If you’ve been following this guide, you’ve taken numerous steps to improve your inner and outer self. Now it’s time to work on your presentation.
No matter how smart, socially aware, outgoing, physically capable, or interesting you are, people will dismiss you if you look like a sloppy mess or stink. You need to present yourself well in the world to fit into social situations. We’ll concentrate on two things here: grooming and dress.
There’s all kinds of things about adopting your own style, standing out from the crowd, etc. that you could follow, but that’s not what we’re going for here. This is just to help you not look like a slob and to look decently acceptable to polite society. We’re trying to make it so normal people aren’t negatively judging you for your appearance. As such, these are very basic tips. If you’re looking to establish your own style or for something more advanced, check out Masculine Style. He’s far more qualified to help you than I am.
– If you don’t understand fit, colour, matching, style, etc. get someone to help you pick out clothes. Most good men’s stores will have knowledgeable staff or get one of your female relatives/friends (not your mother) to help you shop (or a stylish male friend if you have one). Don’t try buying clothes, shoes, or other accessories by yourself until you understand what works for you.
– Dress appropriately for the occasion. A casual night at a friend’s house is different from work which is different from an office party which is different from a formal event. If you overdress, you’ll look like a try-hard or a jerk, if you underdress you’ll look lazy and sloppy. At this point, when going out try to dress to fit into the group; look at what most other people are wearing and emulate it. Later on, once you understand style more, you’ll want to get your own style to stand out, but for now, standing out will likely mean you’ll look like a misfit. Dress to fit in.
– Shop at a quality men’s shop. Avoid Walmart, Sears, Target, etc. for anything except for jeans, runners, socks, underwear, and casual t-shirts. I generally use Tip Top Tailors, but it’s a Canadian chain, so if you’re from the states you’ll have to find something else.
– Fit is the single most important aspect of dress. Make sure your clothes fit. If they’re too baggy it will just look sloppy or you’ll look like an idiot, wanne-be gangster, if they’re too tight you’ll look like a effeminate emo. Get clothes that fit comfortably and well. Ask the staff if you’re not sure if the fit is good.
– Find out what colours look good on you and try to get clothes in that colour. Get a female friend/relative to help you with this.
– Do not wear worn out clothes. If your clothes have holes or stains, stop wearing them immediately and replace them. I know you may like that particular shirt, but it’s paid its dues, let it go.
– T-shirts are fine for casual situations with friends or running errands but avoid shirts with offensive slogans, stupid or nerdy jokes, movie references, long chunks of writing, or other things that might be inappropriate or dorky. If you can find it on Snorg Tees or a similar site, avoid it. A plain, solid colour t-shirt, with a respectable, moderate logo, or one with your favourite band logo (assuming its not Cannibal Corpse) are good. Also, make sure the t-shirt is not overly baggy or overly tight (unless you’re very fit).
– Wearing polo shirts is a good step up from the t-shirt. For anything that is not hanging out with friends, wear a polo shirt, at minimum. Do not tuck your polo shirt in, you’ll look like a nerd. Wearing a button-up shirt (or button-up t-shirt) with jeans (not tucked in) is another step up for a good casual-plus look.
– For business casual, dress khakis and a button-up shirt work well. You can tuck it in or not depending on what those around you do. Wearing black dress pants and a button-up shirt, untucked, can also work well.
– For business, a button-up shirt and and black dress pants is the minimum. If everybody else is wearing a suit, make sure you’re wearing one as well.
– Wear a suit for formal.
– If you’re wearing a button-up shirt or polo shirt, undo the top button (unless wearing a tie). Buttoning the top button looks dorky.
– A good pair of well-fitting blue jeans works for most situation where you don’t have to dress up. Make sure the jeans are a solid dark blue. Acid-washed and light jeans look immature. Do not tuck shirts into your jeans.
– Shorts are for sports and the outdoors. Do not wear short indoors, it looks dorky.
– Don’t wear sweat pants or track pants except for sports in cold weather.
– Don’t wear black pants with a black shirt. You may think you look dark and edgy, but you don’t, you look depressed and it looks horrible. If you wear black pants, wear a lighter shirt, and vice versa.
– Get a nice, solid-colour, black leather belt. Wear it always.
– For shoes, a good pair of non-descript solid black runners in good shape will work for most casual situations. Once they become worn replace them immediately; don’t wear shoes with holes or that are otherwise falling apart. Also, get a pair of moderate black dress shoes for work and non-casual situations. If you are dressing up or need to go to a formal event get a pair of better dress shoes.
– Sandals are for the beach, leave them there. Don’t wear socks with sandals.
– If you need glasses, get frames that complement your face or contacts. (I highly recommend contacts; I have never regretted switching to contacts, they are so much mroe comfortable). Do not go around wearing your five-year-old bent, taped up frames or glasses that make you look dorky.
– Don’t wear a hat. Hats (other than ballcaps) require a certain panache to pull off; if you don’t have it, you’ll just look silly. (There’s a reason people make fun of nerds wearing fedoras). I know it’s tempting to attempt to look suave, but you have to be suave first. Put off the hat until you can actually pull it off. Exception – When doing outdoor activities wearing a ball cap or, in winter, a toque, is acceptable; avoid wearing them in other situations though.
– Wear plain, solid black socks. You can not go wrong with plain black socks. Do not wear other sock colours until you have a style of your own where they work well (ie. not yet). When dressing up, wear dress socks. If your socks get holes, replace them immediately.
– Don’t wear a watch. A good, stylish watch can enhance a look; your black digital watch makes you look like a dork. Until you have a good personal style, avoid wearing a watch, it’s unnecessary (you probably have a cell phone) and it will likely look bad on you.
– Avoid jewellery, piercings, or other accessories. Occasionally, these may enhance particular looks, most of the time these look stupid. Avoid them until you have your own personal style that requires them.
– Shower, shampoo, and soap every morning and after every time you’ve been doing physical activity that makes you sweaty (if you are going to be around people afterwards). You don’t want to look dirty or smell rancid.
– Use deodorant or antiperspirant every single day; every morning after your shower, put it on. Try something with a fairly mild, neutral scent; Regular or Irish Spring are good. Get a stick, avoid spray-on, and definitely avoid Axe. You do not want to smell bad, it will repel people, and you also don’t want them to be able to consciously smell your deodorant.
– Brush your teeth. In the mornings brush your teeth after breakfast (or after your shower if you don’t eat breakfast). You don’t want your breath to smell.
– Go to a barber (not a stylist) and get a good haircut, preferably short and masculine, but it’s up to you as long as it looks good on you. If you don’t know what a good haircut looks like, ask the barber to just cut it short however he thinks would look good (a stylist will likely not understand ‘cut it short’ and will either require you choose a hairstyle, explain more thoroughly, or screw it up). Get a haircut every three months at most; preferably every month. Do not go half a year without getting one. After the haircut, ask you sister, female cousin, or female friend for brutally honest advice (your mom probably won’t be brutal enough and don’t ask your girlfriend for approval or she’ll take it as license to meddle); if they approve and you like it keep it. Otherwise, experiment again the next time.
– Make sure you know how to comb/style your hair properly and do so every morning. A short haircut takes less work and may not even require much or any combing/styling, that’s why I recommend it.
– Shave regularly. Shave every two days at most (depending on how fast your facial hair grows). A grizzled look can be good, but again, that’s something that should wait until you understand style enough to pull it off.
– Do not grow a mustache; mustaches can look cool, if done right with the right sense of style. You are probably not doing it right, so you probably look creepy, dorky, like a hipster, or like you’re trying too hard. If you have a mustache, shave it off; once you have our own sense of style, you can grow one to match it.
– If you have a beard maintain it. Don’t just let it grow wild and uncontrollably, make sure it looks kempt. If you can’t/won’t put the effort into maintaining it, shave it off.
– Wash your hands after you piss. I’d think this would be obvious, but I see far too many men in pubcli washrooms who don’t. C’mon, really?
Essentially, wear clothes that fit and are situationally appropriate and keep yourself well-groomed. You might not look amazing, but you will look acceptable. People won’t judge you negatively for your dress and grooming and, for now, that’s a great starting place.
This week your goal is to purchase all the necessary grooming equipment you don’t have and to buy yourself some decent clothes. Start grooming each morning and dressing appropriately.