Guys, don't be a fashion disaster

Great men's style is the sum of many basic parts — our expert advice can help keep it all straight

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Fashion disaster

Fashion disaster (Rick Tuma, Tribune illustration / March 29, 2012)

When it comes to looking good, little things can make a big difference. If only we knew what those little things were.

Men, I'm talking to you.

It appears that many of you could profit from a list of small things that every man should know — but might not.

We're not talking about anything radical here, just some basics that could genuinely turn your look from pathetic to passable. And if you've already graduated to the "presentable plus" category, consider these gentle nudges to help you keep up the good work.

A recent survey by Mintel, a market research company, found that among men who've bought clothes in the past year, 25 percent overall (and 40 percent of younger men) say they would dress more stylishly if only they knew how.

That's where I come in.

After talking to experts, I've compiled a list of 10 danger areas with suggestions for navigating them.

And to all the women out there who are dedicated to helping their men look their best (or at least not awful), I hope this helps.

1. Pants

Ideal length? They touch the top of your shoe heel. Never ever should they drag on the ground. Too short (showing socks at the back) is just as bad.

"Pants that are too long do not make you look taller," says men's fashion expert Joe Lupo, co-founder of Trousers with cuffs make you look shorter too — as do rolled up jeans.

Pleated khakis are so over. Flat fronts are more flattering, even if you're overweight.

2. Shirts

A tailor is your best friend for sleeves that are too long or a shirt that's too big and blousy. With a jacket, show one-quarter inch of shirt cuff, one-half inch if you're wearing cuff links.

Gaps between buttons over your gut? Donate the shirt and buy bigger, "but it shouldn't be too baggy because that actually makes you look thicker," Lupo says.

Button all the buttons on your button-down collar. Yes, if a button is missing or hanging by a thread on any of your clothes, it will be noticed. So DIY or take it to the dry cleaner.

3. Jackets

The loosely stitched basting threads that hold the vent (slit) at the back of the new jacket or suit coat in place? They're meant to be removed. Immediately.

Pay a tailor to nip in the jacket waist slightly. "It makes a regular suit look $500 more expensive," says Lupo. This is true for big guys too. You should be able to pull the jacket out only an inch or two when buttoned.

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