It has come to to our attention that men these days are running around without the slightest idea of how to refer to the clothes they’re wearing, donning their outfits every morning with about as much knowledge of clothing as if they were still being dressed by their mothers.
If you are one of these people, we ask: What the hell is wrong with you? Calling a thing by its proper name is the first step on the road to power! And real goddamn men love power! Power power power! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Below are some of most commonly-misused menswear terms and their real definitions, according to the highly precise metric of “things our editors have overheard and been enraged by.”
Button-down shirts: A button-down shirt is a shirt whose collar tabs “button-down” to the main part of the shirt. A shirt which has buttons down the front, but which does not have a button-down collar, is just a “dress shirt.”
“Oxford:” Okay, we’ll give you credit if you’re confused by this one. I mean, it’s not like cutting you slack could make you any softer, right? Anyway: “Oxford” has two meanings, one pertaining to shoes, and one to shirting fabrics. Oxford shoes are dress shoes in which the tongue and the rest of the shoe are separate pieces of leather (if they’re the same piece, that’s a Blücher). Oxford shirts, on the other hand, are made from fabric with a distinct “dotted”pattern for breatheability. All dress shirts are not necessarily Oxford shirts — for example, a shirt with a herringbone weave (see right) is NOT an Oxford shirt.
Epaulets/Shoulder Tabs: A strip of fabric on the shoulder of a shirt or jacket is an “epaulet,” not a “shoulder tab.” A shoulder tab is a patch sewn onto the shoulder of a military uniform, dammit. But why are you wearing epaulets, anyway? Are you Adam Ant?
Suit: A suit is a matching jacket-trouser combination. A non-matching jacket-trouser combination is not a suit (and is less formal than a matching one to boot). It’s called an “odd jacket” with “odd trousers.” Go to your room and read your Flusser.
Flannel: Flannel is a material — loosely woven wool or cotton yarn — NOT a pattern. A plaid pattern does not make a fabric “flannel;” flannels can be made any pattern imaginable. Even if you didn’t know this directly, how would the phrase “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit” make sense if this weren’t the case? Is your brain made of shredded polyester?
Seersucker: Again, seersucker is a material — bunched, bumpy, self-wrinking cotton — not a pattern. See above.
Loafers: Loafers are slip-on shoes that are made of leather. Your slip-on Converses are not loafers. Your waffle-soled Skechers are not loafers. Your Crocs are not loafers. Why on earth would you think that? What is wrong with your mind?
We’ll save the blazer/jacket/sport coat debate (holy war?) for a later article. In conclusion: Know what to call the clothes you’re wearing! Or else how will you shop, or choose an outfit, or look good?
Answer: You won’t, and you will be a rag-draped social leper. The end!