Life lessons for men – No doubt you've heard your grandpa or dad drone on and on as a boy.
You never took them seriously at first, and now you're starting to realize the hard way that they knew their stuff. Gentlemen, I am here to implore you to heed that advice. On top of that, I'm here to offer my own two cents for you young bucks out there.
I made a TON of mistakes in my 20s that I wouldn't wish on anybody. Given that this is a style blog, I thought I'd zero in on the mistakes that deal with just that.
Are you ready? Let's get into it.
- Oversized Clothing
- Graphic Tees
- Image DOES Matter
- Going Cheap On Essentials
- More Money Does Not Equal Style
- The Most Expensive Clothing Is Never Worn
- Take CARE Of What You Own
- Style Can Be Learned
- Your Style Will Evolve
- Don't Buy Everything At Once
Style Lesson #1. Oversized Clothing
Fit is king.
So many young guys are running around in atrociously ill-fitted clothing. Regardless of the quality or brand of the garment, it'll look like trash if it doesn't conform to your body the right way.
It always seems to be between extremes, as well – we see men in clothes that are either too baggy or WAY too tight. I've made this mistake more than once, so you shouldn't feel too bad… but it's time to change. I've put out tons of content on how to fit your clothing properly.
Heck, it's one of my foundation principles in the Style Pyramid. For some items like a t-shirt, it's just a matter of knowing your size and buying accordingly. A suit requires more consideration for the right purchase. I got you covered with loads of guides on purchasing the right suit, where we get into the nitty-gritty of it all.
Learning to fit your clothing properly is one of the most helpful life lessons for men, and can really up your style game.
Style Lesson #2. Graphic Tees
As far as life lessons for men go, this one is all about ditching what makes you a child.
Graphic tees do not lend themselves well to a man's look. In fact, it makes him look immature. You can be a nerd by all means, but if you walk around every day with your favorite anime character plastered on your chest, don't expect anyone to be impressed.
Your next step toward being a stylish man can be just as easy as adopting plain T-shirts. There's a lot to be said for the Marlon Brando look – a white Tee, well-fitted jeans and dress boots.
Style Lesson #3. Image DOES Matter
Looks don't matter, it's what's on the inside that counts.
WRONG. That's called naivete – get it out of your head. Whether you like it or not, image is very important.
We make snap judgments about people as human beings – we're superficial creatures. It's terrible and cruel, but it's a fact of life, and you need to adapt to it. Even if we try to preach that looks aren't everything, we still know what's appealing to us and seek it out. Don't be fooled into thinking people will take the time to know the “real you.”
The world is fast-paced and hard, and few people will make the time. Make first impressions COUNT!
Style Lesson #4. Going Cheap On Essentials
I get it, times are tough. Who has the money to spend on clothes? Gentlemen have you looked at where else you're spending money? Do you really need that next videogame? Italian restaurants every other night?
If you take the time to really study your budget, you'll probably find a lot that can be trimmed from the get-go. On top of that, I know that a lot of guys tend to spend as little as possible on the essentials (classic suits, dress shoes) because they THINK they're saving money, but that's not the case.
You aren't saving money by buying cheap suits and shoes, you're wasting it in the long run.
Gents, what you're doing is spending more money. By going cheap on big essentials, you're signing your financial death warrant on style. Unless you hunt down the hottest deals, everything you purchase will be made with the worst materials.
What does this mean? Everything is going to break down before you even had a chance to use it. Before you know it, you'll be looking at more money spent. It's just smarter to spend a little more money on quality… so you don't have to spend more later.
Style Lesson #5. More Money Does Not Equal Style
It might seem like I'm contradicting myself considering point 4, but hear me out. Yes, a crucial life lesson for men is to spend money on the essentials, but at the same time, you need to spend wisely.
Do not spend $500 on a pair of wacky designer sneakers – those won't turn heads the way a $200 pair of full brogues will on a daily basis. That tie you got from Walmart is going to crumple up after a few wears, but a gorgeous silk tie costing a little more will last you a lifetime.
This doesn't mean you have to pay full price either – do your research. Menswear is always on sale somewhere, oftentimes in multiple places at once!
Style Lesson #6. The Most Expensive Clothing Is Never Worn
I'm still on the topic of money, I know – but it's a big deal! We're tackling a slightly different theme though. There's this paradox that says the more that someone spends on something, the less they use it.
Gents, how does this make sense? If you threw down cash, then don't be afraid to rock it! I'm not saying to track that dress shirt through mud or anything, but you bought it for a reason!
Style Lesson #7. Take CARE Of What You Own
Let's say you know enough to get the right product at the right price… but you're lazy. Your suede boots look like elf shoes in them because you never purchased shoe trees. Your dress shirts are all wrinkles and your jeans still have stains on them from last year.
These are extreme examples, I get it, but the fact remains that this life lesson for men is all about care. If you know you're going to be investing the big bucks on a new wardrobe, then you need to make sure that investment does not go to waste. Personally, I make time to iron at least five of my dress shirts once a week. Ironing is a lot easier than you'd think!
Treat every item you have like an investment – take care of it.
When it comes to shoes, I'm very meticulous. We're talking a shine after every single wear. If that's a little intense for you, you can bring it down to once a week. Maybe it's just me, but shining my shoes is very therapeutic!
There's also the issue with the laces. Like anything else, shoelaces will wear out after a while – before you know it, you'll have puffy and frayed worm-looking laces dangling in ugly knots. If they start to get worn, this is where you can even bring some color in! Introduce some brighter dress shoelaces to your more casual sets (like brogues) to grab attention… in a subtle and classy way. Taking care of what you own is one of the most important life lessons for men.
Style Lesson #8. Style Can Be Learned
Like all things in life, style is not a magical gift bestowed upon certain men at birth. It's something that's developed through constant practice and research. There are tons of men's style books out there that are ripe for reading. A quintessential one is Alan Flusser's Dressing the Man, while another is Roetzel's Gentleman.
If you start to get into specifics, you can look at books like Schiffer's About Time which is all about men's watches. You can also take a course! I've spoken at length about the courses I offer here at RMRS such as The Style System! Having doubts? You took calculus, right?… and how often do you use that?
Style Lesson #9. Your Style Will Evolve
Style is not static – as far as life lessons for men go, this is gold. As humans, we are constantly learning and evolving, and with style, it is no different. You may have started with a bad fit, but as you've learned your measurements you've managed to accrue a wardrobe that looks perfect on you and draws every eye.
It took you about four years to get to this point, but you DID. You might find a new shoe style that resonates better with you – whether it's a dress sneaker or an elegant pair of Chelsea boots. The bottom line is that you will not be the same stylish man next year. Take your time, explore, and enjoy the ride.
Style Lesson #10. Don't Buy Everything At Once
Gents, I'll leave you with this last time – prioritization. If you set out on your style journey with enthusiasm, then I applaud you. However, don't overdo it by blowing your entire paycheck on clothes. It's essential that you take a methodical approach to this and, above all, be patient.
You may not have the money for a suit AND dress shoes – well, budget for one, then the other in a month or so. Even though we want to spend money on key foundation pieces, we want to make those purchases count.
As you can see gents, I've made a few mistakes in my life. As a young man, I never knew what I was missing out on – that's why I'm here. I don't want you younger gentlemen to repeat the errors of your forefathers. Learn the right pieces of life advice, and learn early!
Click below to watch the video – Style Lessons I Wish I Knew In My 20s (10 Style Mistakes To Avoid!)