Above, Andrew’s Style-Up: Before and After.
Over the years, I have gone through my own style growth.
I have learned a great deal: what rules to follow, what rules to break, and how style is more about self and identity and less about cloth and clothes.
I call the process of matching up my outsides to my insides (and maybe stretching both in the process) “Styling-Up.”
“Styling-Up” might be part of someone’s “Style Story” (my nickname for the story that we tell about who we are and how we choose to express ourselves). I’ve been fortunate enough to assist a few in their newest chapters.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the looks on their faces (or their significant others’ faces) as they came out of the dressing room in Styled-Up gear, I’ve found the stories behind the Style-Up to be meaningful and inspirational.
Meet Andrew – in his own words. The cartoons are mine.
Andrew: Researcher, Berkeley, 32.
What were your feelings about your style “before?” What did you like? What wasn’t working?
“I liked the times when things seemed to fit right and I felt confident about my appearance. I also liked that I had a few items – such as a bright purple sweatshirt – that would draw compliments and open conversations.”
“Style has always been something that I’ve felt uncomfortable and apprehensive about – even whether to pay attention to it.”
I often felt that I didn’t really have a sense of how things went together. Sometimes I wore clothing that I felt didn’t look right on me, but I lacked a way to describe what wasn’t working.
What’s the story behind your interest in “Styling Up?”
I recently finished school and was entering a new stage of my life. I wanted to feel more confident and appear more professional, while also finding ways to express myself.
I was looking to gain some outfit ideas that were in between casual sportswear on one hand (which I mostly wore day to day), and formal wear on the other – something that I could wear to my work as a researcher, or for an evening out.
I had a lot of … very basic questions about clothing and style, [and] was looking for a framework to answer them.
Since your Style-up, what have you enjoyed/ noticed / learned?
The Style-up with Evan was an important step along my style development. My style awareness has been heightened, and I feel a lot more confident in putting together an outfit.
I enjoyed learning specifics about some of the details like socks and undershirts, as well as some broader concepts for the future.
If you could “channel” the style traits of any personality, who would it be?
“My grandmother has a timeless elegance in her style. She knows how to add details to any outfit such as a scarf or jewelry. I really admire how she is able to complement strangers on their style and accessories, which often leads them to open up into conversation.”
My grandmother has a timeless elegance in her style. She knows how to add details to any outfit such as a scarf or jewelry.
I really admire how she is able to complement strangers on their style and accessories, which often leads them to open up into conversation.
Slim and Simple:
Shoulder seams should hit right at — well, the shoulders.
In a recent interview with J. Weekly, I was asked what a man on a budget could do to Style-Up, and my first piece of advice was to make sure your shirts fit properly – notably, shirts’ shoulder seams must hit right at the shoulder.
A great fitting shirt makes you feel great.
Andrew and I started at Levi’s and picked out 3 staple shirts: white, pink, and gingham.
All three were smaller than Andrew was accustomed to, but they brought definition to Andrew’s shoulders and torso.
To go with the shirts, Andrew bought two ties – denim, but very classy. One, grey-blue, and one with subtle engineer stripes.
The gingham shirt with denim tie is classy enough for martinis after work, but it’s also casual enough for a pint at the pub.
To match the shirts, we picked out a pair of slim-fitting, straight leg jeans (tumbled rigid Levi’s 514, to be precise) – and the usual rules applied: the darker, the classier (stick to indigo-blue), and we cuffed them at the bottom so there was no drape. This creates a crisp finish above his new shoes.
The Dress Shoe that Fits Like A Sneaker
Look like a million bucks. Fit like sneakers. Got ’em on clearance. Yup.
Andrew was interesting in picking up some shoes to wear at a wedding – but we wanted them to match with the look he was already establishing – simple, clean, and classic.
We found a pair of Cole Haans which accomplished a few things; they’re dressy, they’re styley, AND they’re made by Nike. They fit like sneakers.
What’s cooler than Chuck Taylors? Leather Chuck Taylors.
Finally, just because they were awesome, some grey-leather Converse All-Stars. As I’ve said in a previous post, Chuck Taylors are unstoppably cool, and the grey leather boosts even this classic look – making it a wee-bit edgy!
The Power of a Great Watch
Diesel dz1090 – earns the maximum compliments per dollar (CPD).
Like many guys, Andrew uses his cell phone to check the time. Great. That frees up his watch for completing the look.
In a prior post on watches, I featured four time-pieces that double as conversation pieces. We happened upon the Diesel DZ 1090, and with its thick, brown, leather band (matching Andrew’s belt), it added a little raw-punch to the refined outfit. [By the way, you can find these online for under a hundred dollars.]
Dressed up without standing out.
Blaze it, Sweat It
Finally, since Andrew presents research at science conferences, he expressed an interest in being able to dress up without standing out.
Two pieces addressed this need, and completed his look.
First, an unstructured (no padding, no lining) blazer by Jack Spade, and second, a classic cardigan by Banana Republic. Both items can be paired with shirt and tie for a casual, styley, professional look, but can also do double-duty with a T-shirt for the science conference after-party.
I won’t hold your hand, but I will guard the fitting-room door.
Live in the bay area? A style-up is painless. Maybe even fun. And it might help you land a date / job / both at the same time. Drop me a line at stylefordorks at gmail dot com.
Outside of the Bay Area? Through the miracle of the interwebs, we can arrange an on-line consultation. You’ll end up with a handful of great items, some new looks, and a spring in your step. Drop me a line at stylefordorks at gmail dot com.