find your style

How to develop your style – part 2/3 : refining your taste

You now know that developing your style is a journey that can’t be improvised. You can’t let yourself set off on a whim without having any idea, for example, of where you’re going to shop and how much you’re going to spend.

More importantly, before you embark on this quest, you need to forge yourself what will become one of your most indispensable tools: good taste.

—> If you haven’t read the frist part of the style trilogy it’s here: Men’s fashion, how to find your style (1/3)

Having good taste means being able to pick out clothes that are necessary and the best ones; being able to fully appreciate an attractive piece of clothing, and, above all, not getting dressed in whatever, however. In this post, we’re going to look at how to train your eye when it comes to men’s fashion.

All things come to…

The first thing you should know is that refining your taste takes time, a lot of time. You need to be patient and go forward in a progressive manner. Don’t skip any steps, and don’t hope to have an infallible eye after a couple of months. It’s going to take you at least a good year of diligent effort.

Setting out to refine your taste means making an investment – you won’t see results straight away. But, just so we’re clear: it’s an investment that you should enjoy making. If covering miles of ground in search of clothes is going to be a chore for you, or if you hate staying too long in one store because it’s packed, you’re not going to get anywhere. Training your eye should be fun, interesting, and definitely not torturous. If you’re not going to enjoy it, you might as well click away from this post now.

devellop your style men fashion

Having experience (even basic) of attractive clothes

Right. Let us begin by laying forth our first postulate: if, for the majority of you, recognizing a high-quality material is different, that’s essentially because you’ve never seen/touched high-end pieces of clothing. Your points of comparison are therefore ultra limited.

The first piece of advice that I’ll give you is to get out of the house and go in search of small, exclusive outlets. Avoid H&M, Gap, Abercrombie – you’ve been there already. Instead, look for tailors, shops distributing brands that you won’t see elsewhere – it’s here that you have the greatest chance of finding some gems (and getting a good deal).

Also take the opportunity to visit high-end boutiques so that you can touch the materials. If going into a Christian Dior store is too much for you, make do with the men’s fashion department in Barney’s or Bloomingdale’s. Do this often, at least three times per month. When you spend your Saturday afternoon walking anxiously around your local shopping mall, hoping to see more, that’s a (very) good sign…

find your style suit

Developing your curiosity (won’t kill the cat)

When you’re not shopping, always be observing. Look at what exactly the well-dressed men around you are wearing. Look at well-dressed women too – if you don’t already… 😉 This will give you good examples of how to put colors together and an appreciation of the richness of women’s fashion. Look at silhouettes, materials, cuts, details, colors… Observe everything, all the time.

In three words: look, touch, compare. Watch fashion shows if you feel like it, but, at this stage, it’s far from being an obligation, and it might actually confuse you, leading you to believe that fashion is all about weird and wacky clothing combinations.

After a few months on this regime, you might feel the urge to try on a few high-end pieces. Go ahead. But if an attractive item of clothing still intimidates you rather than being irresistibly attractive, you’re not ready yet. That’s okay – don’t force yourself. Everything should flow naturally.

Consider supplementing your style diet with some reading. While flicking through page after page of fashion show photos might be quite frankly unhelpful, you’ll find magazines like Esquire and GQ useful (more for the looks themselves than the style advice, oddly).

Nowadays, there also exists a wealth of information on the internet: Real Men Real Style, EffortlessGent, Image Granted, Put This On, The Style Blogger… Sites like these will help you acquire a whole new intuition (and a feeling of self-confidence when you come up against clothes that cost above the $150 mark). So, study hard.

develop your style

Beware of traps

On every voyage, there are potholes. Make sure you avoid these ones:

  • Being a beginner, you’ll naturally tend towards viewing fashion as a black and white world. It’s attractive or it’s ugly. But try to accept the fact that you won’t always be able to make a definite judgement. And the fact that you won’t always have a clear opinion. Some clothes will do absolutely nothing for you; others will be as appealing as a box of Walmart’s own donuts.
  • There are forums where people spend their lives talking to one another about clothes. Be aware of the insidious influencing that takes place when you consistently ask for other people’s opinions. In real life, there’s more than just raw jeans, shoes with pointed ends and fitted jackets – judge for yourself.
  • Let’s be clear about this: having style yourself does not under any circumstances give you a right to judge those who don’t give a damn about Ozwald Boateng’s fluorescent linings. Just as there are clothes that are made without any consideration for their aesthetics, there are people who view these stitched-up pieces of fabric as purely functional objects. Accept it. This should not be a pretext for mockery or abuse.

find your style 2

—> If you haven’t read the frist part of the style trilogy it’s here: Men’s fashion, how to find your style (1/3)

Good luck on your journey to refined taste. The next part of this trilogy will concern your first purchases… If you have any questions please comment below 🙂

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  • Ahmad

    Hi I just wanted to say I am enjoying this 3 part series and it’s definitely changing the way I look at style. I will no longer spend time visiting trendy stores like H&M, but only classy outlet stores. Looking forward to part 3.

  • Hi Ahmad, thanks a lot for your feedback. Part 3 will be there soon. Nicolas

  • GLR

    Looking forward to part 3 as well. Kinowear has helped me a lot style wise and I’ve progressed nicely lately. But when looking at something in a store how do you know whether you’ll wear it a lot and become “you” or it’ll just sit gathering dust?
    I’m still figuring out my personal style and while some purchases instantely become favorites and worn to death others remain unworn, even if they seem to match my personal style. Why?

  • Hi GLR, cool to hear from you again.

    The situation you’re describing is faced by everyone, I think. As you noted, It can end in two ways only.

    1. You finally start to wear that piece a lot, when you really feel like it. Sometimes it takes me up to 6 months. That’s the best case scenario.

    2. Worst case scenario, you eventualy wear it once or twice and it sits in your wardrobe untouched for months. In that case you loose the money you invested and you should consider selling it back on the Internet.

    Now, how to avoid this second scenario ?

    This happens, obviously, when you bought something you souldn’t have bought.

    What can go wrong and make you think a bad deal is a good one ?

    – the fit is not as good as you thought, you tried it too fast
    – the price was low (-70% = be suspicious)
    – you were buying a few other items at the same time, and thought, “yeah, this one as well”.
    – your relied too much on a brand you know to be amazing

    Have a good day, Nicolas

  • chris

    Question, all of my fashion conscious friends seem to be split over H&M and Zara (I personally have moved away from H&M but Zara has some pieces ive bought that people have asked me if I got them tailored):

    What are the negatives in your opinion with these low-end euro brands? many higher end brands don’t fit me as well :/

  • Hi Chris,

    I’m not sure what you mean, are you asking about the downsides of European brands in terms of fit ? In that case, what it is your morphology type ?

    Or are you asking about the downsides of low-end ready to wear ? In that case, my answer will be simple : It’s the fashion equivalent of junk food. It’s cheap, easy, doesn’t have much personality and is definitely not an investment.


  • Vince

    Great article! One problem for me with avoiding H&M and Zara though: I don’t have enough money to buy my clothes at the classy stores you mention. What to do?

  • Hi Vince, Thanks for your kind words.
    Unless you are in hurry to dress better (new job or something like that), you can easily spend less money if you spend more time looking for good deals.

    Check this post :


  • GLR

    Thank you for such a specific and productive answer!
    Do you think tailoring can recover a piece that has sat unworn for a while or if ou didn’t pick it up, it’ll be a waste of money to tailor it?

  • Hi GLR, you’re welcome, I’m glad I can help.
    I guess it all depends on the piece and how “unfitted” it is. What is the one you’re talking about ?

  • GLR

    I’ve managed to save many pairs of pants from the unworn pile by tailoring them but I’m not so sure about shirts. I feel like if I liked them enough, I would have worn them untailored under something else

  • Indeed, you could wear them underneath a sweater of jacket.
    It’s not as easy to tailor shirt as it is to tailor pants. But you can give a try though. Try reducing the collar width or the fit. If the shoulders are really off, it’s getting very complicated…