I love stylish people and personalities, and whenever I get to know a new one, my strange habit of “cyber forensic” would surface and show its claws – I would search high and low for all his/her pictures, study his/her style, and eventually make a mental timeline on how this person has transformed over time and ended up in this amazing pair of floral pants or 3-piece suit.
Without doing all those works, many would have conveniently assumed that these people have always been this flawless since they’re still in the womb – of course, that would be a false reality some would want you to believe.
What I found out was that even the most stylish men sometimes look less-than-impressive in the beginning of their sartorial journey.
“What was he thinking?” you may even asked. There’s a similar kind of question I found asking myself many times, when I first embarked on the project of rebuilding my wardrobe:
“What am I thinking? What do I want to dress like?”
Knowing what you like and what you want to dress like is fundamental to building a wardrobe that really reflects your personal style.
From what I’ve learned, it would sound ungenuine for a person to say he/she loves everything that appears on the runway (“Hey, what do you like, exactly?”). You can’t possibly love everything.
On Monday you’d dress up in Hip-Hop rapper style and on Friday you’d turn up in a 3-piece suit – it’s not impossible, but can you imagine the size of your closet? Unless your aim is to grab extra eyeballs, it’s much more important to look good everyday than to look different everyday.
So here are some of the tips I’ve learned:
Have a Concept
You may have known my endless affection for Parisian chic or everything that’s chic – that is my main concept. Before knowing any concept, my shopping spree always ended up a disaster (and a malfunction wardrobe later.)
Nailing down a concept also helps in building a more cost-effective wardrobe, because you’ll have a “filter” to decide what goes into your closet and what doesn’t.
Here’s some of the popular concept I’ve noticed:
- Minimalist Elegant – Minimalist and very classy. Most of the time they will invest in higher-end quality items.
- Pop Culture & Trendy – The “hipster”.
- Preppy – Suits, bow tie, sweater, Ivy League… you get the idea.
- Classics Menswear – all the classical men’s clothing.
- Japanese/Korean/Taiwanese-influenced – Inspired by the eastern pop culture wave.
- Sporty casual – Shorts, Tee, sneakers, caps etc.
- Eclectic – Pretty much anything they like. Wild and very creative.
So, pick a concept and stick with it. And then start asking yourself this whenever you pick up a piece of garment:
“Do I look XXX wearing this?” (Replace XXX with your concept.)
If it doesn’t answer your question, it probably shouldn’t be in your wardrobe.
And how do you know what or which concept you like? It’s through visual inspiration. (Read How to Put Together A Look: Visual Inspiration & “Steal”)
Having a concept doesn’t mean you can’t go out of the box sometimes. You should. And you really should just have fun. 🙂
Have a Role Model
Truth to tell, a concept might be too intangible for some people and so you might need a role model. Same as the first point, you pick a role model and then stick with it. From actors Jason Statham, singer Adam Levine to stylish editors and tailors, it’s entirely up to your imagination.
Some of the role models I love:
Have a Favourite Brand
Or maybe a few. Fashion brands normally create collections under the same design vision, and that basically solves a lot of your problems if your taste is similar to what is represented by the brand. Think H&M (I love their basic tees), Ben Sherman, Uniqlo (love their basic pants), Sacoor Brothers, TOPMAN and the likes.
Have a Trademark
Trademark is something that is more specific than a concept, and it can range from a specific item, a specific hairstyle to a specific colour that you love.
For example, my trademarks are colourful socks, my huge black glass frame and solid colours. I would refer to this method as “reverse engineering” – instead of picking a concept and then develop your wardrobe from it, you pick your trademark and then develop your concept from it.
For example, if you like nautical stripes, build a wardrobe to emphasise and compliment them – nautical tops with stripes, socks with stripes, trousers with stripes or maybe accessories with stripes, complimented by some solid basics to make sure the strips never gone too crazy.
If you love black and white, then build a wardrobe out of the black and white theme, with some occasional pop of other colours of course.
Know What You Don’t Like
If you are still not sure about your style and what you like, eliminating what you do not like would be helpful.
In most cases (except when I feel playful), I can’t really imagine myself in these styles: hip hop fashion, heavy rocker style, certain Japanese/Korean-influenced clothing that looks too boyish on me, or too much layering – they’re normally on my exception list.
With an exception list in mind, the scope of your choices become smaller, and it makes your work easier because you won’t be wasting time trying on style that you know won’t do.
I hope these tips will be helpful to you.
Discover our personal style is an on-going effort, and our taste certainly will change as we age. However, the change won’t be too far from the foundation of what you truly love.
So what’s your secret to your personal style? Share with us.