To all the men out there: If you've ever been confused by the subtle differences between suit and shirt styles in a menswear store, then Anything Other Than Naked by Glen R. Sondag is for you. This breezy 86-page read promises to be "a guide for men on how to dress properly for every occasion" and largely delivers on its promise, although not without a few missteps.
You might be wondering, "Who is this guy to be calling himself a style expert among men?" Although he's not a well-known fashion expert or blogger, first-time author Sondag prides himself on looking put-together. He credits his sartorial flair to the early influence of his seamstress mother; his years spent working at a menswear store while in college; and the 38 years he spent working in the New York Stock Exchange and having to look sharp while on the job. Through these experiences, he learned the basic rules for dressing well that not all men may know.
As a straightforward tome on dressing well, Sondag's book is quite well done. Chapters are short, organized into easy-to-read sections and laid out clearly. Subjects covered include suiting, shirts, sweaters, trousers, and so on. Sondag also includes plenty of helpful illustrations showing the difference between dress shoe styles, types of shirt collars, or various tie knots, as well as how-to diagrams for things like how to tie a bow tie. Those who are clueless about menswear will definitely learn a thing or two. After all, you have to know the style rules before you break them with aplomb à la one of the dapper gentlemen on The Sartorialist, right?
That being said, I did find myself getting annoyed at Sondag's didactic tone more than once. Anything Other Than Naked began as a manual for his four sons and escalated into a bigger project, so perhaps the authoritative, and sometimes patronizing, tone was a legacy of his "I'm speaking as father to son" narrative voice. Sondag rarely strays off the beaten path of tried-and-true edicts such as "The bottom button on a suit should always be unbuttoned" and "Your belt should match your shoes." I also wish that the visuals were of better quality. Many of the images, though helpful, are low-res black-and-white thumbnails that look as if they were pulled off the Internet.
If you're a guy who wants to learn the style rules your father never told you, or a girl who wants to better help a guy shop, then Anything Other Than Naked is for you. However, if you're already familiar with the rules and are looking for some fashion-forward inspiration, you should look elsewhere.