Fashion for Men: The Primer on Looking Amazing
Sunday, 14 April 2013
Guys have been asking for a while on here for a piece on fashion for men. So I guess that makes this one a long time coming.
Fashion's important. How important? It's pretty important. It's not make or break always... but you know the saying: clothes make the man.
What you wear doesn't just define you as cool, sexy, or stylish. It also subconsciously affects how other people feel toward you.
Wear clothes that make you look amazing, and people will feel like you're amazing. Wear clothes that make you look different, and people will view you as different (good or bad as that may be).
Wear clothes that make you look ordinary, on the other hand, and
people will view you as just that: ordinary.
Boring. Not particularly noteworthy.
They'll hardly even notice you.
And thus, we have our focus on fashion: getting noticed, in a positive way. But not like what we discussed in the article on peacocking... the truly fashionable man picks clothes that fit him so well people don't even see the individual clothing items all that much.
Instead, they just look at the man himself and say "wow."
I chose the word "excellent" for the heading here because "excellence" is what you want to strive for and put the emphasis on in your own assembling of your fashion and style.
Fashion is an art form. It's making yourself appear more beautiful, more powerful, more put-together, and more competent. It's making yourself stand out from the crowd in attractive, noticeable, and, ideally, subtle ways. It's also about contrast and highlighting some aspects over others.
An extreme example of how fashion impacts perception is to think of
someone from a rebellious youth subculture - the punks of the 1980s,
the goths of the 1990s and early 2000s, the emos and hipsters of the
late 2000s and early 2010s. Then take them and contrast them with, say,
an urban gentleman, a business elite, or a trendy celebrity. And take
all of those people and compare them with someone who spends all of his
or her time at the beach, tanning and surfing and hitting the gym and
drinking at beach bars.
There are some personality differences you no doubt see when you picture these people; but the biggest difference in your mind's eye are the fashion differences.
The punk / goth / emo has dark clothes, with lots of zippers, chains, and piercings, accented by sometimes colorful hair (pink or green, say, or bright red). The urban gentleman or business elite sports well-fitting clothes clearly made of high quality materials. The beach frequenter is wears loose-fitting, breezy clothing - t-shirts, shorts, and sandals - designed to show of his or her body, which is in shape, tanned, and as much a part of his fashion identity as the articles of clothing worn.
Which brings us to our first lesson on fashion: when you set out to put together a good "look" for yourself, you need to have a certain image in mind.
Fashion can be a way of expressing yourself... but usually, it's a way of labeling yourself.
We'll come back to fashion identities in a little bit. For now
though, what I want to start with are those elements of fashion
universal to all styles.
The Power of Red
You may have heard the advice that "if you want to be more attractive, wear something red." You've probably had the experience of walking down the street and having your eye suddenly caught by some girl wearing a bright red dress or shirt or jacket.
Well, there's research on red, too. The research was done first on the "woman in red," finding a notable increase in a woman's sex appeal to men when wearing red.
Then they did the research on men's sexual attractiveness to women while wearing red:
“In many nonhuman species of vertebrates, females are attracted to red on male conspecifics. Red is also a signal of male status in many nonhuman vertebrate species, and females show a mating preference for high-status males. These red–attraction and red–status links have been found even when red is displayed on males artificially. In the present research, we document parallels between human and nonhuman females’ response to male red. Specifically, in a series of 7 experiments we demonstrate that women perceive men to be more attractive and sexually desirable when seen on a red background and in red clothing, and we additionally show that status perceptions are responsible for this red effect. The influence of red appears to be specific to women’s romantic attraction to men: Red did not influence men’s perceptions of other men, nor did it influence women’s perceptions of men’s overall likability, agreeableness, or extraversion. Participants showed no awareness that the research focused on the influence of color. These findings indicate that color not only has aesthetic value but can carry meaning and impact psychological functioning in subtle, important, and provocative ways.”
That's from "Red, Rank, and Romance in Women Viewing Men," published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology in 2010. The main points of interest from the study:
Men wearing red or pictured on red backgrounds are more sexually attractive to women
These men were NOT considered more likeable, more agreeable, or more outgoing; merely more sexually attractive
The sexual attraction boost the men received came as a result of being perceived as higher status due to the presence of red
The wearing of red had no effect on other men's perceptions of men wearing red being more attractive or higher status
(another interesting note about this study is that approximately a quarter of its length is nothing but citations referencing other research - I guess the researchers were very serious about backing their experiments up with citations of other works... work in the sexual attraction space is rife with method-questioning, it seems)
An interesting side note from the same research:
“We fully expect our findings to generalize to dynamic skin displays, because female primates, including women, are extremely adept at detecting and decoding blood flow changes in the face (Changizi et al., 2006), and women have been shown to be more sensitive to the perception of red stimuli than are men (Hurlbert & Ling, 2007). As such, women seem particularly well equipped to pick up subtle, shifting, red coloration displayed on men’s faces.”
The authors are thus saying they believe that blushing/flushing and reddening of the face may lead to men being perceived as higher status and more sexually attractive, which is the first time I've heard of this.
Another interesting note:
“Red displays by men may not only influence others’ perceptions but may influence self-perceptions as well. This seems particularly likely with regard to artificial red (e.g., red clothing) that the individual is clearly cognizant of displaying. Wearing red may subtly enhance a man’s sense of his status or power in a given situation, which in turn could influence his thoughts, feelings, and actions in that situation. Thus, a man in a red tie may give a more confident business presentation, a man wearing a red football jersey may play more aggressively (see Attrill, Gresty, Hill, & Barton, 2008), and a man wearing a red shirt on a date may be more forward and assertive. In fact, in many instances, red likely exerts an influence on self-perception and other-perception in joint fashion. For example, the red shirt that Tiger Woods typically adorns on the final day of golf tournaments likely provides him with a confidence-boosting reminder of his alpha status in the golf world as it simultaneously reminds his competitors that they are probably facing another long day on the course. Interestingly, the results of our research suggest that Tiger Woods’ choice of apparel may make the ladies in the gallery swoon, as well as the competitors on the course wilt.”
The researchers here are speculating that not only does wearing red make you more attractive and confer higher status, but knowing that you're wearing red may make you feel more attractive and higher status - leading you to act more attractive, more assertive, and higher status, and thus upping the boost you receive.
Back to that old adage. If you want to be more attractive, wear something red.
You Should Be Wearing Size “Small”
The signature of Hip-Hop culture has long been baggy clothing, a descendant of prison culture, where men had belts removed upon being arrested (so they wouldn't hang themselves), and ended up having their pants sliding down past their waists. In the ghettos of the 1970s and 1980s, where an urban black culture ravaged by crack cocaine saw a large portion of its men going into and out of prison, a stint in the lockup became something of a rite of passage, and baggy clothing a signal that you were "hard" and a "real man."
As often happens with fads and trends beginning among the lower socioeconomic classes, this began to migrate up to the middle and upper classes as "cool," too ("dating" was another of these trends that began, in the 1900s and 1910s, with the poor and migrated up).
The only problem was, as "hard" as baggy clothes made a guy appear, they didn't make him look GOOD.
They didn't make him sexy.
In fact, while they did make him tough, they also made him rather non-sexual.
Which is all well and good if your main purpose in how you select your clothing is to impress other men... but if you'd instead rather be dressing yourself to be impressive to women, you need to dress a little differently.
After I graduated from college, I decided to select some tighter-fitting clothes and try them out. I'd been wearing large, loose, baggy t-shirts and jeans for quite a while, but I realized I was dressing to impress men, not women... and I realized, "Wait a minute. Who cares what random men on the street think about me? I want the WOMEN to look at me and say 'Whoa!'"
The first few days of wearing size small t-shirts and tight-fitting jeans, I found the clothes a little uncomfortable... but there was no denying I looked good. I still had a big gut then - I hadn't spent much time investigating weight loss yet - but the instant I was wearing better-fitting clothes I started getting compliments:
- "Whoa, Chase, you got ripped!"
- "Damn dude, you look good!"
- "Chase, your arms look a lot bigger!"
I'd been concealing my form in baggy clothing, I realized, and doing so in very unflattering ways. Even though my newer, smaller, tighter-fitting clothing showed clearly that I had a guy, no one noticed that... I've since realized that people just assume you have a big gut if you wear baggy clothing anyway. Very similar to the style of clothing popular among women in the early 2010s and satirized as "tit curtains" by a blogger named Maddox:
Male or female, baggy clothing makes you look fat.
And decidedly NOT sexy.
Unless you're a giant, or living somewhere in Asia (where the sizes are markedly smaller), you should be able to fit into shirt size "small." For reference, I am six feet tall and about 160 pounds, and size small fits me well and looks good on me. If you're significantly larger than I am, you may need size medium. If you're a bit smaller than I am, you might want to go with size extra small (I own some pieces of clothing in XS as well - cuts are different).
What happened for me when I was growing up, and what I think happens for a lot of other guys, is that you get some sort of ego-attachment to being able to say, "I wear size large!" as if wearing a large-sized t-shirt makes you a bigger, more powerful man.
Actually, it usually just makes you look fat.
Buy size small (or smaller). It makes you look good.
Contrast is King
No doubt you've heard of "color coordination" when it comes to selecting clothing. And this is important - you want your:
- Other accessories
... to match, no doubt. In fact, if you can purchase shoes, a belt, and a watch of similar design, color, and material, you can create a very "integrated" look that people will not be able to quite put a finger on, but will just know that they like.
But really, in the grand scheme of things, this is a smaller, more subtle detail. It's worth getting down, but there's an even bigger difference you don't hear about all that often:
Contrast is wearing clothing items that stand out from one another,
without crowding each other out. Check these examples out:
Each of these men looks very good in what he's wearing, because of the kinds of contrast going on:
- Contrast of the color of clothing items against other clothing items
- Contrast of the color of clothing items against his skin color
The man in the first photograph, for instance, looks darkly charming because of the contrast of his all-black clothing with his white skin color. A darker skinned man wearing the same all-black outfit doesn't look nearly as good, however; nor does this man look quite as good if he wears an all-white outfit. However, if a black man puts on an all-black outfit like this and adds in a bright white tie, or if a white man puts on an all-white outfit and adds a black tie or black buttons, it can look very good, because of the contrast.
The man in the fourth photograph has contrast primarily between the clothing items he has on; this outfit looks equally good whether his skin is pale white or dark black in tone, or anywhere in between. The light gray outer shirt offsets the bright pink t-shirt underneath, and the lightness of the top colors are balanced out by the dark color of his jeans.
In selecting clothing, environmental considerations are also important. For instance, if you'll be meeting women in a crowded bar, nightclub, or party, the fourth look probably isn't a good choice because women will likely mostly just see your upper torso and higher, which means they won't see the contrast the dark jeans provide. If you cover up the model's jeans with your hand and only look at him from the waist up, his style becomes decidedly less appealing (because there's markedly less contrast).
There are other scenarios in which a woman may not be able to see how your lower body style matches up with and contrasts against your upper body style; e.g., in a classroom setting where everyone is sitting down; in a cafeteria; at a conference for work or in a meeting; in a crowded train; any kind of social function where people are sitting down or packed in tightly together. That means that generally, unless you're primarily meeting women on the street during day game, you want to stick to making sure you have enough contrast on your upper torso that you look good regardless what your pants or jeans look like.
Several more examples of contrast:
In both examples, the model on the left is wearing clothing with little contrast, while the model on the right is wearing clothing with clear contrast. Your emotion on comparing the models usually just feels like the man on the right is the sharper, more powerful, "cooler" man.
The reason why is contrast.
Always Wear a Coat
I spent time in Los Angeles with a fashionable friend of mine some years back, and I noticed that even though it was quite warm outside, every time we went out he had a coat on.
"I always wear a coat," he remarked when I asked him about it. I thought about it, and I realized why.
If you scan back up over the images of men above considered "fashionable," you'll note that every single one of them has multiple layers. You can be fashionable with only one layer of upper body clothing on, but it's hard, and you just don't get the same level of "cool" and esteem that you do with a second layer on.
The outer layer doesn't have to be a coat. You can often get away with having a light t-shirt on as layer #1, and a light button-down shirt left unbuttoned and open with the sleeves rolled up as layer #2... this way, you can still look very fashionable even in warm weather.
Another way of doing multiple layers that's been in vogue the past couple of decades among the more well-to-do (but seems to be on its way out) is wearing a dress shirt or polo shit as layer #1, and a sweater loosely tied around the neck and draped over the back, shoulders, and chest as layer #2.
What's important to note is, the forms this takes may change with time, but the principle remains the same: wearing multiple layers allows you to be more interesting, more fashionable, and show more contrast in your look.
If you want to look good, always wear a coat (or another shirt) on top of your bottom-layer shirt.
The first section of this post was focused on overall universal elements of fashion that always apply and always will. The exact details of fashion will change with time - someday, suits and t-shirts alike will be antiquated pieces of clothing that no one but people making movies that are period pieces will wear anymore.
But red will still be sexually stimulating and confer status upon its wearer, well-fitting clothing will still look better than poorly fitting attire, multiple layers will still allow you to accomplish more fashionably than a single layer will, and contrast will still be king.
The rest of this article will be devoted to the specific things you can do with clothing and accessories to improve your look right now. Because fashions change as the years wear on, this part of the post may not be as relevant if you're reading it in 2023 as it is if you're reading it in 2013, or it may not be as relevant if you're living in a vastly different culture with very different fashion expectations than what we have in the West right now.
That said, the focus here is on accenting your style in attractive ways, and even if specific examples seem not to apply, there's likely some way you can find a similar twist on a similar clothing item to make it work in a way that that's attractive, trendy, and stylish.
Above-the-Neck Fashion: Limit to Facial Hair, Hairstyles
Depending on whether you're part of a subculture (or not), you may be around people who get piercings - sometimes lots of piercings - and even tattoos, or other forms of modifications for their face.
My advice: don't do this. It's generally not attractive.
It has another downside as well, in that it limits your mobility among different classes, cultures, and subcultures.
A giant nose ring or a bright pink mohawk might serve you well with the 1980s punk culture, but you're going to have a very difficult time dating professional women, girls from the middle or upper classes, or women hailing from a different country with a conservative culture.
Keep your above-the-neck fashion limited to attractive facial hair and a great hairstyle. Anything more than this is very restrictive of your choice with women, and not advised.
Cool Accessories: Pick One
There was a time in my life wear I wore loads of gold jewelry. I had:
A gold necklace
A gold pendant
A gold watch
A gold belt buckle
Four chunky gold rings (two for each hang)
A gold bracelet from a website called IcedOutGear.com exactly like this one:
I won't say I'm ashamed of
that period of my life... but I certainly wouldn't advise you to dress
like I used to dress back then. It got me a lot of attention and a lot
of comments, but reactions do not equal results.
You make yourself more of a curiosity
than you do a sex symbol when
you load yourself up with accessories.
After that phase, I moved down to a silver necklace and a pair of silver rings - one an iron cross, and the other a square ring with a sapphire in the middle - along with a braided leather bracelet that women repeatedly told me made me look "like a bad boy."
The more powerful your presence gets, though, the more you want to dial down the accessories. They become unwieldy tools for communicating coolness - you yourself are far better at it than any accessory can possibly be.
These days, my rule is "pick ONE accessory." My one accessory is a Tibetan mandala pendant, similar to this:
It's simple, it's elegant, and it's eye-catching in contrast to my lack of any other kind of accessory. It has a good backstory, too; when women ask me about it, it's very easy to say that it's from Tibet (and it is; I had it mailed to the U.S. expressly from there) and that it means "whole world" or "healing circle" (this is what a mandala represents in Tibetan Buddhism).
Accessories are an okay crutch to lean on when you're new, but the better you get with women, the fewer of them you want to have on.
Coats: Red and Fur
I have two kinds of coats I like to wear most:
A red patterned coat from Guess
A black coat/parka with a fur-lined hood and a waist-sash from Uniqlo
I also have some really cool leather jackets from a leather store, and a beautiful tailor-made cashmere overcoat. I still like to wear these out sometimes, but red coat from Guess and the coat with the fur-lined hood from Uniqlo are my favorites, simply because I just get better responses when I'm wearing either the red patterned coat, or the fur-lined coat.
The coat with the fur-lined hood looks similar to the image on the right, except with a black material with a matted finish rather than the plain (and boring) surface of the coat in the image.
The red patterned coat from Guess I can't find an example of on the Internet - there was only one of it when I purchased it in 2009, and no others in the store, and I haven't seen another since, out and about or on the net.
If you're thinking you wouldn't be able to pull this off though, here're a few examples of men sporting red coats and blazers and looking good:
Because understatement is key in fashion, you'll usually want a darker red than a brighter one - a coat closer to the tone of the second or third images above is ideal (the fourth image is a little too bright for my tastes, and the first one's going to be a little difficult to pull off in most situations).
If you can find a red/burgundy patterned jacket like what I found at Guess in 2009, that might be your best bet for a stylish outer layer you can wear in any non-extreme (not too hot, not too cold) weather. However, those are hard to come by.
This also makes for a point worth emphasizing - the article of clothing in my possession I get the best reactions from women out of - that red patterned coat - is done in a style and color it's very difficult to find. So, don't assume that just because you don't see something everywhere you look that means it doesn't look good and isn't attractive or fashionable.
The best fashion is some mixture of understated, popular, and unique or uncommon, all rolled up into one.
Zippers, Buttons, and Buckles
This one's something of a fad built on top of a larger trend. The fad - what's current in the 2010s - is zippers, buttons, and buckles.
The larger trend, though - the one that's universal to human fashion throughout the ages - is clothing that's more complicated than it needs to be, in attractive-looking ways.
Why do human beings find clothing that's slightly more complicated than it needs to be attractive and appealing? My guess is it's a simple penchant for novelty. You see a standard looking leather jacket next to a jacket with some bells and whistles on it:
The one on the left is somewhat appealing, though mainly because
it's shiny in the lighting of the photograph, and that's not an
advantage you'll have the majority of the time while out with that coat
(e.g., in a café or in a bar). The coat on the right is far more
interesting, and makes it an easy conversation piece. You'll tend to
get a lot of, "That's a really cool coat," compliments when you have an
item on with extra zippers, buttons, and buckles (not to mention
shoulder straps, as in the coat on the right above).
The exception: if you are naturally very good looking, go with a plainer-looking coat. This is to distract less attention from your face, which is naturally providing you with a "style" advantage. If you're not very good looking by nature - e.g., moderately good-looking or less - go with zippers, buttons, and buckles to accentuate your looks and fashion.
I've experimented with t-shirts, long-sleeved t-shirts, polo shirts, and the like, and I've just found that I get a warmer reception from women in a button-down. The t-shirt as layer #1, button-down shirt as layer #2 on top of the t-shirt usually works okay too.
Nearly all of my "going out" dress shirts come from Guess. I find
the button-downs at Guess are consistently and considerably cooler and
trendier than the things you'll find at other stores (like Express,
which is what pretty much every guy everywhere you go who's trying to
be trendy is wearing, and you don't stand out at all wearing). They're no more
expensive than what you'll find at Express or Abercrombie or anywhere
A scarf is a great attention-getter and a great accent to nearly any look. The fad in 2013 is BIG and often COLORFUL scarves, but I'm pretty confident you can expect this one to pass pretty quick and we'll be back to standard-sized scarves by next year (standard-sized scarves are still attractive and appealing, too, despite the bigness trend).
Some examples of men wearing (standard-sized) scarves:
A scarf is an item you can add to any outfit to instantly make it trendy. If you're wearing it in party / bar / club situations, be prepared to have women ask if they can borrow your scarf (and for some of them to try and make off with it). For some reason, nothing stirs up kleptomaniacal tendencies in party girls quite like scarves do.
For belts, I prefer a smooth clasp buckle, rather than the standard-issue buckle you see on most belts. Anything with the standard hole-and-tooth look just strikes me as extraordinarily plain and unoriginal looking.
This is the only kind of belt you will usually find me wearing:
It used to be next to impossible to find belts with clasps like these, but I guess they're becoming more popular because it's less difficult to find them now than it used to be.
A look like this is just cleaner, more attractive, and more elegant than the hole-and-tooth look you'll find on 99% of belts, in my personal opinion. You'll also tend to get a bunch of compliments on it (provided your belt is showing, that is), but that's almost beside the point; it's just nicer to wear.
I often don't wear a watch at all, simply because I don't like the feel of having something on my wrist. It's vaguely uncomfortable, and it tends to catch on things.
However, when I do wear watches, my preference is for blocky or "chunky" watches, like the one on the right from Diesel (that's my preferred model, the DZ1114). The chunky/blocky watch face style strikes me as more modern, attractive, and attention-grabbing than the more traditional circular watch style common with most watches.
It also tends to get a lot of attention, and you'll get a lot of questions about it. Commonly it's, "That's a really cool watch... I haven't seen a watch like that before. What kind is it / where did you get it?"
When I was younger, I used to be a fan of wearing Rolexes (well... counterfeit Rolexes; I didn't have the funds for real Rolexes - but I did own a couple of very convincing fakes), and those get a lot of attention too, but it feels very much like you're trying for attention. With an attractive-but-uncommon-looking watch from an unrecognized brand, you instantly have a way of being cool, fashionable, and unique, without having to pay top dollar to look that way.
Here again I'm a fan of Diesel:
I just like the cut and fit of these jeans - they're very well made. I've owned True Religions, and still wear a pair now and again, but they tend to strike me as more feminine than anything else, whereas Diesel has a more masculine feel to it.
That might just be superstition - I had a "lucky" pair of Diesels that I'd end up taking girls to bed in almost every other time I wore them when I was still fairly new to pickup, though that pair got stolen out of the wash one night in Southern California, by some clothing thief who I can only hope, out of sheer spite, isn't getting the same mileage out of them that I got.
Whatever kind of jeans you buy, make sure they fit very well. If you go to a higher-end jean store, they'll frequently have specialists on hand who are great at helping you pick out jeans that will look good on you and be well-fitting.
A good pair of jeans can set you back about $200. But, one good pair is really all you need - if you wash it once a week, you'll be fine.
Oh, and, with tight-fitting jeans, you'll generally find you're a lot more comfortable when you skip
the underwear. It also makes things a lot, shall we say, easier when you've got a new girl
you're rounding home plate with. The less there is to take off, the
better off you are.
I used to wear big chunky white Nike sneakers, and girls hated them. I'd have girlfriends with even just ordinary fashion senses ridiculing my footwear. It wasn't even like I had anything especially different... they were your standard pair of basketball sneakers.
They just didn't look all that stylish.
These days, I only buy sneakers from Camper, which has "fashionable" sneakers in the style of the one on the right.
Not only do Campers look good, but they're thin enough that if you buy a dark-colored pair, you can often get away with them in place of dress shoes if you work in an office that's relaxed enough.
And on top of that, they sure are comfortable.
Nothing says "style" like a good old-fashioned pair of cowboy boots:
The above are the sort of boots I like best - the shape, look, and material (distressed leather), although I usually buy brown, just because brown works with more colors.
Cowboy boots offer you a few advantages:
They stand out, giving you something cool and different to wear on your feet, which is an area that most men wear unoriginal / standard dress shoes, at best
They look tough, manly, and grizzled, far more than dress shoes - which make a fella look like a prissy businessman - and sneakers - which make a guy look like an overgrown kid. No one wears cowboy boots but manly men
They add a few inches of height to you - and height is an attraction trigger. It can be overcome with a variety of things, but there's no denying that adding inches to your height adds a little bit to your attractiveness, no matter how tall (or not) you are
I usually get mine from Aldo - they're the best shop I've found for consistently cool cowboy boots - but feel free to shop around.
You won't want to visit the tailor when you're just starting out with getting your fashion sense down, but once you know what kind of clothes you want to wear and how you want to look, I very much advise finding a good tailor and either:
Having your store-bought clothes tailored to precisely hug your frame, or
Having custom clothes made for you from scratch.
That second option can be pricey, which is why I don't suggest you have it done until you know exactly what kind of clothing you want (and won't have completely changed styles in six months). I also don't suggest this if you can't afford it - it certainly adds to the look, but if you haven't handled your finances to the point where you can easily pay for custom clothes, don't go into debt just to get these. There are plenty of things in the store you can find that will fit you reasonably (or sometimes even really) well.
Fashion for Men Wrap Up
Fashion's one of those things that most men never learn about because most men aren't exposed to it. You'll get hints about looking fashionable here and there, and there are images of fashionable men all around you on TV, in the movies, in print, and online, but if you're not paying close attention to what they're wearing, you won't learn a whole lot about how to dress yourself any better.
Worse, because fashion is an acquired taste - you're not born knowing that scarves are great accessories; fashion is different at every era in every civilization across the globe - it takes time and exposure to current fashion to understand what looks good and what doesn't.
While in China once, I purchased a very cool all-black traditional Chinese jacket. It was a big hit once I got it back to the States (everybody wanted to know where I'd gotten it; the answer "Shanghai" would either get me big smiles or blank stares); I'd wanted a Chinese coat like that ever since watching Chris Tucker sport one in Rush Hour 2. It just looked bad ass.
Anyway, I lost that jacket in a bar when I set it on the back of a barstool some years later and someone made off with it, by accident or not, and I bought another one in China a little while later. That one I took to a tailor to have it taken in a bit so it'd better hug my frame; but the people there told me it looked terrible that way.
The tradition in China was for the sides to be straight up and down; that looked good to the Chinese.
To me, it just made me look fat. But they refused to take it in; they were just looking out for me, they said - they didn't want me to look bad.
Fashion is a big adventure. You'll combine a lot of different, interesting pieces from all over the place, and some of them will work well together, and some of them won't. You'll get feedback from people and refine your style as you go. You might realize that a treasured item really isn't all that flattering on you, and end up setting it aside. You might discover that the style of clothing you once said you'd never wear looks great on you, and you come to like it a good deal.
You don't need to make fashion the center of your life to get good at it. You just have to be a little interested in making yourself more fashionable, more captivating, and more unique, and pay attention to the things people tell you about you when you're out and about.
Most important of all, pay attention to what strangers say - because the people closest to you are usually more interested in you staying like the you they know.
The people who don't know you from Jack are the ones who'll be telling you how it really is, for better or worse.
If you'd like some further reading on the subject, and some recommendations for how you can look good on the cheap, check out our (rather long) thread on the discussion boards, "Affordable Fashion."
And, I'll see you next time-
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