How the 80/20 Rule Applies to Style

So lately I’ve applying the 80/20 rule to all areas of my life to maximize output while minimizing the time and energy I spend.

I used to spend 80% of my efforts doing the things that brought only 20% of what I wanted. There was a lot of activity going on, but not a lot of results.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the 80/20 rule (also referred to as Pareto’s Principle), it states that for many things 80% of the effects come from the 20% of the causes.

While this obviously isn’t an absolute rule, it’s a great rule of thumb for me to focus on the key actions that will drive my most desired outcomes.

How this Rule Applies To Style

I want to share with you guys how you can use this principle to stay fly with little effort.

You really don’t have to break the bank or spend a lot of time to look good. All you have to focus on is the important 20% that is going to take care of 80% of your swagger.

Here’s a quick list of things you can apply right away:

1. “Damn, you clean up real good”

80% of our bodies are covered with clothing, but the 20% that’s not can make or break you. I suggest focusing on grooming needs before your wardrobe list.

Keep your teeth clean at all times and carry mints. Your brand new $1500 suit won’t mean much if your breath is reeking of your last lunch.

You should have a high quality tweezer, nose and ear hair trimmer, shaving tools, or a  beard trimmer if you have a beard. There is nothing that says “clean-cut” more than having your facial hair detailed.

Your nails should always be trim and free of dirt. Nails are one of those details that takes very little effort to maintain, but can make a terrible impression with your date if they’re unkempt.

Do all this and treat yourself to a quality haircut at a reputable salon. I’ve seen people go from average cube worker to total wall-breaking stud after a high-end cut.

It only requires a few hours of your time to undergo a major grooming overhaul. It takes little effort to order these online or grab them at your local store, and once you have the right tools, it’ll just be a matter of creating a ritual of maintaining your grooming for a few minutes every day.

2. Women love shoes, shoes, and more shoes

Recently I took a quick glance at all the shoes in my closet. I instantly threw out the ones I didn’t wear anymore, cleaned off the ones that had dirt on them, and made a quick list of shoes I needed for the new season. This took me all of fifteen minutes.

Wearing my freshly cleaned shoes got immediate compliments from friends: “Did you get new shoes? Those are really nice,” and “You’re always so stylish, love your shoes.”

I’ve mentioned this many times on this blog, but I’ll say it again. The easiest way to set yourself apart as a stylish guy is through your shoes. Invest in a great pair of shoes and keep them super clean. It’s what 90% of guys out there neglect, so wouldn’t it be smart for us to capitalize on this?

We cover how to buy the right shoes inside the Kinowear Bible.

3. Last thing on, first thing noticed

The weather is getting colder by the minute, at least here in New York. This means, first impressions will often be made while wearing a jacket.

So if you need to do some shopping, spend your time and money wisely by searching for this season’s jacket before anything else.

The last thing on, is the first thing noticed.

4. Spruce it up with the right accessories

Barely anybody will notice if you wear the same combination of dress shirt, tie, pants or jeans – if you’re always switching up your accessories.

Accessories are cheaper than shirts, pants, and outwear so this is a good way to maximize your outfit combos with little effort.

For example, instead of buying a bunch of new clothing, you can first buy 5 – 7 bold/colorful scarves or different hats to rotate with your every day outfits.

5. Focus on the system before the input

We usually wear 20% of our favorite outfits 80% of the time. I suggest going through your closet and really eliminating all the things you don’t wear anymore. There is no point in having these items take up your closet space.

Make way for the 20% that really matter and store away the clothes you won’t wear this season.

Doing this has loads of other benefits, i.e., finding old favorite clothes, creating a list of specific things you need to shop for (without accidentally buying things you already own), ease when grabbing outfits to wear, and preventative measures against lost clothes and frustrating moments of not being able to find something to wear.

Not only will it be super easy to grab your favorite outfits from your closet, but you’ll be more inclined to actually hang your clothes back in the closet instead of throwing them somewhere else.


80% of you guys reading this will most likely retain only 20% of this information, which is why I won’t make this article any longer.

But focus on these key elements of your style and you’ll be using your time, money, and energy very wisely. Then once these things become second nature to you, take it above and beyond if you wish by adding a bit more effort.

Then, you’ll be a class of your own.

Until next time,


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  • Jonas says:

    Yes, it’s amazing what a little cologne and super nice shoes can do for you sometimes. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference.

  • Rick says:

    Great stuff!!! really like reading all your articles…

    Need to add a one line as my suggestion that if you can share experience with your own collection type and what should do and do not work and so on… this will help lazy guys like me to do a right shopping 🙂

  • Cody says:

    I like this article a lot. The 80-20 rule is something I’ve been applying to my work life for awhile now. Honestly, I can’t put a number on how effectively it’s helped my productivity and progress.

    Brian Tracy talks about it in “Eat the Frog” and I think Tim Ferriss mentions in his book as well. It’s awesome to see that you’re bringing it to your audience in this form. It’s not often that you see an image consultant talking about stuff like this. Love it!

  • Erica says:

    all I have to say is YES to the shoes

  • Mo Magic says:

    Hello Jae

    Another fantastic article 🙂

    Keep up the great work!

  • Thomas R. says:

    excellent article – I love the scarf idea.

  • Alan Cooper says:

    “Keep your teeth clean at all times and carry mints. Your brand new $1500 suit won’t mean much if your breath is reeking of your last lunch.”

    haha! I have a coworker who really needs to read this one.

  • Richard says:

    great post Jae! It’s funny that almost all the areas you mentioned here are the ones I’m neglecting.

  • Paul says:

    short and practical! one little thing I do with colognes that really helps me is that I carry a mini bottles of my favorite in my suitcase. This way, if I’m heading out to happy hour or some party after work on a Friday, I can freshen up on the go. : )

  • Next says:

    To add one more, I think a high quality pair of jeans can really boost your wardrobe. I bought a pair of dark a.p.c. denim and I can’t even say how much taller/slimmer and classier I look than I used to in my baggier jeans.

  • John Br. says:

    well done ~ love your articles Jae – you bring the most interesting twists to style.

  • Dalooo says:

    NICE! – It’s funny because I just read about the 80/20 rule a days ago – perfect timing!

  • Tiffany says:

    Jae you’re my hero ;]

  • Anderson says:

    What do you recommend in terms of facial products? Currently I’m using a lot of Jack Black.

  • Tim says:

    my girlfriend bugs me about my shoes like every day. I guess you’re right…haha

  • Sitta says:

    I just looked through my closet today before reading this article and it was as you said – I don’t wear 80% + of the crap that’s in there. Seeing the clutter actually repulses me every morning and totally affects the way I see my wardrobe. I’m literally going to get a garbage bag today and start fresh minus the 20% that I regularly rock.

  • Phil says:

    I just picked up a whole batch of scarves at Urban Outfitters – they have amazing scarves.

  • Markus says:

    great article – what do you think it’s a good price to pay for a haircut at one of those professional salons? I go to a local barber that charges $15 but the cut is generic and boring.

  • ZK says:

    Hi Jae! been reading your articles for awhile now – absolutely love your articles. I’m really looking forward to your phone consultations!

  • Donnie says:

    Thanks Jae – this is my favorite article after “What Asia Taught Me About Style” : )

  • Pattrik says:

    So I was on the train today when I saw this dude today that looked extremeely stylish save for the white socks! he was wearing with his dress shoes…I was thinking to myself (wtf?) and thought of this article.

  • Kounan says:

    Love that purple scarf in that final pic of Mads – completely makes an otherwise typical look.

  • Ray says:

    Love it Jae! I just bought a peacoat just like that one and it’s definitely one of those 80-20 purchases.

  • Tuma says:

    For accessories, don’t forget wallets and cardholders. My coworker was giving his card to one of his clients and he pulled out the sleekest looking cardholder…You should have seen the look on the clients face.

    It’s moments like that when I get all pumped up about this stuff.

  • NealTse says:

    I love purging. Closet purges clear that dead matter back there, less clutter and more of what you truly love.

  • Infinity says:

    I personally try to focus on maintenance. It is so key that it doesn’t matter what you wear. If you look clearly disheveled and unkempt, it will decrease your attraction.

    Plain and simple.

  • Corey says:

    Very helpful tips,thanks a lot.

  • Hef says:

    Great article as usual Jae. Thanks for sharing. Does anyone have any suggestions for places to buy unique accessories online?

  • Bifurkation says:

    Great article! Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Kush says:

    Where can I find that purple scarf in the Article above? I’ve been looking for one like that for ages!

  • Jacob Scott says:

    Thx! very helpful post!

  • Thanks 🙂
    Please share the love

  • yo mamma says:

    It’s in Mads Mikkelsen’s closet.

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