanning down to find the hairy toes and strangely shaped feet in a pair of flip flops. Those are reserved for us girls, who spend time and money making sure our feet are presentable.

  • http://twitter.com/bethanie_m Bethanie Marshall

    People who say “totes” don’t get laid. 

    • Oliver Miller


    • o g

      Sorry babe, I TOTES get laid.

  • Anton

    Thank god I’m an Italian salt and pepper man. Everything I do clothing wise is fully justified.

  • Anonymous

    So true.

    Started to think of a few other things (e.g. those weird leather sneaker/loafer hybrids) but then realized it could basically go on forever.

    Nice work.

  • bee

    The beginning of this reminded me of a scene in PS I Love You when Denise checks out a guys ass, and then gets crap from another male.  “After centuries of men looking at my tits instead of my eyes and pinching my ass instead of shaking my hand, I now have the divine right to stare at a man’s backside with vulgar, cheap appreciation if I want to!”  :)
    That being said, many of these are true for the general male population.  But there are a select few who can pull off any of these and look fantastic – in fact, the best of dressers probably wear these very things.  Like everything, it all depends on context. 

  • TeenyTiny

    I guess you’re talking about short-sleeved dress shirts or those silly oversized ones that only mobsters wear to hide their beer belys. Those might be ugly. But a good, fitted, plaid short sleeved CASUAL shirt should never be dissed. If so, you’re just being stupid. 

  • Hdkxn

    Number one is my number one sartorial rule. I bought a short sleeve button-down at Express not long ago and I look stellar in it (sorry C-Fay), but other than that one instance, it’s still a general no in my book.

    • bromosaurus


  • Erik

    Saying “No guy should ever wear short-sleeve button-downs
    because some guys wear gross ones” is like saying “No girl should ever wear shoes
    because some girls wear Uggs”.

  • Lizzie Lawlor

    HAHA awesome. #6 on the list: Shell-top Adidas. (Compliments of my friend Erin)

    • bromosaurus

      remember run-dmc? probably not because you’re a vapid 17 year old. shell toed addidas are cool as fuck and you don’t know shit. 

  • Alison

    I’m pretty sure it is an international law that if you ever see a man wearing all of these things at the same time, you should punch him in the nuts for the sake of humanity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9383035 Scott Muska

    If I didn’t wear cargo shorts I wouldn’t have pockets large enough to store my fleshlight…

  • http://twitter.com/courtleee courtleee

    By reading the title, I thought this article was going to be ridiculous and/or biased. But it was pretty much spot on. Especially “plush pockets filled with — what are they filled with? Spare change?
    Extra wallets? Condoms? (Just kidding, no one in cargo shorts has sex.)”

  • http://twitter.com/Joao_Nuno João Nuno Álvares

    Well, about short-sleeved button-down shirts I think it depends, there are many that are not cool, but I have like two shirts of that type and I like them, and I wear them, I think it depends more on how the shirt is in the person and the pattern, the size etc. I’m not Italian, but I’m European at least, if that counts…
    Also, I actually don’t like cargo pants at all, they don’t look good in my opinion, but in shorts I don’t see any problem, I actually like them and they are very practical, especially when traveling in the summer, to keep the camera among other things…
    Just my personal opinion, from a guy.

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