As the newest male* Bachelorette reviewer on the internet, it’s up to me to discuss a topic too often overlooked in this franchise: men’s fashion.
Women contestants on the Bachelor have their outfits scrutinized to death every season, as they should. But why don’t men see the same level of analysis? Is it because their outfits aren’t as interesting? Or that they just don’t put as much emphasis on the men’s looks? Or maybe it’s just that the men look worse?
The answer to all these questions is yes, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t say anything. I’ve derided the contestants’ shabby wardrobes throughout Katie Thurston’s young season. Whether it was their uninspiring outfits on night one or their half-assed cocktail party looks from night two, the Dudes™ clearly need some help.
So, if you’re an aspiring male contestant for the Bachelorette or even one of the current contestants with the gift of time travel; here’s your guide to dress to impress your lead.
We’ll go in ascending order of formality
Whether you’re on a one-on-one or a group date, the first portion of it will be in the daylight. Usually, the producers will tell you if you need special consideration in your clothing choices for the activity. If you’re working out or performing violence, that obviously calls for active wear.
There are really only two rules for athletic clothing:
- Make sure the colors match
- Those shorts better not come within four inches (minimum) of your knees
If the date calls for casual clothes, don’t overthink it. A classic button-down won’t blow anyone’s socks off, but it also won’t let you look like a slob. I, personally, don’t own a pair of jeans and see no reason to purchase some, but I recognize they’re a staple in the straight man’s repertoire, so they aren’t out of line either.
Date clothes for men haven’t changed in 20 years and, as the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Feel free to mix it up on this part of the date, though. You want to stand out? Wear a bright color or even a light jacket (tight) to spice things up. It’s really hard to fuck this part up, so let’s move on to a slightly harder round.
Unless you manage to get booted home during the day portion of the date (shoutout to DeMario), you probably need to go home and change. The night portion of a date isn’t quite as formal as a cocktail party, but it definitely calls for more than business casual.
Before we get into what you should wear, let’s talk about what you shouldn’t.
There is never a time where a T-shirt is appropriate. I don’t care if you wear it under your nicest suitcoat, you aren’t Steve Jobs, so quit dressing like him. I saw this abhorrent outfit on week 2 of Katie’s season and thankfully she sent that man home before the date even finished.
So help me god if I see you reach for a pair of khakis. The blue blazer / khaki pants combo is the unofficial uniform of douchebags who like to talk about their daddy’s boat so keep that look in the closet. Better yet, there’s never a reason to wear a navy-blue blazer if you don’t have matching pants so go ahead and donate that while you’re at it.
No jeans. I don’t have a funny quip about this one, just don’t wear them.
To end our “don’ts” section, here’s a non-exhaustive list of button-down colors / patterns to avoid:
- Light blue
- White striped shirts, no matter what color the stripe
- Plaid in any shape, way, or form
- UNLESS: you are going for an outdoorsy look and it’s cold. Requires a camel-colored jacket so be careful
- Anything checkered
- Anything with a logo or team name
- That goes double if that logo is a pink whale
These button-downs are fine for the office (except for that Vineyard Vines shit), but not for a date.
So, what should you wear?
The evening dates are your biggest opportunities to play with your style. The only hard and fast rule is that the look must be semi-formal or above. Overdressing is a myth created by slobs that don’t know how to tie a tie, so when in doubt, go a half-step more formal.
A suit and tie are an excellent choice, and I have plenty of rules to follow for those in the coming section. For now, let’s look at some less “dressy” ways to spice up your fit without overdoing it.
Rock a nice sweater. Our previous Bachelor, Matt James, may have been the most boring and moronic man we’ve seen on the show in several years, but that man could wear a turtleneck. Sweaters are your chance to experiment with different textures and colors (I recommend an earthy hue), without sacrificing your chance to accessorize.
Sweaters can go under a suitcoat or stand alone, but don’t you dare think this is clearance to wear a puffy vest. A sweater can be your greatest ally, but keep in mind, they do get warm.
Feet need a good outfit too
Another eccentric choice could be in your shoe game. I don’t usually advocate for the sneakers-with-dress-clothes look, but it can be used to limited success. The rule of thumb is: if you’re wearing a shirt with more than three buttons, no sneakers allowed.
Lastly, and this applies to all dates and dress codes, pay attention to your socks. Get as wacky as you want with them, as long as they don’t conflict with the color scheme. But now for the big guns…
The cocktail party is when you should be wearing your best clothes and I don’t care if you already secured a rose during one of the other dates, please remember you’re on TV. It’s also the dress code for night one of the show so, it’s doubly important to make a good first impression.
Rule number one: wear a fucking tie.
You’re on national television and you’re trying to impress the woman who you’re going to pretend is your fiancé for the next few months, don’t you want to look good? Don’t you think you’ll have some fancy events to go to the rest of your life? Show the Bachelorette that you’re a grown ass man (official Bachelorette lingo) and you know how to dress yourself.
The only exception to this rule is if you opt for a sweater rather than button-down. This isn’t like earlier, however, and you will be required to wear a suitcoat over top. You should also consider being tall when trying this because it does look better the taller you are.
Don’t wear a “wacky” tie and only attempt a bowtie if you’re going full tuxedo. Most importantly, ensure that your tie is tied properly. If you mess up, that’s no biggie, I understand some men have only dressed up twice in their entire lives, but make another attempt. Nothing stands out more than when a man doesn’t care about his appearance enough to try again.
Accessories are the face of the suit
Now that everyone is wearing dress-up clothes how are you going to differentiate yourself? Accessories, of course.
The first is the pocket square. If you aren’t wearing a pocket square, I’m not sure why you even put on the suitcoat in the first place. It’s your only opportunity to add more color in a meaningful way and on top of that, it’s your biggest chance to include a pattern.
Pocket squares can include little images, full patters, or just a solid color, so feel free to express yourself. Just make sure you don’t break your color scheme. Match it to your tie if you aren’t sure what scheme you’re using. Don’t overdo it with your fold either. Newbies to the accessory game will try to do a million points and complicated folds, but you only need one: the puff fold.
Just because it’s dressy, doesn’t mean it has to be complicated.
In addition to the pocket square, you should always include (at least) one more accessory. This can be a tie clip, a lapel pin, or even some jewelry. Earrings are a yes, necklaces are a no. Get a pin that will start a conversation or a tie bar with a skull on it. Your accessories are your chance to express yourself so don’t misuse it.
Pay attention to your pants at all times
Now for the scourge on men’s fashion of the last several years: the short pants / no socks combo.
I get it. Dress pants are supposed to be shorter than they used to be. I support that move and it’s meant to better highlight the socks and shoes. Pants are also tighter than they used to be, which I also love. Baggy pants are for 2000’s R&B singers and Republicans, so there’s no need for them anymore.
The problem is, when you get out of a car or stand up from the couch, your new short, tight pants are a lot higher than you realize. This is easily remedied by picking them away from your thick (and juicy) thighs, but it won’t matter if you don’t wear socks.
Yes, you’re allowed to not wear socks when you’re wearing loafers. Yes, you can wear loafers with a suit. But no, you can’t rock the new pants you just picked up on Men’s Wearhouse while you do it. There are a bunch of silly little fashion rules, but none of them matter if you look like you’re wearing capris. You aren’t an affluent lesbian, you’re a lying 20-something on the Bachelorette.
You’re not done yet
I can’t believe I have to point this out, but please iron your shirts every week. Your mom isn’t on the network to do it for you and as much as you love “getting the wrinkles out” with the steam from your shower, it doesn’t work. You look sloppy and just look up the YouTube video to learn how to do it.
Remember the rule from earlier. Your sneakers should be where they belong for this part of the date: in your room, waiting for the next daytime date.
This isn’t so much a rule as a piece of good advice: don’t bring a gray suit. I’m not talking about the platinum gray suits; those look great if accessorized well. I’m referring to the dark gray suits that everyone got for their first communion or cousin’s wedding. Those can stay at home. They’re too boring for TV and are better saved for job interviews.
You’re ready, so what’s your go-to outfit?
Finally, now that you know all the tricks necessary for a successful season, I’ll let you in on a little secret. The 3-piece suit is the most genius outfit ever made. Not only do you immediately look classier than the other men and their puny 2-piece suits, but you have an opportunity they do not.
If you take your jacket off, either to give to the lead or just because you’re filming in hot-ass New Mexico, you still look great. Roll your sleeves up and let your vest do the talking. You automatically look like the best dancer at the wedding reception and you don’t sacrifice any of your accessories, nor the completed style of a full suit. The vest isn’t any more expensive than a 2-piece suit and doesn’t take up any extra room in your bag.
Now that you know all the secrets, please use them responsibly. Remember, the show isn’t about you, it’s about the Bachelorette. But you, statistically, don’t have a good chance of winning so might as well look the best so ABC gives you a show that IS all about you next season.