Imitation (Usually) is Not Flattering

Want better style? Then just read or go shopping and get nice-looking clothes? Many men in fact are doing that. Caution! A source of help or inspiration that might be okay for one man can be wrong for another. It is very possible to read decent sources and shop at nice stores and still make make style changes that do not go well. People getting style that works well for them usually is not easy, and often requires style changes beyond clothing. Even the good-looking people who might easily look good in clothes often have to work hard to maintain their physical beauty and visually communicate traits like intelligence.

Some style sources might be nice to look at but probably are not meant to influence much. Such as celebrities not in photo shoots. And books and websites that contain photos and little else. Also, usually if the style is not from the current time period, the viewer is not supposed to copy the general look. Even if brand names are mentioned, that might be picture-related common courtesy and not a suggestion to buy anything. It is also important to know that many personal websites discussing and showing ongoing purchases are about experimentation; in other words, they are run by people who do not particularly know what they are doing, even if they include musings that sound somewhat knowledgeable. Still, there are many sources that share pictures or otherwise dispense information that urges imitation (sometimes promoting brands that basically pay to be mentioned). Teaching - such as describing how an item of clothing should fit - is what should be done (and usually the material is not so incorrect that it significantly harms believers).Teaching involves explaining (and therefore just listing quality brands is closer to style-by-imitation, because one is not learning how to assess actual items). With so many options for purchase and mistakes, one area that strongly calls for education is casual shirts. For example, patterns for casual shirts - how their scale, the colors involved, etc. affect how good they look on someone. But teaching requires more work and knowledge by whoever is doing it. Copy-me sources probably do not know enough to realize how harmful that can be (nor do they typically see the results of their advice). Copying hardly involves learning, and mistakes can be major, either in source material (a style that's as extreme as trying to have a professional bodybuilder's physique) or in implementation. They essentially prepackage style, not a positive version of real personality, and sometimes unpleasant stereotypes develop around some styles (as with bodybuilders). Most copy-me sources, if used at all, should be starting points only or for very specific situations (such as black tie attire). Sources that urge buying very specific items(such as a tie bar or a distinctive suit) for some unspecified lifestyle are dubious. A style aimed at everyone is fallacious, for style is not one-size-fits-all.

Style is complex, requires understanding, and insists on individuality. Many factors determine positive visual presentation and worthwhile purchases. They obviously include physical features (unlike pictures in most sources, not everyone is good-looking, and any one off-the-rack item will fit almost every man differently and likely differently than the same size in another brand would). Also important are personality (even identical twins do not have identical personalities), existing wardrobe, and life circumstances (such as location and budget). And stylishness is about dressing correctly for situation and adjusting visual details around strengths and weaknesses (in physical and personality traits).Most men don't know theirs well (blind spots) and/or don't know how to adapt well to them. Also, clothing style change often requires hair and fitness changes; without that done well, the final appearance might hardly be an improvement. Hence, the familiar examples of dressing slim when skinny-fat, seeking to copy James Bond (or other high-power looks), the scary biker (who actually is not a scary person), wearing a basic jeans-and-tee look when overweight, and dressing from a time when the Internet did not exist.There are not many famous examples of successful, sudden style changes. Neil Strauss did quickly put on a new style, which greatly improved his appearance and made him seem more masculine and interesting - and some of that might apply well to a similar-looking man. Whereas a slim-fit polo shirt and skinny jeans probably would not help. However, that pick-up artist style was never for most men and is increasingly dated, and Mr. Strauss himself probably does not understand why certain clothes work on him and how to apply those principles to more current trends.What often happens with a major wardrobe change, especially the prepackaged kind, is wasted money, some unflattering clothes, and an end result that is anachronistic, weird, generic and unnoticed, or within a few years outdated, in part because the wearer never actually learned much about true style. Being informed at the start of the many specific current style problems and potential mistakes and having a plan is much better than making mistakes and maybe becoming aware of some of them in time.To be fair, some people, including many college students, can safely copy a style or otherwise play around a lot. Thanks in part to time for returns, re-selling clothing, or scrounging for bargains - and also because style exploration can aid in self-discovery. For most men, though, identity is well-established and the effort and money spent and the potential consequences of style imitation are not worth it.

There are many situations that are too individualistic for copying, guides, or other impersonal sources. Here are some scenarios.

Man 1 is satisfied with his style.
Man 2 is the same in personality, height, and facial configuration, but with slightly narrower shoulders, narrow forearms, shorter torso, a longer, thinner, neck, and longer, crooked legs. He rarely finds clothing that he thinks fits him well and wants more options.

Man 1 has a foot problem, works at home, and can wear sneakers most of the time.
Man 2 needs to wear dress shoes to work but his feet are odd-shaped and hurt easily. Local options are limited and expensive and ordering shoes online is especially risky for hurting feet.

Men are identical twins, but one has plenty of disposable income and the other does not - does it make sense for the wealthy one to spend much more on apparel than his brother does? What about sibling relations?

Man 1 is a 40-something man who lives in a cold climate and likes wool pants, tailored jackets, and other style basics shown in magazines and other sources.
Man 2 basically is an identical version of him and lives in a warm climate, which makes many of the weighty stylish items he sees impractical for him and he feels almost naked and juvenile dressing in shorts, short-sleeved shirts, and other common warm-weather clothing.

Man 1 has been forced (mostly by damage) to replace a few suits over the past 5 years.
Man 2 has not bought any new suits for 5 years and is aware that new suits have different look and fit and is concerned how that will impact his style and sort of wishes suits had never changed.

Man 1 is a middle-aged corporate employee.
Man 2 is the virtually the same as a person inside and out, but he is switching from corporate to teaching college and realizes he needs to connect with the students to get good reviews.

Man 1 likes to stay in good shape and dresses to show it off.
Man 2 was that way, before a severe shoulder injury that probably will never fully heal. He could not lift weights for long time, old clothes do not fit, pullovers hurt, etc. What to do about it?

Man 1 had a happy childhood and is confident about his appearance.
Man 2 grows up to look like Man 1, but he was teased a lot as a child and is not sure what he should do to improve self-image and body image and how much he actually 'needs' to look better.

Man 1 is outgoing and that serves him well at his job.
Man 2 is very much like Man 1, except that he is reserved. He knows he needs to be more sociable at work, but personality is hard to change and maybe if he looks friendlier, that would help.

Man 1 is a 30-year-old man who happily dates foreign women.
Man 2 is basically the same man, but he only sees a successful relationship with a local woman and rarely does one of them seem physically attracted to him.

One man has a solid marriage and many expensive clothes.
His near-twin is a divorcing man who is moving out into a smaller home and has built up an expensive wardrobe over the past decade that he now might as well shrink and change.

Man 1's style is okay.
Man 2 is like a version of him 5 years in the future, with mostly the old clothing and hair and skin looking older - and an observer would say his style is "sad."

Man 1 has a wife who seems okay with the sloppy clothing he wears when not at the office.
Man 2 might as well be his twin, but he has a complaining wife who doesn't offer corrective suggestions that he likes.

Man 1 is a black man who likes colorful looking-clothing and is viewed as stylish by many peers.
Man 2 is a white man with blonde hair who otherwise is surprisingly similar to Man 1, including a fondness for colorful clothing. But people have teased his colorful clothing as clownish.

Two men are 22 and look similar. But one of them often gets comments about looking young. That bothers and confuses him, and he does not know what to do about it.

Man 1 does not have money for a hair transplant and is keeping his hair short and trying not to think about it.
Man 2 has the money and wants to know if that would make much of a difference in how he looks or what else he could do to his appearance to increase his happiness and confidence.

Two men are 25 years old and share many personality and physical traits, including a love of fitness. However, one is 2 inches taller, with slightly more chiseled facial features and hair a shade darker. Many items of clothing look good on him. The other man is continually frustrated about not being respected by other guys and is guessing clothing is the main issue.

Two men have busy careers. Man 1 is naturally decisive, and he basically had a slowly evolving style since he became an adult. Man 2 is not very decisive and has always had a rather inconsistent style. 'Thanks' largely to the Internet, he has been spending too much time and money on a shopping habit and wants to settle on something good and use his energy on other matters.

Man 1 does not have much muscle, but he still looks in better shape than most men where he lives.
Man 2 lives in a place where weightlifting is almost the norm for men. He wants to add muscle, but is not sure how to go about it, what is the ideal build for someone like him, and worries that he would have to replace all of his shirt and jackets.

Man 1 has reddish-brown hair, blue eyes, fair skin, and grayish teeth and found a color online guide and thinks that will help him dress better.
Man 2 is Man 1 a year later, after having followed the advice and read a few other sources about color, and is now confused and a little trapped by the tips he has been following. For example, wearing light blue and pink has made him uncomfortable.

Man 1 likes to have long hair and has almost no situational restrictions on that.
Man 2 wishes he could grow his hair long but work rules say no. He has been searching for a style that could get around that, and he is thinking of trying facial hair also.

Man 1 is content to wear the local mall-brand clothing.
Man 2 has had too many bad experiences with local options and thinks the items in magazines are bad value and/or fit too slim.

A man age 52 hardly cares what he looks like. At age 54, a health scare leads to a doctor suggesting weight loss and he is doing so, starting to need new clothes, and figures if he values his appearance like he did 20 years ago, he is more likely to stay at healthy weight once he reaches it. How much weight to lose, how to stay at that weight without a hassle, and how to dress?

Man 1 lives in a place where many people dress fashion-forward. He is following trends, getting hardly any reaction, and is becoming more comfortable.
Man 2 is similar in many ways and wanted to get a more stylish look. He liked a style on a blog and bought several items featured there. He has had a mixed reaction from people offline.

Man 1 is satisfied with a low-activity lifestyle.
Man 2 is an active version of Man 1. He likes to do a variety of things (such as outdoor adventures, fine dining, and travel), and semi-retirement is allowing much more time for that. He is not fond of clothing and fashion, but still he needs special clothes for his lifestyle, has not found any sources specifically aimed at leisurely clothing for older men, and might as well seek recommendations.

Man 1 is 36 years of age and does not mind dressing up.
Man 2 physically looks very similar to Man 1, but he feels more relaxed in cargo pants than chinos and hates suits and has been told by his boss that he needs to follow the dress code.

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