Maneuvering my way through young adulthood, I can recall a nagging curiosity toward sharp-dressed patrons of every establishment; those guys who presented themselves with a certain professionalism and flair.
I wanted to emulate their style-savvy ways, but I was often lost in the dark when it came to what to wear and how to wear it. The men’s style tips I’d been seeking seemed to have eluded me.
Nevertheless, the curiosity remained, and it wasn’t until years later that I decided to teach myself the ins and outs of what we call “style.” What I soon realized is that style is less of what you’re wearing, but rather how you’re wearing it.
What does this mean? It means that everyday you put on a presentation of yourself to the world. You may have heard the idea that you are your own “brand.”
As human beings, we’re wired for assessing first impressions, and so it’s important that your brand stands out among the competition. Your personal brand is comprised of your body language, the way you communicate, your persona, and yes, the shirt on your back.
True personal style is not about vanity, it’s about putting purpose and direction into the way you’re seen by the world. Elevating your style game can certainly gain you confidence points, but more importantly, it will allow you to express your character, be interpreted more professionally, and be placed into the 1% of guys who “get it.”
What I’m going to supply you with is the foundation that should be well understood before setting out to revamp your wardrobe. These are the tips I wish I had come across a decade earlier.
These are the basics of style.
6 Men’s Style Tips to Upgrade Your Personal Presentation
1. Fit Is Everything
This tip is at the top of the list for a reason. When it comes to upping your style, nothing is more important than fit. My advice for the aspiring dapper dresser: Focus more on your silhouette than the actual outfit at first. Find some brands that consistently work for your body type.
Most guys have a tendency of wearing clothes that are far too roomy. I speculate that this is in part due to the comfort factor, but more so because most men have an unconscious habit of exaggerating everything from their bank account right down to their shoe size.
A key component of authentic style is to embrace your body type and compliment it with what you’re wearing. Try to shop one size down and see what it does for your silhouette. There are a variety of slimmer cuts and different fits to experiment with as well.
Some brands will have dress shirts in a slim and extra slim fit, most suits will be available as regular or long, and when it comes to jeans, slim, straight, or tapered fits are more than likely your best options. Ditch the label buying mentality and focus on finding brands that work for you and your body type.
Understanding the specifics of how each garment should fit is essential, and this is why I provided some great resources below. I encourage you to check them out before moving forward.
2. Buy Timeless
Fashion trends come and go, but real style is timeless. While it can certainly be advantageous to have some unique and vibrant items in your collection, the basics never change.
There’s a reason why the leather jacket your grandfather wore in that 1940’s photo would still look killer today. Certain looks will always be classic, and they’re here to stay.
This is good news for the determined-to-dress-well newcomer because it provides a great starting point. When in doubt, keep it classic.
By investing in items with timeless appeal, you’ll know that you’re always looking your best without all the trendy fashion-fuss. The dark jeans, laced-up boots, and pea coat looked great 60 years ago, and it will look just as good this winter.
3. Versatility Wins
As a young professional, it will be imperative to get the most bang for your style buck. That’s why it’s important to focus on the items that are the most versatile. We want to find pieces that we’ll be able to use in a variety of ways.
For example, a well-fitted suit is a solid investment as you can also wear the suit jacket and matching trousers separately. The trousers can add a touch of sophistication when paired with a sweater or cardigan, while the suit jacket can enter casual with chinos or jeans.
Stocking your closet with items that will have you covered from classy to casual can be simple and cost-effective if executed correctly. A pair of solid dark jeans will go with virtually anything; dressed up, dressed down, and everywhere in between.
A charcoal grey suit is a universal investment that looks good on everyone regardless of complexion, hair color, or body type.
Combine these items with some solid V-neck tees and a couple fitted dress shirts and you’ll be surprised at what you can piece together. Add in a pair of simple black or brown dress shoes and sneakers to your arsenal and you’ve built a great foundation for a wide array of outfits.
It is also important to stick to solid and neutral colors for the essential items. This will allow you to pair most of your pieces with one another and make the most out of your closet space. And with that, keeping things solid and simple brings us to our next point
4. Keep It Clean & Classic
Keeping it clean and classic is a surefire way to always look great when more formal attire is called for. There’s a certain sophisticated appeal to the classic look that will always be in style. I recommend that the foundation of your wardrobe be built from clean and classic items.
This means sticking to solid and neutral colors for dress shirts, trousers, and shoes. When it comes to investing in a suit, black, charcoal, or navy are usually your best options. When dressing it up, simpler ties are generally more formal, but this can also be the place where you add a splash of color.
This relates to tip #3 as many of the items with classic flair will also be extremely versatile. The clean and classic look will always set the bar for formal wear, but it serves a purpose for your more casual days as well. For example, a solid white button-up will look great with dark jeans and brown chukkas.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Break the Rules
Can I pull off a blazer with a tee shirt? Can I wear brown shoes with a grey suit? Should my watch band match my belt and shoes? There is no limit to the amount of quandaries you can perplex yourself with when it comes to style do’s and do-not’s.
When searching for men’s style tips on the web, there are an equally overwhelming amount of contradicting answers that often follow. My advice: Learn the basics, then forget about it.
Style is about expression and creativity, not boxing yourself into a set of rules to follow. When it comes to what you should and shouldn’t wear, use common sense, but don’t get hung up on it.
I would much rather see adventurous dressers who put their personality into what they’re wearing than a world full of black suits and ties everyday. Sure, there are places for both, but don’t be afraid to get a little creative. There exists no dress code for life, my friends.
As long as you’re carrying yourself and your savvy threads with an air of confidence, you’ll be well-received everywhere you go, and this brings us to our next and final point.
6. Own It
This is not only the last and final tip, but perhaps also the most potent. Without this, it really makes no difference what clothes you have on. After navigating the style maze myself, I was still often reluctant to dress exactly the way I wanted to. It’s as if I finally had the knowledge I’d been craving, but lacked the self-assurance to put it into action.
To own it means to be fully confident in your personal presentation, to embrace your authentic self. You will find that by owning your unique personal style, your own personal brand, others will naturally gravitate toward you and respect your tastes.
It is the self-assured, confident man that every other guy longs to be and that every woman finds intriguing. If you go out into the world expecting to feel superior or receive compliments, you’ll be let down every time. Instead, learn to present yourself in a particular manner because it’s simply who you are, inside and out.
Don’t dress sharp to masquerade as a more confident man, become a more confident man who naturally dresses sharp.