Most men begin their day by getting dressed. A hundred years ago the average man would throw on overalls or a pair of work-boots before going in to work. A century later more men than ever before are suiting-up before beginning their day – and not only are they dressing up, but they are dressing well.
The worldwide web has shown that men are not only interested in fashion and style, but bloggers like Scott Schuman (aka The Sartorialist) and Tommy Ton have provided evidence to suggest that they are quite good at it as well. The men pictured therein are not typical however. The well-dressed men of New York, Paris, and Milan seen on these blogs are industry professionals and are fashion’s equivalent of pro-athletes. Though executed in a way that suggests comfort and ease, these looks are studies in self-discipline and practice. What these sharply dressed men have had to learn is that being well-put together is a serious pursuit and is almost never effortless.
The pay-off, however, is huge in comparison to the relatively minor investment made. The importance of taking care of yourself and the things that people see is that it informs a multitude of things they can’t. Being a well-dressed man won’t allow you to change your life and get the girl over night, but it can help to define a sharper, better you.
Most people begin the day by getting dressed. If that process can help instill an inward sense of confidence and grace, it will be much easier to project it outwards as the day goes on. What the street-style stars have learned is that life can be beautiful, and that beauty begins at home. So without further adieu here are some of the best arguments on the importance of being a sharp dressed man.
Look Good, Feel Good.
Ever noticed how you always stand up straighter with your shirt tucked in? Or how you hold yourself differently in a suit than a pair of jeans? Clothing effects the way you move and behave not only because it physically constricts you, but because it makes you feel a certain way.
We have deep-rooted associations when it comes to certain items of clothing and what they mean. For example, ties convey power and professionalism, while jeans suggest comfort and functionality. Women have known about this trick for ages: the appeal of a much beloved pair of heels clearly not being their comfort, but the feeling of sexiness and glamor they instantly convey.
The trick is to exploit these associations for personal betterment. Making a big presentation at work? Create instant confidence with a suit jacket that not only makes you look the part, but helps you act it as well. Feeling under-the-weather? Fight lethargy by dressing up rather than dressing down.
In the end, the transformational effect of dressing is two-fold. Firstly, it’s psychological. Being appropriately well-dressed helps you feel confident and at ease with your surroundings rather than worried about being under-dressed or out of place. It also taps into the deeply ingrained associations we have with certain kinds of clothing. The other aspect is physical. If you don’t already, iron and starch your shirt tomorrow morning and feel the difference it makes to the way you move. You’re movements will be more careful and refined because of the small effort you’ve put in. A feeling of confidence isn’t just in your head after all: students who dress up for exams report scoring better than those who didn’t. The lesson learned? If you want to feel smart, look smart too.
Another important aspect of being a sharp dressed man is that it can help you develop long-term goals for personal achievement. We’re not talking about buying a size smaller than you wear in anticipation of future weight-loss, we are referring to the power of dressing like the man you want to be.
The way you dress is a huge part of the image of yourself you put out in to the world. It’s a massive part of people’s first impressions and it affects the way they treat you. Instead of lamenting the superficiality of the modern condition – work with it! Dressing sharply (whatever your profession) demonstrates a level of competence, confidence and presentability. Looking like the man you want to be not only allows you to see potential in yourself, but will help others do the same. It’s not about the construction worker dressing like Gordon Gekko, it’s about taking the time to show you care about yourself and your work.
Razor Sharp: dressing & self-discipline
Rather than getting dressed to the nines in a perfect suit and worrying about it all day, think of being well-dressed as communicating a kind of quiet strength. Some of the toughest men are also the most sharply dressed. There’s a reason that soldiers and military personnel are held to such exactingly high standards of dress. Being neat and properly attired is a form of self-discipline and can take a great deal of strength and rigor to maintain. It is that maintenance and care which teaches men and soldiers alike to pay attention to the details in dress and in life.
As most men know well, looking fine can be easy, but looking sharp is hard. There is something about a well-dressed man (whether in a uniform or a blazer) that suggests a strength of character and body. The thoughtfulness and attention required to look sharp, and the strength and carefulness required to stay that way are not signs of fussy self-consciousness but demonstrate strength and a keen self-awareness.
Get noticed, Stand out
It can be hard to get noticed sometimes. With more and more competition in the workforce, coupled with easier access to low-cost, high-style clothing, standing out with a “power suit” just doesn’t cut it anymore. The sharp-dressed man gets noticed amongst the crowd because he is different.
What the uber-gentlemen featured on street-style blogs are is not just well-dressed – lots of people are well-dressed nowadays – but impeccably well-dressed with an element of flair.
From a lively pocket square, to a vintage lapel pin, or a pair of bold frames, these guys are experts at mixing classic cuts with modern touches to create looks that represent who they are.
While you might not have access to the scores of designer duds these guys do, it is still possible to add a dose of personality to a simple look. The typical office or weekend environment is a little less fashion-forward than the streets of Milan, so keep the “flair” restrained. It’s not about making your outfits speak louder, it’s about having them speak in your own voice. Whether you work in a cubicle, a corner office, or a construction site, it is always possible to dress with style and personality.
Great style takes time
This is the last point we are going to make because it is the most important: being a sharp dressed man is not about trying to keep up with the latest trends of the moment, it is about finding a personal style that is comfortable and that works for you. There is nothing stylish or attractive about a man who is totally inappropriately dressed for the life he lives. But no matter who you are: whatever your job, income, or tastes, it is completely possible to live with style. Trends and fashions come and go, and will no doubt influence your style as they wax and wane. Some will stick with you, some won’t, and some will completely pass you by. That’s fine.
Style is highly personal and takes a lifetime to hone. Being a sharp dressed man is about care, thoughtfulness, and respect for yourself and others. As we’ve said before, most people begin their day by getting dressed. If you can dress in a way that combines elements of your own personality and style, as well as the man you strive to be, it will be a good day indeed.
As much as the guys seen in magazines and street-style blogs don’t represent the average guy, they do represent an ever-increasing class of men who are taking care of the way they look. No longer is it only fashion editors, and Patrick Bateman-esque professionals who can recite the difference between chambray and charmeuse. A whole new generation of snappy-dressers is raising the popular standard for how to dress, groom, and comport oneself. Men like those found on The Sartorialist, although outliers to a certain extent, are part of a global movement of Sharp Dressed Men. The key to being one of them are theses points:
- Look good, feel good. Use clothing to set the tone for your performance, feelings and attitude throughout the day.
- Use your wardrobe to work towards being the man you want to be.
- Think of being well-dressed as an act of self-discipline. Caring about the way you look is not effeminate, but is a subtle display of strength – a very manly thing indeed.
- Stand out from the crowd. Make your style personal and rise above the rest.
- Think style not fashion. Style is a personal thing that takes a lifetime to develop and refine. Getting dressed is about being yourself and looking like who you want to be.
Feel that you yourself are a sharp dressed man, and that we missed something? Got a point or two to add to the debate? Let us and your fellow readers know!
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