Many great minds have shared their two cents on menswear, fashion, and style.

Whether these visionaries have led by example or spoken about style, there’s one common denominator: their insight is timeless.

Whether we’re looking at style staples from a century ago or trends today, these six menswear quotes are ubiquitous and meaningful.

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” —Bill Cunningham

Unless you’re outfitted with an outrageous hairstyle or something else eye-catching, your outfit is the first thing that people notice about you.

Your outfit is like armor.

Six Historic Menswear Quotes Still Meaningful Today
  • Put together and crafted well, it’ll bode well with first impressions.
  • Weaknesses lead to vulnerabilities that people can comment on or attack.

A stain on your pants, a wrinkled shirt, or an accessory that doesn’t work are all examples of weakness in an outfit.

Minimize the weakness by maximizing the care you put into getting dressed each day.

If you look good, you feel good. And if you dress with confidence, you are confident.

Dress as the person you want to be. Don’t get caught in the rut of a monotonous routine. Get out there and have some fun.

You can choose to hide behind fashion. Or you can use it as a platform to build your confidence and style. Every morning when you get dressed, you choose how to wear your armor.

Take it from Bill Cunningham, the legendary New York Times fashion photographer who was on the front lines of the fashion industry and street style for most of his career.

“Fashions fade, style is eternal.” —Yves Saint Laurent

If you care about menswear and the way you look, you know trends come and go constantly.

Are you one of those voracious readers of and strict followers of the looks in lifestyle magazines? Or have you just been wearing the same clothes for years on end?

In our list of menswear quotes, this one by Yves Saint Laurent expresses how trends come and go, but the masterminds behind them are crafting true style.

Face it, fashions fade quickly. Your ability (or lack thereof) to incorporate trends into your daily wears can make or break your sense of style.

Simply put, if you wear certain trendy clothes in the right way, it’s going to be evident that you have style.  But if you just buy all of the latest trends and throw them on in a desperate attempt to show that you have style, it will come off as you trying too hard.

Avoid jumping in with both feet. Be bold — in moderation — by incorporating trends slowly. 

Use your gut to figure out what looks good and what doesn’t look good. Remember that menswear is not one-size-fits-all — what works for you might not work for someone else.

Don’t feel 100% when you look in the mirror? Didn’t fall in love with a pair of shoes that you tried on in the store? Forget them. Try something else. Take the fashions as they come , but never compromise your own sense of style.

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” – Orson Welles

Orson Welles, the prolific actor and director, might be the epitome of beating to his own drum and not giving a damn. A gifted talent plagued by overindulgence, he truly didn’t care what people thought of him.

His characterization of style is spot on and perfectly aligned with the ethos of being a gentleman in today’s world. Remember, that fashion is ubiquitous, but style — your individualistic way to present yourself to the world — is unique.

Find a style that works for you and makes you feel comfortable. Taking that concept into manicuring a lean wardrobe is the key to success.

A true testament to someone’s style is if their outfit was spontaneously thrown together, yet they still look like they could be on the cover of a magazine.

They key is confidence. Don’t be insecure or embarrassed – wear your choices proudly.

You’re not a supermodel or the face of Hollywood. You’re an average gentleman who likes to dress well. So what? Accept reality and boldly make it your own.

If you want to rule the conference room at your next client meeting, wear something that expresses that attitude. And wear it with confidence.

“A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.” – Hardy Amies

This relates well to the last of our menswear quotes from Orson Welles. It implies that style becomes an intrinsic part of your personality. And that it becomes effortless after good practice.

It’s a quote that exemplifies the notion that you shouldn’t just buy your clothes just to buy them, but rather you buy them for a specific purpose. You purchase, own, and put them on for a good reason.

  • You wear a jacket because it’s cold out.
  • You put on dress shoes because you’re going somewhere nice.
  • You iron your shirt because you want to look crisp and put-together.

Take it a step further. Follow this routine no matter what the occasion. Eventually, dressing with style will become the norm.

If you typically dress below the radar and suddenly dress in a well-put together outfit, you’re going to turn heads and be noticed.

An easy way to always ensure you’ve got a great outfit is nailing the fit of your clothing. Once you find the right fit for your body type, any outfit that you put on will look that much better.

As you look in the mirror before you leave the house, decide that it will be the last mirror you look in for the rest of the day. Trust your judgement and own your choices.  

Any doubts that you might have about your outfit will be noticeable to other people. Consider doubt an undesirable accessory. Dress with care, wear the outfit, and let the rest of your day fall into place.

“Looking good isn’t self-importance; it’s self-respect.” – Charles Hix

If a wedding has a dress code, such as black tie or black tie optional, you dress in that attire out of respect for the couple and their families.

If you respect yourself and your future, you’ll take that same approach to how you dress on a daily basis.

Dressing well can lead to important conversations, life-changing interviews, and endless possibilities.

Six Historic Menswear Quotes Still Meaningful Today

When you dress well, you have a higher likelihood of catching someone’s attention (for the right reasons) rather than just being someone who blends in with the crowd. You’ll never know what might happen throughout the course of the day if you don’t put yourself out there.

What if your future partner, future employer, or future best friend simply doesn’t notice you because you aren’t dressing with style?

What if instead of wearing a crisp button-up with a tailored blazer, you decide to wear an oversized sweatshirt and look like an average joe?

You owe it to your future and your hard-working self. Respect yourself by looking good and putting in that extra effort — the possibilities are endless.

People can have a negative view of fashion and looking your best. They think it’s all about feeling important and showing off. But that notion should be smashed.

If you go to the gym everyday and work hard to keep up your physical appearance, you deserve to wear clothes that compliment your body type.

If you take the extra time in a clothing store to carefully craft a look, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t show that off.

Don’t be stagnant in your approach to looking your best. Get out there and have some fun with it.

“Elegance is not standing out, but being remembered.” -Giorgio Armani

Elegance stands out in today’s society simply because the world is shifting toward a more casual lifestyle. Office dress codes are becoming more lax, jeans are seen as a step above casual, and more emphasis is being placed on comfort and finding the perfect synthesis of comfort and fashion.

It feels as though when people first hear the word “elegance,” they think of the early 20th century. Monocles and fancy ball gowns come to mind – really superficial, upper-class stuff.

Six Historic Menswear Quotes Still Meaningful Today

Today’s definition of elegance can meander along the lines of dressing sharp, acting courteous, and carrying oneself with a hint of sophistication.

Sure, the casual lifestyle of today’s culture might consider elegance an outlier. But being remembered has more of a positive connotation than simply standing out.

If I had control over other people’s perception of me, I would choose to be remembered rather than to stand out — no matter what the occasion.

Standing out might morph into being remembered, but for the wrong reasons. I would much rather be remembered for how engaged in a conversation I was, how polite I was, and how respectful I carried myself — rather than standing out for dressing to the nines, but making a complete fool of myself.

Elegance is the quality of carrying yourself with grace in appearance or in style. Be a gentleman by not just dressing elegantly, but acting the part too.

Make Menswear Work for You

Take these menswear quotes with a grain of salt. You don’t have to completely adopt them and all they suggest. Take what interests you and be unique with it.

While many things in the menswear industry are temporary, style will always be paramount. Know who you are and what you want to say with the way you dress.

Be elegant, be memorable. Respect yourself by dressing with intelligence and suiting up in your stylish armor. And never forget that your sense of style is one of the only things in your life that is eternal.

Which of these menswear quotes is your favorite? How do you apply them in your personal style?

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10 Responses

  1. JayH on

    My favourite is from Henry David Thoreau: “I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” I believe in making good use of the clothes I already love by wearing them in thrillingly new contexts and combinations. Dressing fabulously has to be about something other than shopping.

    Reply
    • Barron on

      Sure, that’s true, but what if you don’t have good clothes to start with? We’re all about a lean wardrobe here at EG, but you have to acquire it first 🙂

      Reply
      • JayH on

        I’m new here and don’t know what the hive mind is “all about,” but lean is a great buzzword, I guess. Good for you, Barron. Thanks for the comment.

        Reply
  2. Chris on

    Do kow where I read it but my favourite quote is “True style is classic, slightly understated and never dates.”

    Reply
  3. Brandon on

    I think I like the YSL quote the best. It’s one of those quotes from an authority in a genre that extends past that genre itself. “Fashions” in many areas of life will come and go, but someone’s “style” (i.e. principles, convictions, personality, etc.) is eternal.

    Reply

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