This post is an interview summary. Click here to read the full interview of Life's Secret Sauce with Antonio Centeno.
Brandon: Today was amazing. I had the chance to speak with someone that I have followed on YouTube for years. The man behind the YouTube channel with nearly 1.5 million followers, the founder of Real Men Real Style, Antonio Centeno.
Even though he was a bit under the weather, he still made time to chat with us today and we talked about men’s style. How to dress to make yourself a bit more memorable, the three skills that you need to excel in today’s work place, and so much more.
It was an awesome conversation and it’s always great to connect with people that you’ve looked up to for years, so make sure you sit back and relax because he drops some incredible wisdom that I know you won’t want to miss.
Hello, everyone. Today, I’m extremely excited, we have Antonio Centeno, the creator of Real Men Real Style which you’ve probably seen on YouTube. If you haven’t, he talks about business, fashion, travel, lifestyle, and him and his team have over 1.4 million subscribers on YouTube or 95,000 followers on Facebook.
And, Antonio started his love of style and writing with one of my favorite blogs, The Art of Manliness and he has been producing some incredible content since 2008 and has found extreme success on YouTube, so we’re very happy that he’s taken some time out of his very busy schedule to talk to us a little bit about today. Not only does his – his information on YouTube go into style and fashion, but also body language, first impressions, manners, and everything that it takes to really come across as a confident and well put together person.
So, thanks so much for having – having some time and chatting with us today, Antonio.
Antonio: Hey, I’m happy to be here, Brandon. Thanks for having me.
Brandon: Absolutely. So, if you could tell everyone a little bit about yourself or how you go started in this industry?
Antonio: Sure. Well, thank you very much for the introduction, I think you kind of explained a lot of it. But, really I – so my background I was in the United States Marine Corps and it just amazed me when I got out how people were not – I don’t know, the idea of dressing sharp was viewed as not being manly or somehow you were less of a man if you care about your appearance and your style.
But to me, nothing could be further from the truth because when you meet somebody for the first time within seconds you’re making a judgment call and whether you like them whether you don’t whether you trust them whether you want to do business. And I see so many men shoot themselves in the foot because they’re not putting their best foot forward.
So, the purpose of my website is to give you the tools so that you can dress to be that man you know yourself to be. A lot of guys they view themselves as success, they invested let’s say a hundred thousand into their education, they’ve got ten years of experience, but they don’t look the part. And, when they go through my website, check out my videos, go through my infographics, hopefully I arm them with bits of information so that they can start to dress that part.
Brandon: Absolutely. You know that it’s an old saying that the looks make the man, but if you don’t dress the part and you are the man, there’s a bit of a catch 22 there. And I think you really – you provide a lot of value to people in that way.
And so, can you give us a little bit of background of outside of the military, what – what really makes that great first impression when it comes to – what would you recommend putting it together for that perfect outfit for whether it’s business or professional?
Antonio: Yeah. It depends – I mean, it depends on the message you want to send – you want to send. I mean, if you’re going door-to-door and you’re promoting your painting company, well, I’m not going to – you don’t need to wear a suit. And if you’re new to the neighborhood perhaps new to town, maybe you’ve got a specific uniform that works for your particular company.
If you’re an up-and-coming consultant in a larger city, then in that case and if you’re going around, you know, talking with people interviewing possibly going to events where you’re just networking to build up and to find what’s available, yeah, in that case you’re going to probably wear something that’s more business casual or business formal. So, it’s about understanding what message you want to send and in a particular industry and then dressing for that part.
I mean, if you are a lawyer in a construction company, you’re not going to dress down to the level of the guys who are out there working on the project getting their hands dirty and, you know, driving, you know, whatever it may be with construction equipment. You are still expected to be and to dress and to look like that lawyer and in that case you want to – you then want to dress to that – to that – to what people in their minds perceived that image of a successful person in that position to be.
Brandon: That’s exactly it. And I think you hit the nail on the head when you said those first few seconds that first impression is critical. And, you know, what you’re wearing and how you stand and how you speak make up that first impression.
Antonio: Yeah. I mean, it’s – I mean, there’s a lot of research on this and that’s one thing that I get into a lot deeper than a lot of the people. I – we’ve got hundreds of pieces of research that we have pulled, but just classic ones, I mean, that – the ha – was it the halo effect which a guy named Thorndike picked up in 1920’s and 30’s he did the research.
This post is an interview summary. Click here to read the full interview of Life's Secret Sauce with Antonio Centeno.
And this is actually in military when they were looking at military officers and they were choosing it for promotion, if you look the part of what they perceived to be the ideal military officer you would be more likely promoted than if you didn’t look the part. And I’m not saying that, you know, I mean, it’s not fair and it’s definitely not something that I advice people, you know, do, but if you understand that that’s being done you wouldn’t want that to be used against you and so dress to the part.
Now, there are sometimes, you know, people always have a reason that they’ll say, oh, this is an outlier, look at, you know, Mark Zuckerberg over – over at Facebook or look at, you know, the late Steve Jobs over at Apple, look at the way that they dressed. But, I would argue those guys actually, one, they actually have a uniform. So, if you think about Steve Jobs when he was giving those presentations it was always in that black turtleneck with his jeans with his running shoes. I mean, some people even use specifically the word New Balance.
And the same is true with Mark Zuckerberg, he’s got a uniform, he wears the same t-shirts, the same hoodies. And, you know, he showed his closet when he was coming back from paternity leave, he had – I mean, it was like all of the same shirts on hangers all the same hoodies on hangers. So, he didn’t even have to think, he just find something that’s clean and he puts it on and that is his uniform.
Brandon: Yeah. It’s iconic in that way that it may not be the flashiest or the biggest brand name, but they’re known for that look.
Antonio: They’re known for that look and it also conveys it sends a signal it sends a message that is controlled in what they want to send. I mean, Mark is trying to put himself out there as, you know, a little bit more anti-establishment that especially early on. You know he – and it’s very common in Silicon Valley, you know, to have these guys that are the CEO, their focused in on like we don’t care about the clothing, what we care about is our code and what our, you know, programs what our apps what our websites were able to do, but they still actually do care about their clothing because they’re not showing up to work naked.
Brandon: Absolutely. Now, what would you say are the three most necessarily skills for someone to succeed in today’s world?
Antonio: Oh, that’s pretty – that’s pretty big. Do you mean specifically from my point of view in terms of with style and clothing or?
Brandon: Yeah. I would say we can – we can go style and clothing for one and then in a bigger sense of things that you’re not taught in school. You know like a lot of was with clothing we’re not taught and social skills, charisma, things like that, so if you could…?
Antonio: So, I would say – I wouldn’t say these are the three biggest, I’m not one for even though on my website we put out a lot of list and things like that, I do believe, you know, you can’t really put and quantify things in just a simple threes.
But, I would say that the soft skills are incredibly important and this is something that I stress with my websites because I see so many people they go get some tactical training, they go off and they spend all that money getting that law degree getting that medical degree, they’ve got the experience, they know they’re very competent at what they do, but they don’t know how to present themselves. They don’t know how to interact with people, they don’t know how to – they don’t understand how to read body language and understand that this person you’re speaking with them, but they’re not listening to you anymore, they’ve already check out. And, these are things that, you know, people just don’t pick up.
Another thing I think is really important is – and, again, these are soft skills is negotiations. Every single day, you’re negotiating all the time whether you’re talking with your wife, whether you’re talking with your kids, whether you are at, you know, you’re negotiating for, you know, a job salary or something like that. You’re always going back and forth and it is something I think so many people just don’t ever think of how to negotiate.
Brandon: I totally agree. I think it’s something that we think is forbidden that, oh, we shouldn’t or it’s taboo to negotiate, but it’s such a strong skill set to have.
Antonio: Yeah. I mean, some people, you know, if they – especially if they come outside of the United States where negotiations are a bit more – my wife is Ukrainian and one thing I always, you know, this not really negotiating, but she’s looking out for her own interest. She doesn’t trust things in grocery stores and she’ll go in and she always looks at the dates in which, okay, the milk is out, the meat. And she’ll look at all of these stuff and she doesn’t trust – I know most people, we just go into a store and we assume that, okay, it’s going to be good or it’s, you know, and we’ve been in countries where this isn’t always the case where sometimes you will get something and it’s literally, you know, they just haven’t pulled it off and it’s – it’s sour milk. And, you know, a lot of these places do not have a return policy, so.
Brandon: Very nice. Now, we talked a bit about first impressions, but what would you say are some of the things that someone can do to make that first impression a little bit more memorable?
This post is an interview summary. Click here to read the full interview of Life's Secret Sauce with Antonio Centeno.
Antonio: You know I would say look at – I mean, people make their judgments and I talk a lot about the visual, but I always think can you live up or you want to come off I think as friendly and approachable. So, one thing I always tell people is assume that the people that you’re speaking with and you’re engaging with that they already like you. And if you do that, you’re going to naturally have body language body movements and you’re going to act in a way that is much more friendly and they’re going to open up.
Because if you approach and you engage with people and you’re closed off, people are without even thinking about it, they’re going to mirror that and it’s going to take a while for everyone to warm up. But, if you walk into a group and you’re engaging you’re friendly, people are more likely to be engaging and friendly.
And, with that, I will also say do a good job of listening and asking questions, I mean, to a point you don’t have to ask questions all the time, but what you’re looking to do is to let people talk about themselves, people love to talk about themselves. They love to talk about their kids, they love to talk about their family, they love to talk about their accomplishments, so let them do that. Know their name and say their name multiple times as you’re engaging with them asking them to go deeper to tell you more about what they – what they’re talking about and next thing you know they – they’re going to ask for you to talk about yourself, but they’re already going to feel like I really like this guy simply because you’ve allowed them to talk about themselves.
Brandon: That’s exactly it. I think if you skip that step of, oh, I don’t know this person, so I have to be in this weird uncomfortable state and just jump right into speaking to them like you’ve known them for years, you cut out a lot of that and you can get to that trust and rapport section of the conversation.
Antonio: Yeah. I mean, most people are good. I mean, there are some people out there that will try to take advantage of you, but I do find that you can pick up on that pretty quick. And being genuine being open isn’t something that, I mean, we were just talking about, you know, in Miami that people have these walls built up around them and you’re enjoying the new city that you’re in Raleigh-Durham simply because you feel that, you know, people are just more open and friendly. And it’s the same thing whether it’d be business whether it, you know, with anyone you’re going to be around.
Brandon: That’s exactly it. And like you said here in the Raleigh area, one of the big things that I think is missing are manners and I know you’ve done a couple of videos on this for your YouTube, but what would you say some of the biggest manner mistakes are today?
Antonio: Well, you know manners, etiquette there is – there is a difference. Manners are how — etiquette are the rules that govern the way that we interact with others. Manners are the way that you make another person feel.
And I would say, you know, just always be thinking of others first. There is Simon Sinek who wrote this book called Leaders Eat Last. And I love it because he took, he spend some time in the United States Marine Corps and what he noticed is the officers always eat last. It’s a tradition because basically it’s – it’s to show that, you know, the people that – that officers serve who are the enlisted men who are actually are putting their lives on the line oftentimes the officers they’re more in the management position, they always – even though they are of a higher rank and you see in many other types of militaries where the high-ranked people are going to get a nicer meals are going to eat first, it doesn’t happen in the Marine Corps, it’s the exact opposite.
And in fact, you know, it’s always we want to celebrate the people at the lowest levels because they’re the ones that in many ways go through the greatest hardship and deal with some of the greatest dangers. So…
Brandon: And I think – go ahead.
Antonio: Oh, no, I was just going to say, you know, and getting back to the whole manners and etiquette thing, it’s just simply if people could simply lead that way, if they could put others in front of themselves, then they would find that people will gladly follow when they know that you’re going to be that kind of guy that always has their back who’s going to take care of them is going to, you know, just simply is the – is almost – is the protector.
Brandon: Yeah. We’ve had quite a few guests that have echoed similar statements and, you know, being genuinely curious and being interested in the other people and listening, those are really the three that I’ve come across again and again that can key win to drawing people towards you and being that magnetic presence.
Antonio: I completely agree.
Brandon: Wonderful. Wonderful. Now, back to style for just a second, do you have a favorite style for yourself personally in terms of dress?
Antonio: Yeah. I’ve developed my own uniform which is pretty much dark navy blue shirts that are long sleeve and I’ve got probably four to five different brands that I rotate through. I’ll wear that with a dark pair of jeans as well with a pair of dress boots with simple belt. And that’s pretty much my go-to uniform.
I like it because the dark colors cover up a lot of stains. I have four young children and I don’t want to ever have to hesitate, you know, to pick them up even if they have dirty hands. You know and I know that I probably do get small stains, but the dark colors covered that up.
I also like it because with that a lot of my sports jackets are lighter colored, so I can throw them right on that and it’s going to match, you know, five to seven different sports jackets that I have so I can wear that and do a video, but that – that’s probably my go-to uniform. And look also the darker color creates a monochromatic look that allows the eyes to go up and down and slims me up a bit.
Brandon: Very nice. Now, for someone who is starting that wardrobe, what would you recommend as some of the basics?
Antonio: You know, again, the foundation is understanding what message do you want to send. Then, you’re going to take a step back and say, okay, what am I going to be wearing the majority of the time what is my uniform?
So, for some guys it is going to be suits and suits are relatively easy because a suit is simply just a jacket and pair of trousers made from the same fabric. You can’t go with something that’s like a medium to a dark gray with a black, that’s not the suit. Technically, that’s going to be, you know, an odd jacket with odd trouser combination.
But, many guys are – they’re not at that level, instead they are more casual or they’re having to deal — in your case you have to deal with extreme heat. You move from a very hot place to another very hot place and in that case you’re trying to say, okay, like how can I still look professional with still, you know, being a bit more casual wearing something that can deal with the heat.
So, this is when you start looking at a wide range of casual button-down shirts. A lot of guys, you know, they can simply bring in more polos. And for a lot of guys, they’re like, oh, well, I don’t have a polo that looks good on me. Well, maybe look to upgrade for a higher quality polo that uses a better fabric and has a nicer drape that foc – that actually fits your body a bit better. You can also with a lot of the long sleeves, you can find really lightweight fabrics that are going to be breathable that you could roll the sleeves up and that is always going to be a better look.
When it comes to trousers when it comes – a lot of guys stick with their jeans and I do recommend if you’re going to stick with jeans go with a darker wash like a very dark indigo for some guys even a black is going to work. But, something that’s darker just always in my opinion going to look better. But then, there’s such a wide range of trousers or dress slacks you could bring in and this is even in area that you can bring in some patterns.
And then, when it comes to your shoes, this is where a lot of guys they keep it way too simple. If you want to bring in some style let’s say you want to keep it very conservative with a simple light blue shirt that fits you very well with a let’s say a khaki pair of trousers made from a lightweight tropical weight wool, but that right there, you know, it’s a uniform we’ve seen through with many, many people. But, you could really go with a dark pair of dress boots that have wingtips on them a little bit of engraving on the shoe, all of a sudden you have an – you just elevated your outfit because of – it’s a very simple outfit, but it’s one that looks really good because of those boots and, again, if you made sure those trousers and shirts fit you correctly.
Brandon: Absolutely. It’s that little something special that pops.
Antonio: That – that and just making sure that – you know style isn’t about being overly complex, it’s not about wearing bright colors or outlandish pieces of clothing that you would see on the runway, it’s actually about taking simplicity and then making sure it works for you and your body type.
The easiest piece of advice in a place where a lot of men don’t even have to go buy anything new is simply identify those couple of outfits you get compliments on that you love to wear and then take those to get adjusted by a tailor to even fit you better and then from those outfits build upon them maybe even create similar clones to those outfits, they’re not going to be the same thing. And to you they may look similar, but to most other people, they’re not even going to notice, they’re just going to say, oh, he always looks good he always looks well put together.
Brandon: Absolutely. It’s not difficult, it’s just making that little bit of concentrated effort.
Antonio: And, the goal is to get to that point when everything in your closet like I was just out of conference the other day and I unpacked my bag and everything I took with me I love. So, it was actually hard to choose – it became hard to choose what to wear because I love every single thing that I brought with me and I brought more clothing that I could actually wear. I kind of ran into the issue of maybe I should change late, you know, by midday so that I could wear something else, but, no, I’m not that bad.
But, it is something that if you’ve got a closet of things that you’re not excited to wear, that’s the problem and you want to get it so that everything in your closet you love the look of because it makes you feel like a million bucks.
Brandon: Absolutely. And I think one of the – the final touches that most people forget about, I know you talked about in your YouTube videos is the timepiece or a nice watch to add as an – as that little bit of extra.
Antonio: Yeah. I mean, watches, but you find an accessory that works for you. For some guys it’s going to be watches, other people like they’re just not going to get into them. I do think watches are just a fun thing to bring into, but you could bring in jewelry, you could bring in a hat, you could bring in another type of accessory, but look for something that you’re going to get mileage out of and therefore you can spend more money on.
If you’re having to carry a computer to and from work every day or you’re constantly bringing papers to and from work, then getting a nice briefcase, one that is going to cost you a pretty penny, but over the next twenty to thirty years is going to look better and better with time that’s going to age well and is going to be something that whenever, you know, your kids find this, you know, kind of up in the attic, they’re going to be, wow, this is, you know, it’s still is in great shape and your sons will be fighting over it or something like that.
So, — and watches are the same thing, if you get a high quality watch it can be passed down and I think accessories like that have a lot of character, they – they have a lot of hip stories to them.
Brandon: I totally agree. And that’s one of our mantras that we have here is we don’t have a lot of things we’re minimalist, but you buy it once and you buy it right.
Antonio: Yeah. And you may cry a little bit, but the way I – I try to explain this to people is you look at the – so I put a value on the number of wears times how it makes you feel divided by the price. And for me, that is the true value of the clothing because if you buy like – let’s say you buy a suit for $200 and it’s – it just doesn’t – never looks good on you. It was something you pick up at a big, you know, men’s store and it just made you look boxy, you didn’t like the material, you never really like the color, but you had to have it.
Well, you never wear it again, that was a $200 suit you wore once. And a better deal would have been to spend $1,000 on a suit that made you look like a million bucks and you love wearing, in fact, you found excuses to wear it. And you ended up over the next, you know, five to ten years wearing that thing at least, you know, twenty five to in some cases maybe a hundred times. And so, the cost per wear was actually only $10 to $50. And, why that’s so much more valuable because every time you wore it, you actually felt great, you felt – you felt like, you know, you felt like the man.
Brandon: Absolutely. And I think it’s something that a lot of people realized that wardrobe is created over time, you don’t have to go out and buy a whole new closet tomorrow.
Antonio: Yeah. You know to – that’s the best way to go about it. Not everyone has the time and that’s where I do recommend, okay, working with a trusted men’s clothier, finding, you know, someone that maybe that makes custom clothing or working with a stylist, they can help you build a larger wardrobe very quick.
I had one client one time he just graduated from the University of Alabama and he got a job in New York City and he had like two months and he had – he owned one suit, but he was going into an environment which he will be expected to wear a suit every single day. So, in that case, I can see where you would build it up very quickly and you would build it up fast. But, for most men it takes time to figure out what their style is, so I do advice they don’t – they don’t buy a whole lot of clothing at one sitting.
Brandon: Now, do you have any books or courses that you would recommend for style?
Antonio: Well, as you know I’ve got, what? Over eight hundred videos, twenty two hundred articles. I do recommend that, you know, anything by Alan Flusser is usually pretty solid. Bernhard Roetzel he wrote the book Gentleman. His stuff is great.
I’ve got courses people can go check out. There’s another guy Aaron Merino. He’s got a channel. He’s a bit more fashion forward. If you’re relatively young maybe you’re down in Florida you’re Hispanic, you’re going to love Jose over at Teaching Men’s Fashion. If you’re more into I would say higher end style like, you know, the whole dandy lifestyle, then you’re going to want to check out Raphael Schneider over at the Gentleman’s Gazette.
I think there – at the end of the day, there are just so many options if you’re looking for information. But, the information isn’t going to solve your problem, at the end of the day, you’ve got to take action on that information.
Brandon: You got to take what that – what you’ve learn, find something that you love, apply it, try it out, maybe the first outfit doesn’t work, but you go back and go for it again.
Antonio: Yeah. Yeah. And you find a place that, you know, has got a good return policy. Don’t – don’t wash the clothing I guess. But, I do like finding it out one outfit which I feel great and then you can build from there.
Brandon: Got you. Now, couple – couple of questions on a personal note to find out. What’s something that someone may be able to learn about you that they’re not going to find on your bio online?
Antonio: What is something – let me think. I would say that I’m big into bilingualism with my family even though I and it comes from just simply I could never seem to pick up Spanish and it was probably more of a mental block. So, when I married a woman who was trilingual, we just made sure that our kids are now trilingual. And we actually run a blog called Bilingual Kids Rock where we help families create systems so they can raise bilingual or trilingual children.
Brandon: That’s exceptional. Now, if you – I know that you’re an inspiration for quite a few people out there, but who do you look to as an inspiration?
Antonio: Yeah. I mean, I’ve got – I mean, you mentioned one of them, you know, Brett McKay over at the Art of Manliness. I’ve worked with him for, you know, eight years as a guest poster and I’ve – he really opened my eyes to the power of what you could do online in reach and influence.
Aaron Merino over at Alpha M. He’s the one that got me into the video on YouTube looking what he was doing and he’s inspired me in many ways. Yeah. You know, so Alan Flusser as I said, you know, reading his books when I was just getting started in the space really opened my eyes to menswear in general. But, those will be the guys probably in the online space.
Brandon: Got you. And, if you could have a conversation with anyone past, present, or future, who would that be?
Antonio: Hmm. I would probably go back, I would like to maybe my grandfather, I was named after. I never got to meet him, he died before I was born. So that would be I guess my choice.
Brandon: That’s a great answer. And last question for you. Is there anything that you wish I had asked or do you have any words of wisdom?
Antonio: You know I would say that, you know, when it comes to style, you need to focus in and we talked about it, you got to focus in on that why you’re actually dressing and why you want to get improve your image because I don’t think a lot of guys and me personally, I don’t care that much about the clothing, what I care about is how you can use it as a tool to get what you want out of life. In the same way that, you know, I own a pickup truck and the reason I have a pickup truck is I live in the country and I have to move things around, I’ve got to be able to load things up. It is a work tool for – for me that makes my life easier.
And, I hope that men understand that if you can control your image, it’s just going to make it easier for you to spread your message for you to reach the people you want to reach.
Brandon: I totally agree. I think that’s something that not everyone is taught, you have to learn along the way. If you can put it together and look sharp and feel great, you’re to be much more successful in the end.
Antonio: I agree, Brandon.
Brandon: Wonderful. Wonderful. Well, I really appreciate your time, I know you’re a busy man, so we’ll let you go here. I’m going to have a fun time writing the description for this video. We covered all sorts of good stuff. But, I definitely, definitely appreciate the time that you spent with us today and I know our audience got a lot of value out of this interview.
Antonio: You’re welcome, Brandon. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.
Brandon: And, that’s a wrap. What do you think? Let us know the favorite thing that you learned in the comment in the section below. And, if you know someone who could use a bit about men’s style or needs to dress to impress for that first date or job interview, make sure you check out Real Men Real Style channel here on YouTube and I know that they will appreciate it.
Well, I’ve included links to Antonio’s website, his YouTube channel, some of my favorite videos, so if there’s something that we’ve talked about and you want to follow up and learn more, it’s all in the description below so make sure you read that click through it all. I have tried to make it as easy as possible.
And, as always, click subscribe right down there on the corner, so you’ll never miss one of these videos because every Wednesday we’re releasing a new interview with the top industry expert and influencers so that you can learn the very best tips right from the source.
Don’t miss open enrolment on our Millennial Magnetism course and discover how you can unleash your inner awesome. Once again, link is in the description right down there. And until next time, ciao for now,