You know that moment in the original Men in Black, when the incomparable Will Smith dressed in (of course) a black suit, puts some shades on, and he’s instantly the coolest, best-dressed guy ever?
Yeah. Well, that’s never been me.
But, over the years, I’ve learned that dressing well is just another skill—like cooking, or hitting a baseball—and it’s an important one. Whether I like it or not, until someone really gets to know me, people’s perceptions of me are usually based on a first impression—and I only ever get one of those. How I dress directly affects whether or not I can successfully present the person I want to be to the outside world.
I used to easily dismiss the “dressing is a skill” theory right out of hand. I’d see guys like Jon Hamm on Mad Men and envy the way he filled out his vintage-cut suits. I’d go to the mall and walk into clothing stores with a defeated attitude, and think, “what’s the point in upgrading my look if I’ll never look like that Abercrombie model in these clothes?” However, as I realized how critical my appearance was to my presentation in professional settings, I made a connection: I’ll never hit a home-run in the World Series either, but that doesn’t stop me from having a blast practicing at the batting cages on every weekend that I can make it out. I get better the more I practice, and I feel accomplished every time that I hear that solid thunk of the bat, and connect. Meeting my goals, no matter how small, helps me release my defeatist attitude and reframe my mindset. And since I don’t live in a nudist colony, I get to practice and nurture the skill of dressing well every single day. Here are some tips I live by:
START TODAY: Nobody is born in a perfectly tailored 3-piece suit. Start dressing mindfully and consciously, and explore your color scheme. You might be surprised at the responses you get when you successfully match colors just right.
MAKE SURE THE CLOTHES FIT: All bodies are unique and beautiful, but maybe you’re working hard on your fitness, and your body is changing shapes. You want the clothes you wear to accentuate how you move and how you function in life. Choose a clothing brand that you know has the best fit for your singular body type and stick with them. If you want to take it a step further, look into tailoring your own clothes. Being somebody with a body that just doesn’t fit right in most clothes, I highly recommend knowing your way around a sewing machine. Taking in the sides, or extending the length of the pants can make the difference you need to find that special look.
CONSULT: You might not be aware of this, but many successful guys—including social media influencers and entertainers—have had help in pinning down their “look.” They have had a consultant who helps them improve, manage and upgrade their online images to keep their clients’ followers impressed by how put together they are. I sometimes consult a professional when it’s time to update my look. They help me make my online presence more potent so that people will want to stop and look at it.
GOLDEN SKIN: Spring is upon us, and I know that I’m about to spend a lot less time in bulky heavy clothing, and a lot more time in light, breezy, skin-baring items. Whenever I get outdoors with the plan of spending a full day in the sun, I know that I’ve got to protect my glowing complexion. Researchers have posited that the secret ingredient to protecting our skin from sun damage is actually anti-oxidants. The more you get in your diet, the more your skin will be able to handle and control the oxidation of cells when hit by intense radiation or SUNLIGHT.
YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR: Clothing brands really tend to give you what you pay for. Some of them are just a brand and no quality, but the rest of them were founded by passionate clothes-loving people who want people to have the best. Better quality fabrics are worth every cent. If you can get your hands on any merino wool clothing, you’ve found a piece you’ll want to keep for the rest of your life.
Building up my closet—just like building up my confidence—has taken me some time, but the rewards have been tenfold. My ability to dress stylishly, with my unique body in mind, has allowed me to promote the brand of me consistently over the last few years. I’m recognizing this growth and allowing my wardrobe to change with me. It doesn’t just open new doors in my closet, and it doesn’t just make me a more viable option in the employment world—it lets me be more of myself, and better reflect who I really am. When I look in the mirror, I see me.