(although I'll cooperate to the extent of wearing the dark colors my wife prefers me to wear)
This is a first for me. I usually hear the story of men only wanting to wear the dark colors (my DH, DS and DSILs) and the women wishing they could knit them something a little more "fun". Too bad your wife doesn't let/want you to branch out a little.
Some patterns will tell you clearly what stitch to use for your swatch. Sometimes that is St st even if the pattern has a pattern stitch, cables, etc. But in some of those cases it will say "over pattern stitch". I love those that give gauge over St st and have trouble sometimes getting the gauge to work over "pattern". In the case of ribbing it can be a bit confusing too. If they want you to knit in ribbing do they want you to measure completely unstretched, or stretched, and to what degree. Some patterns will say "slightly stretched". One man's slightly might not be the same as the next man's. :-) If it is ribbing and they don't say what stitch to get gauge in, it would seem logical that they wanted it in ribbing, but it could be they want St st, it is kind of the default gauge stitch. (A story about gauge is I had a sweater one of DD's wanted me to make with fancy cables. Pattern said to get gauge "over pattern stitch". I had the right weight yarn, and I never could get gauge "over pattern stitch". If I had accomplished gauge it would have been a terrible fabric for the sweater. I found one lady on Ravelry who had made the sweater. She said she did gauge over St st and that worked for her. The math didn't work out that if I did that it would fit, [but it might have in reality] so I abandoned the whole idea and made something else.)
I made a top for one of my daughters that was all in K1, P1 ribbing and the schematic showed the top (I can't remember details) measuring say 14" across one side. It also gave a gauge, can't remember what, but I got confused because if I made the gauge they said the piece was measuring like 9" across (it was way different than the schematic). I tired different things but if I got a measurement of 14 inches across like it said it would have fit a huge lady and my DD was a tiny little thing (adult DD). It turns out the schematic showed how big the person
was not the sweater. They did want it 9" and it stretched "a lot". That really aggravated me. A schematic should show the actual measurement of the sweater, this one did not.
So be careful and use your head if things seem wrong, they might be. LOL