Welcome again to the Science of Style series! If you haven’t read the brief introduction to what this is all about, read this before you continue.
Caveat: This series will not be about Kinowear telling you what to wear or who to be. That would not help you find your own unique style – it’ll just be Kinowear’s style being projected on you. This series is about guiding you towards fully expressing your best self through the art of style.
This post is going to focus on Stage 1 of the 4 stages model we talked about last week.
Stage 1 is all about getting clear about who you are, what you want to communicate, where you are now, and becoming aware of the changes you need to make to get to where you want to be.
You will be presented with action exercises that will help you build the foundation to your unique and best style. Once you follow through with all the exercises and pass the checklist, you’ll be able to move onto stage 2.
Before we go on, what is your first impression of this guy? What does his image communicate to you?
Jot down your thoughts about his personality – examine the details of his image, and write down the reasons behind your observations.
Within the blink of an eye, this analytical process happens in our brains every time we meet someone. We’re seldom aware of it, but most of our attitude and how we respond to them is result of our gathered assumptions.
I’d say the guy in the photo is pretty stylish in his own way, but it’s just a photo of a model. What’s even better is seeing truly stylish people in the street.
I met a man who was absolutely a master of style at a local Starbucks recently. I kid you not, the moment he walked in, the entire cafe did a double-take.
The first thing I noticed was the intricate tattoo of jet black angel wings on the back of his shaved head!
It wasn’t anything like Mike Tyson’s horrendous tattoo, it was intriguingly attractive on him. As my eyes quickly moved, expecting to see him dressed like a UFC fighter, I was jarred by the sight of a perfectly tailored peak-lapel suit , and when he turned I noticed that tempering the edgy look of the tattoo were a pair of extremely stylish, silver rimmed eyeglasses. He looked super smart and fashionable at the same time. I was very curious as to who he was and what he did.
He busted out his sleek Apple laptop as he sat down, and I noticed a second tattoo of a treble clef on the upper side of his neck. I was curious as to whether he was a music artist or producer.
I was so drawn by his image that I went over to compliment his style and asked him what he did for a living. He smiled a humble smile and told me he was a former drummer of a rock band, and that he was working as a producer for a friend’s band. When I told him that I was in the fashion business, he told me he had his own clothing label that he started with the money he made during his days making music. In that moment, I realized that this man was at a level of mastery with his own style, masterfully communicating who he was with such harmony and congruence.
I mean before I even got to know more about him, he was the most magnetic person in the entire place!
Remember, your image is fully loaded with messages. Everything that is seen with one glance carries a message that makes up your first impression. A message that not only translates into your attractiveness, but who you are inside.
So we kick off this journey with a very important question…
What are YOU saying about yourself?
STAGE 1: Knowing Yourself (and Who You’re Trying to Attract)
It’s important that as a foundation to your best style, you need to know who you are, your core purpose, and the type of people you want to attract or build stronger relationships with.
Stage 1 is a very important foundation to building your unique sense of style. Skipping this first stage is the root cause of many common image mistakes such as being incongruent with your personality, looking try-hard, or merely following trends that come and go.
At first, it’s very hard to avoid incongruity. Naturally, you’re going to come at this from an outside-in approach. We want the fastest visible change possible. We want results now. But to truly have an image that is unique to you, you need to take an inside-out approach and take the time to get clarity on who you are, who you want to become, and what you want to convey to others in the process.
The first Action Step in Stage 1 will help you examine yourself to the core.
This may be a simple exercise for you if you’re naturally introspective, or a bit difficult if it’s your first time asking yourself soul-searching questions. However, these action steps were created and tested with hundreds of clients, and the results were astounding, so I guarantee that if you take the time to do the exercises, it’ll bring you more clarity and understanding about yourself than you probably have in years.
* Action Step #1: “Know Thyself”
Materials needed need for this exercise: Notepad, pen
To complete this exercise more effectively, make sure you’re somewhere where you’ll be free of distractions. You’re going to have to focus on answering yourself some highly valuable questions.
The most stylish guys, and I mean the very upper echelon, the rare few that turn heads on streets, in clubs, at the office, or in the classroom, are the ones who know themselves and decide to project their identity to the world in all their unstifled glory.
This is where we want you. To know yourself so well that your style will become a natural overflow of your grounded personality.
Let’s get started.
~ Your Identity/Roles
Who are you? What roles do you play in your life? In your career?
(with your pen and paper, freely write down everything and anything that comes to your mind)
Example: I’m an adventurous, fun, man on a mission, someone who is going places and has his life balanced, etc.
Roles examples: I’m a musician, artist, a student, a father, a businessman, etc.
Knowing your roles is very important because they make up who you are. It’s what you represent every single day. Knowing exactly what your roles are will give you the ability to dress the part.
(Keep writing until you you have at least 10 things)
~ Your Values
What do you represent? What principles do you live by?
Example: Being adventurous, being open-minded, I value excellence over mediocrity, I value taking smart risks, I value hard work, etc.
(List at least 20 of your values)
What is your vision and purpose for your style? This is where you set your overarching target and the purpose behind your image transformation.
(Write down your where you want to be with your style, and why you want it – make sure it’s emotionally charging – it should connect with genuine reasons you care about)
Examples: Communicating my best self through my image and as a result, being highly charismatic. To have a commanding presence, to display my qualities before I even speak, to define my look, feel great, and enjoy the process, and so on.
Have you written it down?
STOP now, and before you read any further, make sure you answer the questions above.
Once you are clear on who you want to be and what characteristics you want to portray, you can begin to translate all of it into your image.
Okay, you are done with Action Step #1! Go back and do a quick review your answers until you are satisfied. Once you’ve done that, congratulations, now you should take a break and come back for Action Step #2 when you’re ready.
Note: If you haven’t done the exercise because of time or location, schedule it for later and make sure you wait until you’ve gone through the exercise before reading further. If you’re too lazy to do the action steps, well that’s really none of my business, but trust me when I say you’ll be wasting your time reading on. Like the saying goes, “You can’t get something for nothing.”
* Action Step #2: Knowing Your Target Market
Amazing, now that you’re more clear about yourself and the qualities you want to present, let’s really drive it home by specifying the type of people you want to attract into your life.
Note: While some of you reading this may want to focus on your style or image related to your work or career, the majority of guys that I work with want to upgrade their style to improve their social life with women.
This next exercise is especially for the guys looking to improve their image for the purposes of attracting the opposite sex (who isn’t?)
I don’t know, maybe you already have the woman of your dreams, or your goal is not specific towards attracting women (for your career, etc.), if that’s the case, by all means tweak the questions to your liking. The important part is that you think about your target market as you “dress for success.”
The next exercise will focus on getting clear on your ideal woman.
Was the previous action step hard for you? This may be easier for you then, because nine times out of ten, it’s so much easier for a man to describe the type of girl he wants then to talk about what he admires about himself.
This exercise will be very helpful to you because a certain look will appeal to a certain type of woman, and when you’re building your image you should have always keep this woman in mind.
(Get out your pad and pen or open up a word processor) Have you gotten it? Okay good.
So what kind of woman do you want to meet and attract?
List all her physical traits first.
For example you might want her to have perfect teeth that are pearly white, long dark hair, etc.
What are they? Write them all down. Get really specific. Don’t hold back. There are no rules here. Take it to the extreme and get down to the tiny details.
How tall is she? I want a woman who is 5’6
What’s her body type? My ideal woman would have a body like … [favorite female celeb?]
How is her hair styled? Her hair is a little longer than shoulder length and styled in big curls.
Keep writing down every little detail that you want, and don’t hold back:
Her teeth is straight and white, she has a captivating smile, she has perfect skin and does not need to cake her face with makeup, she only wears mascara, etc.
What is an example of an outfit she would wear? (It may be helpful to find a picture of a woman who’s style you really like to help you answer this question)
What would she dress like on a night out with you?
Would she be wearing a dress or is she a jeans type of woman?
Would she be showing lots of skin? How much? (Does she dress more modest or edgy?)
Now it’s time to write down all of the personality traits you want her to have.
What’s her personality like? (make a list)
Great sense of humor
Knows how to have fun
(If you have trouble thinking of these traits, think about any woman you find attractive and pick out the things you like about her)
What It All Means
This exercise is super helpful because you want to display that you have similar values as the type of woman you want. The values from the first exercise should be your foundation, but this second exercise is what will help you generate ideas on how you can express those values.
When it comes to people, like attracts like. If you make an effort to keep white teeth, you’re going to enjoy a woman who has a great smile as well, and vice versa.
It’s about the art of communicating similar values, which is at the heart of attraction. You’ll have a MUCH better chance of sparking instant attraction if you display more of the qualities she values. Make it an aim to be on par with her on all the things you would enjoy from her. She might show her rebellious side by having a tattoo, but you might show that same value with a studded belt. You display the same attitude, but in different ways.
Do you want a woman who works out and has an amazing body? Well she’ll probably want the same in her man, not a slob who doesn’t take care of himself.
Now we’re really starting to build the foundation of your style. You should be starting to get a good idea of what type of image you want to carry. If you don’t, no worries, you’re going to learn that in the next stages, and what will be great is that you’ll have all these answers at hand later on to look back on.
Now that you’ve done 2 action steps to help you get clear on how you want to express yourself from the inside-out, the next 2 action steps will focus on assessing how well you’re actually doing right now in accordance with your values and ideals.
In other words, we’ll see how well your outside actually matches with the inside through image awareness.
* Action Step #3: Image Awareness
As an image consultant, I’ve seen so many clients gain massive eye-opening awareness through this ONE simple exercise.
Materials needed: Camera, Pen and paper
We all know that a truly important beginning step towards positive change is always AWARENESS in what you are doing wrong.
For example, you may have some quirks or unattractive mannerisms that you don’t know you are doing like touching your face in a weird way when you talk, or looking down frequently when you’re nervous.
Maybe your pants make you look shorter than you are, or your dress shirts are too baggy and make you look sloppy.
Most of the time we’re totally unaware of the image we’re projecting. If we knew some of the negative things we were communicated to others, we’d immediately want to change them.
So let’s get into the next important action step in Stage 1.
1) If you have a video camera (a webcam or even a camera on your phone will do), record yourself talking about your day or how you’re excited to be on your way to a better version of yourself for at least 1 minute.
If you don’t have access to video, that’s okay, take full-body photos of the way you look today.
Style is more than just the clothes on your body, it’s also how you carry yourself. This is why I recommend recording video if you can, because it goes beyond the surface and will help you examine more deeply into how you express yourself overall. You’ll get to see everything that others see.
I’ve learned that many actors know how to present themselves well because they consistently watch themselves through recorded videos. This automatically gets them in tune with how they express themselves and the way that it looks to other people.
In order to reach mastery later on, you want to start going deeper than surface level fashion and make sure you look at “style” as the complete expression of who you are.
Another reason why taking video of yourself is great is because it can be watched over and over again. You might notice something new each time you watch.
When you see yourself on video, it shatters all these delusional beliefs that you have of yourself, and you’re faced with reality. Then all you’re left is a clear path to what you have to change.
2) Watch your video or look through your photos (trust me, it’s going to be eye-opening for you).
3) Take notes on the way you talk, your facial expressions, the way you’re groomed, and dressed. (What do you think you communicate?)
Write down on a piece of paper all the assumptions you would make as if you were looking at a stranger.
This exercise is going to be the springboard for your greatest improvements.
Done? Okay, onto the last and finale Action Step…
Action Step #4: Image Feedback Survey
Okay, so you’re done with Action Step #3, great! I bet at this point you’re ready to make some serious upgrades. But, we’re going to take it a little bit further with one more exercise. You may have been biased from the last exercise to save yourself the pain.
You need to get some direct feedback from others.
What kind of image are you really projecting?
This is an area that is almost impossible to be aware of without the proper feedback. Perhaps you break eye contact every time you talk to someone new or there’s that weird thing you do with your hands when you’re talking. Your weird mannerisms and behavior make an impression on people – probably an impression you don’t want to be making.
The best way to fix these areas is to first bring awareness to them through constructive feedback. Ask a few friends if you have any weird or funny mannerisms. Next time you’re out with friends, bring it up as a conversation topic – it’ll be fun bringing up everyone’s strange mannerisms – just be nice about it.
All you have to do for this exercise is send this pre-made survey to as many of your friends as possible, as well as some good acquaintances. Try to send it to more women than men. Tell them to be honest and not hold anything back. If they ask, tell them it’s an assignment you’re doing for a special project.
Just copy paste, and e-mail it!
Subject: “Image Feedback Survey”
I would love your feedback on the following questions, and please be completely honest!
Describe your first impression of me in one or two sentences:
What are three words that you believe describe my personality?
What are three words that you believe describe my image/appearance?
What are three words that you believe describe the way that I dress?
What are three attractive qualities about me?
What are three unattractive qualities about me?
If any, what are three unattractive mannerisms or quirks that you notice about me?
And lastly, for fun, if I was a stranger that you saw on the street, which of the following might be your assumption?
1. Most likely is with someone
2. Most likely single
3. Most likely very popular with women
Feel free to edit as you want. The first time I sent this to friends of mine, I was shocked at some of the things they were saying. It brought a lot of awareness to things that I was projecting with my image that I didn’t want to be.
Once you get your feedback survey back from your friends, enjoy reading all the comments they made. Try not to take things too personally, and save this for future reference. Later on, after you’ve worked on some changes, you can send out this survey again.
So how do you know when you’re ready for Stage 2?
( ) You’ve completed all the exercises in this stage
( ) You are clear on who you are and how you want to express yourself, as well as the “flaws” you want to change
( ) You are aware of the image you project (i.e. impression that you make, quirks and mannerisms, personality)
If you’ve really done all the action exercises, I’m very excited for you in the next coming weeks as you continue to read this series and get SUPER clear on your BEST style.
If you haven’t subscribed to our rss feed yet, enter your e-mail here, or become a fan of our Facebook page here! Also, make sure to share this special series with your friends so you can share feedback and enjoy watching their style develop as well!
If you’re ready for the next step, check out “Stage 2 – Modeling” of the Science of Style series.
I am excited to see you are publishing again. I have completed all the steps and cannot wait for the next article. I really love what you are doing. Keep up the excellent work!
Awesome series you’ve got going on, and I’m glad you’re posting again!! Keep up the great work man.
Rock on! keep posting JAe, very inspiring, can’t wait for the next articles..
Great article Jae,
I’m thinking about posting my results side-by-side with our blog. Or maybe on here – what do you think?
These exercises are amazing. The image feedback one is especially helpful and eye-opening. It’s amazing the common feedback I got from my friends…stuff I was completely ignorant of and would have been if not for the exercise. Now I know…
I stopped reading after the first question because I emailed one of my best friends. I thought that this is something we could both benefit from, and thought we could do it together. It’s a way of keeping us both honest and hopefully prevent us from bullshitting ourselves (something I am prone to do from time to time).
Having been through therapy, I know that this is an important step for anyone to consider. We must figure out who we really are before we can accomplish anything, and it’s really the best way to move forward. Taking a hard look at ourselves isn’t always easy, but it’s essential, so thanks for writing up the hard questions.
Thanks for the great value here! I’ve been working on my style for several years and developed strong instincts, but I found these exercises very useful. Especially the survey, which I’ve been meaning to do in my own way but haven’t found a method.
Keep up the phenomenal work!
Wow, very eye opening.
Thank you so much for bringing it back.
Very good post! The feedback is a nice idea and I got lot’s of statements from my friends.
Now I will read the next part.
I love this blog but not this post.
The first time I read it I thought what a load of nonsense. Then I decided to go back over it and give it a chance, I got as far as writing Roles. That’s it.
These are odd exercises and I don’t feel the first two are useful at all, how does a list of adjectives help you choose clothes that suit you?!
And I don’t know maybe you’re all American but here in the North of England an image feedback survey would just be laughed at. You’d be labelled for life just for discussing it.
I always thought of myself have a good taste of fashion. But now, after reading the stage 1, I realized that I am just started. Dammmmmmmmmm, this site is good
Great article! A lot of the things discussed in this article are things I teach my clients and I love the little survey form!
Nice article. Breaking it down to 4 stages hits the nail right on the head.
Besides that, I think that the first impression is a very important point, in real life as well as on the internet, such as Online-Dating.
Here’s a tip I discovered myself for anyone who’s wants a quick way to improve the way they carry themselves:
When you own something you behave differently about that thing than if it was not yours. When you hold it you do so more casually and more confidently. So here’s the tip, the next time you are standing around awkwardly or just trying not to look like you are nervous, make yourself believe that you own the ground you are standing on. That piece of ground is your property and you can be more relaxed and more confident for knowing that.
This series is great for everyone! I’ve just now learned to step away from fashion and develop my own style and this was incredibly helpful.
I have posted a similar, much shorter version for women in my website. Thank you so much for giving away these wonderful tips!
Glad you found it helpful Bea!
Many thanks for post. It’s a cadamic course I highly appreciate .I come to realize,through readindg your essay ,that Style is an expression of uniqueness each person represnts.
LOVE this. Thank you! Confidence is huge.