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Guys-- How to figure out your style after college

Updated on December 6, 2016
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I run a life and style blog for 20-something guys called The Hippest Stuff. Google the name to check it out :)


Post-college life comes with a lot of transitions. All of a sudden you're working, living in a real apartment, drinking at bars instead of house parties, interacting with a lot of people older than you, and being evaluated as an almost-real adult. For a lot of people, developing a personal style is a critical part of this transition process. Style is important in college, but for most of us, there was too much else to think about during that time. But now that you have a little time and a job that brings in spending money, it's time to figure out the best stuff to spend it on.

I run a life and style blog for 20-something men, so I've spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff. Here's some concrete advice for figuring out your personal style after college.

Converse All-Stars are a popular, classic choice for casual shoes.
Converse All-Stars are a popular, classic choice for casual shoes.

5 steps to figuring out your style

Step 1: Read the popular Male Fashion Advice subreddit

Whatever you do, don't try to just invent a style out of thin air. You need some grounding in basic do-s and don'ts. The first step to acquiring this grounding is to read up on style basics online. One great place to do this is in the MFA subreddit, which is extremely popular and full of smart advice.

Step 2: Start following a bunch of style blogs, tumblrs, twitter accounts, instagrams, etc.

The goal here is to see as many pictures of stylish people as possible, and to continue to read other people's thoughts about how to be stylish. Keep in mind that everyone's idea of style is different. That's why this post is about figuring out your style after college. But to start off, you should learn as much as possible about what's out there, before moving on to step 3.

Step 3: Write down a phrase that describes your style.

You've seen hundreds of examples of how people dress, and you should have figured out what you like and what you don't. Now you need to write down what you like, to use as a guide for buying stuff. For example, the phrase that I use to describe my style is "big city guy with modern variations on classic clothes."

Step 4: Find 2-3 stores that stock clothes that fit your style.

This will help to constrain where you buy your clothes. For example, if you need a pair of chinos, you'll be able to focus on just 2-3 places to get them, and won't get distracted by the hundreds of other available options.

Step 5: Figure out 3 outfits that are the most basic outfits that someone with your style description would have to own. Confer with friends.

Figure out 3 outfits for your style. For example, one of mine is: white tshirt, Converse All-Stars, slim-fit indigo jeans and a cotton canvas bomber jacket. Write down these 3 outfits. Now confer with some friends. Even if they don't have awesome style, they will still likely be able to give you useful feedback. If the friends have good style, even better. It will help to have some images to show people during this conversation. Ask your friends to tell you if they think the style you've chosen would fit with your personality well, and ask for honest feedback.

Once you've gone through this process (perhaps more than once) and have some outfit options that you're happy with, go out and buy them! Warning: don't go for the swankiest stuff right away. You'll definitely make a lot of mistakes in the beginning of your style journey, and you don't want those mistakes to be expensive. Set a conservative budget and try to find alternative, cheaper versions of pieces that are too expensive. Don't get discouraged when you make a mistake. Just sell the piece used online (e.g. on ebay or and use it as a learning experience.

Below are some suggestions for stores to check out. There are many, many more options, but this should be a good start. I suggest keeping a list of your favorites.

Classic sunglasses in the Wayfarer style from Ray Ban.
Classic sunglasses in the Wayfarer style from Ray Ban.

Suggestions for stores to look at

Here are some stores that are popular for people with different styles. Some of them are too expensive to actually buy anything from, but they're still great for inspiration.

  1. J Crew -- American suburban aesthetic.
  2. COS -- Skandinavian minimalist style.
  3. APC -- Hip Parisian chique.
  4. BLK DNM -- New York City Style
  5. GANT -- A bit more conservative, but still interesting, american gentleman style.

Some jeans from APC, a popular Paris-based brand.
Some jeans from APC, a popular Paris-based brand.

See how your knowledge of where to shop compares with other readers.

How many stores can you think of off the top of your head that you would want to shop at?

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