Your wardrobe reflects and communicates who you are
Whether we like it or not, our appearance tells others around us who we are and how we expect to be addressed and treated.
Basically, snap decisions about our personality, our habits, even our character, are made about us based on our appearance 1.
Instead of complaining about it or saying how unfair life is, EG readers use it to their advantage and make sure their wardrobe reflects who they are.
We dress well to command respect, project inner confidence, and put our best foot forward. We also dress well to look sharp, feel great about ourselves, and take pride in our appearance.
“It is both delusional and stupid to think that clothes don’t really matter and we should all wear whatever we want. Most people don’t take clothing seriously enough, but whether we should or not, clothes do talk to us and we make decisions based on people’s appearances.”G. Bruce Boyer
Care enough to develop your personal style
Just like anything worthwhile, it takes practice to perfect your own personal style.
If you need a starting point, there is a standard set of clothes most men would benefit from having. On EG, we call this the Lean Wardrobe.
Understanding and applying the Lean Wardrobe is only the first step. To make your style truly personal, you have to add little things that showcase your personality.
Simple additions (like unique accessories and jewelry), or conscious decisions (such as a favorite shirt style or cut of trouser) is a good place to start. You can also adopt and tweak typical style archetypes by adopting parts of the look you love, and simply discarding the rest.
As long as you’re keeping the ratios of the Lean Wardrobe Pyramid in mind, you’ll never have too many experimental pieces, or too few base pieces.
Understand what fits
A $2,000 suit isn’t impressive if it’s ill-fitting. A $200 suit that’s been impeccably altered, however, is ultra impressive. It’s not always about how much you spend; but about the way the garment fits you.
Yes, quality is important. But quality is meaningless if the clothes don’t fit you well.
Understanding fit takes time. You have to try on and wear a lot of clothing. You may buy items that you thought fit well, but realize later on that they don’t. It’s all a part of the learning process.
In general, clothes should lay close to your body, but be comfortable… not overly-tight or restricting. Your clothing should have good shape, accentuating your positive attributes and minimizing your negatives.
Buy fewer, but better-quality garments that you love (and that will last)
EG readers understand quality costs money because of the time and effort it takes to create something of great quality. These items also tend to last longer, so spending more for something durable and longer-lasting is worth it.
Once you’re certain of a style you love, buy the best you can afford. This will vary from person to person, but as EG readers, your goal should be to own a classic wardrobe with high-quality pieces that last years. A timeless wardrobe is an investment.
On a budget, but understand the importance of good quality over cheap goods? Upgrade your closet one piece at a time, and take your time doing so. There is no rush, and you don’t have to purchase a whole new high-quality wardrobe at once.
When you have a better grasp on what you like, what looks good, and what fits best, invest in nice classics of superior quality… stuff you know you’ll wear in ten years, clothes you enjoy wearing every day.
Know the rules, and know how to break them stylishly
The rules of dress help set the stage for newcomers, but once you’ve understood and internalized the rules, there are clever ways to break them to achieve a style and look all your own.
Always be willing to try new things. If you know how your clothing should fit and be worn, experiment with alternatives to see if they suit you better or speak to your style sensibilities.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” Pablo Picasso
One easy way to get started is to add casual elements to your business wardrobe, and vice versa. Blur the lines between casual and formal, so what you wear will be appropriate no matter where you’re headed.
Little eccentricities and the ways in which you choose to wear things create your signature style; they reflect your personality and taste.
Dress with intentionality and purpose
Be deliberate with the way you dress. Your choices should make sense for where you’re headed and who you’ll be with.
You can always look sharp, but looking sharp at a fancy dinner party will be much different than looking sharp on Friday night when you’re out with friends, or at Sunday afternoon brunch with your wife.
Learning when to wear clothing is as important as learning exactly what to wear. The level of formality will always vary, but you’re able to dress well, with purpose, no matter the occasion.