10: Heavy aftershave or EDT in business meetings
You know that feeling when you're in a meeting and someone's smelling as if they're about to go on a really hot date? Just don't do it.
9: The cheap, emergency shirt
This week I was away on business and had to go into a meeting immediately I came back. Knowing that I had a bunch of shirts being tailor-made so they'll be ready in a few weeks but not yet, I bought a cheapie from Marks and Sparks - twenty quid - to put on for the meeting. It. Looked. Terrible. Low-grade material, unflattering cut - it even made the suit and tie look cheap, as my wife reassured me on my way in (for which my thanks, you need a confidence boost for meetings). Cutting corners simply didn't work.
8: Clashing patterns
Don't listen to the 'never mix spots and stripes' brigade - they're wrong about a lot of things, as anyone with a colour-co-ordinated striped shirt and spotted tie combo will vouchsafe. It can look rather good. But be judicious: stripes on a suit are fine, so are stripes on a shirt but if you have them on a tie as well it can start looking like interference on an old telly.
7: Buying online and not admitting mistakes
A number of mistakes of mine - ties with which I was less than delighted, pocket squares which ended up looking dull - were made after seeing the items only online. That's on a computer with a backlit screen, which can make the colours look substantially brighter than they are in real life. If you find you've fallen victim to this, the next big error is to go into a strop and insist on wearing the stuff anyway.
6: Modelling your look on someone else
Actually this one's OK as long as they look a bit like you. But be realistic; if you're not tall, lanky and young-looking then the Matt Smith tweed-and-bow-tie look is just going to look middle-aged. One good tip I've seen is to look at pictures of fashion designers; if they have a similar body type to you, it might just be that they're designing for it.
5: Take the catwalk look too literally
Models on the catwalk are there to look extreme. You can take a few ideas and adapt them; maybe the preppy-looking ones are all wearing patterned pocket squares that tone in but don't match the tie; maybe the tweedy look is in, can you incorporate these things a bit without looking ridiculous? It should be fairly easy.
4: Skimp on the shoes
The old saying says you can tell an Englishman by his cheap shoes. Which is a bit rubbish when our best shoes from the likes of Church's are so good; invest decent money in your footwear and look after the shoes and they'll top and tail your look perfectly.
3: Wear boring socks
OK, this isn't essential. Nonetheless when I'm wearing a pink shirt or pink tie I like to tone in a bit with socks - it's a tiny touch that links the whole outfit together. Even if people think it looks ghastly they'll see where you were going with the idea.
2: The comb-over
No, seriously, I still see this. Listen, gents, if you're losing your thatch (or "it's changing" as I like to think of it, I reject this idea that ageing is about loss rather than development) then get it cropped and celebrate it - it's absolutely the only way. Nobody except you will find it at all worth remarking on - unless, of course, you adopt the comb-over in which case everyone will notice.
1: Jeans half way down the bum
Oh come on, even young people can't carry this look (although many think they can - see the picture above). We early middle agers would simply look ridiculous - don't even think about it!
So, ladies and gents, what are your favourite fashion howlers?
Related entries: Dress sense mistakes men make