“To each his own!”
You probably heard this saying a few times in the context of men’s fashion. Every man wants to feel confident that they’re looking their best, but most guys are frustrated and confused when it comes to their image.
Men’s style is a vast subject and can be difficult to approach. You can understand everything about male style and elegance in a few weeks, but it can take a whole lifetime to master it in practice.
Given sayings like the one above, it’s no wonder it’s so hard learning how to find your style!
But it’s all about how badly you want it! When you know what you want, and why you can take the steps you need in order to get it.
In this article, we are going to cover men’s styles and how to develop and evolve your own personal style. Let’s go!
What Influences Your Personal Style
Upbringing plays a big part in our mindset towards style. This is something your parents give you. When you grow up in a deprived area, appearance isn’t a priority. Having a roof over your head, food on the table, and clothes to protect you from the cold are; style becomes an afterthought.
In my case, I was always attracted to men’s style, despite my family’s lack of interest. But when you grow up in a dodgy apartment block in the Parisian suburbs, you don’t always know what fashion sense really is.
Day-by-day, as I learned more about personal style and what affected it, a change began developing slowly inside me. All I needed now was for the penny to drop to release me. The first revelation came when I hit 30. One day, I said to myself, “Good grief! I’m 30 and I dress like a student! I’m a man now…time to dress like one!” Thus began my long journey into fashion.
Men’s Fashion as an Afterthought
If you’re like me, you also developed an interest in your personal style very late in life. While girls were learning the ins and outs of optimizing their appearance, men are more preoccupied with sports and video games. Men’s fashion and style have always been on the backburner.
Women have been modeling after the best for decades, and that’s why they are so far ahead of us when it comes to personal style. They are constantly learning from pictures they see in magazines, their favorite celebrities, and even other women who catch their attention.
In contrast, the press’ coverage of men’s personal style is either very technical and specialized (streetwear, suits, watches, designers) – which is fascinating but pointless most of the time – or very general and obscure. Darn it! You can’t help but wonder if they’re not doing this on purpose.
To find your personal style, keep in mind: having style isn’t just about what you wear. Your personal style reflects your background, your culture, and, above all, your budget. It’s not about finding that one piece of clothing that will make you the coolest guy at the party.
Is There One "Correct" Approach to Personal Style?
If you were once like me, you are probably thinking: yes, there is! There is only one way to dress well! But that’s not true.
There isn’t just one correct style, there are many styles. And in this constellation of styles, there’s only one that interests you (that we want to discuss): your own personal style. If any universal truth exists in terms of men’s fashion then it’s this:
It’s about finding what suits you.
When we have a fashion consult, this is always the first thing we aim to establish with a client. Possessing a personal style ultimately means you’ve figured out what suits you.
So where do you start? No worries, that’s why we’re here. Now that you better understand men’s fashion and style, let’s get started learning how to find your personal style.
How to Find Your Personal Style
Learning is key here. It involves observation, modeling, trying it out, and making mistakes along the way. Consider supplementing your style diet with some reading. Pick up fashion magazines, fashion books, and browse the internet and Instagram.
While while some resources will be more helpful than others, you’ll start to get a sense of the different men’s styles out there and what style really resonates with you. Magazines like Esquire and GQ are a useful place to start (more for the pictures than the style advice, oddly enough).
There’s also a wealth of information on social media, especially Instagram. Browsing different accounts (like the Kinowear account) will give you a sense of what’s trending and what people consider good style.
You want to find your personal style, but you also want to learn what is considered stylish for the place and times you’re living in.
How to Observe Others
Whenever you’re out, always observe the fashion and demeanor of others. Look at what the well-dressed men around you are wearing. Look at well-dressed women, too (but if you’re like most guys, you are already).
Whenever you’re out and you see a stylish guy or gal, always ask yourself:
- What about their image makes them attractive?
- Is it their hairstyle?
- The fit of their clothing?
- Could it be their shoes?
- The way they used color in the outfit?
- The way they put together a complete outfit?
Stylish women are often excellent examples of how to put colors together and you can gain an appreciation of the richness in their fashion. Pay special attention to silhouettes, materials, cuts, details, and colors.
Conversely, if something looks “off” on someone or they simply look horrible, always ask yourself:
- What makes them look bad?
- How could they improve?
- What would I do differently?
Try going out to observe everyone’s outfits for at least an hour a week. The goal is to understand the styles of your environment and judge whether it’s something to emulate in your own style. Simply turning your attention to these things, along with asking yourself these questions, will do wonders towards discovering your sense of style.
How to Model Others and Find Inspiration
Modeling someone means observing their style and demeanor.
- How do they dress?
- Do they wear similar style clothes or mix things up a lot?
- What do they do with color?
- How do they carry themselves?
Start with those you feel are dressed the best, or popular male celebrities. While this may sound counter-intuitive to finding your own personal style, it’s actually one of the most effective ways to find inspiration and build upon it.
Check out the following pictures of Jude Law and Keanu Reeves. Law’s suit makes him appear dapper and put together. Meanwhile, Reeves’ leather jacket gives off the aura of a sexy, bad boy.
The best way to start learning something is to imitate those who are masters of their craft. For example, if you want to learn how to build your body, you would feel most confident learning from a trainer who has the body type you desire. The same applies in order to find your personal style.
If you don’t have one already, I highly recommend getting a subscription to a men’s style magazine like GQ or Details, even if it’s just for the images. Don’t forget to look at the ads too! The models in the advertisements are dressed by stylists, and if you look closely at the details of the way they are dressed, you’ll start to see patterns.
You’ll build your sense for what goes well together, why it does, and also get lots of ideas to add to your wardrobe. As you get better at observing, you’ll improve your ability to recognize stylish details. For example, a pocket square always gives a blazer that sartorial flair that is both classic and powerful. You may also notice that a man’s grooming and hairstyle are just as important as what he’s wearing.
You can also follow social media accounts of stylish people or celebrities. I’ve always enjoyed following famous actors. They’re often setting new trends and have a lot of leeway to experiment with style. But keep in mind that just because they are famous or popular, doesn’t necessarily mean they are stylish. Ask yourself the observational questions we learned to decide if their style is something you’d want to emulate.
One of the easiest places to find personal style inspiration is online lookbooks. Some that we personally recommend are http://lookbook.nu/ and http://droptokyo.com/street/. These sites are also excellent if you don’t find the style in your neighborhood to your liking.
Another way to find inspiration is to Google search the topic “what are you wearing today?” You’ll find tons of great resources and new style and fashion trends doing this.
Men’s Style Binder
Once you’ve got a good number of sources that you like, it’s time to build a style binder. Cut out all the magazine images of clothing and outfits that you like and print out other images that you like. Collect them all in a binder so you can easily reference them.
Personally, I save everything I like in plastic sheets in a three-ring binder, I find this the easiest for me to reference and compare with my wardrobe. If you prefer, a folder on your computer can work as well. The goal is to have a ready resource of wardrobe inspiration to look at any time you want.
As you go through your collection of style inspiration, ask yourself questions like:
- “What’s the most attractive part of this outfit?”
- “Do I currently have similar pieces in my wardrobe?”
- “Can I incorporate any part of this ensemble into my existing wardrobe?”
- “What details make a huge difference?’
- “What color combinations are they using that my wardrobe is missing?”
Refer to this binder or computer folder often for inspiration when making a shopping list. It’ll make shopping for clothes a lot faster and straightforward when you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Shopping for Your Personal Style
Time to hit the shops and find the fashion you’re after. Try on different styles, cuts, and colors to see what best suits you. Try to take a picture (or better yet, video!) of you wearing the clothes you like. This will give you a sense of how others will see you.
You should already have a general idea of what you’re looking for if you’ve followed our advice till now. The goal is to build out your basic wardrobe, so use your reference binder and shopping list to decide what you should wear.
The first piece of advice that I’ll give you is to avoid H&M, Gap, Abercrombie, etc. – you’ve been there and probably done plenty of that already. In fact, it may be time to get rid of those items in your closet.
Instead, search for exclusive outlets and boutiques. Look for tailors and shops distributing brands that you won’t see elsewhere – these places have the greatest chance of holding some hidden gems (and you might get a good deal too). Additionally, you may find some unbranded, handmade trends in classic materials like leather.
Also, take the opportunity to visit high-end boutiques so that you can touch the pieces and try items on for fit. You want to get a sense of what high-quality fashion and materials are like. That way it’s easier to recognize quality items at cheaper establishments.
If going into a Christian Dior store is too much for you, make do with the men’s department at Barney’s or Bloomingdale’s. Don’t worry if you can’t afford these pieces, the goal is to find what suits you and get a sense of your personal style.
No single item of your outfit determines whether you’re well-dressed or not. It’s the item’s coherence with your personality and the elegance with which you manage to give it your own flavor, drawing on your culture and your story.
If you find pieces of clothing that speak to you and align with your personal style goals and budget, make the purchase. Keep in mind that you do not have to purchase your entire wardrobe in one go-round if you aren’t truly in love with all the styles.
Just as limited-time sales are made to trigger a desire to buy, so too are flashy details on the products and accessories of some luxury brands. Buy the pieces and outfits that are what you want, not what you think others want. So what is your budget?
How Much Does Good Style Cost?
When you’ve found a style that suits you, there’s no price tag that can really be attached to it. It depends on your lifestyle and situation. With that said, there’s no reason good personal style has to break the bank.
We all know that money is a huge obstacle, and that spending money on a new style or wardrobe is viewed as a “waste” for a lot of people. While you can purchase discounted luxury items, that alone won’t make you stylish.
The most common mistake people make is wearing that Armani jacket you bought at a hella discount with a pair of off-the-rack Wal-Mart jeans, probably faded with some Tide detergent. This can make your jacket look like an item from a thrift store.
Mixing pieces of dramatically different quality will ensure that things turn bad as quickly as a jar of mayonnaise left out of the fridge overnight. It’s a question of a lack of coherence than a lack of taste. You wouldn’t eat caviar with Coke Lite, so why mix and match your wardrobe in the same manner?
In terms of clothing quality, it roughly falls within the following price ranges:
- button-down shirt: $120 – $200
- jeans: $150 – $350
- jacket: $250 – $800
- coat: $550 – $1,200
- casual shoes: $250 – $550
- t-shirt: $10 – $70
- sweater: $70 – $200
This should give you an idea of how much good-quality pieces of clothing cost. It’s only a rough guide, but there are some items that you can’t “cheat” on in terms of how much you spend. These include shoes, jackets, and coats.
There are a ton of choices available these days, so learning to recognize quality is important for finding a good deal. Prices also depend on the hype and exclusivity of the brand. But by all means, if you find good deals on designer items you love, snag them! Just remember that outfits and accessories will change as your style evolves.
Evolving Your Style
The more you learn, the more your style and taste will become refined. You’re closer and closer to finding the perfect personal style for you.
The first thing you should know is that refining your taste takes time… A lot of time.
You need to be patient and move forward progressively. You never “reach” the finish line with personal style because, like many things in life, your personal style and fashion sense is always evolving.
Developing your style means making an investment – an ongoing investment. Just so we’re clear: it’s an investment that you should enjoy making. In time, you will develop an eye for the cuts, colors, and materials that work for you.
So What Is The "Best" Style for Men?
We hope it’s obvious by now, but the best style is one that suits your personality and portrays you in the best light. It might play on your adventurous side; accentuate your classic appeal; or highlight your classy refinement. You’ll find that fashion is not lacking in ways to convey your character. That’s part of what makes it such a rich form of expression.
Finding your personal style boils down to understanding your personality; keeping in mind that presentation is key; setting attainable goals; achieving said goals one at a time; and investing in continuous evolution.
Start right now. What image do you want to portray? Is your wardrobe depicting you as the cool, confident guy with tons of friends who dates supermodels and is amazing in bed? Or, does it say something not-so-appealing like you’re sloppy and disorganized?
It’s never too late to improve. Share your discoveries about your personal style with us in the comments below!