5 Style Tips for the Regular Guy, Part One

Establishing your own style is not difficult!
Establishing your own style is not difficult! | Source

©July 3, 2012 purplmama

So you may be asking why a gal would be publishing an article for men discussing basic tips for developing better style. Because I can. I come from over 26 years of retail sales and management and some of that experience comes from selling men’s wear, including tuxedo rentals. It amazed me how many young men, either just starting out or somewhat established, would come in completely unaware of how to dress effectively. Here I’ll give you 5 simple steps to follow that will help you get started in developing a better style. Notice that I haven’t used the words fashion or trend; style, fashion and trend all mean different things! Style lasts but fashion and trends don't. I’m writing this article for YOU, the regular guy who doesn’t subscribe to any of the edgy, fashion forward men’s magazines and who doesn’t shop at the outrageously-priced men’s boutiques. These tips are a basic foundation, and if you want to develop your personal style even further, this foundation will allow you to do that. After all, you can’t drive a race car until you learn how to drive. So let’s get started.

1. Leather Accessories

Make sure that your belt and shoes ALWAYS MATCH! When a man’s leather accessories don’t match, this declares to the world that he is either sloppy, unaware, or both. It makes others wonder if you dressed in the dark. Making sure that your belt and shoes match is one of the easiest and quickest ways to develop a better personal style. This also applies if you’re using a messenger bag, tote or briefcase. I realize that leather bags can be costly, so if you can’t get leather, use a neutral shade of tweed or twill with antiqued or brushed hardware. This seems like such a simple detail, but it’s a detail that gets missed by so many guys who sincerely think that it doesn’t matter, or they don’t think about it at all. Coordinating your leather accessories shows an element of consistency in your character. Oh, I'll talk about shoes later in this article series.

What about leather colors? Here are some suggestions:

· Black leather—wear this with black, charcoal or grey.

· Oxblood (Burgundy)—wear this with olive, brown, navy or dark khaki.

· Brown leather—wear this with olive, navy, brown, khaki or beige.

2. Pants

Good gravy, this floors me. I wish I had a dollar for every time that I had a guy walk in with his pants pulled down tight around his hips. Truly, there comes a time in a man’s life when he must turn from the wardrobe choices of his youth. Make sure that you’re wearing your pants AT YOUR WAIST! Nothing says careless like pants that are worn pulled down over the hip bones. Yes, this is the current look—if you’re 17 and wearing skate shorts. Not only does this practice ruin your pants by stretching out the waistband and crotch seams, but it also looks horrible and gives you a saggy appearance. This does not instill confidence in those who meet you at an interview or at the job site, and it shows a lack of respect in the way that you present yourself. Simply put, you can’t be taken seriously when you look saggy. Make sure that you’re wearing the correct size pant, since wearing them pulled around your hips throws off your size, causing you to think you need a smaller size than you actually do. You need to wear your pants at your anatomical waist, not where you want your waist to be.

In addition to the proper size, you’ll need to decide if you want a pant with a classic or a modern, slim-fit cut. This is the Mad Men look; you know, skinny. Personally, I don’t like it, but it is the current trend. I prefer the classic, straight leg with a plain or cuffed bottom. Speaking of hem, here’s the rule: for a flat front pant, you’ll get a plain bottom and for a pleated pant, you’ll get a cuff. There’s also the “break” to consider. The break is how much the pant folds over the top of your shoe. In my opinion, a very full break looks sloppy and a break that’s too lean makes you look like you’ve outgrown your pants. Whenever I had a client at the mirror, I always advised him to take a medium break. It’s a moderate yet professional look.

3. Socks

Socks are the bridge between your pant leg and your shoe. You have 3 choices here: match your pant, match your shoe or go rogue, like Seeley Booth. Now the latter is great, if you’re a … well, if you’re like Booth. Yeah, I’ve liked him ever since Buffy, but that’s a different story... Anywhoooo…

The thing about socks is that you have to pick a side. If you’re wearing an olive pant and brown shoe, you’ll need to decide which way to go. When I was selling, I’d give my client the choice of olive socks in several tones, period. From experience, my advice would be to pick a darker match to your pant. Start off with good cotton, then as your wardrobe and budget grows, you can acquire merino wool, silk and cashmere.

4. Fit

Truly, I can’t overemphasize enough the importance of fit! Properly-fitting or ill-fitting clothes make a difference in comfort, appearance and the way that you carry yourself. If you’re a size 46 Regular suit, don’t walk into the men’s shop and ask where the 42s are. Anyway, the experienced salesperson will take one look at you and know that you’re living on the banks of denial. Facing the reality of your true size is just as important for men as it is for women and it demonstrates an honesty and confidence in your character. Did you know that you can walk into most men’s shops and simply ask to be fitted, without obligation? When I was in the industry, I never saw it as a problem to measure and fit a man, knowing he wasn’t ready to buy yet. I’d fit him, give him his information—along with MY business card—and wish him well, telling him that when he came back to buy, he had to see me. If the shop gives you problems with this, go somewhere else.. Then contact the company and give feedback; in today’s economic climate, companies can’t afford to turn off potential customers.

5. Budget

When you walk into a men’s shop, go for the marked down section. If you don’t know your size, ask a salesperson for a fitting. As I stated previously, you have every right to ask for measurements without obligation and have them written down on a card to take with you. Many chains now offer BOGO suits, shirts and ties, so take advantage of this trend in men’s wear marketing. Take advantage of the current desperation felt by many men’s wear companies! In an effort to lure buyers, these men’s wear companies are competing and giving away more and more free merchandise, and many price match.

Keep in Mind…

Once you’ve learned the basics of dressing effectively, you’ll continue to develop a personal style of dress as you grow in your own life experience. Please remember that improving and developing your style of dress is not difficult and will only benefit you. It’s completely worth it. Stay tuned for the second part of this style article for the regular guy.


Note: I must give credit to my buddy, Ryan, who is the model in the photograph for this article. Ryan is a total hunky-hunk who freelance models for several agencies. You can find him at Allan Spiers Photography and Photography by RJ. Ryan is multi-talented, whether you need someone to represent edgy, fun, boy-next-door, steamy, innocent or athletic. He’s also a gifted and passionate writer who specializes in scripts.

Do you think it's important to develop a personal style?

  • Yes, style is important as we mature and move forward in our lives.
  • No, the way you dress doesn't matter--if people don't like it, screw 'em.
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petenali 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Some good insight here. There also has to be room for personal expression, but your basic go-to ideas are sound. Voted up and sharing...

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