The way we appear to the world is an outer expression of our inner self-image. If you look unkempt on the outside, most likely, you are feeling chaotic and unorganized on the inside. While the majority of us don’t realize it, we all live in a very specific wheelhouse with our style when it comes to men’s fashion.
We find things we are comfortable with, and we don’t change. As a matter of fact, we often convince ourselves we can’t pull off certain items, and therefore we build boundaries around our wardrobe and intentionally don’t move beyond them. Of course, just because we tell ourselves we can’t wear a fedora doesn’t mean it is true. We simply have to learn. That is why it is important to know and understand your signature style.
When you get dressed in the morning, you typically reach for something comfortable and familiar. However, it isn’t uncommon for us to start to feel stale. We want to make a change, but we don’t know how. And even if we learn some tricks on how; we don’t know what to shop for. There is a scene in a romantic comedy called Crazy, Stupid Love where Ryan Gosling takes Steve Carell under his wing and teaches him how to liven up his wardrobe.
We’re not going to take you to the mall and throw your New Balance sneakers off a balcony, but we are going to help you figure out why you like what you like and how to branch out to new things. If you wear jeans and work boots to work every day, suits can be a huge leap. But learning where you are in your signature style will help you gradually find new items that will eventually make you comfortable with them. Ultimately making you a well-rounded man with a well-rounded wardrobe.
If you’re looking at this and feeling overwhelmed, it’s ok. I mean, who doesn’t feel like they are all over the map? Just because you don’t work in an office doesn’t mean you don’t wear suits. Just because you find yourself on Wall Street Monday through Friday doesn’t mean you don’t know how to rock a flannel and escape to the wilderness.
This is less about men’s fashion and what you wear and more about a lifestyle. Your signature style reflects what you value in your wardrobe. You can wear many items of clothing in numerous ways. Remember the fedora we talked about? Indiana Jones and Frank Sinatra both wore one, albeit very differently.
There are three primary archetypes:
- The Adventurer
- The Socialite
- The Dapper
And three secondary archetypes:
- The Creative
- Commander in Chief
- Bond, James Bond
The seventh archetype is the one we should all strive for:
- The well-balanced combination of all the above — The Debonair Man
You may bleed in and out of a few at a time, but most of us will find ourselves planted in one more than the others. Here is how to find out which one is your primary.
The Adventurer is a man of action. He doesn’t have time or patience for fluff and pleasantries. He bends the world around him through brute force and mastery of skills. His style is rugged, valuing function over fashion. If he wears a smartwatch, it isn’t about status; it’s to keep an eye on his health. He wears the fedora like Indiana Jones, not Frank Sinatra. He cares little for trends but deeply for long-lasting garments that assist his lifestyle.
Examples: mountain men, outdoorsmen, Indiana Jones, Bear Grills, and blue-collar workers
Image is everything to The Dapper. They see their status in this world reflected in their appearance. They believe that dressing to the nines actually makes people treat them better. They rule their world through money, influence, and connections. They value impeccable tailoring, timeless classics, and the highest quality. These men won’t always be wearing three-piece suits, but they will always be the best dressed in the room.
Examples: CEOs, Titans of industry, hedge fund managers, the elite 1%, Harvey Specter
The socialite bends the room to his will using his charm and charisma. People are attracted to him; his magnetism is how he has made it through most situations in his life. He doesn’t concern himself with the rules of society as he would much rather just make his own. His style is fashion-forward, opting to stand out with bright colors and the latest trends. Others often compliment him on his attire, and he values his look’s impact on his sphere of influence.
Examples: salesmen, party hosts
A combination of The Dapper and The Adventurer, Bond, James Bond is the man most of us wish to be in some capacity. This is the action hero, the gentleman spy, and the man who values himself above all, and not in an arrogant way. He knows his worth and spends time improving himself. He values quality and impeccable tailoring, but needs a high function to help him live his lifestyle. This man is just as comfortable wearing a three-piece suit in the boardroom as he is donning a plaid flannel and catching his own food in the mountain wilderness.
Examples: James Bond, Ivy League collegiates, alpha males
The Creative is a combination of The Socialite and The Adventurer; this man is career-focused and values his freedom. He is the tech giant or the industry leader that commands the admiration of many followers. His style is less dapper and more street wear and smart casual. He enjoys indulging in the latest men’s fashions and usually sets his own standards and trends. He values the functionality of his wardrobe and likes to keep it simple, letting his focus be on changing the world.
Examples: Steve Jobs, Ralph Lauren, musicians, actors, and tech wizards
The Commander and Chief is a combination of The Dapper and The Socialite; this man is acutely aware of the message his image sends and has spent his life learning how to make others love him and believe in him. He enjoys timeless classics with a dash of trendy. His look is more of a tool to accomplish his goals than a genuine part of his personality. He is comfortable in a suit and driving progress. His look is a uniform, an extension of who he is.
Examples: politicians, talk show personalities like Steve Harvey and Jon Stewart
The Debonair Man is the ultimate goal of all the above men: Become a balanced specimen of all archetypes and find yourself comfortable and impactful in all situations. You know the difference between quality and imitation. You find the items that give you the function you need and determine the trends that affect you and those that don’t deserve your attention. You have your fingers in all areas of style and can competently navigate them.
Examples: David Beckham, Barack Obama, JFK
You may have a lbit of yourself in each of these areas, and that’s great. You have a head start on finding balance. Once you discover where you are most comfortable, you have a base for expanding your style. Sticking to the areas closest to your signature style and perfecting those will set off a chain reaction to a well-balanced sense of style.
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