Sure, great style comes in many shapes and forms. But, men, I know that doesn’t help when figuring out how to find your style.
When considering your own personal style, look at your clothing as an extension of yourself. For some, this discernment and level of taste can take years to develop, while others are born with a sense of who they are and how they want to dress. Either way, that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve an admirable look on the fly.
Style, like most things in life, has shortcuts. Our goal here is to give you a starting point for great style. If you’re unsure of an outfit or are pressed for time, you need look no further than these unique and unexpected shortcuts.
I use these tips all the time (especially the first one) whenever I need to run out of the house in a hurry. Let’s jump in.
1. Go for Black: The Best Base for Outfits
A black base is the best way to start dressing well. Most people already have a pair of black pants and a black T-shirt just laying around, and if they fit you well then you are already 75% of the way to a stylish look.
Nobody has ever looked bad in black. Not only does black accentuate your positive body traits, it also slims you down, giving you a more svelte silhouette.
Your jeans can be from Old Navy and your tee from Uniqlo if you’re on a budget, or you can buy jeans from Frame and T-shirts from Margiela if you want to ball out. Either way, the sentiment remains the same: All black is the quickest shortcut to great style.
Once you have the all-black look down, you can start experimenting with good outerwear.
You can opt for a collared shirt, shirt jacket, trucker jacket, bomber, short coat, the list goes on and on. When you have on black as a base, you literally can wear anything you want — black is the truest neutral you can get.
A Quick (Actionable) Example of Pulling off Black As Your Outfit’s Base
When I don’t know what to wear, I usually follow a tried-and-true formula: a pair of straight black jeans from the Gap that I’ve had for a while and look good on my body (other days I opt for a pair of vintage Levi’s 545 jeans), a black Uniqlo Airism T-shirt, and a baseball cap or a beanie depending on the weather.
Then, I’ll throw on one of my best jackets and a pair of clean sneakers and I’m good to go. In the winter, it’s usually a puffer jacket or a fleece, but in the summer I’m going for a lightweight
Add some flare with some sunglasses, maybe a necklace and the
2. Don’t Be Unique: Have a Uniform
I’m usually not the biggest proponent of uniform dressing. I love having an array of outfits for different occasions, and I love clothes way too much to wear the same thing every day.
With that said, a uniform can be great for someone who’s figured out what works for them and what they like, as well as a reliable once-in-a-while fall-back for guys more like me.
A Perfect Uniform Example
It may take some trial and error, but if you can find the right outfit or group of outfits that work day in and day out, you’ll be set.
He doesn’t spend too much time thinking about his outfit because it’s already picked out for him. And guess what? He looks terrific.
He has three pairs of the same jeans. Eight or nine of the same white T-shirt. Two pairs of derbies (one from Dr. Martens, the other from Paraboot), and one leather jacket.
Of course, he has other clothes like shorts and T-shirts for the gym, a winter coat, and some sneakers for when the time is right. But for the most part he sticks to his uniform.
A uniform can simply be an option for the days you need something reliable to fall back on.
Andy Spade’s Daily Uniform
I wrote a piece for the blog Sprezza a few months back about Andy Spade, Kate Spade’s widower and fashion mogul. His daily fit consists of Clarks desert boots, beat up Levi’s 501s, and oxford cloth
He has several variations of each piece and looks sharp and put together every day. Sometimes you wake up in the morning not knowing what to put on. Having a game-tested outfit can be a saving grace.
3. Uniqlo U: A Cheat Code to Modern Fashion
Uniqlo U is a Japanese clothing brand, Uniqlo’s elevated line, designed by Christoph Lemaire. He also founded Lemaire, an upscale, minimalist French fashion house.
Uniqlo’s premium line releases twice a year in spring and fall. It features high-quality clothing with avant-garde styles and silhouettes, all at an affordable price point.
The styles tend to be highly accessible, with jeans for under $50 and tees under $20. What sets these basics apart is the details.
The cuts are a bit more fashion forward than your run-of-the-mill standards. This may give you pause, but remember: “fashion-forward” isn’t bad. Think of these kinds of pieces as the style equivalent of an em dash—attention-grabbing, but most effective when used in moderation.
The pieces come in a brilliant toned down color palette, making it easy to mix and match clothing across the entire collection.
Uniqlo U is arguably the best cheat code in modern fashion. They offer style that punches way above its price point and a wide array of basics you can wear with just about anything.
I swear by the Uniqlo U Airism tees. They’ve quickly become staples in my wardrobe and the only plain T-shirts I own.
If you’re looking for elegant and minimal style, while still being able to save your hard-earned cash, look no further than Uniqlo U.
4. Accessorize: Not Too Much, Not Too Little
I love accessories — I love jewelry, I love
They may also have sentimental value. Perhaps a memento from a favorite concert or a tribute to a beloved locale.
I have souvenir accessories from NBA finals games I’ve attended, concerts I’ve enjoyed, and cities I’ve visited. They’re a great way to tell your personal story.
For that reason, accessorizing is one of the best ways to gain some personal style.
The sunglasses I wear daily came from St. Mark’s Place in the East Village during my first trip to New York City. I wear enamel pins on my hats that I’ve bought at sporting events. Even the watches I own all have their own little backstory.
Accessories are important. They can be the little differentiators that set you apart from everyone else, especially if your outfit is on the minimalist side.
But don’t throw on all of the pieces in your jewelry box in an attempt to achieve a “more is more” approach — believe it or not, it is possible to over-accessorize.
The name of the game is to mix and match your pieces and find what works well for whatever outfit you’ve decided to wear on a particular day.
There’s no exact rule for what crosses the line into “too much,” but I like to keep some guidelines in mind: No more than three chains/necklaces at a time, maybe only wear a ring on one hand, and, this should go without saying, one watch.
5. When in Doubt, Go Vintage
Do you ever look at old photos of stylish, well-dressed people, and think to yourself, “How can I look like them?” Well, I do that often, and it’s one of my secret weapons to stylish outfit building.
Finding inspiration is the first step to achieving the personal style you’re seeking.
For me, that inspiration comes from looking at photos of classic mens’ style icons like Cary Grant, Steve McQueen, and Miles Davis, or contemporaries like Jacob Elordi, Tyler, The Creator, or Brooklyn Beckham.
The most fun part about trying to recreate old outfits is the hunt for vintage gems. Pre-loved and worn in clothing always looks great (and feels incredibly comfortable). Used clothing just has more character than any newly purchased item ever could.
Where To Shop For Vintage
If you pick up a cool vintage piece, chances are you won’t see anybody else wearing it in the wild, adding to your personal flavor.
Items that I like to pick up include used T-shirts, jeans, sweaters, and outerwear. Some of my coolest jackets are used. I have a Professional Bull Riders work jacket that I found on eBay for about $45 and I wear it all the time.
I get compliments whenever I wear it into stores, and I always catch people turning their heads when I’m wearing it in public.
Of course, you can always opt to go “vintage shopping” in your own closet, as well. Unless you throw out all of your old clothes the second they show signs of wear, there’s a good chance you have some older pieces waiting to be rediscovered.
Get ready to dust off of those 501s from 15 years ago, because they may just be the key to a great outfit!
Create Your Own Personal Style
I believe great style can be achieved by anyone with the right guidance and a little patience. There will be days when you need a good outfit and don’t have time to try on eight different variations. That’s where these shortcuts will come in handy.
No one has looked bad in a black T-shirt and black jeans. If you’re into the luxurious minimalist look then run out to your nearest Uniqlo and pick out your favorites from their U line.
If you already have an outfit or two that you know is tried and true, it’ll make a great fallback.
There’s several paths to good style, but these tips are universal and will guarantee you a strong outfit wherever you go. Good luck, gents.