Style Q&A: How many shirt buttons can a man leave open before it’s inappropriate? 2
How low can you go? Photograph by Austin Wade on Unsplash

Style Q&A: How many shirt buttons can a man leave open before it’s inappropriate?

Plus your questions on dadcore, matching socks to your pants, and where to buy affordable barongs—answered.
Monchet Olives | Oct 21 2019

1. What is your opinion on the trendy “dadcore”? 

Honestly, this was a curve ball. I really didn’t know what it was—at all. So over dinner with my nephews (late 40s) and their sons (16 year olds and thereabouts), I tried to wrap my head around this fashion stage. The boys illustrated the look: “Tito, it’s like what Dada (my brother, their grandfather) and Tito Bobby (my brother-in-law) wear to play golf or their every day look.” 

Style Q&A: How many shirt buttons can a man leave open before it’s inappropriate? 3
Steve Urkel, style icon. Photograph from Wikimedia Commons

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After reading a few articles online, I was educated. I learned that this look was pushed by Balenciaga Spring 2018 which had a young dad on the catwalk, along with kids, as if they’re in a park. The elements of the 80s sitcoms Family Matters come to mind, which means 1) straight-cut jeans, or 2) chinos like the ones that Dockers or Polo make, with pleats held higher on the waist with a plain logo-free belt, and 3) a sports shirt, kind of what you see on golf tourneys, ala Tiger Woods. 4) The head gear of choice is a sporty baseball cap, finished off with 5) a rain jacket. Asking the boys who live in the burbs of Alabang, think Patagonia, Abercrombie, and Gap. 

Another key piece to this look is 6) the “ugly shoe” — which anchors this retro aesthetic to the present. Those platform Balenciagas are the apex of Dadcore. Reeboks and heavy Nikes fit the bill, or anything from Old Navy. My opinion on this look? You could easily be looking like Trump kicking it off in Mar-a-Lago, so it’s up to you if that’s the look you’re going for. 


2. How do I rock a bowtie without looking like a maitre d’? 

Bow ties are back, and often a go-to choice for members of a wedding entourage. Most ties out there are clip ons, making them very much like your local cater waiter’s or meant for your first communion. Tying a bow tie is like changing a tire. You need to learn how to do it (there are a lot of YouTube tutorials on the subject). Like all things it takes practice. You can walk into Brooks Brothers at the mall or Signet and ask them to help you tie the tie. Black silk is great, and can come in a few price points.

Style Q&A: How many shirt buttons can a man leave open before it’s inappropriate? 4
No shortcuts about it: you must learn how to tie a bow tie. Photograph from Unsplash

When you opt for a bowtie, make sure your shirt collar is snug on your neck. I would avoid the wing collars for now, and use the standard dress tux shirt style. Then be ready to be patient in practice. 

Wearing a knotted bow tie is a good lesson in building a sense of style, and is a reflection of your personality. Doing it well means you don’t cut corners, and want to be the best. Besides, wouldnt you want to channel cool George Clooney or Brad Pitt post-party, drink in hand, your bowtie undone? That's great IG material.


3. Where can I find affordable barongs? 


A post shared by TESOROS Handicrafts (@tesoroshandicrafts) on

If you are of regular size sans girth, start with Onesimus, then Kultura, upwards to Tesoros, then Silk Cocoon. It’s all about the fabric. In a previous article I enumerated the types of fabrics. Choose well, otherwise someone may ask you to call their security or close in.


4. Should my socks match my shoes or pants? 

Style Q&A: How many shirt buttons can a man leave open before it’s inappropriate? 5
Looks at socks as another platform to express your personality. Photograph by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Why wear socks? But if you do have a case of kachichas, and must, it is all up to what you like. Socks have become a fashion statement in itself, a way to show one’s personality, what with the variety of patterns and colors that are just out there.  Pick what speaks to you and go with it. If the event is formal, just pair it with your pants. But, honestly, who cares? 


5. How many buttons can I leave, uhm, unbuttoned before it becomes inappropriate? 

There is a bit of history on this one. As the world moved from the conservative 60s to the hipper, psychedelic 70s so did fashion. The cotton  buttoned shirt, the sign of the WASPY American, gave way to the high polyester, body hugging shirt. Buttons opened, chest hair in full view. The idea was all about being sexy. The 70s immortalized it in Saturday Night Fever’s  Tony Manero (played by John Travolta). He gave the majorly unbuttoned look gravitas. The movie exemplified male liberation and all its peacock aspirations. 

In general, it is acceptable to have two buttons opened— meaning the collar button and the button below it. The latest style in shirts, however: Hawaiian or the Guayabera (the Cuban summer shirt for men) in soft cotton already have a deep collar, and leave enough cleavage (which is probably more and more men are going through manscaping / waxing, the better to showcase muscular definition).  For those that are more muscular, there is no real harm going a button further, granted that you manage nipple exposure, and you keep the chest hair trimmed. 



Monchet Olives writes about style for and is the man behind The Barracks of Artefino.