I know a lot of guys who have no fashion sense whatsoever, and couldn’t get one for the life of them even if they had a gun pointed to their head. Frankly, some of them have no social skills to begin with either, so it can be a very bad combination to have both. In all of my years of personal style, I have come across some valuable and practical ways of developing and enhancing the inner stylish guy, thanks to a lot of likely (and at times, unlikely) sources.
1) Read. When I was growing up, I had the privilege of subscribing to GQ, Esquire, and Men’s Health, so it was a natural progression for me to see style, fashion, and health. You don’t have to subscribe to any of these to learn fashion. But I do think that it would be beneficial to pick up a magazine every now and then and start browsing/reading for tips and tactics. Most men’s magazines (even Maxim for crying out loud) will have some sort of fashion and style guides for even the uber-treehugger of them all. So start using your eyes and read something more useful other than the bra size of the cover model.
2) Watch. I know this may sound a little uncomfortable for some, but I think it’s well worth the knowledge. Try to do some people watching when you’re out shopping at Best Buy, or window shopping with your girlfriend, or even hanging out at the local bar or coffee shop. Don’t just look at the girls, but look at style that the guys with them carry. Do they seem like they know what’s up, or are they slouchy and not put-together?
If they seem like they are all into style (and you can tell who is and who isn’t), try looking at the finer details, like color scheme (similar and contrasting colors mixed together), tailoring (do the clothes look cheap or expensive), style (v-neck, button-down, pullover, acid-wash, straight-leg, etc). Even just a 2-3 second glance can give you more wisdom on how to dress (or at times how NOT to dress) for the proper occasion.
3) Listen. “Ok orphans, listen to me… Listen to Ignacio.” (Nacho Libre). Pay attention to who is telling you something and the substance that they are sharing to you. If your girlfriend is telling you something about your style, then pay close attention and intently listen to what you’re hearing AND listening. She’s hinting about your sloppy attire? Go get yourself cleaned up. Matter of fact, ask her to help you — that will show her that you’re serious about what she thinks, and she’ll be so excited to have you be her guinea pig, I mean, have you be more appropriately dressed when you’re with her.
Don’t forget to listen to other people as well. All guys should have good tailors, so if you don’t have one yet, find one that will work well for you and your budget. Ask your coworkers, friends, or neighbors about the best one that they’ve had, and think more than just price (price will only go so far). Ask for quality of work, cut, value, and pricing (and don’t forget returns!).
You may also seek some professional advice from retail sales associates, although be prepared to be given the sales pitch in addition to what they may think. Great sales associates will tell you what they see in you, give you ideas on what to wear and how to wear them WITHOUT necessarily forcing you to buy their products. That’s their job, you say? Yes, it is their job to sell; however, and most importantly, it is their job to ensure that customer satisfaction. And having been in retail for a handful of years, building relationships in business goes a long way than getting a quick sale.
4) Be relational. If you can take anything out of this post, take this final point: BE RELATIONAL. Be friendly. I’m not talking about being sly or flirty with someone just so that you can get a discount. I mean build real relationships, just like you build them with your favorite barista or your favorite bartender. Yes, the perks are that they give you free stuff (or discounts at least)….
But the point of the matter is beyond the give or take, beyond the materialistic sense. Relationships stem from a development of openness towards another, and thus intimacy, however intense you want to let it, can and does make an impact on personal style. What you wear yesterday may not be what you will wear today or tomorrow, and at times, that is bound by your emotional content and your object of affection. So be adamant and purposeful about being relational to your fashionistas. Who knows what sort of goodies they may have in store for you.