What do you think about when you hear someone use the word “style”?
Whenever the term “style” is used, it most commonly refers to one’s fashion or outer appearance. But I want to remind you that style is much more than your shoulder length haircut, fashionable coat, or your Ferragamo dress shoes.
Style = Expression
It’s the total combination of the way you dress, talk, move your body, or do anything for that matter. Simply put, it’s how we express our inner being outwardly. This includes all of our thoughts, emotions, interests, and values. Everything on the outside is merely a reflection of what’s on the inside.
A lot of the people think that what I do is just help people upgrade their outer appearance. This is what they think of when they hear “style coach” or “image consultant,” and will come to me for a personal shopping session – wanting mainly to focus on fashion.
Although, I like to think of myself as a “self-expression coach,” because I firmly believe that fashion is just one part of your style.
Most of us aren’t aware of what we’re communicating most of the time - and it’s way beyond our reach to keep track of everything that we’re presenting.
When we do find out through an outside source (usually to our disgust), whether through a close friend or relative, it seems far from the ideal vision that we have of ourselves. This is where a coach can come in and pinpoint all the factors that are contributing to what we don’t want, and how we can fix it.
For example, meet John Smith. He may seem like a nice guy who everyone loves, but when it comes to dating women, he says he just can’t seem to keep a very attractive girl interested in him. What’s causing this? It could be a factor of many things he’s unaware of. The tone of his voice which is seeking validation, the fashion faux pas he’s making through his outfit combination, or some kind of insecurity in him that reveals itself through his mannerisms.
We all have things about ourselves we’d like to change just like John here. Once you identify your unattractive flaws or mannerisms, you’ll have the power to change it.
Some people think that because I’m a style coach I must be an unstoppable force of charisma who looks impeccable all the time (ha).But sometimes I’m at home unshaven and wearing clothes that are more about comfort than fashion. I’m just a guy obsessed with the subject of style, and how we can improve every aspect of ourselves to be more effective in our interpersonal relationships. I love learning and analyzing this stuff, and while obsessively doing so I try to share what I learn because I love helping people more than anything else.
I firmly believe that every man has the capability to be charismatic – being the type of guy that everyone loves and is drawn towards.
So what parts make up your complete “style?”
1. Your Reputation/Branding
Guard your reputation above everything else, because once it’s tainted, it’s very hard to change people’s view of who you are.
For example, if you were introduced to a room full of people as being someone who won a Nobel prize for finding the cure to cancer, and someone who has brought a tremendous amount of medical aid to multiple third world countries, people will trust you more and whatever words you say to them will carry more credibility.
Compare that to me telling the room that you’re a psychopath, who just managed to get out of the county jail for murdering 13 people. You could say the nicest things and everyone will screen them through their current perception of you until you’ve convinced them otherwise.
People will believe anything about you at first, and then they’ll keep their eye on you to see if you’re for real. Then whatever information is consistent with their perception of you will get added to their current picture, whatever is not, will be changed or removed.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean to lie or focus so much on managing people’s perception of you from the outside-in, but whether it’s for business or building relationships, make sure your positives enter the minds of others.
Usually, this is accomplished just by genuinely living it.
2. Clothing/Fashion sense
While what you wear isn’t going to make up your entire impression, it does make up over 80% of your first impression. What you wear is what will kick-start the impression you make on others before you even open your mouth. This is the place from which people will filter everything you say and do.
Just because style = expression doesn’t mean you can wear whatever you want while ignoring the message it’s conveying. There is a “language” that is spoken through specific types of clothing, that you must become familiar with in order to make a more positive influence than a negative one.
For example, picture a man in a well-fitted suit telling you that he runs a multi-national corporation and makes billions of dollars. Then, picture a man in an ill-fitting, dirty outfit telling you the same thing. Which would you believe more?
3. Your Grooming
Your grooming is part of your outer image that people will judge (most of the time subconsciously) to see how well you care for yourself. People tend to associate how well-groomed you are to the level of self-respect you have.
An example of this is the guy who has a fashionable haircut that doesn’t have any stray hairs and is perfectly kempt, verses the guy who has an overdue haircut of a few weeks. Not only does the other man look more important and social, but he carries with him an image of more confidence and power.
We look at women the same way, when we compare a woman with straight silky hair against the woman with nappy hair that looks in need of a good conditioner and wash. I’m not looking down on anyone, but judgments are being made everyday from every single person whether consciously or not. Our brains are wired to make sense of everything around us through our senses, to calculate whether things are healthy or unhealthy, advantageous or harmful, etc.
According to studies at the University of California, 93% of our communication is non-verbal. Imagine asking someone “How are you?” If that person replies “Fine” in a curt manner with a frown on their face, and their arms crossed, are they communicating that they really feel “fine”?
The messages we get across to other people has very little to do with the words that we use.
For example, what’s going to make you seem more like a confident and fun guy at a party? Standing around nursing a beer in your hand, and trying to look cool? Or goofing around, dancing like these guys, not caring what anyone thinks?
Besides body language, the tone, pitch, and volume we use in our voice is all part of non-verbal communication that is really at the heart of the words we use.
A person with a naturally loud voice can appear insensitive and domineering. There may also be insecurity issues at play, where the speakers feels they need to speak loudly to be listened to. A naturally soft-spoken person may be thought to be shy and insecure. They may think that what they have to say is not worth hearing – or at least this is the message that is getting across to others.
I found some funny clips of the show 30 Rock on the internet, which seems like a pretty funny show. Alec Baldwin does some great acting here of different voices and tones. We can tell exactly what kind of character he’s playing each time, even if we close our eyes and just listen to his tonality.
5. Your Lifestyle and Values
The way we live is all dependent on our values. If we value adventure, we may enjoy activities that involve a level of risk and fear such as skydiving, bungee jumping, or riding a roller coaster. On the other hand, if we value security, we may be reluctant to do such activities.
In the past, when I first started on my style journey, I thought that people weren’t smart enough to figure out the real me if I just worked hard to mange their perception of who I am.
I soon realized that no matter how hard you pretend to be something you’re not, people will have enough information to piece together who you really are. No matter what you say, do, or try to orchestrate, something, somewhere, will reveal the truth.
There is no way around this and it’ll cost you less energy to actually work on becoming and being the person you want to be than pretending and trying to do. I’m reminded of a familiar saying that “We’re human beings, not human doings.”
Like in poker, there are always “tells.” Who you are on the inside will always manifest outwardly in some way. Even if you may not realize it, you can’t hide for that long.
Don’t underestimate the perceptiveness of others, if you are trying to be someone you’re not, people will see it clearly soon enough. Even through a tiny action regarding an insignificant thing, such as you holding the door for someone or the way you treat a baby, can tell someone more about you than a whole written autobiography can. There are things that we can’t possible think to manage that will make an impression on the people around us.
This is why it’s so important to work on who you are on the inside just as much as you do outward. This is what true “style” is.
Why Should You Want These Things at Your Best Level?
We all have an ideal vision of who we want to be. Whatever part of us that isn’t matching up to that ideal version of ourselves leaves room for us to grow. Only by being as close to this vision as possible, can we experience ultimate joy and fulfillment in our lives.
Happiness comes from self-esteem, and the better we become the more we like ourselves, affecting our confidence and creating an upward spiral towards limitless potential.
And the key is to continuously work on improving yourself, more than trying to manage the situations around you. You will attract into your life not necessarily what you want, but who you are.
Some Action Steps to Take
Here are some things you can do to set yourself on the path to your best style:
1. Create a folder of yourself and collect all your current pictures. Also, if you have a video camera, film yourself, and keep this file as well. This will give you tons of self-awareness which is the first step towards lasting change.
Do you remember the last time you watched yourself on camera? Were you ever surprised at the sound of your voice? The way you talked? Your facial expressions? Your poor posture? The best path to start your style improvement is to get an outside perspective.
2. Send the pictures you’ve collected to your friends and get some friends to send you some notes about what they would think about this guy if they didn’t know him. Would they think he was successful? Intelligent? Attractive? If you think you can pretend you’re someone else, looking at this guy for the first time, then write down everything you would assume about this guy.
3. Check the notes that you now have, are they in line with what you want to be communicating? Now that you’ve become aware of where you’re standing, decide where you’re going. What kind of person would you like to be? Write down how you want to world to understand you.
Start by surrounding yourself with people who have the values and characteristics you want for yourself, and model after them.
It’s imperative that you choose the people around you carefully, because you will start to become like them. Who we’re around on a consistent bases affects our thoughts, values, habits, and behaviors.
The good news it that these people you surround yourself don’t have to be alive or next to you in person. They can be there through books, tapes, video, etc.
So model after your favorite celebrities, ripped out ads from fashion magazines, or through friends you look up to.
4. Get a coach. A coach will pinpoint where you are and help you create an exact plan for where you want to go. Whatever it’s for (a sport, fashion, body building), a coach will save you a ton of time spent trying to figure out everything yourself.
Style development is parallel to personal development. Who you really are is close to the way the world will perceive you. But personal development is more for yourself, whereas style development is what will help you become more effective in your dealings with other people. Learning more and developing your competence on fashion, attractive body language, and social skills, it’ll result in a more fulfilling relationships with friends, coworkers, and the opposite sex.
What part of your personal style do you think you need to work on most? What next action do you plan on taking towards improvement? Share with us in the comments!
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