In this modern world I think it would be fair to say that image counts for quite a lot. For example, I’m sure we have all heard about the recent story of a journalist bemoaning the fact that she was so attractive that men would fall at her feet, women would become instantly jealous and gifts would shower on her for all sides – but this outburst led to almost everyone disliking her.
Whilst this story was plainly ridiculous and the person in question was perhaps not the Goddess she thought, the actual concept remains really quite relevant. We live in a very superficial place, where your looks, appearance and style are scrutinised by everyone; from the moment you wake up in the morning to the time you crawl back into bed that night.
Humans can be very fickle, judgmental and assumptive, and fashion is just one of the many cut throat and vicious aspects of life that we are willing to throw ourselves at, in the hope of looking good and making the right impression. Both sexes will develop very powerful opinions of you, just from what they can see on the surface. We can all harp on about how personality is the most important thing in a person, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that no one would want to be associated with someone that looked like the hunch back of Notre Dame.
First impressions are everything; life moves quickly and there isn’t going to be time for you to get to know every single person you meet, nor will you have the opportunity to be a “you’ll like me when you get to know me” person all the time. When you are applying for a job, handing out CVs, meeting someone new, meeting the parents, visiting a long lost relative or even just walking down the street, in every situation that requires human interaction, assumptions WILL be made in the first few seconds.
It is often said that our style – our image – is a direct reflection of our personality. You might be very extroverted, excitable and energetic; your style could represent this with bright colours, bold patterns or just a desire to wear something unique and individual. On the other hand you might be more conservative, reserved and quiet, preferring to wear clothes that are simple and muted, but very classic. This is certainly true to an extent, but I personally believe that what you wear stems more from the people around you and the situation you happen to find yourself in – it is more of a social schema than a personal reflection.
How do you like to dress: Muted & Monochrome? Bold, Bright and Vibrant? Or Somewhere in between?
Almost everyone wants to look their best; we all want to appear attractive, dashing and handsome. So if we choose to dress a certain way, it could arguably be to impress a certain section of society, rather than exist as a clear statement of personality. Two people might want to dress like Italians, but whilst one is a cracking chap, the other might be a complete anus. The anus can’t dress according to his personality because he would then have to walk around in a bum costume; he dresses like an Italian because he wants to look good and that is the style that fits his idea of what looks good.
Style has moved on from being a reflection of personality because more and more people are becoming interested with the way they look. Male grooming/shopping has become acceptable; taking care of your appearance is first and foremost to maintain your external façade. All those men who walk around dressed the same, acting the same and looking the same aren’t doing it because they all have exactly the same personalities; they do it because they think it looks good.
Irrespective of this, our obsession with image is still important. Those first impressions could decide whether (to use an earlier example) you get the job; no matter how well your interview goes, how you dress will impact on success.
Whilst handing out CVs (I know this from experience) dressing well makes a huge difference to the way people talk to you. Make an effort and you will be received more warmly, you will stick in people’s minds and they won’t just take your CV, say they’ll keep it for the future and then throw it in the bin once you’ve left.
These men are going for a professional job. Exactly the same qualifications & Experience. Who Do You Hire?
But of course, we don’t all dress the same. We don’t all walk around exquisitely turned out day in day out. Some (myself included) take a more relaxed approach to our style. We like to look good and make positive first impressions, but we aren’t interested in or don’t necessarily need to look like we stepped out of a GQ photo shoot all the time.
We always say you should be comfortable in what you wear – it’s half the battle of looking good and dressing well. But you might find yourself more comfortable in a pair of jeans, a sweater, tee and a pair of the dreaded Vans Authentic on a regular basis than in your white trousers, blazer and shirt. Whilst this is perhaps down more towards your attitude to the way you dress, it doesn’t mean that the more relaxed style has to be a detriment to you overall; it just requires a little more thought.
Do you opt for refined & smart, or is there an emphasis on being well dressed but comfortable?
Ultimately, it is the way we put our clothes together that creates our image, style and thereby the first impressions we give people. Anyone can wear a shirt, blazer, brogues and chinos/jeans but if it none of it fits, the colours don’t work or the clothes are just plain hideous, the end result is going to be far from stylish. Our personal input is hugely important and there are a number of things that you can do make your style (however relaxed) more uniquely yours.
One thing that I think many people seem to forget is the effect simply being you has on the way your dress. You might wear the same clothes as someone else but your body shape will alter the way the clothes rest and this can have a dramatic impact on the look overall. If you like to go to the gym, your massive guns will alter the fit of the clothes you buy and thereby the image as a whole, whilst if you are thin and lanky, you will find the same clothes creating a very different outfit.
Hair is becoming an increasingly important feature of the sartorially inclined man’s styling arsenal. No longer is the short back and sides enough (although it is still a great, simple and classic cut). Now we have varying degrees of quiff, slicked back styles reminiscent of the 1930s and all manner of carefully prepared barnets gracing the streets.
A simple change in hair style can immediately alter an overall style. Slick your hair back, create that perfect parting, whack on a white tee, roll up the sleeves, pull on a pair of jeans and trainers and you have a look that touches on the Rockabilly – rather than just some guy in jeans and a tee.
What does your hair style say about you? Clean cut, classic, edgy, fashion forward?
In fact nearly all body hair will have an impact. Having stubble, a carefully trimmed tash (dubious) or even a full on beard can change not only a face but also a style. Like wearing lower cut tees and vests? Why not avoid waxing/shaving your chest? Hair is manly and natural; waxing is not. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there isn’t any reason for you to look like a gorilla.
How do you prefer your facial har? Clean and fresh or rugged and masculine?
First impressions will be much improved if you stand up straight, learn to hold the right amount of eye contact, don’t appear too timid and hold doors open for old women. Doing something you wouldn’t normally, or that everyone else is too scared to do – like helping someone on the street – will make a huge difference to the way people see you. We all need to push ourselves out of our comfort zones once in a while.
You should also maintain a decent level of consistency. Feel free to experiment but always have the basics that you know work and make you look good – these should be the things people associate you with, not the tiny green hot pants you thought would be a good look down at the beach that day. Regardless of whether you are wearing your Sunday best or just something comfortable for a chilled out day, it should always look like you have made some effort.
Finally, we come to one of the most important things I think all fashionable men should be doing. We can often become entrenched in our ideas, developing a very particular set of rules and directives that create each and every outfit we wear. These become the be all and end all of our style and it makes us very reluctant to appreciate anything new or different.
No-one has a perfect style and we should always be learning new things. I think we can all agree that being able appreciate some aspect of another’s style, however different to our own, can do nothing but benefit.
Below is a selection of items; ranging from the classic and stylish to the new and fashionable, all of which (with just a little courage) could have a place in the wardrobe of any fashion conscious man:
As readers of this site there is no doubt that you take your appearance very seriously. You recognise the importance of careful groom and good dressing; you can understand the impact this has on your life and you are always looking to improve and maintain.
But we are all guilty of becoming a little too stagnant, prejudiced and quick to dismiss. I certainly do it, but the more I think about it; the more articles I read on this site and the more I talk to people on the forums, the more I want to experiment and try – I’m even looking at the more outlandish prints.
However, I have waffled for far too long, so it’s time for your say:
Let me know in the comments below.