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Style 101: A Primer for the Gentlebro

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Now that your body's in check, let's talk about how to dress it.

George Clooney, Johnny Depp, Tinie Tempah, Ryan Gosling’s character in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Basically just Ryan Gosling in general.

What do these names have in common?

Probably loads of things really, but what’s pertinent to us today is style.

Not just style, but a dapper style that seems effortless. They look good. No, they look sharp; polished.

To any man who takes pride in his appearance, guys like this are pillars; yardsticks from which to measure our own style. Or often times lack thereof…

The crucial thing to note with this is that you too can have a style that speaks for you. A style that precedes you. A style that speaks of your reputation and personal brand – your man-brand. It needn’t be complicated or highly involved, it just takes some simple principles.

You too can have an appearance that turns heads – that sees you receive unsolicited comments like, “You, my friend, look sharp!”

The question as to how invariably comes about now… So let’s address it.

If you’re anything like Mr. Romaniello and myself, then you not only enjoyed Crazy, Stupid, Love, but you picked up some of its more subtle (and overt) lessons. One of which being to “Be better than the Gap.”

gapgosling

You may also have had that cold water-slap to the face realization that yes, many men are just like Steve Carell’s character, Cal; plain, boring, mediocre, accepting of a sad reality that clothes are there to prevent public nudity and hypothermia or sun burn.

It’s time to change the equation fellas.

Roman has covered this in addressing every element surround your appearance with your clothes off.  I want to talk about your appearance with your clothes on.

You must also know how to present yourself in the best light possible when it comes to your fully (or partially) clothed “man-brand”.

So when you go to work, don’t just look the part, look sharp. When you head out with a girl, don’t just look good, look great. When you go for a coffee with a potential client, make sure they actually notice how good you look. Seriously, this can go a long way to them wanting to work with you.

This isn’t to say you must have the reputation of someone who is a style innovator, fashion leader, or perhaps conceited asshole. What we’re talking about here is personal grooming, appropriate dress sense, and overall (personalized) style.

In the exact same way that improving your physical intelligence will help you gain better knowledge of your body and ultimately improve your naked self, the same applies for the clothed you.

You must get to know your body and what works with it and how you look best. If you’re as gifted in the height department as Tom Cruise then avoid wearing long shirts un-tucked — it will make you look shorter. If you’ve got the “bean pole” stature of a marathon runner then wearing a suit that isn’t fitted will make you look like a recently transformed Tom Hanks from Big .

Sounds like “goes without saying” kind of stuff, but sadly so many guys let themselves down here. Don’t be that guy.

We’re better than that, right?

To develop this polished appearance you must create an awesome brand out of yourself, and you must work at it. Here’s how.


Personal Brand, Style, And Grooming: Clothes Maketh the Man

There’s a reason this saying dates back to the middle ages; because we do judge a man by his appearance.

There are countless examples of what not to do, but the foundational key is to get to know your body shape and what suits it best. This can be the difference between looking OK (no one notices), looking good (you may get a comment), and looking so goddamn sharp that people are approaching you at random.

Your starting point: buy clothes that fit YOU.

If you’ve worked hard to become better than the GAP then don’t hide behind big baggy clothes. Allow people to see that you take great care of yourself.

Ryan-Gosling

Gosling must have read this article.

We judge books by their covers. 

And that’s OK. It’s natural. Your appearance will come into play very early on in any interaction. It’s the first window into your personality and it informs people straight away that your man-brand is one to be noticed and an indication as to how you should be interacted with.

Buy shirts and tops that are fitted; don’t hide in baggy pants or jeans; make sure your care and hard work can be seen. This doesn’t mean walking around in stupidly tight shirts or skinny jeans that give you a muffin top (you’re a man, do not EVER have a muffin top) – just dress to complement your body.

Dress for the occasion, and never be underdressed.

We’ll look at some more specifics shortly. For now you must start to look at your body, find out what your strengths are, and accentuate them. If you have features that don’t really work for you, then highlight your strong points!

This might not just be something obvious like a large protruding gut; you may get nervous and sweaty before meetings, for example. Therefore, ensure you don’t wear shirt colors that will show big soaking pits- such as light colors – or simply keep your jacket on.

Don’t leave this stuff to chance; put a little thought into it.

Outside of knowing your own body, also investigate what looks good in general, and what doesn’t. Just because some guys look good in small, arse and package hugging swimming briefs, that doesn’t mean they are an appropriate choice for you

Some things can be a bad idea no matter how good you look in them (see swimming briefs above), and therefore if worn will work against you (context is key here).

Just like with movement and nutrition, find things that work for you and keep it painfully simple if need be. Let’s take a closer look:

1. Buy a fitted suit – If you wear a suit to work, or ever, go and get one made to fit your body. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune or be an expensive material or intricate cut. Even a simple black suit that fits you perfectly can be the difference between looking like an amateur and looking like a professional. 

2. If you’ve got it flaunt it (subtly) – This can be used as liberally as you like, but if you have great arms, then get them out when it’s appropriate. If you’ve got a great shaped torso then buy shirts and tops that are fitted (or slightly fitted), not baggy. Got great legs? Then buy jeans and pants that show it. They don’t have to be (nor should they be) tight, but loose is a no go.

People should be able to subtly see the care you take and the work you put in. This shows your devotion and potential for hard work (i.e. it speaks to your character), as well as simply highlighting some of your assets. Nothing wrong with subtly showing off your strong points, just don’t be conceited about it.

3. Dress appropriately for the occasion I’m slightly hesitant to say it, but it’s hard to be overdressed and easy to be underdressed. The former just means you take your appearance seriously, the latter shows a potential hole in your intelligence.If the occasion calls for black tie, then you better get yourself into a good looking tux that fits you. Whereas if you find yourself attending a wedding with dress code ‘Beach Cocktail’, then don’t just think “I’ll wear my suit but take my shoes off.” No, no no no. This won’t do. You’ll look ridiculous. Research and put a little thought into it – white dress shorts, light red shirt, light blue blazer and navy loafers, if you must know… 

4. Choose fashion that suits YOU Just because something’s fashionable that does not mean everyone should wear it. Much like many Hipsters will wear anything because they think they look cool and different, most of it often looks plain ridiculous. That’s OK for some, but many of us should be weary of making the same potentially disastrous decisions just to fit in.

5. Buy jeans that fit YOU – Jeans can be a nightmare to fit into, especially if you’ve followed any of the RFS approved workouts and you now have a bona-fide set of Quadzillas (that’s a thing). This is exactly why you should search out some that not only look good on the rack, but look better on you. This goes for the length, as well as shape. Put a little time and effort into finding the right pair, and don’t be afraid to ask the sales associate what they recommend for you. 

6. Match your socks with your trousers and shoes Never wear athletic socks under dress pants or anything other than your training shoes. Just like you shouldn’t have black business socks on with your shorts at the gym. Never ever. Same goes with your belt – match it to your shoes, especially when you’re suited. Rule of thumb: match socks to shoes, and shoes to belt. 

7. Choose your underwear wisely If they have holes, lose them. Baggy boxers are for teenagers and should never be worn under a suit (massive potential for any sneaky boners to reveal themselves – front and centre!). Boxers or briefs, it’s up to you, but make sure you have multiple ‘best’ pairs so you always look your best when stripped down to nothing else. Remember: you never know when you’ll be getting down to the bare essentials and this is where you need to look your utmost best.  

8. Accessorize on a less is more basis For guys, accessories such as rings, necklaces, and watches can look pretty dope. Yes, dope. However, they can also look over the top, cheap and tacky. Getting the balance right is important, otherwise you can be under or over represented by your bling. If you’re unsure about your style then go simple- a quality dress watch and simple but stylish ring at most. If you’re a bit funkier and this fits your brand then by all means get a watch that’s a bit more out there and a pimping necklace. Just make sure it’s consistent with your look. Ladies will notice the detail you put in, so this can be huge when it comes to matters of the opposite sex, and well, sex in general, i.e. getting it.

While we’re on accessories, ensure you don’t get taller when you sit down… you know, the wallet so thick it could act as a blunt weapon. Lose the superfluous cards, receipts and anything else you’ve been hoarding, and take the essentials only. Bonus points for the bros who graduate to a money clip.

9. Stay in your lane – snapback caps rarely look good on the average guy in his 30’s, unless that’s your specific look. If that’s not you, then “stay in your lane”. There are endless examples of this, but the key is to recognize what you can work or get away with (age/demographic usually helps as an indicator here) and to stay in that lane.Stepping just outside of your lane can give you a bit of edge. Straying across lanes too far can kill your image.


The Facial Hairs

It might be on trend to sweep your long hair across your forehead, but if it makes you look like an adolescent boy band member then you would pay to think again. Longer hair should be avoided if you’re thinning out on top.

Pay the money to go to a great hairstylist and get them to help you find a style that suits your face shape and your hair.

This brings me onto grooming in general. Regardless of the situation, be it work, home, or socializing, being well-groomed is the cornerstone of looking great and presenting a sharp, polished appearance.

If you passionately hate shaving, then don’t. Keep a short tidy beard, just make sure you maintain tidy, and never let it look like you’ve been on an alcohol-fueled bender for 5 days without sleep or a shower (unless you have been, in which case, I salute you. Now get back on track ASAP).

Facial hair can be your best friend or your worst enemy, so find which one suits you specifically. Many men don’t suit a goatee, so tread carefully with these. A short tidy beard will do the trick, but if your facial hair is thinner than that of a 12 year old girl, clean shaven is your only option.

Style your hair to suit you not the trends – The shape of your head, the amount of hair you have, and the way it grows are crucial to how to best style your hair. Don’t make the mistake of going with a super fashionable ‘do just because the Gosling has it.

The other facial hairs – Make sure your eyebrows aren’t joining together and forming an alliance against you. Ensure nose hairs do not start marching south and putting their heads out below the nostril line. Keep these trim or pluck them regularly.The next crucial hair grooming factor is the downstairs mix-up. My simple rule and guideline for this is – What do you expect out of a partner? If it’s trim and neat then make sure yours is the same. Keep it tidy; it’s the 21st century, man!


You Smell Pretty!

The final clincher for style and appearance is having some cologne that smells amazing and will draw people to you. Don’t go over the top here, but just ensure it smells good, and use it sparingly. Do not drown yourself in the scent, keep it present yet subtle.

My advice on what to buy is simple – go for something you can count on, and if you are unsure ask a woman. They will give you the best advice hands down. 

Have a cologne that attracts people to youThis can be something that your mum gave you, a recommendation from a lady friend or just the one you’ve always had. Either way, get yourself cologne that smells good, makes you smell better and attracts people to you. Use it daily, but sparingly – spray and walk into it. There’s nothing worse than a guy drowning in cologne (well maybe strong BO, you know, that’s not so good), especially if it’s cheap and nasty.

Get the recommendation of someone who knows when a guy smells good. I ask 2-3 females before any purchase. This ensures a tested audience.Special note – grooming goes beyond this and into hygiene, however, I feel if you aren’t up to scratch with bathing, keeping nails in check, dental care and skin care, then I think you better drop this and start there champ. You’ve got bigger things to worry about.

Of course you can ignore these things and simply take a risk with whatever you’re currently doing. However, note that if you are dropping the ball on some of these basics, which many guys are, then you’re doing yourself a massive disservice. Don’t leave this stuff to chance; put your best foot forward, as often as you can.

Remember lads, this has nothing to do with trying to outdo the guy next to you. This is about maximizing your appearance and becoming better than you were yesterday. Better than the GAP.

Giving yourself the best chance to build relationships, foster connections and actually be happy and content with your life. As the wise old man once said…

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”- Ernest Hemmingway

This is a vital part in the whole picture that is you. Remember, you’re like a book cover, and like you make those initial judgements on others (be honest), they will do the same to you.

Now you just have to decide what story you want your cover to tell, what opinion to make, and what actions you want the reader to take.

About the Author

Man Coach & self proclaimed geek-meathead hybrid, Mike helps men become their own perfect mix of 007, Nelson Mandela & Batman. He is the mastermind and creator of the ‘Beast-Gentleman-Legend Coaching Program’- a proven system for helping men unleash the power and awesomeness that lies within them, not just physically, but in all areas of life.

  • JL Ng

    Be better than the Gap. Look great feel awesome!

  • Dylan Ryan

    As a fellow guy who also likes Crazy, Stupid, Love, this is good stuff.

  • Ben Weston

    Do you have any recommendations for brands that have shorts that suit men with, well, thunderous thighs? I’ve used Bonobos’ stretch jeans and chinos with great success but they don’t have the same for their shorts unfortunately.

    • I’m based in Australia Ben, so can’t speak too confidently on it when it comes to anything outside of here. However, my main recommendation is – when you find a brand that works, run with it! Outside of that, go up a size and invest in getting them tailored to you.

  • Oh Ryan. He pretty much sums everything up! :) I believe the most important thing mentioned here is to choose fashion that suits you, find your own style and stick to it rather than going with the flow!
    x motte
    http://mottesblog.blogspot.com/

  • Philip Kastinger

    Solid and comprehensive, a good start for many men, that’s sure ;-)

    • Thanks Philip. Yep – many guys kind of scree this one up, especially after spending so much energy on the looking better naked part. Gotta pull it off clothed!