Have you ever dressed up and felt like you were trying too hard? How about that uneasy feeling that something wasn’t right?
In this article, I’ll address the idea of “congruence”–upgrading your look, while still feeling that it’s “you.”
What Prevents Most Guys From Finding Their Best Look
One of the most common limiting beliefs I hear from my clients is,
Oh that’s not me… I don’t wear that kind of stuff.
There is nothing wrong with this belief if the guy has a good enough reason to back it up, but most guys will carry this belief around when they don’t even know who that “me” is. This bothers me a lot, because I believe that we can, and need to, evolve past these limiting beliefs in order to tap into our highest potential.
The truth is, a lot of our beliefs about who we are and how we dress today have been absorbed from the environment around us. For example, if a boy grows up around peers that dress a certain way and people respond well to them, pretty soon he’ll start to dress that way too. Nobody wants to be the least significant person in a social group. Take a look at the majority of people you surround yourself with, are they stylish?
As humans, it’s in our nature to measure ourselves against other people. If you were the only person left in this world, you would only wear clothing for functional reasons, or no clothing at all for that matter. You wouldn’t care about the pimple on your face or how color coordinated your outfit was. But this is not the case. We live in a huge community where we’re constantly being sized up and placed in the hierarchies of society, so we might as well play the game to our full advantage. However, we need to make sure that we’re not carrying limiting beliefs that are preventing us from becoming a better version of ourselves. A better version that breeds more success, confidence, and enjoyment of life. Keep your mind open to new things and give everything a chance.
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
For many guys, developing their style will be going at a snail’s pace. Trying new things and getting out of our comfort zones can be very uncomfortable – we all know this. If you want to start the path towards the best version of yourself, you have to be willing to put up with discomfort to reach the light at the end of the tunnel. This is one of the mindsets that you need to adopt if you want to effectively develop a better sense of style. It is a journey, and a lot of the time, it starts with a scary, yet liberating leap.
Knowing Yourself Is The Key To Congruence
Our minds are constantly looking for evidence to confirm or negate our internal beliefs about who we can and can’t be.
Some may ask, what does this really have to do with learning how to dress in my own stylish way?
In order for your outer self to reflect your inner self, you must first know who you are. Yes, it sounds very Zen, but you’ll thank me after you try this exercise.
Take some time after this article to question ALL of your values, moral codes, and beliefs. Start a journal, and don’t just think about who you are now, but also write down who you want to become. This mindset is very important in the context of appearance and learning the art of dressing yourself. This is a necessary step for people who want to live seriously, making sure every part of their life is at their peak potential, including their appearance. I come from a place where I want every part of my life to be the best that it can be, and I enjoy helping others do the same if they want it.
If you’re someone who gets nervous around people because you care about what they think, then you most likely don’t fully understand who you are yet. You’ll lack core confidence, having to work hard to please everyone. Tragically, when you don’t know yourself, you’ll automatically accept the feedback you get from other people as truth.
Have you ever had a time when someone gave you a compliment, but it surprised you because you never thought you had that quality?
Wow man, you have this ability to make people feel really good about themselves.
If you’ve never received such feedback before, you’ll usually respond with a bewildered, yet pleased… “Really?”
See, when we get a compliment like this, our emotions tell us to live up to it, preserve it. The next time you meet that same person, you’ll probably make sure to make them feel good around you.
Just as we are always looking for evidence to prove our internal beliefs, we do the same for our physical appearance, and the way we carry ourselves. If you wear something and the first 5 people who see you say it looks weird on you, it’s not going to become your favorite outfit. But if you wear a specific jacket and you get compliments on it left and right, all of a sudden it becomes your “lucky” jacket.
But ultimate congruence comes from knowing who you are and what you want to represent, regardless of what anybody says about you. When you start to dress differently or get a new haircut, not everyone will like seeing you evolve past them. They’ll want to keep you the way you were, and tell you that you look strange. When you’re grounded in who you are, you won’t care, and eventually people will see your congruence and start to love the look on you. You’ll hear, “Man, nobody can pull off that look but you.” They’ll start associating your unique style to you and it’ll become your own. I see this happen a lot and it’s like magic.
Remember, at the end of the day, style is simply another expression of the self. If we’re not grounded in ourselves, we’re constantly looking to others to figure out what is acceptable. This is why so many people dress the way that is accepted by mainstream society. They dress safe in order to protect themselves from negative emotions. This is not a bad thing, and I’m not saying that you should make your appearance different just for the sake of being different. What you should do is make sure you are living your life in line with your own beliefs about who you are, and doing what you like, while taking what others say with a grain of salt.
Trying Too Hard
Congruence is also parallel to a patience for learning. Most guys want to completely transform themselves NOW. This will make them try too many things all at once. Usually they will just slap on a bunch of pieces, believing the “more the better,” and just pray that it all works out. It’s not working though, and it never will.
See, the people who KNOW style will be able to distinguish whether you’re a naturally stylish guy or just a try-hard failure. It’s kind of like the way real cigarette smokers know who the posers are. The poser thinks he’s doing it right and that he looks cool doing it, but the real smoker knows, and will either scoff in disgust, or laugh inside at the poser.
Ha, look at the cute poser trying to look cool
One of the best ways to develop your style is by taking things slow and letting it happen more organically. You’ll learn how to put together better outfits when you start with mastering the basics, gradually building up your skills. Your friends won’t freak out and think of you as a poser. If your friends still try to prevent you from becoming a better version of yourself, then maybe it’s time to find new friends.
If you don’t want to be caught as a poser, and really become a man of style, you must take it step by step.
One Step Backwards, Two Steps Forward
The best way to develop your style is to learn to take the basics and make it look good, gradually building up to flashier pieces.
Picture this: Bob decides to make a salad for the first time, and has no idea where to start. Bob throws in a bunch of random ingredients he assumes will equate to a great salad: tomatoes, carrots, fruits, some nuts. He can’t decide on a particular dressing, so he adds a little bit of one dressing and a little bit of some other dressing. Bob is excited to taste his wonderful creation. He takes a bite, and to his surprise it tastes like crap. Now bob has the problem of figuring out whether it’s the overly-ripened tomato or the mixed granola that’s resulting in the foul taste in his mouth.
The only way you’re going to learn how to make a great salad is to know each individual ingredient by itself, and how well it’s going to taste when mixed with the other ingredients.
Guys do this with their outfit pieces. They just throw a bunch of elements together and think it’s working, when it’s not. You have to know each element by itself and learn what it’s conveying. When you start with this mindset, you’ll start to understand why certain things go well together and others don’t.
Another example of this would be the one-man band.
Unless you know how to play each instrument with a high level of skill, there is no way you’re going to sound pleasant playing a dozen instruments at the same time. Do you know how HARD that is!? You have to know exactly when to add that note from that specific instrument, executed with perfect timing and pitch, melding with the beautiful notes of the other instruments. Nobody would attempt to be a one-man band, and expect to sound good, unless they knew how to play each instrument by itself.
The same goes for your clothing, learn how to make a t-shirt and jeans combo look good even before you go for the next layer. It could be the color of the t-shirt you’re wearing and how it goes with your skin tone. It could be the quality and fit of your jeans, or the belt that you’re wearing with the two. It could be the sneakers or shoes you’re wearing and how they pair with the other elements of your outfit. You MUST know the basics before you start adding other elements to your outfits, otherwise it’ll be harder to figure out what’s making a outfit look sub-par.
Putting All Of This Into Action
Again. Get out of your comfort zone, and be open to try new things. There is nothing like experience in this world. Take time to figure out who you are, by asking yourself the ultimate question of “why” for everything you believe in and want to represent. That one word has taken me deep into the core of my being, and the amount you will learn about yourself is scary. Take everything one step at a time, by starting with the basics and working your way up. This is the best way to learn anything. It’s also the best way to achieving ultimate congruence to your style.
Enjoy the journey,