Mind the mid-section: Tips for managing the transition from shirt to pants
Within the last week, one reader recounted his experiences wearing and not wearing belts. After receiving negative comments about a dress belt paired with jeans, he settled on no belt. Personally, I rarely thought to fill a set of pant loops with a nice belt in my earlier years. In fact, I constantly overlooked my mid-section, the very center of my body; and honestly, I put forth a jumbled fashion effort because of it. I can still recall the day a friend asked me a simple question in my junior year of college: “why don’t you wear a belt?” My college required a tie for class. So I wore a dress shirt and standard khakis with a tie and you guessed it, no belt!
“What’s the big deal,” I thought to myself. But, the more I looked in the mirror, the more I realized my glaring omission. You know those little rope borders dividing the grass from the sidewalk. They stand about a foot off the ground with the rope running through a loop at the top of each stake. Now imagine no rope, only the stakes evenly lining a one hundred foot stretch of your walk. That feeling of missing something – that was me without the belt. When you step in front of that mirror, I want you to remember my mistakes. Here are four main problem areas to avoid with your mid-section:
1. The crazy untucked shirt – I’m not referring to an intentional untucking, rather a tucked in shirt where the tuck has released about 50%. This badly yanks your smooth lines out of place. Couple it with a too-large shirt and you might as well order a pair of wrap-around-your-head grandpa sunglasses.
2. The tucked in t-shirt – There is really only one time I would advocate for this – when you have another layer over the t-shirt. This means a half-zipped jacket, sweater or collared shirt. No layer, no tucking.
3. No belt – I know there are those who would say it’s okay to go without a belt. I disagree with them. If you have belt loops, find a great belt. It creates an excellent transition from shirt to pants. And, you have so many options – dressy, casual, sporty, leather, thin, wide, bright colors, muted colors, and much more. Please keep in mind that every outfit requires a certain belt. For example, a wider more casual belt fits better with jeans than a slimmer dress belt. I plan to write more about this in the future. On the other hand, pants with no belt loops such as tuxedo trousers require no belt and look great as well.
4. Too large pants with a tightened belt – Let’s say your waist measures at 34 inches. Don’t wear a size 36 and cinch up your belt. I see this and it puzzles me. Doesn’t the constant pulling up of pants get old? Throw in a pair of overloaded pockets and several descriptive words start heading your way such as “sag” and “wobble.” Not good.
Like a frame transitioning a Van Gogh masterpiece to the room around it, your mid-section should create the perfect flow from upper to lower body. So often, I see men missing the mark. The point at which shirt and pants/shorts meet should look fluid, not abrupt – complimentary, not distracting – aligned, not disheveled. Much of this can be achieved through properly fitting clothes and a good belt. Lastly, don’t walk out the door without paying attention to your mid-section.
© Copyright 2014 Fashion for the average man.