It’s the start of a new year and most of us are awash with resolutions… some of which you mentioned in the last article’s comments. Hopefully you’re able to make them a reality this year, instead of simply brushing them aside come the third week of January.
The reason I asked for your TWO biggest resolutions and not just your style-focused one is because most of us aren’t completely consumed by our personal style 24/7.
In the grand scheme of things, what you’re wearing isn’t necessarily that important.
As I began writing this article, I thought about how the way we wear clothing represents our style. And then I wondered, how can we extend that desire to be stylish into other parts of our lives? How can we be better men in other aspects, more than just clothing and outward appearance?
Below are a few things that crossed my mind. I think that adopting some (or all) of these will place you several steps ahead of your peers.
How to be a stylish and distinctive man beyond your closet
Many of these thoughts may seem elementary or obvious. If that’s what you’re thinking, then I’d consider you in the minority since most of these were inspired by simple observation of men around me and what they were (or weren’t) doing.
Get a grown-up email address
“ItalianStallion69@hotmail.com” or “AzNrAcEr_HONDAcivicPRIDE@yahoo.com” might’ve been cute in high school because it matched your AOL screen name, but not so hot now that you’re an adult and expected to have a career. First name and last name as your email address. That’s it.
If your name is common, try some abbreviated combo with your initials (i.e. email@example.com if firstname.lastname@example.org is taken). If it’s still impossible, add a short one- or two-digit number at the end. The simpler the better.
Give your word, and keep it
Have honor, even for the seemingly minute things. Borrowed a buck from your friend but he’s since forgotten? Pay him back, and do it right away. Promised to do something for someone but you’ve been putting it off? Just do it already.
If you say you’ll do something, do it. In other words, don’t be lazy.
(Modern) chivalry is still very alive
Women may not expect you to lay your coat down over a puddle these days, but don’t be one of those douchebags that forgets to treat ladies with grace and respect because they “should be treated like equals.”
I’ve heard that excuse before. How f’ing lame of you. Be a man and hold the damn door open.
Regardless of your idiotic justifications, they’re still the fairer sex and should be treated as such.
Be fiercely passionate about something
Video games don’t count. What’s something that really lights a fire inside you? Or something that you find infinitely interesting? Be a connoisseur. Know everything there is to know about it. Or at least, be constantly learning about the subject so you can teach someone about it.
Why? Because every man should have interests, things he can speak intelligently and at length about. It may be cigars, bourbon, cameras, coffee, woodworking, high-end road bikes… anything. It makes you a more interesting person.
Just don’t talk about it all the time, especially if you weren’t asked in the first place. That doesn’t make you a connoisseur, that makes you annoying.
Improve your penmanship
I struggle with this one myself, but I think it’s important. In this day and age, we type more than we write, but writing in itself is a lost art. Practice, and take the time to form your letters. No one likes chicken scratch.
Speaking of chicken scratch, have you evaluated your signature lately? Mine could definitely use some improvement, or at least an extra second or two to get some sort of semblance of an actual name instead of just scribbled lines on a receipt.
Learn to recognize social cues
You may have to hone your skills on this one, especially if you’re oblivious to most things. Recognizing social cues quickly and correctly is the key to being socially graceful and not awkward.
You know that one guy who just doesn’t get a clue? Don’t be that guy.
Have a presence, but don’t be in the way. Listen more than you talk. Always be observant. Be aware of your surroundings. Be courteous of other people’s wishes and desires. You get my point.
Mind the details
The little things are everything. The way you sit, how you take care of your shoes, the fact that you moisturize (or don’t moisturize) your hands… It all says something about you. Make sure the details align with what you think of yourself and how you want to project yourself to others around you.
Doesn’t have to be big or elaborate, but if someone close to you deserves it, give him or her a gift. For example, if you’re a house guest and someone is hosting you, or if someone picks up your tab more than once without expecting anything in return, things like that.
In other words, be thoughtful. Thoughtfulness goes a long way.
Say “No” more
It’s okay to say no to things you don’t want to do. Life is too short to fill up with imaginary obligations you don’t particularly care for, to please people you don’t necessarily care about.
If you truly don’t want to do it, don’t. Bow out gracefully yet assuredly. If you have to, say it’s you, not them. Explain you only have so much free time and need to spend that hour / day on yourself.
Don’t feel bad about it. You can’t always push aside your own priorities. Say no and move on. If he or she isn’t mature enough to understand, then that’s not your problem.
Say “Yes” more
…but to things you want to do. To things you should do, but are afraid to take on.
Be more adventurous. Make new friends. Try things you previously told yourself you wouldn’t like. Expand your horizons and learn to embrace change and growth. Do things that freak you the F out.
The world is much larger than your backyard or hometown. Get inspired and travel. Visit other towns, states, countries. Stop filling your house with things you don’t need, and instead spend the money on experiences that will fill your life with wonderful stories.
When you’re 98 years old, you’ll be telling your grandchildren about the time you drove across the country, trudged through the Amazon, surfed with locals in the South Pacific, or wandered the streets of Florence. You won’t be reminiscing about the time you bought another car, or got the highest score on Wii Bowling.
Say “Hello” more
There’s this great quote from Augusten Burroughs I’ve always loved:
I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was very stunned by this for many years. And then I realized, you just say, “Hi.” They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.
If you think someone is worth knowing, reach out to him (or her). Send an email, ask for an introduction through a mutual friend. Just do it.
If you look up to someone, let him (or her) know. Ask him to be your mentor. Listen to his story; everyone loves sharing stories and having someone listen.
About four years ago, I said hello to a girl on the train. This summer, I’m marrying her. So, consider me living proof that taking a chance and introducing yourself to someone you want to know can lead to good things.
It’s only the beginning
That’s just the start of a long list of improvements many of us can make in our lives. Sure, looking great is important, but being a great man? Infinitely more so.
In case it’s not obvious, I’m in the same boat as you guys. In fact, you could probably say I wrote this article to myself. I’m still striving to perfect many of these things and plenty other unmentioned improvements. It’s an ongoing process, that’s for sure.
You may have your own priorities, and these may not fit you exactly, but it’s a place to begin and evaluate. How can we be men of distinction, class, and character to those around us? It’s not about money, status, or time. These are things we can improve upon regardless of all that. And when we do, we improve how the world sees us.
Over to you
What other resolutions in this same vein are you adopting this year? How does the above list look to you? Let’s hear it in the comments below; looking forward to reading what you have to say.
A quick, short reminder
K and I are still traveling and visiting family, and we figured some of you may be doing the same… so we decided to extend our holiday sale at Fifth&Brannan until January 7th.
This should give most of you travelers and vacationers enough time to settle back into your routines and check out the new site, maybe pick up a shirt, etc. All shirting is 20% off using code HELLO2013, and orders will ship out January 8.
Take a look here. Thanks in advance for checking out the brand, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.
Till next time!