There’s more to life than rules.
One thing that has concerned me lately is the abundance of people who have taken an interest in style, only to extend as far as watching the various videos about men’s style rules on YouTube and treat them as if they were the Bible because nobody’s there to advise otherwise.
Check the comments section of any Insta/FB/other network post where a man posts an outfit pic where he’s omitted a pocket square from his jacket. You’ll undoubtedly notice a few comments along the lines of ‘No pocket square?’ or ‘Needs a pocket square’ or something else along those lines. Every time.
Because some established YouTube channels and the like decided to tell a generation of men that them’s the rules.
But you don’t need a goddamn pocket square if you don’t feel like it’s the choice for you today. All those rules aren’t the be all and end all.
Rules Are A Foundation
Now, there are some rules in menswear that shouldn’t be broken. Things like having a collar size that suits your face, or wearing something that fits well. Choosing seasonally appropriate fabrics. Or how to match patterns with a good flow. Some things in style can be distilled into a science.
However, plenty of what makes for good and unique style is more of an art.
Rules are great for beginners. If you’re just starting out, it’s good to learn the rules so you have a foundation to build upon. The problem with rules is when – as Ethan Wong pointed out – people are told ‘the rules’ and that anything else is a style sin, and are never given advice on or shown how to develop themselves beyond the basics.
And that’s a boring way to be.
(You guys should really read the article of Ethan’s I linked just above, it’s a fantastic and well-composed read.)
Rule #2: Break The Rules
Some of you will have heard the iconic Arnold Schwarzenegger speech where he talks about his six rules for success. One of those rules is ‘break the rules’.
Sounds like an oxymoron, but expression is about changing things up. And you can’t do that by staying within the boundaries for your whole life.
You’ll probably cop flak for it, like my man Dennis did when decided to wear a double breasted 3 piece suit one day – and looked resplendent in doing so – attracting a few denouncers who said it’s a no-no to wear a DB 3 piece.
Joke’s on the naysayers, since a) it looked good and b) it was commonly done before wartime fabric rationing outlawed the production of them.
Have Fun, Dammit
As the title says, your style is yours. I try really hard not to post any concrete rules-based stuff on here, rather I concentrate on what I find works best for me. Because sometimes things work differently for people, like a different lapel width.
The only way to really develop your personal style is to experiment, bend the rules and have some fun. Recently I decided to have a go at tailored pants and tees. I’d done it before – badly – and wanted to make it work for me in a way I liked, so I did.
So go forth and have a bit of fun with your style. Try that colour that you never thought you’d wear. Try wearing casual shoes with a suit. Try a Hawaiian shirt. Just do something different that you want to have a crack at.
Like most of the best dressed guys you follow on Instagram do.
In 2019 I tried a lot of things that put me out of my comfort zone style-wise, learned a lot and was bettered by it. I tried wider pants. I tried wearing seersucker. I tried fun print camp collar shirts. I wore a vintage outfit for the first time, and really enjoyed it. I put myself out there, failed plenty, and succeeded my fair share too.
I’m going to keep trying new things in 2020. One thing I’m keen for in winter is to try wearing corduroy. I want to try a 6×1 double breasted jacket. I’d like to try button-down shirts with a big, beefy collar roll. I’m thinking about trying a traditional American sack suit.
The list goes on.
The point is, style isn’t fun without your own touch.
And it isn’t inherently yours without your own touch either, if it’s all done by the book then your style is actually someone else’s.
So go and make your style yours.
I look forward to seeing what you create.