Style History of the Suit: From Beau to Don to John (Wick)
How To Be Stylish: 6 Habits of Fashionable Men
The fashion world is fast-paced and constantly in flux, and not everyone has the time to keep up with the trends. Who does? But you don’t have to be a sartorial savant to know at least a little something about how to be stylish.
When it comes to tightening up your style, a little effort and planning can go a long way. And developing your own personal sense of style can do more than turn heads or help you get that promotion at work – it can also be fun!
If a more refined sense of style is something you can see yourself enjoying, then strap in. While there’s no perfect fashion formula (sorry, my dudes) there are several tips, tricks and habits that can work wonders leveling up your fashion game over the long run.
So whether you need to start over and create a new wardrobe from scratch or simply raise the bar on your existing style, read on and discover how you can make a lasting fashion improvement with tips from QMan.
Table of Contents
How To Look Stylish 101: Start With Shopping
It may sound obvious, but the key to creating a style that fits you like a glove begins… at a clothing store! You can peruse The Sartorialist all you want, but if you don’t get out there and start trying on pieces to find the right fit, you’ll never get past the theoretical stage.
Our advice is to start off by being bold and brave. Waltz into that motherf****r like you own the place, make some friendly eye contact, and when a clerk asks you if you need any help, don’t reply with a “Just looking, thanks.” Tell them what you need, or at least what you’re hoping to achieve. Ask for their advice.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make a Friend
When speaking to the staff, be judicious. Don’t chat up just anybody, head over to the best-dressed man or woman that you can find, and start a conversation. Depending on the store, this could be your shortcut to fashion glory. Finding the right retail employee means finding someone that loves to dress people. It’s their job, so do yourself a favor and sample their expertise.
You may learn that your skin tone or hair color generally works better with certain colors or fabrics. You may learn that the store you’re in is only good for a few types of the items you need, and end up getting a recommendation to go somewhere else.
The point is, the more time you spend learning, trying, experimenting and seeking out advice, the more prepared you’ll be to crush it when it comes time to buy.
Take Your Time
Don’t forget: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither should your wardrobe. You might spend two hours trying on 40 pairs of pants at six different stores and find NOTHING you like. That’s okay! Sometimes, finding out what you don’t want can be just as important as finding the things you do. In the battle for fashion style supremacy, patience is one of the most important virtues.
Don't Falter to Alter (i.e. Find a Tailor)
If you don’t have your tailor on speed dial, that’s okay. You’re not Tom Ford, after all. But if you don’t even have a tailor (or have never visited one) it might be time to make a change. Along with knowledgeable retail employees, finding a tailor is your most important task. Start looking!
You’ll need to find a tailor that you trust, that you can afford, and that understands the look you’re going for. Just don’t lose track of this fact: the tailor you befriend could end up being a life-long relationship. Try a few different ones before you make your choice.
Along with providing high-quality work, tailors can also help you create a more flattering silhouette, and even increase the lifespan of some of your favorite items by years. Anyone who wants to learn more about how to be stylish absolutely has to have a tailor that can help in the process.
What Can a Tailor Do For You?
A tailor is going to tell you what your exact measurements are, and provide you with a lot of great information that will help you build your wardrobe over time. For example, let’s talk about an appropriate suit size. Some people go their whole lives with sleeves that are too long, or wearing blazers that look like they were borrowed from their dad. You can do better!
A tailor can help you adjust your existing wardrobe to fit just right, and accommodate changes to your body over time. Their work can make a good shirt look great, but more than that, the right tailor can help you feel more confident.
Some people even recommend bringing your brand-new clothes, ones you just bought from the store, straight to the tailor. It may be a little bit pricey to add this step, but if it’s possible to fit it into your budget, you might want to try it out. Start with something small, and if it works well, you can come back with more of your stuff!
Custom-Made = Confidence Aid
Even more important than looking good is feeling comfortable. When you’re more comfortable, you’re more confident, and confidence shines through no matter what you’re wearing. Once you’ve found that special someone who can adjust your clothing so that it fits you in all the right ways, hold them tight and don’t ever let go!
It’s About Quality, Not Quantity
Just like every woman has their “little black dress,” there are a few staples that every stylish man should have at his disposal. In fact, with the right mixing and matching of fabrics and colors, an entire wardrobe can probably be built with less than two-dozen items. As Ryan Gosling said in the movie Crazy, Stupid Love: “Be better than the GAP.”
For example, all men should have a comfortable pair of well-fitting jeans, a couple of solid belts, a few t-shirts in neutral colors, a dark-colored sweater or two, a single-breasted dark or grey suit, a black blazer, a sensible leather jacket, a dark and a light pair of chinos, both a black and a brown leather dress shoe, a few dress shirts in different colors, and some ties with solid colors.
With so few items on the list, you may be able to afford to splurge in order to add that perfect piece to your collection. As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” When it comes to style tips for men, one of the best is to buy items with quality fabrics, quality brand names, and quality craftsmanship. They go a long way.
That said, we don’t want you to get the wrong impression: it’s not all about the brand name. You might find the perfect no-name piece in a thrift store. Sure, it might not fit perfectly at first, but if you followed our advice above and have already found a tailor, then use them!
One thing you definitely need to do if you want to be more stylish is to LET GO. A voice inside your head may urge you to keep wearing that pair of pants one more year, or to wash that t-shirt with the hole in it one more time.
But please, for the love of God, stop trying to stretch your dollars so that your clothes last 20 years. While there are exceptions, in most cases you have to be prepared to toss some of your old stuff.
Maintenance is Key
Okay, we’re almost there. You’ve found your tailor, you saved their number, and you’ve bought yourself a solid set of quality pieces that you can mix and match. Perfect! But if you don’t store or clean those stylish clothes correctly, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice.
Let’s start with something simple: picking up some quality clothes hangers. We know, you have 75 bent-ass metal hangers you’ve been lugging around with you every time you move. Everybody does. But hanging a quality cashmere sweater or a top-tier dress shirt on one of them is basically a war crime. If you want to be a big boy and don’t want the Fashion United Nations to indict you in the Hague, don’t do this. Buy some quality hangers.
After you spent time trying on and buying the perfect wardrobe, it’s best to treat your new clothes with the respect that they deserve. Storing things correctly will add years of life to your shirts, sweaters and pants. In fact, there’s an entire science behind it. Do yourself a favor and read up on it. You’ll thank us later.
Dry Cleaning is Your Friend
Let’s face it, some things simply can’t be thrown into the wash at home. Yes, we know it’s a bit expensive to dry clean everything all the time. But just like your car needs maintenance every year, so does your wardrobe. You wouldn’t try to save a few bucks by not putting on your winter tires, would you?
If the idea of a regular dry-cleaning budget scares you, settle for some form of compromise. When you put that high-quality winter sweater away in the springtime, for example, take care of it properly, get it dry cleaned, and store it out of direct sunlight, in room temperature or cooler, and not in the basement or attic.
Pay Attention to the Details
There are a ton of extras that can turn a good outfit into an absolute banger, and many of them are pretty obvious. Still, even though the fashion glory is right there for the taking, many men neglect this necessary part of leveling-up their game. When it comes to style tips for men, accessories and grooming can make a huge difference.
You can tell a lot about a person from the shoes they wear. If you’ve spent a pretty penny and assembled an outfit to die for, it can all be for naught if you arrive wearing a pair of scuffed up and ratty-looking sneakers. In many ways, shoes make the man, so finding the right three or four pairs can make all the difference.
When you’re wearing a blazer, the simple addition of a pocket square can do so much for you that it makes no sense not to have a few at your disposal. Should you use a fabric that matches your blazer? One that contrasts? What aesthetic do you want to bring? Read up on pocket square etiquette and get started – you won’t regret it.
Everyone knows the horror of a bad haircut. Even a handsome man is not immune from the devastation a poorly conceived cut can bring. And much like the tailor, once you’ve found a barber or stylist that just gets you, don’t lose their number. He or she can be someone you rely on for years, so once you’ve found your special someone, don’t underestimate their importance.
A signature scent may not be for everybody, but having a go-to fragrance can really do a lot for an already-fashionable gentleman. They say that our sense of smell is heavily linked to memory, so if you’re trying to make an impact or be remembered, consider reading up on the subject and spending some of that shopping time trying out colognes.
There are plenty of extras that a fashionable man must consider collecting. These include items such as the right watch, the right glasses, the right wallet, and an appropriate laptop or messenger bag. There are ties, scarves, tie clips, and hats to consider, not to mention briefcases, rings, necklaces, cufflinks, and gloves for the fall and winter. The list goes on, and so must your research. Fashion is a lifelong pursuit. Enjoy the journey!
Ultimately, Be Yourself
Part of upping your fashion game is embracing a new you, and experimenting in areas you might not have originally felt comfortable in.
But just as it is important to invest in a few key items that transcend seasonal fashion trends, it’s also important not to stray too far from who you really are, and what you’re comfortable wearing.
Ultimately, the best energy a fashionable man can give off is confidence. It might come from a fantastic pair of underwear, or the right haircut, or staying fit at the gym. You might derive some of your mojo from a high-quality wool, cotton or cashmere piece, or a watch that means a lot to you.
Just remember, the clothing and accessories you build into your wardrobe are ultimately nothing more than tools that you use to get what you want. They can be a way to communicate your own personal style message to the world, a way to signal to a potential mate that you’re a good catch, or a way to let your co-workers know you’re destined for professional success.
No matter what you use your sense of style to accomplish, make sure that it feels authentic, and you’ll be well on your way!