"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Bros are created equal - though not necessarily with the same good looks or sense of style - and that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of tail." - The Bro Code
(Note: This post borrows heavily from The Appearance of Power, by Tanner Guzy. I highly recommend you purchase this book for a primer on the basics)
What Kind Of Message Do You Want To Send
When you wear clothing, you are sending a message, whether you realize it or not. Think about it. Whether you are wearing a black suit, military fatigues, a button down, a Boy Scouts uniform, a hunting outfit, a gym training outfit... you are sending a message on multiple levels. It talks about how socially adept you are. It talks about how you fit it, or not. It talks about purpose. Your clothing is your uniform, and what you are saying to the world. You use clothing and your style to reflect who you are and who you want to be.
Power Has A Appearance, and Appearance Has Power
A good question to ask is - why do some men dress better, while other men will fight dressing better tooth and nail. If you're one of those guys who fight dressing better tooth and nail, read on. Everyone cares about their appearance, and men care about their appearance proportionate to the value they get out of it. It is critical for men to understand the value of appearance, and the value of dressing well, because you are sending a message.
When women dress themselves, they dress for visual appeal, accentuating the things that make them appealing. They accentuate their femininity. They know what's going on. When a group of women go out for tapas food, for example, who do you think they are dressing up for? They're not dressing up to meet men - they are dressing up to compete with each other.
When you dress well, you are conveying a message both directly and indirectly of social and financial power. The clothes and style you pick out is a expression of power.
There is too much to put in one post about the fundamentals, but items like contrast, patterns, skin tone, and more all need to be taken into account.
Your contrast type is determined by the relationship between the color of your hair (or lack thereof) and the color of your skin. If you account for your contrast type, you can ensure that the visual focus point is your face. If you have proper contrast, it makes your countenance appear stronger and more healthy.
If you have light hair and light skin, you have a muted contrast
If you have dark hair and light skin, you have a high contrast
If you have dark hair and very dark skin, you will operate between a medium and a high contrast
If you have any variation of skin and hair beyond these three you have a medium contrast
Why is this important? Because you want to ensure that a) your attention is drawn to your face and not your clothing, and b) you want to show that your skin is healthy and vibrant.
Contrasting colors lie opposite each other on the color wheel - red/green, blue/orange/, yellow/purple
Triadic colors are colors that can be separated by equal thirds - orange/green/purple or red/yellow/blue
Analogous colors are colors that lie next to each other on the color wheel - red/purple/blue, orange/yellow/green, yellow/green/blue, etc.
When two colors are opposite each other on the color wheel, seeing them together is jarring and noticeable. The opposite effect is achieved when colors that are similar to each other are placed together.
So you have to understand how the colors relate to each other, and then know what colors work best with your own contrast.
Medium contrast allows you to wear nearly any color combination you like (triad, contrasting, or analogous), as long as they work with your skin.
High contrast you need a stronger variation on color - primary focus should be contrasting colors, with secondary focus on triad colors. Avoid analogous colors.
Muted contrast means your face will be overwhelmed by too much variation in color - so focus on analogous, secondarily focus on triad. Avoid contrasting colors.
Example: Say you have a high contrast and wear a pair of blue jeans. Your choices are not just white or orange. You can wear a different shade of blue and it will be just fine - because the contrast point between pants and shirt is far away from your face.
Another example: If you have a high contrast and are wearing a suit and tie - navy suit, blue shirt, purple tie, purple pocket square won't work well. Introduce some contrast in your shirt or accessories, or both, and that will frame your face better.
So if your goal is to draw attention to your face and not your clothes, and you want to make your face look healthy and vibrant, you use your color strategy that works with your contrast type - as example, black suit, white shirt, purple tie, gold pocket square - that would give you a strong contrast.
This is all explained in Tanner's book. He also talks about patterns - for example, typically the larger the pattern, the more casual the garment. Larger men should wear larger patterns, and smaller men should wear smaller patterns. Large men appear hulking when wearing patterns that are too small, and small men appear miniature when wearing patterns that are too large. Proportions are fundamental to dressing well. Another topic around patterns: vertical stripes add visual height and elongation, along with making you appear slimmer. So if you look too broad for your height, this will help visually balance you. Horizontal stripes add visual weight and visually cut you into distinct segments, making you appear shorter. So if you are too tall or too skinny, this will help you appear wider and closer to the ideal. Boxes and checks add visual heft, making you appear larger.
Tanner also talks about skin tone - warm skin tone and cool skin tone. Warm colors are gold based, while cool colors are blue based. So why does that matter? Well, say you go into a suit store, and you want to find out what looks good on you and works with your skin tone. See if you look better in cool colors (black, white, grey) or warm colors (ivory, brown, off white).
It's complicated stuff, and you need to work through what you need to look good.
The Archetypes of Style
Tanner talks about there being three archetypes of style. So the question is, which archetype are you:
Rakish - Socially Masculine
Refined - Financially and Influentially Masculine
Rugged - Physically Masculine
Spoiler alert: You can be more than one. Consider it a focus for your strategy - pick out who you are and work to have clothes that fit your archetype.
A Brief Story
I'm going to get personal here for a minute. You know how in this post, the author says "Let's go lower (Someone screams "No blarg don't do it!")". I can go pretty low in how bad I used to dress. I remember going on a date with my girlfriend (now wife) many years ago thinking to myself, yeah, I'll just wear this yellow outer shirt and brown inner shirt, and I'll look cool. It shocks me how bad I looked - I look back at pictures from years ago and laugh now. Ratty polo shirts, old cargo shorts, the list goes on. Let's go lower (No Steel, don't do it!). For years, my wife picked out my outfits. Yes, that's right. I didn't care/get it/understand about color coordination or any of that stuff. I didn't understand the VALUE of what it means to look good (see what I mean - Tanner is correct in saying that men care about their appearance proportionate to the value they get out of it). And it was EASY to say "Go ahead, honey, pick out what you think looks good on me." But again, you know what MRP did for me? It taught me that I should give a fuck about how I dress and how I look. It made me give a fuck about my clothing. It made me give a fuck about my style. I remember reading about these guys who went out and made a change in how they looked, and I said early on in my MRP journey, I need to do that... and I did. I have outfits for the season, outfits for formal events, outfits for work, outfits for play, the gym, even lounging around the house (yes you need to look good around the house as well). My wife will now occasionally ask my opinion on what she should wear - she NEVER used to do that before MRP (and it's not the "do these pants make my butt look fat" trap either). I took the time to understand what it takes to look good.
Just yesterday I got a compliment on my pants from a female coworker, and the day before I got a compliment on my shoes. To be fair, am I the world's snappiest dresser? No. But do I have enough sense and style to dress for the occasion and look good? Yes. And if I can do it, so can you.
I'm not going to give specific advice, as it comes down to the individual. And I'm not going to advise you to go run up to your closet and start throwing stuff out. What I will say is this - make a plan. There are benefits to looking good. Make a plan first, THEN pitch out your old clothing. If you haven't come to terms that your appearance matters, let this post kick you in the ass - your appearance matters. A better appearance matters.
One final thing: "If you are hesitant about feeling fake in your clothing, the absolute last thing you want to do is turn over the power to choose what you wear to someone else. After all, no self-respecting man lets something as important as his image be determined by some 22-year-old girl who just finished her fashion degree." - Tanner Guzy. You see this across time in 60 DoD post after 60 DoD post. Take some ownership on your clothing (and everything else), and stop letting your wife or anybody else pick out your clothes. Stop letting your fate be determined by someone else. Take some pride in what you wear.
Post your style tips and strategies below. As example, in a prior 60 DoD post someone recommended the use of NVSBL shirts, which I've used myself and can give a +1 too.
A quick note - when looking at the MaleFashionAdvice subreddit, I've seen it posted multiple times in other areas that you should stick to the sidebar, so I will repeat that advice here.
Previous Year's Posts on Style
Tanner Guzy's Book - https://www.amazon.com/Appearance-Power-Masculinity-Expressed-Aesthetics/dp/1979138400/
MaleFashionAdvice - https://www.reddit.com/r/malefashionadvice/