To develop a personal style you must change the way you think about yourself
Desmond Morris famously described mankind as a naked ape. After millenia of evolution, the first thing most of us do every day is cover our nakedness. Clothes are more than just a fig-leaf, however. Naked ape or not, humans are a social animal. How we dress and how we present ourselves are an integral part of how we interact with and are perceived by wider society.
I am taking it as a given that if you are reading this then you are interested in changing or developing your own style. Style is a deeply personal thing and no-one else can tell you what the best look for you is. However, the following seven steps should help any man who is genuinely interested in their appearance to take their appearance to a higher level.
Clothes are more than a fig leaf. Adam & Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Norton Simon Museum
Men being men, the best approach is to treat it as a project that can be conducted in a reasonable and logical manner. Like any worthwhile project, it will take time and commitment; there are no silver bullets on the Silver Blade.
Image by Sean MacEntee via www.flickr.com
1. Why do you want to develop your personal style?
The first thing to consider is your motivation. What do you mean by a personal style? Why do you want to change it? Do you want to develop the style you already have or are you looking to change it completely and reinvent yourself? Are you doing this for self-development, to improve your career prospects, or to attract a prospective partner?
If you are going to commit to this project you need to know why you are doing it. Your motivation does not really matter, it is personal, but without a motivation you cannot expect to maintain your commitment to this or any project. The first step should be to write down what you want to do and, most importantly, why you want to do it.
Whatever your motivations and your goals, the following steps will apply in developing a new style for yourself.
Nighthawks at the Diner, Edward Hopper [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Think about the style you want, go to a late night diner, wear a hat.
2. Think about your lifestyle
Style does not exist in isolation. It is not just a suit of clothes that you put on or take off at will. Your lifestyle is an integral part of your overall style. Your outward appearance must be integrated with the life you have. Or, if you are changing your appearance with a view to changing your life, with the lifestyle you aspire to. Before you can ask how you can successfully present yourself you must ask what or who you are presenting.
Questions to consider here should include; what do you do, where do you work, where are you going, even the hackneyed where do you see yourself in five years time? One other very important question to ask yourself at this stage is what can you afford. Your personal style will be tied to your income.
This is where the project becomes fun!
Use the internet. You have access to a whole wide world of fashion at your fingertips. Look at other men’s style. Use social media to follow guys whose style you like. Flick through the work of famous designers and high street retailers. Investigate small producers. Study men’s style forums. Read up on the history and theory of menswear. Find out about the technical details of clothing manufacture. Learn as much as you can about where clothes come from, how they work, and how to put them together.
The more information you have, the easier it is to make informed choices.
Never stop researching. This is an ongoing project. Even the most comfortably self-possessed stylish men spend time researching. Think of your personal style as a lifelong research project. You will never reach an end point or a final, correct answer.
It’s not just cat videos! The internet is the perfect place for the older man to research his personal style. Image by Geralt via Pixabay
4. Decide on the style that suits you
And this is probably going to be the hardest part!
There are a myriad of possible men’s styles out there but, ultimately, you will need to assess all that you have learnt in step three above and then decide on a style that you like, that you feel suits you, and that you feel you can live comfortably with. Remember, this is about you. It is about how you are going to live. The secret of real style is comfort. You need to be comfortable in your skin, both physically and metaphorically. Over time, you will find yourself drawn to a particular style and at that stage you can start working on developing your own take on it. This is when you start developing your own personal style. All that you have to do is take the broad outline of a particular style and make it your own.
How will you stand out from the crowd? What will be your personal style?
Image by mwewering via Pixabay
5. Make a list
Now we go back to the very male approach. Make a list. Make lots of lists. Once you have an idea of where you want to go, you need to know exactly what you will need to adopt and adapt your chosen style.
Start by making a list of what you have that will work with your chosen style. Your style journey will be easier if you know what you already have. Be sure to keep this list updated as you add to your wardrobe.
Now make another list of what you would like to include in your wardrobe. Then subdivide this into lists of what you need urgently, what is less urgent, and what might be considered optional indulgences. You will need to start with the list of urgent requirements and actively seek out these items.
Once you have a list or lists, you can begin to look for particular items. Remember the list of what you most need? Try and prioritise your purchases. Always keep an eye on what you have. Decide what is most important to you and concentrate on acquiring that. The advantage of keeping lists is that you will always know what you have and what you need so that if you do come across a particular bargain, a one-off item, or a limited time opportunity you will be able to seize it.
Make a list of what you need to achieve your chosen personal style.
Image via www.pexels.com
6. Have patience
Pace yourself. Style does not arrive fully formed, it is an ongoing project. It will grow and develop with you. It’s not just that it takes time to assemble an ensemble. It takes time to grow into a style. As with any journey, a new style is a series of stages.
All of the above stages take time. Even when you have decided on a style you aspire to, it will take time to build up your new wardrobe. Be willing to take the time to find the right clothes for yourself. Be prepared for your choices to change as you experiment. Know that your experience of individual items of clothing will change with time. Some clothes become more comfortable over time, others less so. Finally, if you are relying on internet shopping for some or all of your wardrobe you will need to learn to wait during the interval between ordering and receiving products.
Have patience, finding the perfect personal style takes time.
Photo by Geralt via Pixabay
7. Make the most of what you have.
The corollary of patience; while you grow your new look, make the most of what you have. As I said above in step five, decide what you already have that works with your new style. This is the beginning of your new wardrobe, the foundation upon which your personal style will be built. Fashion has become a multi-billion dollar industry on the back of the constant pursuit of the latest, newest trends. Style, on the other hand, is about a sustainable approach. Your new style is not just about what you own; it is about the way you live. So start living. And enjoy the journey.
Have I missed anything? Do you have any other tips for the man trying to develop his style? I would love to hear from you in the comments.