Confidence is one of life’s little essentials – except that it isn’t that little and it is one of the most important things any self respecting man must master. Confidence can mean the difference between you and that job, between you and that girl, between you and that skydive, between you and pretty much anything. Confidence, it appears, exists only to get in the way.
Confidence is bloody irritating, but if you don’t want to turn into a dribbling lunatic the moment someone asks you to do a presentation in front of your peers, it is also something you need.
Life just wouldn’t work if we didn’t all have a bit of confidence. It takes confidence to step out of your house in the morning; it takes confidence to cross the road; it takes confidence to trust yourself enough to not do something embarrassing during your working day. It takes confidence to do just about everything.
Building your confidence is a life long task. It doesn’t happen over night, but there are many ways you can increase it – as Matt Allison discussed in his art of confidence article.
Building your personal confidence will make a huge difference to your personality, your maturity and the way you think.
I have always found doing new things to be a huge confidence booster. Moving away from home has made me mature, kickboxing has given me body confidence and pushing myself into doing things that are outside of my comfort zone has, as clichéd as it sounds, made me believe in my own ability.
Unless you are very lucky, confidence has to be earned, it won’t just fall in your lap. But confidence is about so much more than just your belief in yourself. FashionBeans is centered around style and fashion (in case you hadn’t noticed), so we talk a lot about having confidence in your image and wearing what you are comfortable in.
It cannot be underestimated just how much of an impact confidence in your clothes will have on your prospects, your personality and the way the world perceives you. Knowing you look good will change the way you walk, your posture, your face and the impact that just a glance can have.
As a society we are very insular, we don’t want to stand out or set an example, we like to blend in and hope that something good will happen to us eventually. We are too scared to go looking for what we deserve and what we want. Building your confidence will help you move forward, it will help you get what you want.
Being happy with your image isn’t restrictive – it applies to everyone, young or old, thick or thin. Creating confidence in your clothes isn’t a set formula, it is individual, just as every person on this earth is an individual. It is a continuous process and it never, ever stops. Whether you are new to the style game or a self professed old hand, there will always be something you want to change or something you need just that little bit more confidence to wear.
I don’t think it’s ever possible to be completely happy with your style. You can be pleased with it, but never wholly satisfied. I, for example, like where my style is going; I believe I’ve worked out a good system; I know what I want to buy; I know I’m not going to waste money on things I don’t need or won’t wear; and most of all, I know it suits me.
However, there is always a part of me that wants something different – something internally which tells me to try this or try that, start wearing this or ‘why don’t you get that’?
Whether we can ever be truly happy with our style doesn’t mean we should not have confidence in it. As long as you know that you look good, that your clothes work well and that you are comfortable in them, everything is OK. Style development can bubble away undisturbed underneath because you achieved what so many others haven’t – you like the way you dress.
What Personal Style Will You Choose? Smart & Refined? Rockabilly Inspired? Casual & Comfortable? On Trend? Preppy? Urban?
To really build confidence in your clothes you are going to have to find the right style for YOU. You need to have a clear idea of how you want to dress, what impression you want to make and where you want to go. A lack of clarity at this stage will result in a lot of wasted time, wasted money and a huge lack of confidence in your wardrobe.
Consider your ideas carefully, build up a collection of images that exemplify the style and outfits you like and then take time to think about why you like the look and how it could work for you. Having a collection of images also gives you a reference point for your future purchases. You can see exactly what you need to buy. Pin them on your wall, look at them everyday for a couple of weeks and see if your opinion changes.
To find those images, browse through the vast array of lookbooks available on this site (I highly recommend trawling through the brand campaigns) and on the Internet at large. Take note of well dressed men you pass in the street, see how they carry themselves and determine what is it about their look that makes it desirable (just don’t get weird).
Finally, DON’T just copy your friends. One, they might not actually be that well dressed, despite what they claim (ignorance is bliss). Two, you don’t want to look exactly the same as the people you socialise with; three, you need to pick a style for yourself, not everyone else. Ask for their opinions, but take them with a pinch of salt.
Picking a style is only half the battle, you need to make sure it is exactly the right one for you. This requires you to consider more than just the clothes themselves. Think about your lifestyle, think about your features, your body, the image you want to portray and even where you live.
Something that seems appropriate in one place might not be appropriate in another. In big cultural cities you can get away with more, but if you live in Basingstoke your wonderfully tailored double breasted jacket might look rather out of place. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to new ideas, so don’t discount something just because it is a bit alternative (think sports luxe and street styles) just make sure it is appropriate to you.
I know it sounds like a massive contradiction to what I’ve said previously, but you have to dress for yourself within the confines of your social situation. Whilst your style should be very personal, you need to remember that society is not always so forgiving – and until you have rock solid confidence, it can take a toll on how you carry yourself.
If you are sure you have found the right one for you, then it is time to move onto the next stage: Making sure you create it with confidence.
Second only to choosing the correct style is fit. I don’t think It can be stressed enough just how much of a difference correctly fitting garments will make to your overall image. A huge proportion of men seem completely oblivious to any notion of fit, preferring to wear huge, wallowy clothes that do nothing to flatter the figure or create any kind of shape and structure. Measure yourself before you start buying new clothes and compare yourself to the various size guides available online so you know exactly what you should and shouldn’t be able to fit into.
However, having confidence in fit goes much further than just making sure you are in the right size. You must also consider how slim (or not) your clothes need to be. Does your chosen style require sharp lines and crisp silhouettes? Replace your tired old relaxed fit jeans with slimmer straight or slim options.
Fancy wearing something a little more rugged and work wear inspired? Feel free to keep things chunky – look for classic fit plaid shirts and bulky boots. This is where considering your body type will help you pick the correct style. There is, of course, a lot of middle ground but you can experiment to find the perfect fits for you – make the most of sales advice, try on every fit the store has to offer and bugger the grumpy sales assistant, furiously folding things back up. You should leave feeling happy.
If you know that the clothes you are wearing fit you properly and suit the look you are going for then you will immediately be more relaxed and more comfortable. You will look and feel more confident because you know what you are doing; you have made informed choices based on the parameters you yourself have set and everything works.
Do You Prefer Monochromatic Outfits, Bold & Bright or Somewhere In Between?
Colour is a tricky issue. If you wear colour you have to look like you want to – you shouldn’t seem nervous, it should be worn with purpose and you must be comfortable or it will appear forced. Confidence with colour will build over time and it will become easier and easier as your wardrobe develops and grows.
But you would be wrong to assume that colour needs to be a staple feature of your wardrobe. If you are just starting out, you will want to avoid injecting colour everywhere. Start with developing your basics in blues, greys, navy, black and oatmeal. These core colours should make up 85% of your wardrobe; any others should be used as accent pieces and definitely shouldn’t be viewed as a necessity.
Winter is a fantastic time to start injecting colour because you can mute it with your other items (your winter coat is particularly useful). The colour palette is far more restrained with autumnal colours like olive green, burnt orange, burgundy, mustard yellow and deep purple, making the much easier to mix into your outfits and create a refined but effective statement.
Always remember that you must be comfortable in your clothes. You can gather thousands of images relating to the style that you want, or take the advice of multiple people who all tell you to get this or get that, but ultimately you have to want to wear those clothes.
Don’t buy clothes that you wouldn’t be comfortable wearing. Brogues and brogue boots, blazers, wool trousers and the like are all hugely popular, but that doesn’t mean they are always appropriate.
Changing your style is a learning curve and you will probably find it quite a strange experience. If you have made some drastic changes then it will take a while to get used to it, but you must persevere. Take your time and try to enjoy the process as much as possible and keep in mind that everything you do is for yourself. Go at your own pace and for your own reasons, not for anyone else.
Having confidence in your clothes will make a huge difference to your life. We are, whether we like it or not, a very visual society and those that make the effort will almost certainly get ahead. The world of menswear is getting stronger day by day and more and more men are becoming interested in the way they dress. There is still a very long way to go, but getting ahead of the game now will give you an immeasurable boost.
Remember that building the confidence you need will take time but with adequate preparation and some clear ideas you can make the process so much easier. You will feel happier with your clothes, you will look forward to pulling them on in the morning and you will take a lot more pride in your appearance. It really is worth the effort.
But, of course, I don’t just want to spout my musings at you in the hope that you will nod your heads and agree, so what do you think?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and I’ll see you all next week.