When guys first start out on their journey to improve their style it’s common for a lot of them to get caught up in the minutiae of dressing well.
Should I tuck in my polo shirt or not?
Should my socks match my trousers?
Are 3-button suits still stylish?
Is a half windsor knot better than a four in hand knot?
While these questions are important I find that focusing on them too much causes men to lose sight of the bigger picture when it comes to improving their style.
In fact, there are several big pieces that are far more crucial to boosting your style than all of the minutiae above combined.
And if you don’t address these big pieces they will undermine your goal of looking your best.
What are these big pieces I’m referring to?
I’m glad you asked.
The following are 5 factors that will hold you back from truly looking your best:
Being out of shape
Simply put, if you’re not in shape then your style is incomplete.
There are lots of men out there that dress well but very few who dress well AND are in great shape.
Aim to be one of those men.
Nearly 70% of people in the United States are overweight and/or obese. This is not a good look. I don’t care how expensive your clothes are or how well your suit is tailored, if you’re overweight then you won’t look nearly as good as you could.
And the bar really isn’t set that high. You don’t need to be walking around shredded at 4% body fat like a contest ready pro bodybuilder.
Instead, 10-12% body fat with a decent amount of muscle will more than do the trick. You’ll have some visible ab definition, a nice v-taper, and you will fill out a shirt properly. This is entirely achievable.
If not, it’s time to get to work.
Wearing dirty/tattered/wrinkled clothes
It still surprises me the number of guys I see walking around completely oblivious to the fact that their clothing is dirty or has holes in it.
Launder your clothes regularly. Iron your shirts. Mend any busted seams or missing buttons.
Take care of your gear and your gear will take care of you.
If your underwear and/or socks have holes in them replace them immediately. The fact that most people can’t seem them is not an excuse to keep wearing them.
In our era of fast fashion you’ll notice a lot of garments don’t last nearly as long as they ought to. Shirts fade. Sweaters pill. Trousers wear out in the crotch.
When you start to notice these things, replace the items.
As a grown man you should be embarrassed to wear dirty or tattered clothing. Just don’t let it happen.
Being poorly groomed
There’s no sense in keeping your gear looking fresh if you’re not looking fresh yourself.
Don’t let poor grooming standards unravel your look. Maintain your hygiene.
And that doesn’t mean you need to be spending your weekends at the spa getting mani-pedis and facials. The basics are all you need.
Trim your nose and ear hair.
Brush and floss your teeth.
Have a beard? Maintain it properly.
Get regular haircuts.
Clip your nails.
Take care of your skin (exfoliate and moisturize).
Maintaining high grooming standards will not only bolster your style but will also instill pride and discipline in your appearance.
It will also boost your psychological well being too.
Wearing cheap shoes
It’s often said that all great outfits start at the feet and I couldn’t agree more.
Your choice in footwear is incredibly important and can easily make or break your style.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a man wearing an otherwise nice suit with something like these:
Don’t drop the ball like this. Avoid clunky footwear like the plague.
And if you think you need a closet full of shoes in order to look good think again. In fact, just 5 good pairs will do the trick.
Bottom line: a quality pair of dress shoes can last you a lifetime and should be considered an investment in yourself.
Being overly fussy about your clothes
This one sounds a bit contradictory but allow me to explain.
The key to good style is being able to dress well and then forget about it.
As men you simply shouldn’t be overly fussy about your clothes.
Yes you want your clothes to be stylish. Yes you want them to be clean and fit well but you also don’t want to be neurotic about the whole thing.
It’s a concept called sprezzatura. A sense of nonchalance or carelessness about your style. The idea is to never look too studied.
So your tie is a little crooked. Big deal. Your shirt became a little untucked? Whatever. Pocket square is not sitting *exactly* right. No factor.
You shouldn’t constantly be preening yourself in public. It’s a low confidence move.
Sprezzatura is a fine balance to be sure but something that you should keep at the forefront of your mind as you work on improving your style.
I’m sure many of you have heard of the Pareto principle. The idea that 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions. Well, improving your style is very similar in this regard. By working on the big factors I discussed above you can greatly enhance your style and overall appearance. Once you’ve got these big pieces under control you can then focus on the finer details of improving your style.
Remember, don’t get lost in the minutiae. Start with the big pieces and work from there.
Here’s to looking sharp!