Legendary designer and icon, the late Yves Saint Laurent, is attributed with the now famous quote: “Fashion fades. Style is eternal.” With over 50 years in the business, and even more time spent studying the art and history of clothing, he certainly knew a thing or two about both concepts. Adding to his point, we’ve personally witnessed (maybe even without recognizing) the transition from zoot suits to more tailored clothing, and from jeans as active or lounge wear to appropriate fashion staples, for which some companies charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Indeed, fashion does change, but the ability to adapt to trends or even influence them, is a skill. Still, what determines how that skill is developed?
First, it’s important to recognize that no one style fits all. Every man is not a fan of skinny jeans, despite their increasing popularity; conversely, not every gentlemen is a fan of ties. So, style, first is about personal comfort. Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or self conscious will show, and confidence is key is to style. Hence, my first suggestion to every guy is to determine what you’re comfortable wearing, whether it is certain colors, types of clothing, or an accessory, such as hats or jewelry. That is not say your style shouldn’t evolve or develop an interest in new things over time. Rather, it’s important to know what works for you and what doesn’t. In short: personal style is about personal comfort which translates into confidence.
Secondly, your style should be influenced by your environment and function. In the northeastern part of the country, in places like Boston or New Haven, Connecticut for example, you may develop a proclivity for layers. It’s not uncommon to see a button down shirt, with a cardigan as well as a blazer on top, during the fall or early spring months when weather is unpredictable and wearing layers provides a chance to adjust accordingly, and it also looks nice. Likewise, someone with a penchant for scarves maybe a guy who lives in a colder climate. Yet, in places like Miami or Southern California, the style is more relaxed, usually erring toward tank tops, sandals, and other relative pieces that reflect the climate and overall environment of how people in the area live. This is not limited to weather, however, someone who works in an office building will obviously develop a different and arguably more refined style than someone who does not. Professional style is a result of environment.
Another factor which influences personal style is culture. The kurta pyjama from India and the Irish kilt are both cultural forms of clothing that have been adapted to modern fashion, and presently influence the style choices of men of those respective cultures. Religious culture as well may play a role in style choices, like the Jewish kippah, which men of the faith wear on their heads to symbolize recognition of a higher power. In all cases, culture will guide and likely influence how and what you wear and your expression of style.
The take away here is that finding your style should be about what looks, works, and feels good for you: what works for your body type or stature, the climate or environment, or what is a part of your culture. Things become trendy, and certain things work for certain people, but as a man of style, you will always be on point if you’re doing it with confidence and making whatever choice of clothing, your own.