Do Clothes Make The Man? (How to capitalize on your image)

Any well dressed man or woman will always attract glances of admiration and often unsolicited attention.  However, the benefits of looking smart and elegant far outweigh the drawbacks; a well dressed man can inspire confidence and is very often considered worthy of trust.  

Clothes make a man because they have the ability to improve his appearance,  image and even credentials.  The right clothes can enhance a man’s positivity and confidence, serve as a protection, disguise, or even inspiration. Looking magnificent harnesses feelings of achievement that inspire success. 

Invest In The Man You Want To Be

One of the great joys in life is shopping but I am not entirely sure most men would agree.  However, I really believe there is not a man alive who does not love how he looks in new, well chosen clothes.  Therefore, in order to look the part, a certain amount of retail exposure is required but is it really necessary to go to all the trouble of trying things on and searching through rails of garments?

Dressing well is a skill which can be acquired but this takes an investment of time, energy and a certain amount of enthusiasm. In order to hone this skill, the apprentice sartorial specialist must be willing to learn, explore and most importantly make the odd fashion faux pas, as this is part of the initiation into the fraternity of style.

This hard work and dedication is always rewarded and the earlier experimentation begins, the better; some individuals can take a long time to learn about their particular style whereas others take to dressing like a fish to water. 

A really good piece of advice is to take some shots of yourself in the various designs and looks that you feel attracted to.  Lay these shots out alongside each other and make comparisons, be objective and honest in your criticism, let yourself be informed and the result will be a really good beginning of your own personal style. 

Do not be afraid to experiment, if you like it and it feels right then go for it.  Are you thinking of Cary Grant in his fine silk cashmere sweater, baggy chinos held together with a loosely rolled silk scarf, in place of a traditional leather belt.  Do you remember how elegantly he rocked those moccasins without wearing any socks?  Who would have said that this look would work and yet it does, it has such an elegant refined quality worth emulating. 

All The World’s A Stage

According to Mr William Shakespeare: ‘the apparel oft proclaims the man’, in fact our contemporary notion, of a man’s identity being defined by what he wears, is not a new one.  During the 16th century what you wore was such a potent indication of your wealth and social status that it was considered an essential element in defining a person’s class.

Clothes are vastly more affordable today but what a person decides to wear does nevertheless reveal a lot about their personality and can, whether it be for the good or ill, define an individual.  Clearly image can be enhanced or damaged so readily by what we wear that it is worth taking the time to consider this before we allow ourselves to be characterized.

The way we dress speaks volumes to the world; we can say we feel a little glum today as we shuffle along in our baggy jeans and hoodie or on the other hand present an energetic vibrant front in our fresh muscle bound T and slim-fit blues or reveal a dynamic originality by reaching for a smooth supple leather biker jacket, soft cashmere neck scarf, and rolled up chinos.  

The savvy dresser may simply turn to the polished elegance which can only be found in a finely tailored suit because in the immortal words of ZZ Top we are all ‘…crazy ‘bout a sharp-dressed man’.  When you put an effort into your appearance the world treats you differently;  you are given more respect and dignity which bodes well for thinking carefully about how you present yourself.  Dressing well and creating an image which you feel comfortably defines your individuality becomes easier with practice, it is liberating, not to mention useful and is definitely worth capitalizing on.

Doors Open Up For A Sharp Dressed Man

Everybody wants to be seen talking to the best dressed guy on the street, in the room or at a nightclub.  This is the man who has an air of success and distinction, the one whom we all agree is going places or has perhaps already arrived.  The key to success involves maintaining this façade which requires dedication and commitment.  

The image once contrived is like a mask and should never be let slip as it forms a public perception of the individual and deviation may induce suggestions of doubt.  

All this sounds a little taxing and the difficulty is of course sustaining motivation, however, there are many advantages to maintaining this public face: trust, recognition, enhanced reputation, respect and inclusion.   Once the individual begins on this path of identification with image it becomes clear that large amounts of discipline and dedication are required in the initial stages.  After a period of time it all becomes much easier as habits and routines form. 

Soon you become aware of the benefits of dressing in a distinctive style and begin to appreciate the knowledge of knowing what to wear and how to wear it, at this point you have ownership of your persona and can take control of how others perceive you.  

Devoted To The Image

The suit, though not the solution to every occasion, is traditionally a firm favorite when one wants to make a serious impact.  Conspicuous and yet subtle, it is no coincidence that the suit became firmly associated with success; it provided a façade behind which true identity is hidden and its uniformity assured its acceptance and confirmed it as a shape synonymous with success.   

In his self help guide Dress for Success, John T MolloRhonda Byrne’s The Secret (links to where it is recommended you imagine your best future, whether that be sitting behind the wheel of a Ferrari or sitting on your terrace in Monaco.  

Manifesting a new reality using visualization can truly support the individual in search of an identity with which to connect and embrace.  Creating a mood board using images, colors and styles which are inspiring can really help to clarify and hone individual style by anchoring it to particular looks the wearer finds attractive.

It Is All In The Eye

Most of us are heavily influenced by the visual and it is said that we make up our mind about an individual in the first three seconds of meeting them.  

Clothing, be it a simple, relaxed, finely knit sweater, cleverly emblazoned sweatshirt or conservative suit, can act as a vehicle of self promotion for the wearer, nonetheless, one point remains clear in all research conclusions; quality counts.  In other words the great general public are perfectly capable of distinguishing between a refined quality item of clothing and a mass-produced, off-the-rack garment and will evaluate the wearer based on what they perceive them to be wearing.

In research, conducted by Professor Pine, the general public were asked for their instant response to two separate images of a man, whose face was hidden.  It became clear that although the man’s face was not shown and the suits were almost identical, the public could determine which image they felt made the greatest impression: the tailored suit in preference to the ready-made suit was the outright choice.  The findings of the test confirmed for Professor Pine ‘…that people are influenced by subtle features, such as the cut of a suit, which has a powerful impact on judgements of personality and professional status.’

Ask yourself why any diplomat, leader or businessman arrives wearing a suit for briefings, interviews and meetings.  These leaders have found that a conservative, invariably navy, well tailored suit speaks to the public and confirms for them that their trust is well placed and they, in being entrusted with the mantle of responsibility, are anxious to fulfill expectations.  The suit has the capacity of being able to communicate messages of authenticity, competence and dependability and it ensures that the wearer presents every appearance of being able to execute their role successfully.

The individual and in this case the man, who does not carefully consider the image he projects to the world is doing himself a disservice.  Although admittedly all this may sound superficial, visual communication is commonly used in the animal kingdom, to ward off intruders and of course to impress, and we human animals share the same instincts, albeit in bespoke suits! 

Sharon Cunningham

I enrolled in The Grafton Academy of Fashion and Design and studied there for six years before being taken on by a German fashion house with whom I worked for nine years, eventually leaving to return to university to complete my MA.

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