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What separates the boys from the men at this year’s uni balls

Hadi Ismanto

Mon Sep 12 2011


WITH prom far in the past, you thought you’d escaped the dreadful process of blazer picking, shoe choosing and deciding the kind of pants that make you look taller. You were wrong. It’s university ball season, and for all the men who haven’t a clue, Meld lifestyle reporter Hadi Ismanto offers some pointers.

‘Tis the season (once again) where you’re given the chance to impress the ladies at the upcoming International Student Ball or Communication Faculty Ball or Star Wars Affectionate Die Hard Fan Balls, and there are some things worth bearing in mind.

Loose is cool, tight is gay, not
Face it, gone are the days when Nick Carter and Justin Timberlake danced in their music videos in baggy pants and shirts. Welcome to 2011 where fashion has progressed and the only acceptable way of rocking up to a ball is in a pair of nicely altered pants, matched with a crisp, clean and pressed shirt. Unless you’re planning to come dressed in “Adam Sandler” style, a nicely altered and pressed suit is a must.

Real men do groom
Men have the misconception that grooming includes shaving, spraying perfume, manicures, pedicures and a full-day spa treatment. Whatever perception you have, just remember that no woman in their right mind would ever date a guy with body odour or a guy whose hair looks like that professor from Back to The Future. A real man is one that puts their ladies’ comfort and needs first. Men, for your and for your partner’s benefit, groom up!

How do I stand out then?
You might be wondering, alright, if I wear well-altered pants and shirt completed with a nice blazer, won’t I just look like the other 114 guys wearing the same, if not similar suit? Not to worry, I have only one word for you, accessorise. Accessories make a big difference. Nice ties, nice watches and classy cufflinks are just a few of the small details that make a lot of difference. For ties, skinny ones are the trendier ones, but don’t overdo it by wearing a tie that looks like it shrunk in the wash.

Our favourite accessories for this year are pocket squares and tie clips/bars. These two items are often overlooked when it comes to suit accessories, but the guys from Mad Men have shown us that these two accessories can make you stand out. Just remember,  don’t overdo it or you’ll look ridiculous!

Expensive is always better
No, it isn’t. There are times when you can barely tell “ordinary brands” from one of those rocket-priced branded suits from a fancy Collins St store. Just remember, it’s all about the fit. Suit jackets should fit snug, and not hang off your shoulders like it’s one size too big. You may also want to consider having a suit tailor-made the next time you’re back home in Asia, where it’s pretty affordable.

Where to look?
In the meantime, we’ve compiled a list of options here in Melbourne to help you find a suit that suits your budget, preference and level of urgency.

Jack London on Swanston St
What they sell: Shoes, belt, ties and a wide range of shirt, pants and blazers
Why we love them: The Beatles’s look is hot in its simplicity, and skinny and modern cut
Cons: Expensive
Average price range: $100 – $600

Zara on Bourke St
What they sell: Wide range of shoes, belts, ties, shirts, pants and blazers
Why we love them: Its simplicity and modern style and its wide range of items, especially its classical items that will never go old, and its affordability
Cons: Might need tailoring at times
Average price range: $50 – $300

ASOS online
What they sell: Wide range of designers and in-house brands with everything you need. Belts, ties, blazers, pants, you name it
Why we love them: Its affordability, its wide range of items, its flexibility, and its free shipping.
Cons: Might order the wrong size, what you see isn’t always what you get, and it’s time consuming.
Average price range: $50-$200

What are the boys wearing to this year’s ball? Here’s what some of you said:

  • “I’m playing it safe and keeping it classic. White shirt, black tie and a black blazer should do it for me.” – Fred, 20
  • “I like to get my inspiration from the Hollywood actors whenever they attend formal events like the Oscars or the Emmys.” – Ivan, 22
  • “If I wanted to try something other than black, I would probably go with a dark blue jacket and dark blue pants.” – Dennis, 19