These rules aren't bad.
They're not wrong.
But when they start holding you back…
When rules stop you achieving your style potential…
If you've been here a year or two…
And you're still sticking to the basic rules… STOP!
If you never move past them, you'll never develop a truly effective or unique personal style. Treat those rules as guidelines now, not commandments. Here are 5 ways to start thinking outside the style box.
Progression: Know When To Make Exceptions
If you're married, you may already have spotted the snag in this rule.
Most metal accessories are silver. Most wedding rings are gold.
Maybe you don't like gold, or your skin looks kind of a sickly color when you wear gold, but looks great with silver.
Or you LOVE gold, but the watch you inherited from your grandfather is silver.
Don't sweat it. Let pieces of sentimental value be exceptions. Just make sure all your OTHER metals match EACH OTHER.
A few protips for advanced metal-matching:
– If you own a mixture of gold and silver-toned accessories and you want to wear one metal watch all the time, either make the watch a mix of gold and silver tones or choose metal with a black or brown finish. (Of course, then you have to match it to your leathers…but if you pair black metal with brown wood you've got your bases covered there too.)
– Remember we're talking silver and gold TONES, not just silver and gold, the metals. Brass and bronze count as gold; steel and platinum count as silver. (There's actually a debate as to whether white gold counts as silver. I'd say it can go either way.)
– Match your metals with YOURSELF. Your skin tone plays a role in which metals look best on you. If your skin has red or yellow undertones, you have a warm skin tone that looks best with gold. If it has blue undertones, you have a cool skin tone that looks best with silver, and that'll be why you maybe look sickly in gold. By the way, men of color are NOT all warm tones. I go into skin tone in more detail here, with photos.
Progression: Learn To Use Colors And Patterns
Start experimenting with more colors and patterns in dress shirts. Learn HOW to use color and pattern to achieve big results… then you will look better than the guy who’s still ONLY wearing white and blue.
If you look at the best dressers, they don't wear only the two basic safe options recommended for beginners…they’ve evolved into more secure style practice and they know themselves.
Pink, gold, lavender, and green are all great colors to branch out into, as well as off-white (a MUCH better option than bright ski-slope white if you have yellow or stained teeth.)
A stripe is a good place to start with patterns – it's only marginally less formal than a plain shirt, especially when the stripes are narrow. Speaking of stripe width, make sure it's different from the width of the stripes on your tie and suit.
Checks are a little more casual, but still perfectly acceptable business wear. Again, the smaller the pattern the more formal the shirt, so our model here is sporting the more casual end of checks.
More creative patterns like paisley and florals are best worn outside the office – if you want to bring a little fun into your workday, a multicolored stripe or check is a better way to go.
Rule #3: Only Wear Clothes You're Confident In
Progression: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
I actually advise men to make MORE style mistakes. Why? Because taking risks can yield huge dividends.
Remember when you came up with your signature? You experimented. You won't come up with a signature style if you don't experiment.
Your comfort zone consists of clothes you look okay in. Somewhere outside it are the clothes you'll look your best in. Style favors the bold.
If you like something but it makes you uncomfortable…practice! Spend time learning to wear it where the stakes are low – among friends, out to the grocery store, or even just around the house.
Change is uncomfortable. Once you're used to the clothes, you'll most likely feel confident and relaxed in them – and it'll show.
Rule #4: Build An Interchangeable Wardrobe
Progression: Add Pieces That Don't Go With Everything
You probably know by now that one of my big ‘things' is teaching men to build an interchangeable wardrobe – one where everything goes with everything, so you get exponentially huge numbers of outfits from a few pieces.
An interchangeable wardrobe works because it's limiting… but it's also limiting because it's limiting.
It really cuts down color choices – what if there are THREE colors you look and feel great in, or even four? What if you love green but it clashes with all those neutral, neutral blues?
Stick with interchangeable pieces until you've built a core wardrobe with something to wear for basically every occasion.
Then start to spice up those blues and neutrals with more colorful and individual pieces. Go ahead and buy that tie you really love that only goes with one shirt. Once you've got the basics, the real fun begins, as you learn how to develop your personal style.
Rule #5: Have A Signature Scent
Progression: Try As Many Scents As You Can
Unless you're a really hardcore perfumista there are bound to be fragrances out there you haven't tried that you'd like better and that would get you more compliments.
Try as many as you can. Buy sample-size bottles, or cut costs by joining forces with friends and swapping colognes, and decanting them into smaller bottles to split between you.
Try things you normally wouldn't – like scents that are ‘supposed' to be for older or younger men. Some guys have even found their girlfriend's perfume smells masculine on them because men have different skin chemistry from women.
Try joining a fragrance forum (or the RMRS Facebook group!) and asking your fellow men for advice. There are plenty of men out there who know their scents, and the more specific you can be, the more helpful advice you'll get. So learn your men's fragrance terminology and you'll be able to say, ‘I want something with animalic base notes and decent sillage' instead of, ‘I want something that makes me smell sexy'.
Make mistakes. Exit your comfort zone. That's what this stage of your style journey is all about.