On Paper Vs. In Person

On Paper Vs. In Person

gucci roos paisley bit loafer

“I have a great friend to set you up with.  I went to college with her and she has a great job at Bloomingdale’s as a buyer.  Shes from the Main Line and is really pretty, at least an 8.”  One of your girlfriends tells you.  So you scope her out on Facebook, she’s at least an 8.  In fact you think you saw her on Tinder, definitely swiped right on that one.  Anyway, you’re sold, you take the date.

On paper this girl sounds great; smart, well educated, employed and attractive.  You meet her in person, have some drinks, some conversation and maybe even have at it a bit.  You get to know her a little better, you get to see the things that you couldn’t see from your friends description (ie on paper).  But then you realize, wait, she’s boring.  She doesn’t have any hobbies.  She thinks watching ‘Real Housewives’ constitutes a hobby, but we all know that that is in fact a soul sucking activity, an anti-hobby if you will.  The possibility that she may actually be interesting is quickly diminishing, in fact, she may even be basic.  Of course the friend who set you two up left out those detracting details.  What you have on your hands is a classic case of what looks good on paper may not necessarily look good in person.

Sadly, the same thing happens in menswear.  Often times I will see an item online or in a store and think to myself, ‘wow, this is a great piece.’  The price is good, the quality is good.   But then I think to myself, ‘how will this fit in to my wardrobe?  When will I wear this?’  The sirens start flashing and the brake lights go on; ‘DO NOT PURCHASE THIS’ I tell myself.  Sadly, I would have no use for it, I think to myself.  I find this happens particularly often when thrift shopping.

Take for example, the above Gucci bit loafer.  I saw it on sale for around $250 the other day.  The shoe is so obnoxious that I love it (it’s that good kind of pain type of thing) and felt compelled to purchase it.  But fortunately and rather quickly those aforementioned brake lights started flashing and the purchase was aborted.  The shoe looks good on paper, but in reality, I would have no use for it.  It is not practical nor would it mesh with the rest of my wardrobe.  Could I pull it off, most likely, but that does not mean I should exert the effort to do so.

suitsupply madison brown suit

As another example, take this brown linen suit from Suitsupply, which I love.  On paper and picture the suit looks great.  But then you check it out in person and it already has sleeve button holes sewn in.  You will need to sleeves shortened, which you cant do with the holes already there.  You think how can you make it work?  You can’t shorten the sleeves from the armhole because that would throw off the check pattern.  At a loss for ideas you have to pass on the suit.  So close, yet so far.

Figuring out your style is as much knowing what does work for you as much as knowing what doesn’t.  As part of that you have to be able to discern what looks good both on the rack and on your body.  In other words, no basic bitches allowed.



  1. Great article and good advice 😀 There is nothing worse than forcing something in to your wardrobe, looking for reasons and places to wear it. I tended towards these types of purchases at the start of getting interested in menswear. Unfortunately, the brakes had not been installed yet and I was left with a lot of pieces, not a wardrobe of wearable and easily matched items. Those items over time have made their way to donation bins or friends closets.

    Over a period of time I have honed my style and tend towards a lot of basics; blue and white button downs/semi spreads, navy/blue odd jackets, grey trousers, and plain grenadines & knits. This frees up time when picking an outfit (everything is pretty simple and matches easily) and money to buy better, more useable pieces.

    By the by, I read the blog a lot, and while I may differ with you from time to time, you are a great asset to men looking for style advice and inspiration. keep it up!

  2. It’s funny that you used that suit as an example. I order a grey double breasted from MySuit that was going to take too long to get. In the interim I ordered 2 from Suit Supply that looked similar (on paper). I was disappointed to find the same problems you did. It looked good if it was made for you to wear, but I was going to need about $200 worth of alterations before it didn’t look like I was wearing someone else’s suit. I was infatuated with the style on the website, but when I put it on I realized I am not Lapo Elkann.
    P.S. MySuit came through and the suit looked perfect right out of the box (after a press).