You want to improve yourself.
You want to start dressing sharp.
So you Google ‘men's style'…
and you get MILLIONS of results.
Overwhelmed? You're not alone.
With all the information out there, where do you start?
What do you buy first? Whom do you listen to?
What ACTIONS do you take?
Don't worry – there's a simple answer. I'm going to cut through the information overload and tell you the ONE first step EVERY man should take when starting to dress sharp.
Care to take a guess? It's almost certainly not what you think.
Read on for step 1 to stepping up your style – and find out if you guessed right.
#1. What's The First Step To Dressing Sharp?
When anyone asks me for male fashion advice – especially when I'm being interviewed – the odds are this question will come up. ‘Antonio, what's the first step a man can take to start dressing sharp?'
It's VERY rare that someone will ask that and then sit back and wait for me to answer. 9 times out of 10 they want to point me in a direction. ‘Should I go off and buy a suit? How much money should I spend? Can you help me put together an outfit? Should I take a course?'
All those things are great – but that's not where a man starts. A man starts from the heart. He has to know who he is and what he stands for. He has to give a damn.
#2. Give A Damn
If you don't care – if you don't understand your purpose, your message, and what you represent – then everything is built on a faulty foundation. Say you're wearing a business suit. Do you know why? Do you understand the message you're sending? Is that the message you want to send?
Or are you just wearing it because everyone else is wearing one?
Worse still, are you just playing dress-up?
If so, you're wearing a costume, not a business suit – and it'll show. Dressing sharp only works when you dress for YOURSELF and for YOUR ambitions.
For example, say you want to go into wedding photography, and you're living somewhere notoriously casual, like Portland or Seattle. You realize, ‘Okay, I should dress professionally. But I'm targeting a niche that's a little bit more “out there” – so I can have fun with it.' Now you're dressing for your message and your goals. Your look says, ‘You can trust me to do an A+ job AND to fit in at your alternative wedding.'
So don't spend a lot of money on clothing that doesn't fit who you are. Whatever your message and your goals are, everything changes when you dress from the inside out. It helps you send the right message. It opens doors of opportunity. You connect with people who wouldn't otherwise have given you the time of day.
#3. The Golden Circle
Simon Sinek, the author of Start With Why, talks about the Golden Circle. It's actually three concentric circles. On the inside is the why, in the middle is the how, and on the outside is the what.
Most people, much to their detriment, start with the what: ‘What do I need to get dressed for? Okay, I need to wear a suit because I'm going to an interview.' Then they think about how – how to wear that suit, how to put an outfit together. The problem with this is that they're wearing a costume. They're not wearing something they normally wear and they're putting on a show.
A well-dressed man – a man with true style – starts with the why. THEN the how, THEN, finally, the what.
Here's how to start with the why. Say you're an artist. You're about to open up your first studio, and you're going to have your first showing. You know how most people dress for their showing – but you think, ‘No – I've been inspired by Salvador Dali and I want to reflect that.'
THEN you think about how. Maybe you're not going to do the whole mustache thing, but you do want to go with a retro style. You're a huge fan of steampunk so you settle on bringing that in as your retro element.
So THEN you decide what to wear. You still dress sharp with a suit, you send a message of professionalism, but you go a little bit outside the norm and bring steampunk into it. Maybe some watch cog cufflinks for a nice double reference.
So all of a sudden that ‘how' and that ‘what' are built on the ‘why'. You're dressing from your heart.
Bonus: Benefits Of Dressing For Yourself
One of the amazing effects of dressing sharp for yourself, dressing for your ‘why' and in alignment with your dreams, is that you have the power to overcome adversity.
For example, let's say you're at school studying engineering and you're not the top student. You know companies visit the school for surprise interviews and you want to be prepared, so you dress sharp – and you feel better. You like how you stand apart, you perform better on tests, you know that this is YOUR style, who YOU want to be, and you're dressing up to your dreams.
Maybe other students occasionally make fun of you and say, ‘What are you so dressed up for?' – but they're not going to make fun of you when that surprise interview comes around. You're going to look very prepared. You'll be able to walk right in looking great and show just who you are. You know what your dream is, you know where you want to go, and you dress appropriately.
In conclusion, step number one to dressing sharp is to give a damn.
Be the man you know yourself to be.
Dress to send the message you want the world to see.
I dress sharp for my wife – I want her to be attracted to me. I dress sharp for my kids – I want to set the example. I dress for my business – I want to look the part when I tell people what I do.
Think about the message you send in the world whenever you put on your clothes. It's important that you know what you stand for so that you give a damn. When you give a damn you'll find a way to improve your style, to start dressing sharp, and to become the man you know yourself to be.