Dictionary.com describes style as "a mode of fashion, as in dress, especially good or approved fashion; elegance; smartness". Whereas, for me, a persons sense of style, is the way a person chooses to portray themselves aesthetically.
A persons style should reflect who they are, who they wish to be and how they would like others to view them. So how then with all these subtle complexities, do we discover our own sense of style?
In truth, the answer to that is to say "Over Time". A personal sense of style is something that evolves, something that begins as a foggy haze of influences and likes and which over time begins to come in to focus, resulting in a your own unique look and a sense of self confidence and worth.
On the surface, one would imagine that any search for a personal sense of style would begin simply in buying clothes you like, but starting here will see you waste money and slow down your style discovery.
Sure, most of us have an idea of what we like and what we don't like, some even have a concept of how they wish to look. However, to truly discover your own personal style means first to discover who you really are, or at the very least, begin that journey.
Know yourself first
I maintain that very few people have any real concept of themselves until they are thirty and it is not until you turn forty that you are really getting a handle on who you really are.
In your twenties, you tend to be swayed by your interpretations of what society expects of you, social media, peer pressure and the wish to impress others (Usually those of the opposite sex that have sent your hormones racing). This does not mean that someone in their twenties cannot dress in style, it means that he is unlikely to have discovered his own unique sense of style.
Knowing who you innately are, will help you define what you want from your attire, what environments you are likely to be in and your overall lifestyle. For instance should you regularly attend Gala's and Gallery Openings a regular outfit comprising of blue jeans and a crisp T-shirt may not be the best look for you.
Of course I cannot tell you who you are, that is something that only you can know. I do however know that being divorced and nearly Fifty, I had to go on a journey of self discovery myself and have blogged about discovering your single self after divorce, although the advice within is relevant to all, divorced or not.
So once you have a concept of who you really are, the next step is to begin building your wardrobe. My piece of advice here is to do so slowly and allow it to grow.
If you go out and buy an entire wardrobe full of outfits, you may find that whilst they are good outfits and you look great in them that they may not fit your evolving style. The best way is to first of all edit your current wardrobe. Remove everything and only put back that which you would want to wear now that you are focusing on a sense of style.
Now you need to look at what you have and what is missing, thinking primarily of the current season. If it is Summer, no point in worrying that you no longer have heavy jackets and jumpers, that can wait until it is indeed cold and wet.
Regardless of the season, I always find that long is best, long pants look far smarter than shorts and a long sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up is always a better look than a short sleeved shirt. Again, no need to rush out and purchase bulk outfits, looking at your edited wardrobe should tell you if you have any complete outfits and what you lack.
Do you lack pants, shirts or footwear? If this is the case, then go and make a few small purchases to plug the gaps. Just remember we are talking essentials at the moment, as your sense of style evolves you will add more items and no doubt retire many more too.
For many, you will be surprised to see that you still possess a complete wardrobe, this would suggest that you already dress well even though you are yet to fully develop your own personal style.
Do your research
Now comes the fun part, developing your unique style sense. I would suggest, if you haven't already, getting on social media, start following some style influencers, men's wear lines and bloggers, maybe subscribe to a men's fashion magazine (most are available in a digital e-format) and simply get a concept of current fashion trends.
I personally follow many of my favourite menswear stores/producers on social media such as Tarocash, Gordon Rush, Blazer, David Jones and Dapperscene. Magazines like GQ, The Journal and Men's Style are an invaluable source of style trends.
However the best source of information is from fashion influencers and bloggers such as The Stylish Man, The Sartorialist, Inspiration Style, The Art of Manliness and my personal favourites Gents Lounge and Blake Scott. Become (within reason) immersed in the world of men's fashion and gauge what you like.
One at a time
Your next step is to start with one purchase at a time and begin refining your look. There are two ways to approach what to start with, the first and most logical, is to identify an item of clothing you wish to upgrade.
I would recommend a larger statement piece such as a sports coat or shoes. Get a specific idea of what you are looking for, i.e. tan double monkstrap shoes and go and seek them out, don't rush the purchase, buy quality and shop around.
The second and less logical way is the way I went about things. As I mentioned in an earlier blog entitled Red Suede Shoes and a Blue velvet Jacket, my journey began with seeing a pair of red suede shoes in a store window.
I fell in love with them, but did not buy them at first, waiting about two weeks before doing so. In other words, you can start with an item you find that you cannot get out of your head and desire really badly. Of course I would recommend against pure impulse buying and suggest you allow yourself a cool down period before actually purchasing.
Once you have your first item that is a step up from your usual purchases, bit by bit start adding more. Making single, considered purchases is the key here. In my case I purchased my red shoes and next was the blue velvet jacket.
But I certainly was in no hurry to buy , buy , buy. You need time with each new item, time to wear them, see how you feel in them, gauge peoples responses and in essence get an idea of if they are part of your burgeoning personal style.
That old saying that "Clothes Maketh The Man" may have an element of truth to it but your sense of style should go beyond just your garments and footwear. Accessories play an important part and provide the perfect opportunity to individualize your look, whilst adding highlights of texture and/or colour.
Accessories include, ties, watches, jewellery and much more and I have discussed there use and impact in a previous two part post dedicated solely to their use, Accessories: Style items that add pop Pt1! and Accessories: Style items that add pop Pt2!
Lets too, not forget that your hairstyle is an vital part of your look, so once you begin to develop your sense of style with your attire, I would recommend talking with your Hairdresser about styles that may suit you better.
So how do I know if I'm on the right track?
The simple answer to this is that only you will know. Remember that this is your own personal style. If you like it, then ultimately it is right.
Of course it is always best to ask yourself a few questions every now and then. Do I look good? Do I feel good? Does what I'm wearing give me confidence? and perhaps most importantly, Do I feel like myself and comfortable? This is all about you, so it really is only your opinion that matters.
It is important to remember that style should also be an evolving creature. Fashions can change at an alarming rate and you will need to change with them. For instance the current sockless trend is likely to disappear within the next few years and anyone sporting the sockless look then will look quite ridiculous.
So keep up with your trends on social media. Other things to remember are style basics, buy quality items, ensure you have a good fit by getting your clothes altered to fit, look after your wardrobe by keeping your clothes ironed and your shoes polished. Ensure your outfit is clean and fresh and should it start to get a bit tatty, either replace it or get it repaired.
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Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.