You may not realize it, but the little fashion faux-pas you make every day have a big impact on your overall style. And the more you repeat them, the harder it becomes to stop making them. The classic example that I come across often is the guy who’s been wearing jeans that are too big his whole life. Imagine how difficult it is to make him realise that your jeans should be a bit tight when you buy them!
It’s the same with food: sometimes people think they’re eating well, when they’re actually eating trash. Then, one day, they realize how much damage they’ve done to their health (without knowing where it’s come from).
Just like fast food, cheap and readily available pret-a-porter clothing is responsible for your bad dressing habits. You’ve never really had a chance to try jeans with a good cut around the butt, or shirts with long enough sleeves for your body in these shops.
In fact, you’ve been encouraged not to look elsewhere, to limit yourself to one high-street store, via fidelity cards put in place by brands like H&M, Gap, and Abercrombie & Fitch.
Becoming aware of this a good start… but you need to do something about it, rather than giving up and heading to Target this weekend because “I need a shirt”. Apathy is exactly the attitude that bad habits thrive on. It needs to stop!
Now, here are those habits that you really need to kick, for your style’s sake:
“But I wear these shoes because they’re comfortable”
So, I still don’t get this one: owning a pair of really worn-out shoes, covered in creases and ruined by lack of care, and still wearing them because “they’re comfortable”.
Usually, it’s an old pair of sneakers or a pair of shoes from Target that have seen better days. How is either of those in any way comfortable?
Even if it’s a good idea to hold onto them for DIY and other activities that require clothes you don’t have to worry about, why knowingly wear them to meet a girl or hang out with your pals? Even to go shopping?
Stop! Your feet are not platypuses!
I’m not suggesting that you always wear a perfectly waxed pair of Berluttis, just that you own a decent pair of shoes that don’t bring down your entire look, whether that be sneakers or boots (it’s up to you).
If you really want comfortable shoes, go for a pair of sneakers, loafers or even modern boat shoes.
Warning: if you’ve been wearing sneakers from Adidas your whole life, you might find putting on a pair of boots for the first time really weird. The shape and feel of the shoes, as well as the elegance they convey, will seem radically different to you. You’ll have to start looking at footwear in a different way.
Being stylish requires discipline, paying attention to your appearance from head to toe…
A nice compromise to help you make the transition: the Nike Post Harbour
“They’re too tight”
In the same way that drinking purely coke prevents you from appreciating the subtle but fresh taste of a kiwi-cucumber smoothie, being in the habit of wearing clothes that are too big prevents you from being able to select ones that fit properly.
But you need to get out of the habit of buying oversized clothes because “I’ve just started weight-training so I’m gonna go up two sizes” (not happening) or “I want to be able to move freely” (a blazer isn’t a piece of sportswear – stop trying to turn it into one).
If you try on a shirt and you feel like you won’t be able to play tennis in it, that’s totally normal. The same goes for a new pair of jeans. You won’t be able to climb stairs two steps at a time – and that’s normal.
This probably sounds dumb, but I’m always shocked to see a guy trying on a shirt and making massive circles with his arms, or doing squats while trying on a new pair of jeans, before coming out with the classic “they’re too tight”.
I’ll say it one more time: properly-fitting clothes will prevent you from playing baseball, but that’s not what those clothes were designed for anyway. This is especially applicable to a suit jacket, in which you will inevitably be restricted to your most elegant gestures. That said, the stiffness will encourage you to keep good posture – not such a bad thing after all.
I have seen guys swing from one extreme to the other: from too big to too small. There’s a very simple way to grasp the nuance: look at the creases. A well-fitting piece of clothing will show very few, light creases when worn, whereas a piece of clothing that’s too tight will show numerous horizontal creases all over, caused by tension in the material.
Undoubtedly stylish and high-quality… but WAY too big!
“But it’s a really waterproof parka!”
I admit: the parka is a genius invention. It’s extremely practical: the fabric is virtually indestructible, perfectly waterproof and regulates heat very well, especially if there’s a fleece lining. It’s also an item of clothing that lasts a long time: no buttons that fall off, and you can really fill up those pockets, which are usually reinforced.
But rather than make a checklist comparison between a woolen coat and a Gore-tex parka, ask yourself the question: do I really need it?
Honestly, the answer is no. When you’re on your way to the office or to see friends, you don’t need to equip yourself for a trek to the North Pole. Fabric that carries away sweat is definitely superfluous to your everyday urban needs – as are airtight seams and lightly reinforced closings…
As with switching from sneakers to boots, when you’ve been wearing a parka for years, doing up a coat with a waistline that lightly hugs your hips can be disconcerting. But, trust me, you’ll start to develop a taste for clothes that fit you just right.
You need a chic outfit and a stylish blazer or coat much more than an avalanche of Gore Tex!
A short story to finish…
I’d like to illustrate the information you’ve just read with a recent anecdote:
One of my buddies, Vincent, needed a white shirt. I advise him that the cut needs to be impeccable on this kind of clothing – there’s nothing to hide behind, and, indeed, no colors or patterns to distract the eye. He was a business engineer – he needed the shirt for the office but also wanted to be able to wear it outside of work.
Since I like offering advice to my friends, I insisted he try on a shirt that he’d picked out himself, so that he could see his own errors. Unsurprisingly, he chose a white shirt that was that bit too big, with floppy shoulders.
I told him to try the next size down, and he look at me weirdly.
Vincent: But it’ll be too tight!
Ben: How do you know?
Vincent: Well, that’s not my size.
Ben: Have you ever tried on a smaller size?
Vincent: Um… no.
Ben: Didn’t think so. Here’s the same shirt in an S.
It was when the S fitted perfectly around his shoulders and back that he realized that the simple habit of not trying on a smaller size had meant he’d been wearing shirts that were too big for him for all these years.
Think about this blog post the next time you go shopping and find yourself standing opposite H&M or Gap. And, just for me: make the effort to go and look in other shops.
For some people, this information will be difficult to follow. Too much, even…
But kicking bad dressing habits is a bit like going on a diet: it’s hard at the start, you tell yourself you were better off before, but your efforts pay off in the long-run. So, happy dieting!
— If you liked this article you should check this one from RealMenRealStyle about mistakes a woman will notice every time
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