You 2.0 Part 3 – Fine Tune the Logo
I struggle with writing this final installment of You 2.0 because fashion is often considered a frivolity by many. Something that only the superficial, self-centered embrace. An exercise in narcissism if you will. The old style over substance argument that you’ve heard a million times. But placed in the context of self-improvement and rebranding, I think it makes sense to give the subject some consideration. Man up Hominid because it just might be time to elevate your style by concentrating on the basics.
You know the saying, you only have one shot to make a first impression. What do others think when they are meeting you for the first time? Positive impressions might include the fact that you look “professional”, “put together”, “organized”, “stylish”, “trendy”, “dapper” etc.. Some not so positives include “unprofessional”, “sloppy”, “out-dated”, “unorganized”, and “oafish”. We are talking first impressions here so the fact the you are a truly wonderful, bright, witty and insightful human being might get dismissed right off the bat. It sucks but that’s the society we live in.
This post is not about high fashion. Rather, it offers basic tips for those who struggle to define and refine their look. If your gear is tight, then you need not read on. If you hate buying clothes because you just can’t quite figure out what you should be concentrating on, you are likely to find some helpful hints here.
Why be conscious about your appearance? For reasons other than first impressions, consider pride in your look, a boost in self-confidence, making a statement, impressing a first date, impressing a hiring manager, building social capital, and giving your partner a good reason to want to be seen with you in public. If your plan to get healthier and fitter pans out, why put that sexy new body in your tired old clothes? Here’s a head-to-toe look at what to concentrate on.
Are you clean shaven or sporting facial hair? Long or short hair cut? Do you pay attention to skin care? Eyebrows? Regardless of your choice to go bare or go hair, keep your look neat, tight and professional. If you are in your 40’s and 50’s, your daily interactions with others are likely in a professional setting. The unkempt look is best left for the Hollywood and music industry glitterati. Whether short cropped or medium length, keep your hair cut, trimmed and styled. If you aren’t sure what the modern trend is, consult your barber or stylist. If you’ve been wearing the same hair cut for the past 10-15 years, it might be time for a change. The same holds true for facial hair. Whether you embrace facial hair or not, keep it trimmed or freshly shaven each day. Your face should be the focal point when interacting with someone, not food stuck to your mountain man whiskers. Avoid having stray hairs pointing in all directions. Keep your eyebrows trimmed as well. It shouldn’t look as if a caterpillar is napping on your forehead.
Do you have a skin regimen? You should. Keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Invest in a decent facial cleanser (no body soap on the face) and moisturize before bed and again in the morning for clean, blemish-free skin. Keep your hands clean and nails trimmed (not chewed). People notice and judge hands more than you think. And for goodness sake keep your nose hair trimmed. There’s nothing worse than being distracted by someone’s dueling nose hairs when you are attempting to concentrate on the conversation. Add to your tool kit a nose hair trimmer, razor, electric hair clipper (for the tufts of hair attempting to escape the collar of your t-shirt), nail clipper and hand-held mirror.
Your goal should be to look sharp for all occasions. That includes the office environment, after work activities, weekends, the kids basketball games etc. You never know who you are going to run into at the grocery store so why not have a consistent, stylish look for all segments of your life? Do you work in a formal office environment where the suit is the uniform of choice? Invest in a couple well made suits with modern lines (there is no substitute for quality). If you can’t afford multiple suits, choose fabrics that will get you through all seasons. Invest in shirts with varying collar styles and don’t shy away from color. If all of your shirts are white or blue, get more adventurous with your color selections. Regardless of whether you go with short lapels or normal, pinstripes or solids, the key to looking your best in a suit is the fit. If the suit off the rack does not fit you just right, seek the service of a good tailor. It’s worth the additional $30 or so to get it right. A loose fitting suit will make you look sloppy and disheveled.
Whereas a tailored look projects a more stylish image. One that is neat, organized and professional.
Perhaps your office culture is a bit more relaxed and suits are not necessary. So trousers, shirts & ties or sweaters are the name of the game. If that’s the case, load up on trousers. Mix up the patterns, colors and fabrics. I spoke with a friend who said that her boyfriend has the one obligatory pair of “dress pants” for special occasions. Black of course. Why limit yourself? Black, blue, earth tones, olive and grey should occupy space in your closet. Go for flat front whenever you can. Not every man can pull of pleated trousers. If you carry a little extra weight, pleated trousers will look like a balloon. Men like me who suffer from height deficiency often find it difficult to acquire trousers in the proper length. Bad trouser breaks are a common mistake. You should have just a small fold at the front of the trouser and reaching halfway down the back of your shoe heel for the perfect length. If not, spend the $10 bucks and get them hemmed. The image to the left illustrates the break you want.
Opting for chinos a couple times a week? Mix it up my friend! Chinos are available in all kinds of flavors these days. I snapped this pic of a chino display while shopping. Skip the khaki color and grab a red, blue or green. Make it pop!
Put some color in your shirts. Mix it up a bit by including some patterns (stripes, checkers, plaids). Don’t be afraid to experiment with mixing patterns. Afine striped blue shirt with a grey plaid tie makes more sense than you think. Just don’t mix more than two patterns in any one ensemble. And tuck your shirt for goodness sake. An untucked shirt screams “I can’t dress myself!” or “I just don’t give a damn!”
You can follow all of the above suggestions and look your sharpest, but it can all go to pot if your shoes are whacked. THE most common mistake that I see in footwear choice is the square toed shoe. It’s gone people! Finished! Done! Kaput! Your toes aren’t square so why should your shoes be? Choose a round toe shoe please and thank you. Dusty, scuffed up shoes are equally egregious. Get a cheap shine kit and polish and, with some care, a good pair of shoes will last you a while. Invest in a few good pairs appropriate for the season and in different hues. Grab a couple of lace-up Oxfords and slip-on loafers. You’ll be able to get through most office and social occasions. Add a nice pair of boots or two and you’ll be set. Build your collection slowly with classics and you need not worry about being out of style after having come out of pocket the prior season.
With so many styles and trends to choose from, you can often neglect the basics. Stick with the basics described above and you’ll have a good foundation to build on. Just remember to dress for the occasion, the proper season, go for quality rather than quantity and build your look around one piece that will bring your outfit to life like adding a print tie to a solid suit and solid shirt. Most of all, have fun. New body, new look, new attitude. You 2.0. Now go get it.