Navigating the world of men’s fashion can be a dizzying experience. You find yourself staring into a wardrobe full of possibilities, and the choices of clothing you could wear overwhelm you.
You want to look good, but just don’t exactly know what would look good or even what you want from your fashion. You may not exactly know what to wear for different occasions.
Some may be tempted to say they don’t have a ‘natural fashion sense.’
But the truth is there isn't anything 'natural' about developing a sense of style. Some men may develop a sharp fashion sense without much effort, but you can also improve your sense of style consciously and deliberately. There are a series of steps men can take to improve their style sense: the key may just be a little bit more exposure to fashion and some experimentation.
We’ll start with some easy tips that can be applied quickly, and then progressively move on to longer term, and more impactful ways of developing a sense of fashion.
0. What is Style Sense?
Before we go on, we’ll define what we mean when we say fashion sense.
Having a good fashion sense is having an instinct for how clothes look when worn together and how those clothes can make an outfit that both looks good and expresses something about you. It isn’t about knowing any sort of formula or the absolute and only correct way to dress.
Don’t let the word instinct lead you to believing that style is something you either have or don’t have. For many fashion designers and professionals in the industry, men’s dressing sense differs from one another. Often the difference can be drastic.
Fashion sense is really something everyone develops for themselves and can be unique to them. For Nathon Kong, he has found that he loves fashion that is as much an art piece as it is clothing. This is clothing that has been made by hand, often with a lot of time and expertise, and is an expression of his appreciation of the story of how something is made.
Because of the uniqueness of clothing like custom suits, Nathon finds that he enjoys wearing these kinds of art pieces and sharing the story of his suits with his friends and clients.
All of his suits include artwork, usually by a participant of Les Impatients. Les Impatients is a non profit organisation that teaches therapeutic art classes for people with mental health troubles. Participants often use their artwork as a means of expressing their journey to mental wellness.
Each artwork tells a story of mental health recovery
Nathon found his fashion sense through his own journey, and shares his passion with clients who have similar interests in original art and the experience of wearing what is unique to them. The following tips will help you develop your own sense of style.
1. Understand What People Wear to Different Occasions
Every occasion calls for a different style.
Men should understand that most occasions can call for a different dressing style. Fortunately, there isn’t a huge variety of outfits, styles, and occasions that most men need to prepare for.
If you’re looking for a quick suggestion on how men should dress for a specific event, or you're in a hurry to pick an outfit for an outing, there are many articles on this blog about how men can dress for different outings. You will find a handful of popular articles on how to dress for different occasions below.
Learning when to wear the right fashion style at the right time is the first step to improving your fashion sense.
Reading these sorts of articles can have great improvements on your fashion sense. Once you start to understand what to wear for one occasion, you can transfer that style to other similar occasions.
For example, if you know what to wear to a wedding, you can apply that style to other formal parties such as galas and charity events.
There are even style guides on broader topics that can give you a starting off point, such as a men’s guide to business casual attire.
2. Find Inspiration for Outfits in Men’s Fashion Magazines
The best tip we can give for improving your sense of style is to expose yourself to fashion. Subscribing to a fashion magazine, following a fashion channel on instagram or YouTube, or even just reading publications like GQ and or LaPresse fashion every once and a while informs you of trends happening in style and presents you with outfits people find fashionable.
To improve your fashion sense, you have to look at more fashion
Many of these publications and content creators are run by fashion designers. Most will also interview these professionals to share their advice on style and fashion.
We are not saying you have to become a fashion fan, tuned in to everything that is happening in the fashion world and on top of every trend. Trends change frequently, and you may not be interested in reinventing your fashion sense every few months, which can be expensive and wasteful. There’s something to be said about having a timeless fashion sense that looks good no matter how times change.
This is not school, and there’s no homework. You don’t have to read a fashion article a day to improve your fashion sense. This practice is a means of seeing what other clothes men are wearing and maybe finding inspiration that will go towards improving your sense of style.
This exposure to men’s dressing sense can be as simple as bookmarking this blog and scrolling through it during the last 10 minutes of your lunch break. You can subscribe to just one fashion magazine and leave it on the kitchen table to flip through with your morning coffee.
You will see many different style senses and start to develop an idea for what you like and what you may want to try out. That is step 4, but first…
3. Look at the Fashion Sense Around You
Fashion publications are great for seeing what people with the most refined and developed senses of style find fashionable. By seeing our and their outfits, you will begin to get a sense of what colours and fabric work well together and what appeals to you.
But you probably aren’t a runway model or an A-list actor, so it wouldn’t be practical to pick some of the outfits you will see in magazines and publications and try to wear them. You need to take what you learn from this content and apply it to your life.
Try to pay attention to what other men around you are wearing and apply what you see in fashion publications to the outfits of everyday life. Try to deconstruct what works about an outfit for you. Do the men in the office only wear a black suit with a black tie on a white shirt? Is there a custom suit that sticks out for you because of a particular colour combination or because the wearer added something to it, a particular tie or unique pocket square, perhaps?
Thinking critically about style this way is the first step to developing your fashion sense. As you look at what men are wearing around you, pay special attention to which outfits you find appealing and to which don't do it for you. Try to understand why that might be.
4. Copy Outfits You Like
Now we’re going to start applying all the inspiration you’ve gathered to your dressing sense.
When you see an outfit that really inspires you, then you should try to copy it. Literally clothing article for clothing article, if you can.
It might seem a little strange. You may be asking “I thought I was going to be improving my fashion sense. How does copying the dressing sense of other men do that?”
Actually trying on the outfits that appeal to you improves your fashion sense as you see first hand what works for you.
It’s one thing to see a picture online or in the street and think it looks nice. But maybe the outfit you pick isn’t practical for your daily life, or you feel uncomfortable wearing it.
Experiment a little bit. Keep what works. Get rid of what doesn’t. Do that, and you won’t be copying forever. Soon enough, you will be able to go on to the next step.
5. Mix & Match Men’s Clothing
Every accessory adds something different to your outfit.
When developing your own fashion sense, you eventually have to move away from copying. But you don’t have to jump right into the deep end of original outfits.
Once you’ve copied a few outfits you’ve really enjoyed, try taking your favourite clothes from each of them and making new outfits from those.
Did you really enjoy the navy blue suit from a business outfit and the silk scarf you wore out for an evening with friends? What if you combined those for a night where you’re going to see an orchestra?
Taking the parts of an outfit that you like and combining them into one outfit is the essence of improving your style sense.
6. Develop Your Own Fashion Sense
When Nathon is creating a custom suit with a client, he treats the process of selecting an artwork for the suit lining as if the client was buying the artwork. Buying an artwork is less about how the art piece fits with the suit, and more about if the client connects with the story the artwork tells or if it makes them feel good when they see it.
Buying an artwork is less about how the art piece fits with the suit, and more about if the client connects with the story the artwork tells or if it makes them feel good when they see it.
Developing a sense of style should be a little bit like that. You want to wear clothes that you feel comfortable and confident wearing while looking good and unique.
Your fashion sense can express who you are.
You may have noticed that we avoided giving specific and concrete instructions like 'wear these colours' or 'wear this kind of watch with this type of suit' in this article.
Fashion sense isn't about memorising rules of fashion. It is having an instinct for what clothes work together and wearing an outfit that best expresses who you are.
The ultimate goal of all these tips is to eventually help you improve enough to develop your own 'rules' of style.
Next Steps to Improve Your Fashion Sense
If you’re at the end of this article and still unsure of where you want to begin in improving your fashion sense, that’s okay and completely normal. Nathon’s job is to reassure his clients and answer their questions in regards to making a suit that they love and that meets their needs, even when the client doesn’t themselves know exactly what they want or what would look good.
Try and quiz yourself a little bit about your style sense. Ask yourself, what do you want to improve your fashion sense for? Is it to make a good impression as you meet important people in your industry? Is it to look on par with your coworkers while at the office or with your friends when you go out?
What do you need from your fashion style? Consistent outfits that can be relied on to present your best self? Or a flexible wardrobe of clothes you can be comfortable and confident wearing when you go out?
Nathon Kong understands the stresses that come with dressing yourself in a suit, whether you are doing so for a work environment or whether you are preparing a wedding. With the personal attention of a fashion designer, Nathon can guide you in designing a completely custom suit. With exclusive artwork lining the inside of a suit, you get a story of mental wellness that gives you a personal connection to what you wear.
10% of your purchases are donated to nonprofit organisations supporting mental health and local artists
Have a question about men’s clothing or something you want to tell us? Be sure to leave a comment or read some of the related articles below.
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