Clothes maketh the man

Looking sharp is important.

It’s being a concern of mine for a while, the decline of men’s sartorial standards. Never was it brought home so strongly as the sight of Dane Swan doing honours in Philadelphia, wearing a shaggy t-shirt, terribly ripped jeans and dinky little sandshoes.

We are men and ought dress appropriately. So, thus and henceforth:

One good suit. Funerals, weddings, formal occasions, you need a good suit. Looked after properly, it’ll last you a lifetime. Natch, a few good shirts and ties to go with it and a good pair of shoes or boots. Check the second hand shops in the ritzy areas; Mum bought me a beautiful Italian woollen jacket at Waverly St Vinnies. Shirts and ties are available at the better department stores, eg, David Jones, Market St for those in Sydney.

Shoe polish. Slapping some polish or dubbin onto your leather shoes – and jacket, gloves, etc – will keep them looking good and extend the lifespan.

Trousers. Hard to go past a good pair of boot cut jeans. Slim over the hips, a neat drape over your shoes. Black jeans will take you a long way – I wore black jeans at my wedding – and blue straight legs are handy too. Avoid slacks and ‘comfy’ jeans at all costs, they give you a fat arse. Very few of us can be Thor Hemsworth but that doesn’t mean we can’t cheat a bit.

Jackets. As above, a good suit jacket and a backup. You’ll also want a casual jacket, say a black or an ivory corduroy ‘jeans’ jacket or a hip-length buttoned leather jacket. ‘Brando’ leather jackets are supercool, especially if 34 years old like mine, but best left to the right occasion if you’re older than that. The key with any jacket is to accentuate the shoulders and narrow the hips

Shirts. A few good business shirts can take you a long way, but they must be good. Forget the marts’ selection, they’re poorly cut, you don’t want to be seen in a sky blue and white striped shit with a navy collar. Solid colours only. Tropical shirts, on the other hand… If you’re gonna wear them, have at least ten. They needn’t be covered in hibiscus and palm trees, two colours can do the job but if you don’t have several, folks are gonna say “that shirt again?” If you’re gonna wear a T-shirt, make sure it has a point, great colour, groovy print, so forth, use sparingly. Heavy duty cotton work shirts with buttoned pockets are comfortable and practical. Polo shirts are handy for starting fires.

Shoes. Comfort and support come first, after a certain age. As a youngster I had five pairs of Converse Allstars, so I could match them with my shirts and scarves. Sandshoes, Blunnies, Cuban-heeled RMs, black, maybe dark brown at a pinch. Thongs are okay for walking around the corner to the shops but don’t make a habit of it.

Hats and accessories. If you spend any amount of time outdoors, get a hat. A proper hat, like a felt Akubra. Caps are childish and near useless for UV protection. Scarves and pocket handkerchiefs add colour and contrast to your overall look. Shades are important, wayfarers and aviators are the classics but do a few tests to see which style suits your face best.

Never wear shorts in public. ‘Who wears short shorts’ is a cute li’l song but not one to build your life around. In your backyard, fine. If you do physical work outdoors, fair enough (I do, but I wear trousers). Short pants are for children.  No-one is interested in your pale, hairy legs.

Men, that’s the basics. I haven’t touched on work clothes but if you want to be Smartest Casual at the club, a dinner party, a backyard barbie, a football match, that there’s a good start.

Here’s to sharp dressing, Tipsters.

P&C, A Stop Privatisation Of Footy Production
Brought to you with the assistance of Brian Jones’ shoes.



About Earl O'Neill

Freelance gardener, I've thousands of books, thousands of records, one fast motorcycle and one gorgeous smart funny sexy woman. Life's pretty darn neat.


  1. John Butler says

    Earl, I clearly have so much to learn.


  2. Proper brimmed hats. Tick. One suit. For funerals. Mine. Tick.
    Polo shirts on the bonfire? Whimper. Four pairs of shorts. Beige, off-white, parchment and sand.
    Do you have a view on leather sandals?
    If only Brian Jones had worn floaties, not concrete Cuban heels. Keef would have gladly held him under.
    I like your style Earl, even if you have little time for mine.

  3. Some mighty fine advice in there Earl. And from the man who, well let’s read your words again, “Black jeans will take you a long way – I wore black jeans at my wedding”. Bang, your the man. I sadly, wore a suit. But to be fair, it was a Maverick suit with string tie. Which brings me to either an omission in your sartorial advice or you have ruled it out. That is, the Wrangler Western Shirt? Thoughts. It’s button up, which is def a plus. As I age I have headed further down this road and enjoy the Nashville Western shirt on a night out. Cheers

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Are jorts OK if black?

  5. I know nothin’ about fashion, but I have to say that Earl has the best bio on the footy almanac site by a country mile. Love it.

  6. And another thing – if you’re a man over 50 tuck in your shirt!! Under 50 may get away with not tucking, but only so long as it’s a casual environment. Only young blokes with a torso (remember those?), can really get away with not tucking.

    Women – I would never give clothing/dress advice.

  7. Happy with some of this. Very happy. Still cackling.

    However, no mention of THE most important item – a dinner suit. Black Tie. And a directive should be sent to all footballers attending the Brownlow.

    I wanted to get married in Levis and Volleys but was made to wear a suit so soul-less it the sales person asked if I wanted fries with it.

  8. Earl O'Neill says

    John – honoured to have set you on the path to sartorial splendour.
    Peter – as long as you dubbin the sandals.
    Rick – string tie, neat. I wore a suit at my first wedding. Same jacket, tie and boots at my second, the real wedding. I’ve three western shirts w pearlite studs incl a beautiful RM shirt worn gossamer thin.
    Swish – for a twilight kick to kick in the local park, yes.
    DB – cheers!
    Dips – when wearing a tie and/or sharp jacket, yes.
    Primal Scream at the Enmore this eve, near 7pm and I still haven’t decided what to wear beyond black bootcut jeans.

  9. Tracksuit pants Earl ? ( Dips I am with you big time re tucking shirts in

  10. The holy trinity: Blunnies. Volleys. Thongs.

    Earl- like the best pieces this is finely observed, sound of advice and witty.

    A treat!

  11. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Keep stressing to my 13 year old that boys need to know the difference between casual shorts and smart shorts.
    NO tracksuit pants out of the house.
    Ditto UGG boots gents.
    Moved my 50 year old from Tigers to the French Springcourts.
    Belt and shoe colour should match.
    And what’s that rule about buttoning coats or jackets … Sometimes, Always, Never … from top to bottom.
    What about flannies Earl? I’ve known a few men who do them very very well …

  12. This article cannot be taken seriously until SKIVVIES are addressed.

  13. Very important, Earl.
    And timely.
    I’ve been told I need to “update” my jeans. Blue 501s for about 15 years now. (Not the same pair).
    Feeling quite lost.
    Maybe black boot cuts are my compass point now.

    Big fan of boot polish.
    And a collared shirt.
    Something else I recently received feedback on – the rolling up of sleeves.
    I prefer the haphazard, non-thinking, quasi-functional, I guess “scruffy” roll-up.
    But it has been suggested to me that a well crafted, neat roll-up is infinitely better.

    I think more men should wear hats.
    This trend probably peaked in the early 20th century.
    Happy to begin a revival movement.

    Love it.

  14. Earl O'Neill says

    John – painting the Volleys orange might have made all the difference. Skivs are indoor wear only.
    Book – trackies as per jorts.
    Mickey – cheers.
    Mathilde – smart shorts?!?!? Blooming heck! A well-cut jacket needn’t be buttoned, esp if wearing a groovy shirt, it’ll sit right. Flannies, ah, the fall of ’92!

  15. A little more on western shirts Earl if you’ll indulge me. I ordered several from the US for my 50th a cough cough few years back. On the website there were plenty of celebs who had made purchases. One of which was Troy Cassar-Daley. So I tweeted him to get his opinion. And he replied! He gave them the thumbs up. The shirts arrived a week later they looked pretty damn cool. So I took a snap wearing one and tweeted him again. He replied, man you look fine. And with that I walked a little taller. Cheers

  16. Rick – I’m with you on western shirts. Surely the press studs (preferably pearl) are the best option here.

    Er-I feel your pain on sleeve-rolling. I’m in the scruffy camp. And, no I can’t do short-sleeves in the work place. Seems a bit geeky weatherman to me.

    And while I’m at it, what’s the etymology for Mufti?

  17. JTH – skivvies have limited appeal these days. Its because they are not adaptable. For example, it would be fine to wear a skivvy to a Marcel Marceau cover night, but not to a Craigieburn pie shop.

    Apparently a few of them got saved after the great skivvy fire in the mid-nineties when Keating got rolled by Howard. Do you still have it?

  18. Earl O'Neill says

    I’m a big fan of turning back cuffs, rolling sleeves to just below the elbow. Best to fold back the sleeves before you put the shirt on.

  19. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says

    Apologies, Earl. Smart shorts could well be a hangover from my days as a child in France, or from even further back, in the blood I carry from the French court. French boys wear knee length kinda tight fitting shorts. Almost knickerbockerish. Culturally inappropriate, I get it.

    The same might be said of the button down collar. All the French boys of my youth wore them. My Cob won’t touch them.

  20. JTH – Skivvies are an abomination! Resembling a badly made sausage is never acceptable. If one fears the cold on one’s neck, wear a scarf.

    White sand shoes with blue jeans is not acceptable, volleys or not. It is redolent of an elderly American tourist.

    Mathilde: if a jacket is to be buttoned, one should never button the bottom button.

    Hats are to be encouraged.

  21. Very enjoyable, Earl, but gee I am a long way off the mark.
    So therefore, I am not even going to attempt to heed your advice.

    For me it is shorts from September to May. (A grudging allowance for long pants in the winter months).
    And whenever I put on a polo shirt, Mrs Smokie asks “Why are you getting dressed up?”

  22. Earl O'Neill says

    Damn, I forgot washing advice! In essence: always wash clothes in cold water; dry outdoors; hang shirts on coathangers, buttoned up; everything inside out.

  23. Do you have an opinion on white winklepickers Earl? “Look Sharp” could be your personal credo.
    I loved Joe Jackson in the 80’s. “Is She Really Going Out With Him”. “Steppin Out”. “Real Men”. He was suave and cool when everyone else was braces and boots.

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