Science of Style: Stage 3 – Part 2: Minding the Details

Minding the details is the essence of styling. So if you aspire to become a master of your own style, it’s absolutely imperative you get good at spotting the details in fashion. The more you learn about creatively working the details of any look, the more you’ll appreciate and enjoy the little nuances that create your own unique style.

Not long ago, I worked with a client who before I met was pretty stylish in his own right. He contacted me and was clear from the start the he was very goal-oriented and knew exactly what he wanted in life. He’s a very ambitious entrepreneur who started his own company and is doing pretty well for himself. He told me he had been working on building his style for awhile now, and was happy with his image, but wanted to take it to the next level. I appreciated the way he approached his style development with the same vigor and passion that he seemed to bring to every other area of his life.

I was very interested in seeing the image that he had said to have been creatively working on for years. We first decided to meet up at his place so I could take a look at his wardrobe. When I walked into his living room, he showed me that he had built a habit of collecting inspirational photos from magazines and fashion photos online, a tip he took from reading this blog. I was impressed by all the stylish clothes he had in his closet, which he told me he grown from shopping all around the world as well as thrift stores in the city. He also added he didn’t spend that much money through careful selection. Awesome.

I was beginning to think that he didn’t need my help, but I knew I had to see him in some of his favorite outfits so I could give him direct feedback. He agreed and went into his room to change into one of his favorite outfits. He seemed to have a very good sense of putting together outfits, but he wasn’t fully confident. After a quick glance, I knew exactly what we had to work on in order for him to take his style to the next level. We had to hone in on all the details.

His outfits were great, but with each outfit, one or two tweaks was all it took to reach another level. For example, one of his favorite outfits was a purple polo shirt, a tailored khaki blazer, a pair of tweed shorts, and boat shoes. He looked great, but to make his outfit even better (following his sense of style), I told him to push up his blazer sleeves, add a clean white pocket square, and a braided rope belt that he had inside his closet. It was hilarious watching his eyes get wider as he looked in the mirror, it was like he had an epiphany. He loved it.

We then went to a nearby store and found a pair of brown suede loafers that he loved, and added it to the rest of his outfit. I told him to wear them without socks for a cool laid-back touch and it all came together into one killer outfit.

We went back into his closet and tweaked every single one of his favorite outfits, minding the details and going over how he can take each look to a whole new level of expression – all in ways that he loved. Sometimes it was just adding a tie clip or unique cuff links, other times it was bigger but still subtle things like pairing the right fabrics together, teaching him what colors worked better together, adding or removing a layer, using a special tie or scarf knot, and so on.

It’s hard for me to guide you on how you can mind the details of your own unique image unless I work with you 1-on-1. However, here’s a very useful exercise that I did with my client during our time together that you can do as well to train your eye for details and take your look to the next level like my client.

Action Step: Detail Spotting Blitz

Using the fashion purchased in the earlier exercise, go through and circle with a sharpie all the details that accentuate an outfit. As an exercise, I usually rip out all the ads and then just “blitz” through the pile with my clients, circling every detail that stands out. I also do this at home with my own magazines.

Try to not only spot the clothing and accessories (i.e. scarf, tie clip, pocket square) but how certain pieces are being worn (i.e. ways sleeves are rolled, going sockless, tucked in/tuckedout, color pairing).

Do this for at least 10 images.

Doing this will develop your perception for details in outfits, giving you a better eye when developing your own outfits. You’ll get quicker with each ad, and you’ll be a pro at spotting stylish details in no time.

What you’ll then start noticing is that when you start dressing yourself in the morning, you’ll have a memory bank full of these details that you can access and incorporate into your look.

Do this every time you read a fashion magazine, enjoy it and treat it like a game. Have fun with it.

Trust me, if you make this a habit, and implement these details in your own way, it won’t be long until you become a master of your own style.

Try it today.

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  • Duke King says:

    I totally think that Style will help you attract a women that is right for you. BUT I also believe that it isn’t that everyone should be HAVE to be stylish to pick up the ladies. Here’s where I’m going with this. Suppose you are a redneck living in a trailer park. If you dressed up like Sebastian from cruel intentions you’d get tossed out of the park and beat up in the process. Why? Because you didn’t fit what was stylish for the crowd you were trying to attract. A rocker crowd you might want an awesome “tat” of a guitar and some interesting piercings. But if your looking for a girl in the Hollywood Hills then you would dress like Sebastian from cruel intentions. Just wanted to put that thought out there any see what everyone else has to say.

  • Jae says:

    @ Duke King,

    Hey Duke, thanks for your thoughtful comment. It’s true, you don’t HAVE to be fashionable or “stylish” for any reason other than your own. However, we can’t deny that taking care of your image does benefit you in relationships, whether for business or friendships.

    The history of fashion is tribal. Style and fashion will be different here in America vs. Milan or the far side of India. It’s relative in that way. You are just communicating through your image the things that you want to express or connect with others on. Like everything else in life, it has it’s place and you can enjoy it as it relates to your goals.

  • Edward says:

    It’s sad, but I think that your environment can have negative effects on your style. For instance, I work at a University as a Researcher. All of my colleagues dress like people who never graduated college. They can talk your ear off about complex theories of human psychology, but they can’t seem to dress themselves. Because of this, I find myself “dressing down” to fit in — partially because the “why are you so dressed up” comments NEVER stop. My only recourse is to dress up as much as possible in my free time and head into the nearby metropolitan area to be among other well-dressed individuals. If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend you find a like-minded colleague (as I did at my last position). One person is an aberration, two people just might be a revolution.

  • @Duke King and @Edward

    I think this is all solved by a shift in focus.

    There are 7 billion people in the world, and you can’t please (or attract) all of them.

    It’s important to do Jae’s foundation exercises, get clear on What You Want To Express (whether that’s redneck-style or hollywood-style or a mix or whatever) – and express that through your dress.

    With this easy expression of internal qualities into external dress, you will have successful results Attracting People Who Are Right For You.

    It’s not really about appealing to your environment, or appealing to a specific woman – it’s about Being Yourself.

    At least, that’s my take on it, I’m always open to fresh perspectives.

  • 7000 says:

    Sorry this is an old post now but I was reading the comments and thought I’d chime in.

    I would sort of agree with the two posters above who say you need to dress to suit your environment. However, the tops in this article about the finer details sort of mean that you can make ANY outfit look stylish in your own way.

    So your colleagues at work don’t dress up as much as you? Well dress down then as well if it makes you so self conscious, but you can add a specific accessory, or wear your shirt tucked in a specific way or whatever. This will add a sense of your own style to the outfit. Style isn’t about being the most over dressed person in the building. It’s about making every outfit you wear look good. Whether that outfit is smart, casual, smart-casual, or somewhere in between doesn’t really matter.

    I also like to use the example of being at school. You have a set school uniform – everyone wears black/grey trousers, blue/white shirt, blazer and tie. It’s hard to stand out or make that stylish when you HAVE to tuck your shirt in, you HAVE to have your top button done up, and you have to wear thesame as everyone else. HOWEVER, if you alter the details you can get one above your classmates. Wear a certain belt, or maybe roll the sleeves of your shirt up, or wear a nice bracelet. Or whatever.

  • Brandon says:

    Hey Jay
    my name Brandon i have to saying your science of style is Great i love it. im only 16 years old an im really interested into Classy style i already started my wardrobe to stand out and until the day comes for me to consulting to help me out im very interested into kniowear i would hope to get a job with this company but i won’t push my luck. but until the time come for my to take a class with you to dress better an take my self into the next stage when i get older like 18 or 19 i think i might be too young i don’t know. but i Thank You For Doing a great job and i will continue to read your article.:) i would like to sit down have have a nice talk man to man an go shoping like how you said TRY IT ON. its doesn’t hurt . AND i would like too se how you Raid the store for myself !

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