Why do some guys look stylish regardless of what they’re wearing? Whether their suit cost $2000 or $200, they always look amazing.
What’s their secret? It’s all about the details. When you pay attention to the minutiae of your outfits, you’ll stand apart every time.
1. KEEP YOUR STYLE SIMPLE: A lot of young men, when they first decide to start dressing well, go out and invest in fancy, expensive items that are much nicer and much more formal than everything else in their outfits. You spend a lot of money, and you end up with an awkward mix-match of high fashion and low fashion; of business formality and casual street wear. Take your cues from your environment and from what you already own. Unless you’ve been totally clueless all your life, odds are that your current wardrobe is at least practical for your surroundings.
2. SHOP AT THRIFT STORES: Thrift stores are an amazing place to start building a wardrobe for a fraction of the cost that you’d spend buying new. But getting to know your local consignment and charity stores is also educational. You’ll be dealing with a mixed bag of styles. Some will be simple and timeless; others will be last decade’s fleeting trends. Sorting the presentable from the comical is excellent practice for building your own unique style.
3. STUDY HISTORY & ROLE OF CLOTHING: In high fashion the reasons get somewhat arbitrary, but in basic, everyday menswear, the history is easy — and fun — to trace.
For example, the high-up pocket placement on the breast of dress shirts and work shirts? That’s a tweak that goes all the way back to the days of hand-loaded, shoulder-fired muskets, when a pouch high up on the chest reduced the time it took to reload. The high breast pocket has been an American man’s look since the days of the Revolutionary War (actually – even farther back if you look!).
4. FIND A STYLE MENTOR: Locate someone who dresses well, and who is willing to give you a few tips. If they’re local, or a family member, that’s ideal, though in the age of the internet it’s not strictly necessary anymore.
Performers and public figures, from rock stars on down to local politicians and teachers, are often more aware of their appearances and the clothing choices they’re making than the average man. Ask around.
5. VISIT THE BEST MEN’S WEAR STORE AVAILABLE: Forget about your budget for a minute. Hit up the best store in town, or at least the best that will let you in the door. (If you live somewhere like New York or London, then yeah, there are going to be high street designers who literally don’t let shoppers come in off the street and try things on. Go a step more mainstream than that.)
Spend some time looking around a really nice store. Browse through the racks. Handle the clothing. Try on a couple outfits (full outfits, not just individual pieces) that you like the look of.
6. LEARN TO SEW: Get over any issues you have with the “masculinity” of it. Most of the master tailors in the world right now are men.
More importantly, it’s a real time and money saver. If you don’t have even the most basic skills, you’re looking at ten bucks to sew a button on your shirt; twenty-five to get your pants hemmed.
In terms of labour costs, that’s on a par with doctors and specialised mechanics. Save yourself the money by learning to do it yourself. It’s not hard — and, if you’re a younger man in college or a large house with lots of other guys, you can start charging those ten bucks here, twenty bucks there, sorts of rates to fix you buddies’ clothing up.
7. TEACH OTHERS: A final tip for young men: teach other young men!
That doesn’t have to be formal. Just talk about clothes, go thrift shopping with other guys, or spend some time answering questions on a menswear web forum.
The more you think about how to advice other people, the more you’re thinking about advice that holds true for you, too.
It’s widely acknowledged that to demonstrate mastery in a skill, the practitioner has to be able to effectively instruct someone else in the skill. If you’re not there yet with fashion and wardrobe-building, don’t sweat it — but do aim for it.
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