When it comes to the difference between fashion and style, there is an old truism that is very easy to remember. Simply put, fashion is what you buy, style is what you do with it. Even so, many men believe that just by copying what they see others doing, they are somehow expressing a sense of style. Well, they are, of course, but unfortunately that style is not their own. Following fashion may get your clothing noticed, but it’s your personal style that will get you noticed.
The good news is that it really doesn’t take much to mix things up and put a little spin into your wardrobe. If you buy what you like and you make sure everything fits properly, then, when it comes time to combine items and create an outfit, chances are a lot of those combos will work nicely together. But don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit.
Choose one bold item, and keep everything else fairly neutral. It might be a surprising choice of shoes, a really bold sweater, an amazing vintage piece or even a killer pair of sunglasses. Whatever you choose, think of that one item as taking center stage, and everything else plays a supporting role.
Pay attention to the details. Aside from your one bold item, smaller items like pocket squares, socks, and colored shoelaces are all opportunities for subtle pops of color and personality, that won’t overwhelm everything else. Even if your whole outfit is relatively subdued, a pair of bright blue shoelaces, some striped socks or an amazing pocket square can add a subtle, but very effective pop of color and style.
Don’t be afraid to go high-low. Creatively mixing casual and dress items in the right combination is an excellent way to achieve a feeling of effortless cool. The starter version of this idea, of course, is pairing dark jeans with a dress shirt and half-lined blazer. But it could also be an elegant top coat and a cashmere sweater paired with your favorite worn jeans and casual shoes. It might be a pair of tailored dress pants with canvas shoes and a fitted T-shirt, or a camouflage pocket square with a charcoal suit. See what you’ve got and experiment!
At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to stand out a bit. It’s a good thing, and you may be surprised at the compliments you get. After all, there’s nothing noble or remarkable about blending into the woodwork. Just remember what Orson Welles had to say: “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.”