Take a second right now and stop reading. Yes, that’s right, stop reading. Here’s what you’re going to do: look down. No, not at the ground – closer than that. Look down at your shoes and pants, study them, and tell me what you see.
If you’re anything like most western guys then your shoes are a little grubbier than ideal, and your pants are built for comfort, not much else. This is not ideal when it comes to meeting women. Contrary to popular belief, women do give a shit how you look.
Don’t let that depress you, though. There’s a lot you can do about your style, even if you don’t know where to start. You don’t even have to watch Fashion TV.
The Innovator’s Dilemma
People usually talk about style and fashion interchangeably, but they’re really two different things. While fashion is always part of a trend, style doesn’t have to be – it’s more personal than that. Style is about putting together something that reflects who you are outwardly, for other people to see. It’s the physical manifestation of your personality through clothing, and it can be tough to pull-off. The same isn’t true about fashion – fashion is more about fitting in, doing what’s popular, wearing what’s in vogue.
In my eyes at least, it’s ultimately neither better nor worse to focus on style over fashion, or vice verse. If you just want to look better in clothes, both will take you there. Style does have some huge, long lasting, benefits over fashion, though.
Wear What’s on the Manikin
The problem the single guy always had was how to look fashionable. He see’s a bunch of cool kids around him, kids better dressed than himself, and secretly wonders how they do it. The girls are wearing Amazonian beads with over-sized white shirts and hoop earrings, the guys are in tweet blazers with dark blue, circulation-cutting, jeans… and what look like sailing shoes. Somehow, though, everyone seems to look so good. How do they do it?
Fashion cues come from a number of sources, TV ads, product placements in movies, and subway posters, but the biggest influence is probably clothing stores themselves. Of all the places you see clothes, none is as immediate to a purchase as a clothing store is. The displays on offer at a clothing store hit you immediately, even before you step inside. As you walk throughout the store, you pass products that have been strategically positioned to increase the chances that you’ll pick them up and carry them over to the cash register. Stores tend to have the final say in what you wear. If a store is moderately trendy then people will shop there, helping the store display its merchandise out in public, which means that even more people will shop there. So here’s the big secret: people who dress well usually don’t have a super-keen sense of style, they just know where to shop.
That makes things a whole lot easier for you. Instead of having to develop a boatload of skill when it comes to picking out clothes, all you really have to do is find out where to shop. It’s really that easy. Head down to the busiest shopping center in your city, the place where people who seem cooler (or more knowledgeable than you) talk about, then make a note of which stores various types of people step into. Ultimately, you’re going to find people who are dressed in a way that seems agreeable to you, something that seems fashionable that might suit you. Those are your stores.
But don’t you have to still chose clothes once you get in the stores? How do you know what to buy? Here’s where it gets much easier – just buy what’s on the manikin. Merchandisers who buy for the store, and even store employees themselves, spend time picking out items that go well together. They mix and match and arrive at a great outfit that they hope will spark the interest of shoppers. They spend a lot of time identifying trends, and developing a detailed understanding of fashion then put it to use through product selection. They hope that, if someone walks into the store and notices the clothes on the manikin, then he’ll be inspired to grab at least a few pieces of clothing that are draped around that plastic figure. The nice thing is, you can be that someone. Looking great is really that easy.
Style: Know Thyself
Of course, you do have to have an understanding of what fits who you are and what doesn’t. You can’t just dress well by shopping at any store – you have to shop at the right stores for you. Imagine if your father started wearing hip-hop clothes, or if your mother started dressing in heels and tight, ripped, jeans. People will look at you the same way, granted to a lesser extent, if you start dressing in a style that doesn’t suit you. The solution is to know who you are deep down, and then to project that outwardly.
This is critical when it comes to style, not just fashion. With fashion you are just adopting what’s popular at the time. Style, on the other hand, is much more your own. It requires a good understanding of who you are, first and foremost, but then also a good understanding of contemporary fashion, and visual aesthetics. By knowing who you are deep down, you can use your knowledge of fashion and what’s aesthetically appealing to create your own unique look.
Artists will have a huge leg-up when it comes to style. Developing a personal style requires a good understanding of colour combinations, what contrasts, compliments, or conflicts with clothing items. It also requires a keen awareness of texture and shape, which combine with colour to project a specific emotional experience to people around you. I don’t mean that everyone forms a crying circle, just that when people see someone with a strong style they have a certain gut reaction. Artists have a huge advantage here because they already know how to use colours, shapes, and textures to produce expressive, emotional effects and just have to apply the same knowledge to picking clothes.
Sounds like a lot to master just to look good. I guess it is. The nice thing is, though, that after you build these skills you’ll always have an advantage when it comes to knowing how to look good in clothes. No matter how you change in life, you can find clothes that look good and reflect who you are deep down. The same can’t be said about fashion – how many over 40s clothes have you seen that look great? How much variety have you seen in fashion in clothing stores, generally? While clothing stores offer a bit of variety when it comes to fashions, the selection is fairly limited, so it might be tough to really express who you are deep down.
Here’s Where I Opt Out of Taking a Firm Stance
Probably the worst way to end an article is to say that it’s all up to you. Well guys, it’s all up to you.
There’s really two choices you can make when it comes to looking good in clothes, and I think that the path you take will depend on your own goals and values. If you want to develop a more unique, more personal style of dressing that looks good, then learning how to combine fabrics and items will be critical, but those skills will last with you your entire life. You’ll also be able to make better decisions on clothes that you’ll buy this year. The nice thing is, though, that if you couldn’t be bothered, you can still look great by just buying what’s on the manikin.
Have any other advice for how to look great? Comment bellow. Otherwise, make sure you catch 4 other things you can do this winter to get laid more this spring.