Ask Dan: Topcoats, Soles, Dry Cleaning, etc.

January 12th, 2014


Special thanks to the talented Gerard Soratorio for the awesome sketch. I’m flattered to be part this awesome series


Topcoats for Short Guys

I have a question regarding topcoats for short guys. I’m 5’6 so I dress appropriately for my height. I’ve always wanted a topcoat as I see it as versatile mainstay in a well-curated  wardrobe. Is there a right length for a vertically-challenged man like myself?

I would look for something that hits a couple inches above the knee. Keep in mind you can always have your tailor shorten a topcoat from the bottom, just make sure the last button won’t be awkwardly low in proportion to the new hemline. Also, make sure the coat is as slim as possible through the shoulders and upper back. Broad shoulders can easily make a short topcoat look too boxy. While we’re on the topic, have you tried looking in the “boys” or “young men’s” departments? Some brands make really great outerwear for “boys aged 8-20” (check out some of these awesome jackets by Ralph Lauren, for example). The Large or XL here might be a perfect slim-fit for a shorter man…not to mention children’s clothes are typically easier on the wallet. Lastly, there are some new brands popping up that offer clothing proportioned specifically for shorter guys, such as Peter Manning who’s slogan is “clothing for men 5’8” and under”… Has anyone reading ever tried this? Would love to hear about about your experience with these height specific fits.


Boot Soles: Rubber vs Leather

Hey Dan, I see you often wear boots with leather soles. While I find them extremely sharp, I also find them very slippery. Aren’t rubber soles grippier/more functional (and more durable) in slushy winter weather?

Yes. Rubber soles are generally more functional and durable in a wintry mix. Rain, snow and salt can eat away at leather. Personally, I prefer leather soles because they’re typically slimmer, sleeker looking, and sound more like an ‘old school gentleman’ when walking on a hard surface. Leather soles also breathe better than rubber, keeping your foot sweat (and thus odor) to a minimum. That said, the majority of my leather-soled boots are covered with a thin layer of rubber installed by my local shoe repairman. These “sole protectors” are great for added grip and they only cost about $15-20 (including installation) which is much less than replacing an entire leather sole.


Dry Clean Frequency

I just started wearing suits regularly for work. I often wear the same suit two times (ok, maybe three times) in the same week. How often should I be dry cleaning them? I love the way it looks when it comes back from the cleaners… Is dry-cleaning too often bad for a suit?

Yes. Think of dry-cleaning as dipping your garments into a chemical bath that erodes the very surface layer of the fabric, including any dirt or stains on it. These chemicals slowly eat away at the fabric, which is why you want to avoid over-cleaning. Only dry clean your suits when they’re physically dirty – meaning you spilled something on it or sweat through it. After a normal wear simply hang it properly (jacket on a hanger with a full shoulder, pants separately clipped from the hem to let gravity pull out any wrinkles) and air it out in a breezy space. If the suit is overly wrinkled and in need of a “refresher”, have it pressed only (your cleaners can do this without the expensive cost of dry cleaning). The steam will kill any bacteria and the press will have it looking brand new, without any negative side effects.


Starting a Menswear Career

The more I research it online and follow blogs like yours, the more I am fascinated by the world of men’s fashion. It has become a passion of mine. I’m also bored with my current job… I’m interested in a career in menswear, where should I start?

We’ve been getting this question surprisingly often lately. It’s exciting to see guys get excited about fashion and menswear.

Firstly, a “career in fashion” is too broad. Do some research and figure out more specifically what you want to do, and what you might be good at. For example, a job as a buyer’s assistant (entering orders, tracking inventory, crunching sales data) requires a much different skill set than a job as a designer’s assistant (drawing flats, altering patterns, overseeing sample manufacturing), or an editor’s assistant (pitching stories, proofing copy, organizing pulls for shoots) .

After you’ve narrowed it down, consider studying your area of interest, or interning for someone that you can learn from.

Also, I have to say this: don’t confuse the enjoyment of dressing in nice clothes with wanting to work in fashion. Careers in the industry are never as glamourous as they sound, and you can dress fly in any profession.




Have a style question for Dan and Articles of Style?

Contact us here and we’ll add your question to next week’s “Ask Dan” post.


Thanks for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier