Being well-dressed is not about following a set of rules and customs but about mastering communication through clothing. A well-dressed person is fluent in the language of clothing so they can say exactly what they want to say through their clothes. To truly be a stylish person and look your best in your clothes, you need to be able to speak through your clothes to develop a personal stylistic identity. Here are seven ways to conquer the language of clothing that work for any person and any personal taste.
1. Be aware of your surroundings
Dressing well doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it’s about dressing appropriately for one’s surroundings. It considers the weather, the season and the climate. It considers the activities of the day. It means following dress codes when they exist, and not disrespectfully flouting them. It can also mean dressing in colours that harmonise with your surroundings, or it can mean dressing in ways to stand out from your surroundings. The route you take is up to you, but always be aware of what surround you.
2. Be comfortable in your clothes
Both physical and emotional comfort are necessary to be well-dressed. Men’s clothing is supposed to be physically comfortable. Clothes are not meant to be uncomfortably tight, wool shouldn’t be itchy, and shoes shouldn’t be painful. But if you’re not used to wearing certain kinds of clothes, it may take time to become comfortable them. If the clothes are not comfortable, it could mean the fit is wrong or the materials are subpar.
Emotional comfort is just as important, if not more important. Emotional comfort can mean different things to different people, but it ultimately comes down to having confidence in the clothes we wear. Our clothes should make us feel like our best selves. It means not being concerned about our clothes as we wear them. Don’t fiddle with your cuff links, and don’t worry that your socks were the wrong choice. Being confident with what you’re wearing comes across as being comfortable.
3. Understand the choices you make
Know why are are dressing the way you dress. For each piece of clothing you put on, ask if it suits your surroundings and if it is right for the purpose. When you combine each piece into an outfit, do the colours go well together? Do the textures complement each other?
Learn the history of fashion to make informed style choices. The ‘rules’ exist for a reason, whether they exist to achieve visual balance and harmony in an outfit or to teach about practical clothes for certain situations. A well-dressed person can break the rules breaks, but they break them with purpose, never just because they can.
It is also important to understand why you like what you like. When shopping for new clothes, understanding our preferences can help us make better choices in curating our wardrobes. When you’re drawn to one colour over another, it might be because you subconsciously notice it looks better with your complexion. Or you might be drawn to a piece of clothing because it reminds you of something someone you admire would wear, whether that person is James Bond or your father. There’s no wrong reason, but there is always a reason.
4. Don’t get dressed on autopilot
We all make lazy decisions sometimes, but by putting in our best effort we will be well-dressed. Dressing well isn’t always about dressing a certain way, it’s mostly about trying and caring. Putting in effort is visible to other people. Do the very best you know how to do. Don’t reach for the same clothes every time, but find ways to wear the clothes you bought that aren’t as easy to wear.
5. Pay attention to fit
There’s not only one way clothes can fit, though clean lines are key to a good fit. Pulling or bagging generally signify a poor fit. However, certain trends have attempted to place fashion over fit. This can be seen in 1989’s Licence to Kill with oversized fits and in 2012’s Skyfall with shrunken fits. Neither are successful at flattering the body, but if you have a reason for liking the effect they create, that is reason enough to wear them.
Related to fit is proportion. Proportion can make clothes look more masculine or more feminine. It can make someone look taller or shorter. And it can make someone look fatter or skinnier. Poorly proportioned clothes can look like a poor fit, even if they cleanly fit the body.
Fit and proportion are powerful tools. Anyone can wear any style of clothing so long as it fits and is proportioned properly for the person wearing it.
Experimentation with our clothes helps our stylistic sense grow. It’s difficult to understand what works and what doesn’t work if we don’t fail sometimes. The easiest way is to try different colour and pattern combinations. Sometimes you can take a chance with new fashions or with clothes you wouldn’t think you ordinarily like, but that can also lead to a waste of money.
7. Know what you like
Confidence in choosing clothes helps one be a better-dressed person. Don’t buy clothes just because James Bond likes them; you need to like them too. If you buy the clothes you don’t genuinely like, it’s a waste of money because you probably won’t wear them. And if you do wear them, you won’t be as confident in them and won’t be wearing them well. A key part of dressing well is knowing what best suits you, but wearing what you most want to wear will make you look good in subtle ways that show through your personality.
When you follow these guidelines, you can wear your clothes with the confidence you need to make them look good. No style of clothing is off-limits for anyone if they know how to wear it. You don’t need the most expensive clothes. You don’t need the same clothes James Bond wears. Dressing well simply comes down to dressing with purpose, intent, awareness and confidence. Following rules can be helpful, but understanding your clothes is the most sophisticated way to wear them.