The following is a guest article from Robert van Tongeren of Restart Your Style.
The time is never quite right to take your style to the next level, is it?
You always have one more thing to take care of before you begin.
You have some excess gut you need to burn off, you need to get your finances in tip-top shape, or you simply have more to learn.
So you never get started.
You wait until the time is perfect. You read, you read, and you read some more, thinking once that perfect time comes, you’ll be fully prepared. You’ll know everything you need to know.
But the time will never be perfect.
You fix your finances, but then you realize you need to get in shape before you spend your hard-earned money on new clothes. You lose the flab and muscle up, but then you realize all those style tips you read a while back aren’t that fresh in your memory, so you better study up some more. Then, something happens that blows up your finances, and the cycle starts anew.
You have to stop waiting for the perfect time, because whenever you fix one thing, something else will come up. You will always be flawed, you will never be 100% mistake-proof, and something will always hold you back.
We aren’t perfect creatures with perfect lives. Not you, not Barron (Sorry B), not even me. I’m imperfect and I have an imperfect life, but I never let my limitations stop me from sharpening up my style.
So allow me to humiliate myself by confessing some of my own imperfections, and hopefully you’ll realize nothing can stop you from creating an awesome look.
1. I Don’t Know the Difference Between a Blazer and a Sports Coat
Yeah, I’m terribly embarrassed by this. You’d assume a style blogger would know everything about clothes, right? And here I’m telling you I can’t tell the difference between two garments.
You must think I’m an idiot for telling you this, because I just blew whatever credibility I had as someone giving style advice, right?
But here’s the thing: I’m no fashion expert. I don’t know everything about clothes. My knowledge is limited.
I’ve read a ton of fashion tips. I’ve read a gazillion articles on style. But I doubt more than 10% has truly stuck with me.
You can read all you want, but a lot of the information out there isn’t critical to looking good.
Focus on learning what’s important to put a flattering outfit together. Learn how clothes should fit, how to dress for your body type, and how to coordinate colors, etc. Everything else is just icing.
Worry about the details when you’ve mastered the big picture.
Some of you can probably tell me in the comments what the difference between a blazer and a sportcoat is. I know Barron could tell me. But honestly, I don’t care.
I’ve already looked it up a couple of times, but the information never stuck. Knowing the difference wasn’t beneficial to my style improvement, so why bother?
You don’t need to know everything about clothes to dress well.
You don’t need to learn everything before you get started.
You don’t learn style from reading about it either. You learn style from applying what you read and seeing the results with your own two eyes.
Just focus on one thing at a time, study it, and then apply what you learn.
- Focus on learning proper fit for shirts, then find a shirt that fits.
- Focus on learning color-skin coordination, then get clothes that flatter your skin.
- Focus on learning pattern matching, then experiment with different patterns.
Trying to learn everything at once is the quickest way to fail.
Lesson: You don’t have to know everything about clothes to start enhancing your look now.
2. I Was a Terrible Dresser Not Too Long Ago
Yeah, I was absolutely horrible, and this was less than three years ago.
My everyday uniform consisted of:
- a graphic T-shirt
- an oversized hoodie
- a pair of baggy jeans
I always made sure the T-shirt and hoodie looked dreadful together, and I always ripped into the ends of my jeans, thinking it added to the distressed look.
If I would meet my past self today, I would guess I was actively trying to look my absolute worst.
tk picture: One of my better outfits of yore. facepalm
I took a while to realize just how poorly I dressed. I thought I wore cool T-shirts, cool hoodies, cool jeans — my style rocked.
But one day I read an article that made me realize I had a completely warped idea of how clothes should fit. I realized my look wasn’t cool; it was sloppy. I also realized how truly little I knew about style.
So I decided to start from scratch, get over my ego, and learn style as if I knew absolutely nothing (which wasn’t far from the truth). Every time I assumed I already knew something, I reminded myself of the fit article.
My biggest style improvements happened during the six months after that moment.
At the start of those six months, I didn’t worry about colors, patterns or accessories. I kept everything simple. I was fully focused on getting the fit right. (I didn’t know it at the time, but I was building my wardrobe foundation.)
After I felt I had a grip on fit, I focused my complete attention on wearing colors.
Again, I kept everything simple at first. I only wore one colored piece at a time, and kept the rest of my outfit neutral. I started seeing how some colors looked better on me than others. I developed an eye for it. Then I started learning about color matching. (Ed. note: This is a great way to go about learning which colors go best with others.)
If you break things down this way, you’ll make huge improvements in a relatively short time, no matter where you’re currently at style-wise.
Lesson: You can quickly go from looking sloppy to looking sharp by starting from scratch, and focusing on one thing at a time.
3. I’m Not the Best-Dressed Guy in the World
Do you wish to be the best-dressed guy in the world? Do you wish to grace the cover of GQ as this year’s best-dressed male?
If you’re like me, you don’t care about any of that — those are not your goals for improving your style.
My own goals are:
- to make a mature, put-together impression when I meet someone for the first time
- to not repel women with a sloppy outfit
- to show people I respect myself enough to take care of my appearance
I don’t need to be the world’s best-dressed to achieve this. I just need to look well enough.
My style isn’t especially formal, extravagant or in-your-face. The simplicity I talked about before has mostly stuck, and I like it that way.
I don’t like to think too much about my outfits. I’m at a point where I can grab a few pieces out of my wardrobe and know how to combine them into a great outfit, without obsessing about too many details.
Ironically, when I started reinventing my style, I was mega-obsessive over the details. I wanted everything to be perfect, and my over-analyzing kept me from making progress for a long time.
When I embraced my inability to fix all my style issues at once, I started reducing them one at a time (see previous confession) and my style started leaping and bounding.
Lesson: You don’t have to be a perfect dresser right from the get-go. Embrace your style imperfections and reduce them one by one.
4. I Don’t Own a Single Suit, Nor Have I Ever Worn One
I have often read the following piece of advice: Every man needs to have at least one suit in his wardrobe.
And it has always put me off.
Not that I’m against suits, but it’s like telling me I have to dress hip-hop to be stylish. I’m not against the hip-hop look, but I’m not a hip-hopper, and I don’t want people to see me as a hip-hopper.
Every style source told me I needed a suit though, so the idea nested itself in my brain as truth.
I have felt ashamed for not owning a suit. I felt like a fraud starting a style blog, and even reconsidered it a few times.
But recently, I had an epiphany.
I’d feel like an even bigger fraud putting on a suit because I wouldn’t be communicating who I am. I wouldn’t be expressing myself.
While I fully realize I’d look that much sexier sporting a suit, I’d feel like I was sending people a wrong image of myself. I’d feel like I was pretending to be someone I’m not.
I don’t work in an office, I don’t attend formal events, and I’m not in love with the suited-up look. I have no actual need for a suit.
So I refuse to be ashamed for being a casual guy any longer. I refuse to be ashamed for wearing the clothes I feel most myself in, even if it goes against the image the style community paints of what a stylish guy looks like.
Style is ultimately about telling people who you are through your clothes, so never adopt a look you don’t like for yourself.
Buuuuuuut, DO NOT use this as an excuse to stay inside your comfort zone. Saying a look isn’t you is easy when you’re reluctant to leave your comfort zone.
Would you feel more professional wearing a suit? Is it something you see yourself wearing in the future? Do you see a dapper suit as your ultimate style finish line?
If your answer is yes to any of those questions, then go for it, dammit.
If you’re like me though, and a suit isn’t the finish line for you, feel free to chase the look you do want.
Lesson: Start building the look you want, and ignore anyone telling you to adopt a different one. Style is about expressing who you are, after all.
5. I’m Not Fashion-Model Pretty or Ripped Like an Athlete
I don’t have a fashion model’s face or an athlete’s body. I’m a skinny guy with baggy eyes, slightly crooked teeth and an undefined jawline.
I have a lot of things I could be insecure about, and I was for quite some time. But now, I feel confident about my appearance, even if it isn’t perfect. It’s as good as I can make it, and that’s enough.
Nobody’s expecting you to look like the guys in the magazines, dude. You’ll reap the benefits of great style even when your physique isn’t perfect, so don’t wait until it is.
As men, we are lucky enough not to be judged as much on our actual physiques as our perceived qualities. We can easily influence people’s perceptions of us by enhancing the image we present to them.
When you’re dressed and groomed well, people will assume you’re funnier, smarter and generally more capable, despite your physical shortcomings.
Lesson: Once you start progressing your style, you’ll reap the benefits despite your physical shortcomings.
6. I Have a Drawer Full of Crappy Accessories That I Never Wear
Once upon a time, I read a blog post telling me that accessories were the ornaments that give your outfit a personal touch. This blog post gave Johnny Depp as an example, which is why I now have a drawer full of wristbands and bracelets that I never wear.
The advice in the blog post wasn’t bad, nor was Johnny Depp as an example, but I didn’t understand the message.
The point of the blog post wasn’t “Wear a ton of accessories like Johnny Depp,” It was “Look how Johnny Depp uses accessories to create a distinct image.”
I’m not Johnny, and all those wrist accessories didn’t fit my personality or my look.
While I’m not thrilled to have wasted money on them, I don’t regret buying all those accessories. While I didn’t get the point of the article, I took action on it. I made a mistake, and I learned from it.
And the lesson has really stuck.
Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re not improving. Quite the opposite. You learn best when you find out you’re doing something wrong, and then correct yourself.
Six months after I got serious about learning how to dress, I still made silly beginner mistakes, but my style had evolved a ton.
Every mistake you make will bring you closer to the style you desire.
Lesson: Don’t let your fear of mistakes shackle you from honing your style. They are part of your progress.
7. I Have a S#!^*y Salary
A while ago I made an important life choice. I decided I wouldn’t be happy continuing down the path I was on. So against the advice of everyone around me, I left it.
My decision came with a price.
I’m not making as much money as I could be. Hell, I’m making a lot less.
But you don’t need to be in the Fortune 500 to upgrade your style. You can do so with a mediocre salary. Just get it out of your head that all your new clothes have to be expensive. Learn which items you should spend little on and which items you should spend big on.
You’ll do okay.
Lesson: You don’t need a fortune to start enhancing your style.
Accept Your Flaws, Mistakes and Limitations and Start Upgrading Your Style Now
Look, I’m the most self-obsessed guy in the world and I don’t enjoy telling you my flaws and limitations.
But I want to show you that nothing can hold you back from improving your style if you don’t let it.
Flaws are acceptable. Mistakes are progress. Limitations slow you down, but they can’t stop you.
So stop waiting for everything to be perfect.
You don’t need to know everything. You don’t need a perfect body. You don’t need a huge salary.
You already have everything you need.
You’re ready to start rebuilding your wardrobe.
So get busy on that, you flawed, mistake-making human being.
Robert is offering to personally help your over your own sticking points and get you started on your style. Visit this page and follow the instructions to receive his free advice.
Learn a few shortcuts to dressing well
Enter your first name and email, and I'll send you a free eGuide with quick and easy tips you can use today.