Skip to main content

Men’s fashion: This Venn diagram can reveal your signature style

Discover a signature style that suits your unique character

A man dressed stylishly holding onto a shoulder bag
Andrew Neel / Upsplash

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.

Man in a tan suit on bridge
Dorota Zietek / Shutterstock

Why is your signature style important?

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.

Signature Style Venn Diaphragm
Mark D. McKee / The Manual

Men’s fashion: The diagram of signature styles

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.

Outdoor man in jacket
Ysbrand Cosijn / Shutterstock

The Adventurer

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

Man in brown suit
Anastasiia Chepinska / Shutterstock

The Dapper

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

Man in glasses with sport coat
Shutterstock

The Socialite

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

Man in turtleneck and jacket
Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

Bond, James Bond

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

Man in leather jacket, white T-shirt, and sunglasses
jozzeppe / Big stock

The Creative

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

Man in suit and blue tie
Roman Samborskyi / Shutterstock

Commander in Chief

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

Man in tan suit
Dorota Zietek / Shutterstock

The Debonair Man

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.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark McKee
Contributor
Mark is a full-time freelance writer and men's coach. He spent time as a style consultant and bespoke suit salesman before…
Get an amazing trench coat — These are our favorites for men
You don't have to go to Casablanca to look the best in a trench coat
Man in trenchcoat carrying a cain

Humphrey Bogart may not have invented the trench coat, but he definitely is the person we think of whenever the trench coat comes up in conversation. Of course, we can admit that it likely comes up in conversation around our dinner table more than yours since this is our business. But if you have seen Casablanca, you are no stranger to how fantastic a trench coat can look. It is why it is one of the best overcoats for men. Many other famous movie characters have utilized the sartorial excellence of the trench coat, from Daniel Craig's James Bond to Brad Pitt in Ocean's Eleven. Now you can benefit from the style, and we can show you how by giving you our picks for the best trench coat options for men in 2024.

What is the difference between an overcoat and a trench coat?
Just like blazers and sport coats, or khakis and chinos, overcoats and trench coats are terms that are used interchangeably but have very different meanings. Overcoats are a category that includes everything from Chesterfields (your basic wool overcoat) and duffle coats to trench coats and peacoats. What sets the trench coat apart from the rest is its history and features.

Read more
The best jeans for men: These denim brands are worth the investment
No matter your style or budget, your next pair of go-to jeans are here
Man sitting on bench with ripped jeans

The man's wardrobe is one that can vary from guy to guy. Whether you are the kind of man who lives in the Adventurer Style Archetype or the man who dominates in the Commander and Chief, a good pair of denim is going to be your best friend. You can dress them up with a sport coat, or you can dress them down with sneakers. They can be a simple basic, or they can be a brighter color and stand out as the centerpiece of an outfit. No matter what you want to do with them, it is important that you explore as many of the best jeans for men that you can find. The

What colors of jeans do you need?
The color of your jeans and the range of colors you need in your wardrobe will depend on what you want to wear them for and what your lifestyle demands. If you have an elevated wardrobe that calls for the ability to dress up with blazers and sport coats, then you will want to stick to the darker colors. Dark-washed jeans that look like a deep navy are considered dress denim; they will look best with your dress shirts and sports coats. Black will serve you well with your gray and black jackets as well.

Read more
How pants should fit: A must-read guide for men
Make sure your pants always fit properly with these tips
Man leaning on a bike in chinos

Pants are the unsung hero of your day to day. The right pair of dress pants can keep you looking stellar and ready for anything the office can throw at you. If you are looking to keep it casual and cool, a good pair of jeans will have you walking the path that some of the coolest bastions of Americana walked before you. And for somewhere in between, you have chinos that can keep you bridging the gap between dressy and casual. Of course, none of that matters if your pants don't fit correctly.

Like everything we write about on The Manual, there are different rules and guidelines for you to live by. And there are some others that you can completely throw aside and rock something different.

Read more