I remember this amazing film…
500 Days Of Summer
It had this brilliant “Expectations vs Reality” split-screen sequence:
Romance vs. friendship.
Rekindling vs. rejection.
Found again vs. lost forever.
It sucked to be Tom, but that was the whole point of a movie that initially mentioned: “This is not a love story.”
Reality can be cruel and harsh, even for stylish men.
If you're starting to level up your style, you'll probably see that for yourself.
Just the same, keep yourself grounded and self-assured.
Know the different expectations vs. realities when it comes to dressing well.
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Expectation #1 – New clothes will look great on you.
Reality: New clothes can give you problems if you're not careful.
This may sound obvious, but “new” doesn't automatically mean “perfect for you.”
You could buy yourself the most awesome jacket or trousers, only to realize later that there's a problem. It could be the way it fits or feels, perhaps how it looks when you walk down the street. You end up never wearing it: good money wasted.
So what's the solution here? Always refer to the style pyramid – fit, function, and fabric – before making any new purchase. You never want to buy something that:
- Isn't flattering to your body type (doesn't fit or can't be slightly adjusted).
- Doesn't suit your needs (at the office or in casual settings).
- Isn't made of good quality materials (short on cash? Start saving early on so you can build your budget for better clothing).
Remember, most normal men can't pull off what Ryan Reynolds or Christian Bale wear on the red carpet. Think of your own appearance first, and the appeal of the clothes second.
Expectation #2 – Everyone will notice your new look.
Reality: Most people don't care.
This is one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to improving your clothing.
I love style. I love teaching other men how to use clothing to change their lives for the better. But I'm also aware that your new and improved look will only affect a small, targeted group of people: your boss, workmates, peers, and loved ones.
I hate to break this to you, but almost no one else cares. And why should they? They've got busy lives and problems of their own that they're not going to put on hold just because you cross paths with them.
Don't be surprised or let down when that cute barista you've been eyeing doesn't tell you how handsome you look in your new suit. She might be too preoccupied with her upcoming finals or her ex's late child support payments to care. Know who you are and aren't dressing for.
Bonus Expectation – Your new job will make you rich and happy.
Reality: Working too hard at a dead-end job is awful.
Just graduated with a fancy MBA? Completed your military service? Great! You're ready to enter the workforce and kick some butt. You see yourself getting that promotion in two years, buying that sports car in half the time, enjoying life to the fullest.
Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against all of that happening for you. So many people start out spending crazy hours in a job with a merciless boss and no upward mobility. It will burn you out if you're not careful.
How do you avoid that? Make yourself a more valuable asset and develop new skills. Become the indispensable go-to guy on your team. Be able to do anything and you'll eventually get the recognition you're due from those higher up in the ranks.
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Expectation #3 – Paying more means better quality.
Reality: Many items are simply overpriced.
The sad truth is that a lot of higher-end clothing brands are resting on their laurels nowadays. They get away with such hefty price tags thanks largely to tons of publicity and strategic marketing.
This is why I'm so selective with the brands I promote here at RMRS. I test the product first before letting any company be a sponsor. My advice: never pay a price you're uncomfortable with unless you trust those who recommend the brand.
Expectation #4 – You will rock that new fashion trend.
Reality: You'll most likely feel uncomfortable and self-conscious.
Do you recall that time when you were younger and dressed up as Superman for Halloween? Did the cape and the large “S” across your chest actually make you feel like a superhero? Maybe a little – but only after adjusting to the tightness and itchiness of the outfit.
Similarly, don't expect to put on that broad-rimmed fedora or that loud shirt and feel like everything clicks. It won't, at least not right away. People might stare or raise their eyebrows. Some might even chuckle. And you'll notice. That'll kill your confidence really quickly.
The trick for any new look is to practice wearing it in the privacy of your home. Walk around comfortably in it and check yourself in the mirror from different angles. Build your confidence. Own what you're wearing. It'll show when you go out in public.
Expectation #5 – A pro styles your hair and you're good to go.
Reality: You can't style it on your own.
Your hair, unlike your clothing, needs far more than washing if you want to keep it a certain way.
That high-end stylist you go to may give you the perfect cut and style. You may love it and tip them nicely for it. But they're not paid for how your hair looks a week later, after you've washed and brushed it a few times.
Each time you get a do-over, pay attention to your stylist. See how they blow-dry your hair, what hairbrush they use, and whether they wash your hair beforehand. Ask them if they used a specific product you can buy (chances are, they did: retail merchandise is all that keeps most hair salons afloat). Don't leave without that information. Finally, take a photo of your fresh new hairstyle for future reference.
Expectation #6 – You will quickly grow a thick, full beard.
Reality: Your beard is still patchy after a month.
If women can wait 9 months to have a baby, men really shouldn't complain about the time it takes to grow a well-defined beard.
While any man can grow a beard, its length and thickness are largely a matter of genetics. Some may be happy with theirs after a few weeks. Others will still have bare patches of skin. However, most men can grow full beards within 6-12 months. Be patient, and keep your beard clean and well-groomed!
Expectation #7 – Many women will compliment you.
Reality: You'll probably get more compliments from men.
This is where you've got to understand the impact of style. When you showcase yourself better, you'll stand out more once you walk into a room. Men will be surprised and wowed. They'll approach you and cut right to the chase: “Nice tie!” “Where'd you get that watch?” “I like your shoes!”
It doesn't mean they're hitting on you (although some might be). But they can see that you've leveled-up against everybody else. That's no small accomplishment, and those guys are saluting you! Take advantage of this social boost. Women are even more drawn to stylish men who have other guys looking up to them.
At the end of the day, remember to keep a level head if you're undergoing a style transformation. Don't over-estimate the impact of your new clothes. In this age of Instagram and social media, people are exposed to so many well-dressed folks that they end up being indifferent or even more judgmental than they would have been a few years ago.
Dress better with the goal of impressing your boss, gaining respect from your peers, and keeping that spark alive with your S.O. That's the extent of your audience. Keep it that way or you might be driven to try to please everyone. And that, my friend, is a fool's errand.