Personal Styling – A True Story

Are you stuck in a rut? Are you tired of wearing the same boring things, day in, day out? Do you want to upgrade your style, but have no clue where to start? Does this sound like the script to an infomercial?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then a Personal Style consultation is for you. During a personal style session, I will sit down with you, and discuss what you are trying to accomplish (do you want to upgrade your work style, or are you just looking to fix up your weekend wear?), your budget, your personal preferences (do you prefer slim cut clothes, or are you on the more conservative side). Then, I will give you an evaluation of your body type, help you figure out what colours and proportions look good on you, and, if you are like most men, at some point I will most likely tell you to stand up straight.

Usually, but not necessarily, at some point after a personal style session, we will go shopping, so that I can personally help you pick out new clothing; because, lets face it, most men need the help. This is where the true story starts.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I was out shopping with my brother, and the conversation eventually turned to appearance. I think we were discussing his new Jean shorts (don’t wear jean shorts), and he said something along the lines of how I have never helped him buy clothes. He had a point, he listens to my style impaired sister too much, so I often criticized his purchases, but I have never really helped him. So, given that we were out anyway, I told him to go to Target, and I would help him get some clothes.

He’s just turned 18, and he is very casual, but wants to dress better. I am slowly (very slowly) breaking him of his habit of wearing singlets, board shorts, and flip-flops outside of the beach; and getting him to dress like a grown up. We walked in to the store, and after I stopped to pick up some new polo shirts, I found him with a pair of dark jeans from the clearance rack. I thought they were perfect for him, so we went to find some shirts. I got him to try the clothes on, and after a few tries, we settled on two shirts in the same style, but different colours; both look excellent on him. One in a red, and one in a dark green. The red definitely looks better on him, but we left the store with both, plus the jeans, which he desperately needed. His only other jeans were green, or red; both of which I dislike very much.

Before BlurAfter Blur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We only spent $60 at Target, $25 each for the shirts, and $10 for the jeans, and now he looks like a respectable member of society; rather than looking like he just walked off the beach. Not bad for half an hour of work, if I do say so myself.

If that is what I can do for my brother on a whim, just imagine what I could do if I was being paid.

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Image Matters

I can tell you that dressing well goes a long way towards creating a great first impression, or that it helps give you self-confidence; I could tell you that dressing sharp teaches responsibility, and makes you more useful at work. I can quote this article in The Guardian, and say that “the reality is that dressing well helps us in our personal, family and business lives – making us more attractive to employers, strangers and potential lovers. It reflects self-confidence and success”, or I could tell you that, on average, men deemed ‘more attractive’ can expect to earn almost a quarter of a million dollars more over their career than their less attractive counterparts. I could even tell you that a sharp dressed man will be treated better by his peers; but what I really want to tell you is this: Image Matters.

I cannot stress this enough – Image Is Important. We all have preconceived notions of how people look in certain professions. When you picture a Doctor, chances are he (or she, of course, but for the sake of simplicity I will use ‘he’ for the examples) is wearing his white coat. A Banker will usually be pictured in his suit, with a spread collar and windsor knot. A Fast Food Manager will be in his short-sleeved button down shirt and tie. You are always going to be surprised to learn that the dorky looking guy in jeans and a hoodie earns more than the guy in the three-piece suit. Image matters, and unless you are planning on spending the rest of your life living in a cave, or sitting in a cubicle (which may as well be the same thing for some people), then you need to understand this. Not convinced? Then here are some things to consider. 

Confidence

It has been scientifically proven that our clothing affects our state of mind. One study in particular showed that the simple act of putting on a lab coat actually makes you feel smarter, and not much makes me feel more confident than when I put on a well fitted suit. Thinking about it logically, a suit is designed to accentuate your positive features, and hide you negative ones; a properly fitted suit jacket makes your shoulders look broader, your waist look taller, can add bulk to a small man, and take it from a large man. It can make a short man look taller, and a tall man look more proportionate. Not much makes a man look more masculine than a well fitted suit, and not much makes a man feel more confident than when he know that he looks good; and when he knows that everyone else knows it as well.

Respect

This one is three-fold; showing respect for others, showing self-respect, and gaining respect. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in your appearance, and doing so can show that you have enough self-respect to bother. That’s not to say that excessive pride and vanity are good things, because they aren’t; just that if you don’t respect yourself enough to take care of your looks, then why should anyone else respect you. Certainly, your actions count, but if go around looking like a hobo, then no-one is going to give you the time of day, yet along get to know you well enough to judge your actions. By that reasoning, if you put effort into the way you look, people are more likely to respect you; it shows that you actually care enough to try, and people will respect that.

From a young age we are taught to respect people in positions of power and authority (at least, most of us are), and not much screams power and authority more than a business suit (which stems from military wear). It’s not always about wearing a suit though; sometimes it’s just about putting in the effort to be dressed appropriately. You would be surprised at the amount of people who think that jeans and a t-shirt are appropriate business wear, or that it’s okay to walk around a high-end shopping centre wearing a sleeveless shirt, short shorts, and a pair of flip-flops. Showing up to work in a t-shirt and jeans isn’t just inappropriate, it’s disrespectful. It’s disrespectful to your clients, who expect you to be professional; it’s disrespectful to your co-workers, who have to work with you; and it’s disrespectful to your boss, who pays you to your job well.

Money

Attractive people get paid more. It’s disappointing, because in a perfect world we would be judged on our actions, not our appearance (I would also be out of a job), but it’s a scientifically proven fact. By that, I mean that there have been numerous studies which show that, all other things being equal, attractive people can expect to earn more than their less attractive co-workers. Quoting Dario Maestripieri, a professor at the University of Chicago, “Good-looking people are more appealing as potential sex partners, and [so] other people choose to interact with them, to spend time near them, talk with them, buy insurance from them, and hire them as employees”. Not only that, but good-looking people tend to exude confidence and self-assurance, traits the people admire, and appeal to employers. Even ‘average’ looking employees can expect to earn more than those deemed ‘ugly’.

Short of plastic surgery, there’s not a lot that we can do about the looks that we are born with, but what we can do is control the way we dress, and the way we look after what we have. Going to the gym, eating well, and wearing good, well-fitting clothing can go a long way. The confidence you will gain from this will go a long way to improving your appearance as well.

To sum up, I will reiterate – Image Matters. How you dress, how you speak, and how you behave all affect what other people think of you, and I want those thoughts to be positive; don’t you? It’s not difficult, start eating healthy, go to the gym, greet people with a smile and a warm handshake. If you don’t already, iron your shirts, press your trousers, and shine your shoes. Consider wearing a blazer to work, if you don’t already wear a suit. Pay attention to how your clothes fit, and ask yourself if they are really appropriate for the situation. These little things really go a long way, and you will soon notice a difference. Your co-workers will treat you better, clients will want to work with you more, strangers on the street will give you a smile and a nod as you pass by, and you will feel better about yourself.  If you need a little advice, then send me an e-mail, leave a comment, or book an appointment; I’m here to help

First Impressions

Perception is reality (it’s also an interesting TV show, but that’s not relevant). People are judged based on their appearance, just as much as they are on their actions, and first impressions truly do count. Think of your first impression as a photo of yourself. Every time someone thinks of you, they will picture that image. That’s not to say that the image won’t change over time (like Dorian Gray’s portrait), because it will, it just takes time and effort; but if you give a horrible first impression to the person interviewing you for a new job, or a prospective client, chances are they aren’t going to give you the chance. With that in mind, here are a few tips to making a great first impression.

Be Punctual

There are few things more disrespectful than being late; paraphrasing an old military adage “If you’re 5 minutes early, you’re 10 minutes late”. In addition to showing that you respect a person enough to show up early, it gives you a little extra leeway in case of unforeseen delays. Often before an appointment (job interview, doctor appointment) you will have paperwork to fill out, and being early gives you time to do this as well. If, due to some unavoidable act of God, you are going to be late (your alarm not going off doesn’t count), then phone ahead as soon as possible to let someone know.

Handshake

You can tell alot about a person by the way they shake hands, and unfortunately it’s something that a lot of people need to work on. Your grip should be firm; you don’t want to be crushing their hand, but you definitely don’t want to be a dead fish

A great instructional video by The Art of Manliness

Eye Contact

They say that the eyes are the window to the window to the soul; while I wouldn’t go that far, the ability to maintain eye contact is something that many people lack. Sometimes they are hiding something, sometimes they are just nervous, but people who avoid eye contact are usually considered less trustworthy than those maintain it. In general, maintain eye contact when you are approaching someone, and for about 3-4 seconds at a time while talking with them; briefly look away, and then back to their eyes. Don’t stare at them, and try not to be creepy about it. If you find it difficult to look them directly in the eyes, then try to focus on the bridge of their nose; assuming you aren’t too close to them, or go cross-eyed, then they most likely won’t be able to tell you aren’t looking them in the eye; eventually it will get easier to look them in the eye.

Dress Appropriately

I’m going to cover dress codes, and what you should wear in particular situations in a later article, but if you are going for an interview (depending on the field), then you should probably be wearing a suit. If you’re not sure on what suit to wear, then check out my article on buying a suit. Dress shoes should be shined, your clothes should be clean and pressed, and they need to fit you. Most men either buy their clothes too big (thinking it will hide their weight, or because they don’t know better), or too small (trying to show off); neither of these options is appropriate for a professional setting, and clothes that fit you properly will make you look better than anything else will. I will cover proper fit more in a later article. You don’t want to be over or underdressed; if you are going to a pre scheduled event (wedding, party), call ahead and ask the host what the dress code is if you aren’t sure. When in doubt, overdressed is better than underdressed, because you can always remove a jacket or tie if needed . If you are giving a presentation, going to a job interview, or meeting clients, you should probably be wearing a suit (depending on the target audience). At the very least, you should be wearing a dress shirt, tie, and trousers. In all other situations, wear clothes that fit, look good on you, and are appropriate for the situation.

Speak Clearly

Don’t mumble, and don’t yell. Be clear and concise; make sure that your voice isn’t too high-pitched – studies have shown that people with a deeper voice are taken more seriously, but that doesn’t mean that you need to sound like Morgan Freeman (that would be cool though), just don’t go overboard.  I shouldn’t need to say it, but don’t use profanities. Bad language is never appropriate in any professional setting, and should be avoided as much as possible in personal settings as well.

Be Confident

Confidence is a major key to success in most things you do. If you don’t believe that you can do something, then chances are you can’t; but when you have confidence in yourself it shows, you feel better about yourself, your happier, and more productive. Confidence comes from an unwavering belief in yourself. It’s not about knowing that you are better than everyone else (that’s arrogance), but from knowing that there is nothing that can stop you from accomplishing your goals, and that, for whatever faults you may have, so long as you continue to be the best person you can be, then nothing can stand in your way.

Grooming

It should go without saying that you should be showering daily, and using deodorant. If you are going for a job interview, you shouldn’t use cologne (there are a few reasons that I will talk about in a later article), but it’s okay most other times; just don’t use too much; a spray or two on your neck, and one on each wrist is enough. I know someone who thinks it’s okay to slather it under his arms like deodorant; It’s not. As far as deodorant goes, find one that you like; I like Old Spice. If you can, try to layer the scent i.e bodywash, aftershave, and deodorant of the same scent. This will stop the different fragrances from conflicting, and make you smell like one good thing, and not half a dozen average things. If you are using cologne, I recommend a simple antiperspirants, instead of deodorant; if not, then a combination antiperspirants/deodorant is the way to go.

Brush your hair, and your teeth. If you use hair product you will probably have the tendency to overdo it before a big event, so use less than you think is enough. If you have a beard, make sure it’s neat and tidy. If you are going for a job interview for a position in an office, or something along those lines, I would recommend shaving the beard entirely. Being clean-shaven is a more professional look than sporting a beard, but if you absolutely refuse to shave it, then trim it, and make it as professional looking as you can.

Body language

Most of what I’ve covered here falls under the banner of ‘non-verbal communication’; the things you are saying when you aren’t speaking. Body language is a very interesting subject, but is a bit too complex to go into too great detail in this article (I will most likely cover it later). For now, the best advice I can give you is to stand up straight, don’t fidget, don’t cross your arms, and don’t forget to smile. If you are interested, here is an excellent documentary on ‘The Secrets of  Body Language’. It’s quite interesting, and I highly recommend you have a look.

Although these tips will help ensure you make a positive first impression, it would probably be a good idea to stick to them in general; making a great first impression on your first day of work is pointless if you are going to act like a classless arse the rest of the time. As always, comments are appreciated. What do you agree with? What do you disagree with? What else do you think I should have included? I think it was pretty good, but then, I am a little biased.

Until Next Time

5 Reasons a Man Should Dress Well

5 Reasons a Man Should Dress Well

Or


Why Should I Give a Damn?
 
Let me preface this by saying that there are far more than five reasons that a man should dress well, but these are the ones that I think are some of the most important.
 
1.    Respect
It’s not so much about having others respect you, as it is about you showing your respect for others and yourself. Dressing well shows that you respect others enough to put in the effort, and they in turn are more likely to show you respect. Along the same lines, looking like you just rolled out of bed all the time can give the impression that you don’t even respect yourself enough to put in the effort; and how are others supposed to respect you if you don’t respect yourself.
 
2.    Confidence
  Dressing well gives you confidence. Don’t believe me? Put on a well-fitting suit, shirt, and tie, and look in the mirror. Chances are you look pretty damn good; you could probably put James Bond to shame. That suit’s not wool, it’s solid steel; it’s a suit of armour, and you’re ready to take on the world, or sip on a martini at the bar while seducing a beautiful woman. You have a big presentation at work? No worries; Job Interview? It’s in the bag; Proposing? Who would say no to you? That’s the feeling a good suit gives you, and if that’s how your clothes make you feel every day, then the world is your oyster. (Note: Be confident, not arrogant)
 
3.    Details
 Dressing well requires paying attention to the little details. Your jacket sleeve showing just that quarter inch of shirt cuff, your trousers breaking just above your shoe, your cufflink just peeking out of your jacket sleeve, the handkerchief in your breast pocket; when you put in the effort to get these details right for yourself, you start to notice them in other people.  Eventually, you start to notice other little details as well, and when you wife or girlfriend asks if you notice anything different about her you can say “Yes, you got a haircut, it looks lovely”, or “I like your new earrings”, even before she asks.
 
4.    Dress for Success
 They say not to dress for your job, but for the job you want. Not as the man you are, but as the man you want to be. When you look like you are in charge, chances are people will treat you as if you were. If your boss sees that your co-workers look to you for guidance, and the clients all prefer you to your co-workers, then you are much more likely to get that promotion.
 
5.    Responsibility
I have three suits, six shirts, fourteen ties, and three pairs of shoes that I wear regularly. They are my favourites.  Before the day I plan to wear a suit I will hang it up in my bathroom and steam it with my steamer, then I will press it. If I know I’m going to have a busy week, I will do all the suits at once. The Saturday before the week begins I will wash and iron all my shirts (more on that later), and hang them. I will also polish my pairs of shoes (more on this later as well), and then I will usually go over them the morning or night before I plan to wear them. The night before I’m doing whatever it is I’m doing, I will plan my outfit, down to the cufflinks and pocket square, and place it on my valet stand. I do these things because I am responsible for my appearance; and if my shirt is wrinkled, or my shoes are scuffed, then there is no one to blame but myself, and that reflects poorly on me; and that is the opposite of what dressing well is supposed to do
 
Like I said at the beginning, this is nowhere near an all-inclusive list, and I certainly encourage you to find your own reasons. As I hinted above, I will be doing posts on how to iron your shirts, and properly polish your shoes. Comments and questions are always welcome.