I was young and needed the money… for clothes. I used to finance my wardrobe by taking odd jobs in restaurants. Whatever your hustle, if you’re young, you’re even more committed to getting the best bang for your buck because one mistake can set you back weeks or even months. You know when every brand goes on sale, you follow 25 items on eBay at all times, and you’re on a first name basis with your alterations tailor. We’ve all been there (or still are). As such, we’ve taken the liberty to create a short guide to help you avoid the most common mistakes on the road to personal style.
Young people often haven’t had the time, money, or experience to develop their own personal style yet. They can be more easily influenced by trends, brands, and sales. Furthermore, they are willing buy a number of cheap items and spend on alterations, rather than buying fewer better quality items and really taking care of them. This issue is compounded by the fact that your body will change as you grow older and clothing of lesser quality is less likely to be alterable over time.
- lack of a fully developed personal style
- few resources
- lack of forethought and planning
Lack of a fully developed personal style
Finding your own personal style is a journey. It is not a journey with a clear starting point or finishing line. Key questions to ask (and re-ask) are:
What suits me best?
What do I like?
What is the correct level of formality?
What is quality?
All of these things must be learned through hard work. However, if done correctly, these lessons needn’t be expensive. Go to a library, buy books, browse good blogs (maximilianmogg.de, for example), have discussions in fora online. Instagram also provides numerous examples of what to do and what not to do. We’ve put together a small list of recommendations for you to peruse – links in blue:
- Alan Flusser’s Dressing the Man
- Anything by Adolf Loos
- Erica Papritz’ & Karlheinz Graudenz’ New Etiquette
- Ann Barrs & Peter York’s The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook
- Bernhard Roetzel’s The Gentleman
Another incredibly important and oft-overlooked method of extending one’s knowledge is to actually have a conversation with a fellow traveller. The internet even allows us to talk to people from around the world, so you have no excuse.
You have access to the teachings of great masters. They can help you avoid their mistakes. Our personal favourite suits and shirts have all been ordered by customers who had given their style a lot of thought and knew what it was they needed or those who were willing to admit their lack of knowledge and were willing to engage in a discussion to find what they needed.
Lack of resources
In many ways, this is an advantage. As you know that you have fewer resources, they all need to be employed more efficiently. You have to take your time and gather knowledge before making decisions. Hopefully, this will teach you one of the most important lessons of classic menswear. You should always buy the best you can afford. You will regret every poor quality item and likely have to pay more to replace it eventually anyway. Going to a bespoke tailor or a good MTM tailor is not vanity, it’s a prudent financial decision in the long term. The more limited your resources, the more you should stick to absolute classics. A good tailor should guide you and insist on conservatism. This is not because they want you to wear a uniform, but rather because they understand that wilder pieces are more of a financial risk. The classics are so popular because they have stood the test of time and have proven their practicality through the generations.
Lack of forethought and planning
There is a reason that expressions such “I’m too poor for cheap clothes” or “If you buy cheap, you buy twice” exist. Because they are true. If you’re spending a lot of money, don’t try to skimp on the details. However, this is another situation where knowledge is of paramount importance. Especially in terms of fabric, finer and more expensive isn’t always better.
Planning is also key when it comes to fit. Don’t buy anything too tight (it can still be slim without being tight) and make sure you have seam allowances for future alterations. Good tailors and high-quality clothiers know that bodies change and that clothing has to adapt to the body.
So, how do you achieve personal style if you’re only buying classics? We recommend giving the necessary care and attention to accessories. Best of all, with the wide variety of vintage options out there, spending massive sums on accessories is a waste of money.
There is one final thought we’d like to leave you with. Clothing will never be a substitute for a personality. Strive to be a good person and find a style that underlines what you want to be. It is that authenticity that will allow you to stand out from the crowd.
Firstly, a good suit is nothing without good shoes. Here are a couple of our best-value-for-money recommendations: Atelier Leonard Kahlcke (handmade MTO, MTM, and bespoke), Carmina (RTW), Eduard Meier (RTW), and Vass (RTW, MTO, and bespoke). Secondly, knee socks are best bought in bulk in the Pantherella Sale. MM/DC