After 20 years in the men’s clothing business, I learned that truly successful people dress like mental patients. Prince Charles is a prime example. He constantly shows up in public wearing ludicrous Sergeant Pepper-style outfits featuring hats with enormous feathers. Or he’ll visit some remote fungal nation and cheerfully wear ritual native vegetation around his neck.

There are plenty of other examples of highly successful people who dress absurdly. Daniel Day-Lewis wore brown Hush Puppies with his black tuxedo at the 2008 Oscars. Gary Busey, best-actor nominee for “The Buddy Holly Story,” once showed up in an outfit that would have made Jawaharlal Nehru cringe. Keith Urban misunderstood the invitation that said “Black Tie.” He wore a black tie, all right, but it wasn’t a tuxedo tie. Seven people asked him for more iced water. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Rick (Nature Boy) Flair, and Jack, the CEO of Jack in the Box, are a few more names that come to mind as fashion assassins. Four and five-button tuxedo jackets are kind of like Javier Bardem’s hair in “No Country for Old Men.” Most people can’t pull them off without looking like a pervert or serial killer.

With massive bonuses and unethical perks being uncovered daily in the corporate world, you American businessmen should dress as though you recently lost your entire family in a tragic boat explosion. You need to look subdued and should choose either a gray suit or a dark blue suit. A brown, green, or (heaven forbid) plaid polyester suit will make people think you just tromped into town from the swamps of Little Rabbit, Australia, to attend the Live Bait Show.

To be a highly successful businessman, you need to know how to tie a necktie. Here are a few helpful hints: Face southwest, with the long end of the tie hanging down casually from your right hand (the audience’s left hand). Now bring the short end of the tie around the back of your neck and let it hang down your front, so that it just touches the scar you got ironing shirts naked. Now take the wide (or long) end of the tie and pass it three times around the short (or long) end, then up through the loop. (What loop? Check again, Dummy!) Now pull everything snug, unless you have forgotten to put on a shirt. In that case, you had best remove the tie, by force if necessary.

Guys, if you’re going to be wearing just your underwear, you should always tuck your undershirt way down into your underpants. This is the “look” favored by the confident, sharp-dressing men found in the underwear section of the now-defunct Sears catalog, who are often depicted standing around in Kiwanis-Club-like groups, looking relaxed and smiling, as if to say: “Our undershirts are tucked way down into our underpants, and we could not feel better about it!”

John Cog, the Republican candidate for the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office in Norfolk, Virginia, said, “How come when I’m standing in front of a full-length mirror with nothing on but socks, white socks look OK, but dark-colored socks make me look cheap and sleazy?” It’s true. Dark socks, as a lone fashion accessory, create a poor impression for men. So, Men, if you’re dressing for an important job interview or church supper, or other occasion where you could wind up wearing nothing but socks, they should be white. If the occasion calls for shoes, make sure your Odor Eaters are either beige or navy blue. One final tip about shoes:

Make sure they’re soft and pliable, ‘cause with an outfit like that, somebody just might make you eat one of ‘em.

Cindy Baker Burnett is a resident of Bonham. Email her at