A man’s twenties can be a tumultuous time.
It’s a period where you’re meant to – at the risk of sounding cheesy – discover yourself.
One thing’s certain – whether you’re going through college, graduating, or entering the workforce – It’s a key time to develop core style habits and make good first impressions.
Ready to discover how to dress sharp in your 20s? Let's get started!
- Avoid Fashion, Stick With Timeless Style – Look for garments that have looked great for at least 40 years.
- Start Taking Care Of Your Skin – Adopting a skincare routine will lay the groundwork for great health habits.
- Visit Your Barber Every Two Weeks – Your hairstyle should be maintained on a regular basis.
- Be Deliberate With Your Facial Hair – Don't let your beard get unruly. Care for it.
- Keep Your Tattoos Hidden – Tattoos shouldn't show up while wearing professional clothing.
- Take Care Of Your Nails – Nailcare is considered a paramount sign of personal grooming.
- Use Tech For Self-Development – Use your smartphone to learn rather than to waste time.
- Find A Style Icon – Choose a well-known style icon to use for your road map.
- Saving Money On Menswear – Use Thrift Stores and sales to save the most money.
- Build An Interchangeable Wardrobe – Buy items that match with everything else in your closet.
1. Avoid Fashion, Stick With Timeless Style
The first thing young men need to know about style is that it’s not the same as fashion.
Fashion is fleeting, but style is forever.
If you have trouble deducing what makes something timeless, look up styles that have remained relatively unchanged in the last century – you’ll find pictures of suits that resemble today’s looks pretty closely.
The absolute basics – a navy or charcoal suit, oxford shoes, watches – are all factors that will never go out of style.
On that note, avoid fast fashion. What is this? It’s inexpensive clothing produced en masse to answer the latest fashion trends.
The signs are easy to spot once you know them – cheap, low-quality materials. There is usually a fast turnaround between the garment’s appearance on the runway to its debut in the stores.
They’re also limited to keep the pressure on for you to buy – don’t fall for it. Save your money for something that will last.
2. Start Taking Care Of Your Skin
Before you go out and hunt for the best clothes you can find, you need to care of “low hanging fruit” – aka your skin!
As young men grow into their prime, high testosterone leads to higher oil production.
This leads to – you guessed it – acne.
Oil control should be your #1 priority when it comes to skin. The easiest way is to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize.
- Use a natural face cleanser that doesn't dry out your skin (your skin compensates for the dryness by producing more oil than you actually need).
- Follow up with a face scrub that deep cleans your pores and removes dry skin.
- Finish it with a natural face moisturizer that prevents dry, flaky skin and keeps your face hydrated throughout the day.
This way you'll have a bright face with a natural glow and you'll get to prevent signs of aging from happening. I can assure you it's never too late to start taking care of your skin!
External factors like diet come into play. Limiting fat and sugar intake will help reduce excess oils.
3. Visit Your Barber Every Two Weeks
Hair growth depends on an individual's testosterone levels, but generally speaking, it grows half an inch per month and six inches per year. A key factor in any man's appearance is how well-kept his hair is.
There are plenty of men's hairstyles around today that count as classic cuts. The buzz cut, slick back, and side part are styles you can't go wrong with.
Regardless of your choice – it needs to appear deliberate. A good rule of thumb is to visit your barber every two weeks to keep it looking clean.
4. Be Deliberate With Your Facial Hair
A 2014 study out of the University of New South Wales argued that men are at “Peak Beard.” This means that as facial hair gets more common, it's less attractive to society.
Even so, a cross-cultural study out of New Zealand in 2012 found that facial hair is still considered a sign of status.
Beards are still very relevant with young men's style, but what makes a stylish beard? Purpose.
Facial hair requires the same attention as the hair on your head – if not more. Invest in some beard oil and a brush for daily moisturizing and maintenance. Those bi-weekly trips to the barber should also include some beard control.
5. Keep Your Tattoos Hidden
When it comes to young men's style, tattoos are a mixed bag.
Our immediate impulse is to think they'll damage your prospects with many jobs, and you'd be right – but it depends on the placement of the tattoos.
In 2014, a series of interviews with 327 employers found that 77% were unlikely to hire upon seeing a tattoo.
If you have a tattoo, make sure it isn't visible while wearing professional clothing.
But a 2017 study by The Journal of Personality asked 2,369 women to assess men who were tattooed against those who weren't. The vast majority of women perceived tattooed men as more masculine and dominant.
So appropriate tattoos on the right parts of your body can actually help your casual style.
This doesn't mean either to go get one or to abstain – just be smart about it if you do get one.
Tattoos shouldn't be visible while wearing professional garments like a dress shirt and trousers. However, ink that pokes out while in a t-shirt could help you develop a more dominant aesthetic.
6. Take Care Of Your Nails
Interviews with manicurists revealed that well-groomed nails are the single best indicator that a man cares about his hygiene – it sends a strong positive message.
It's a minor routine with game-changing results for young men's style.
Let's take you gentlemen through some basic nail care:
- Don't clip too low – cut into each nail a maximum of three times.
- Smooth them out with a file going in one direction.
- Make sure to clean under your nails.
- Buff your nails to rub out any cracks or bumps.
7. Use Tech For Self-Development
You can use your smartphone productively. I know – crazy, right?
Joking aside, it can be a powerful tool for self-development. There are plenty of apps out there that curate style information and make it easily accessible.
Use it to check out Audible for books on topics that interest you. Make sure to take full advantage of its alarm features to stay on schedule.
Not to mention – you have a world's worth of information at the palm of your hands. Use it to learn.
8. Find Yourself A Style Icon
The best way to establish your “style road map” is to find an example to follow. There are countless iconic men who are synonymous with style.
You don't have to start making offers people can't refuse to appreciate how well The Godfather dresses. His morals might not be airtight, but his looks sure are.
James Bond is synonymous with classic menswear, his look barely changing since Dr. No in 1962.
You don't have to agree with their motivations to look as great as they do. What's important is that you find the inspiration you need to look fantastic.
9. Save Money (Discounts & Thrift Stores)
Men in their 20s are usually not millionaires. They'll either be focusing on their education or just starting their careers.
There are still several strategies you can throw down to look like a million bucks – it just takes a little effort.
The cheapest places in which you'll find designer brands will be thrift stores like Goodwill. The downside with this is that discovering high-end garments you'll love is by no means guaranteed.
It's a gamble – and one you'll have to take on a regular basis in order to find a diamond in the rough. You can maximize your chances by finding such stores in affluent areas.
Stores also offer discounts and sales on a regular basis. Target offers a weekly sale on menswear, and the clearance rack on Men's Wearhouse is always stocked.
Hitting the mall? Check into a store's WiFi to see if they have any coupons. The possibilities are numerous – you just need to be persistent.
10. Build An Interchangeable Wardrobe
As a young man in college or a new job, you probably don't have the funds to spend frivolously on new clothing. This means that every dollar counts when making a purchase.
Building a versatile wardrobe will give you multiple outfit combinations for minimal cost.
Let's talk about where the real money should go for a moment.
Step 1 – Buy A Quality Suit
The Department of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire found that bespoke suits were best after sampling 247 participants. Men in bespoke suits were considered more successful, flexible, and with a higher salary to boot.
Men in a regular off-the-rack suit scored significantly lower on all fronts.
It'll serve you well in formal events and job interviews.
Step 2 – Buy One Pair of Black Oxford Dress Shoes (Ditch the Sneakers)
These are going to be your workhorse shoes – suitable for a night out to the bar or a black tie gala.
Once you have that, you can have some fun looking into casual dress boots like Chelseas or chukkas. Other shoes such as monkstraps will likewise draw some eyes.
Step 3 – Buy A Quality Dress Shirt
The dress shirt is the backbone of every stylish man's wardrobe. As a young man you need to jump on it early.
Start with the basics. Strive to own three white shirts and two light blue shirts – fitted of course.
These will match with anything you bring to bear on an outfit.
Step 3 – Navy And One Black Sport Coat
Similarly to dress shirts, these will match just about any combo. It's also a great way to level up an otherwise casual outfit.
Similarly to dress shirts, slowly branch out. Following your essentials, try other solid colors such as brown – then move on to subtle patterns and so on.
Step 4 – Buy One Pair Of Dark Fitted Jeans
A pair of fitted jeans with no tears will be perfect for the most casual outfits – while simultaneously working with a sport coat, dress shirt, and oxford shoes. Again, versatility is key!
Step 5 – Finally, Buy A Quality Watch
Every man should own at least one good watch. There are plenty of men's watches to choose from based on your personal style, and they're timeless style pieces.
No matter what your outfit is, a good watch will draw positive attention and send an authoritative message.
Let's do a quick run-through of what we've talked about:
Men in their 20s have a lot to deal with in their own right. You're figuring out who you are and where you're going in life.
In the end though, there's no reason why you can't look great doing it.