Fashion was once seen as almost exclusively a women's domain. However, in the past few years men have begun to pay more attention to their appearance and the fashion industry has responded by focusing more on catering to the male clientele. Today, men are interested in buying for themselves, taking care of themselves, and shopping for themselves. They are buying more clothing because they have developed better tastes for fashion, fueling new growth for the industry. But what if you’re born unstylish and can’t help but be an average Joe?
As mentioned in my previous article “How to Dress Well on a Budget”, confidence is the most important aspect of looking good, being comfortable in the clothes, receiving compliments, and getting the girls. Confidence alone can’t pull the trigger, but a start is finding yourself and seeing where you fit in socially (do you identify yourself with a certain group?), financially (can you afford the clothes?), physically (does your body shape work with the outfit?), mentally (are you comfortable wearing it?), and locally (will you be able to wear such garments in this weather?).
There are a few styles that will always stay dominant and some keep dormant until they gain the right to cycle back into the Fashion roulette. Below you will find a list of styles that you can relate to. “Many people mix fashion style trends depending on mood. The important thing is to find styles that fit personal preferences and characteristics because dress code subconsciously affects a person’s demeanor and strut.” [Annie Suh of suite101.com]
1) Classic. The style that never dies. It usually looks good on anyone, although not trendy, it demonstrates comfort and casualness. Solid colored button-down shirts and relaxed-fit jeans (ie: Banana Republic). It says you’re boring and that your name is Joe.
2) Preppy/Jocks. The typical conservative American look for which the “popular” crowd associate themselves with. Letterman jackets (aka varsity jackets), button-down oxford shirt, polo shirt, argyle sweaters, cuffed chinos, and deck shoes (aka boat shoes). It says you’re cocky and that you think you look good.
3) Rock/Punk. Undoubtedly mistaken, the revolutionary subculture from the 1970’s. Black leather jackets, metal chains, skinny jeans, and lace-up boots. It says you’re a punk, duh, and that you like to get tattooed up.
4) Gothic. This style goes without say. Black, black, black. The modern gothic look has layers upon layers of clothes, skinny jeans and heavy boots. It says you’re emo and that you suck blood.
5) Bohemian/Hippie. Love, peace and harmony. A new era of hippies flourished which brought back fashion from the 1960’s with a modern touch. You can keep it old-school and go with the headbands and flowers or you can just show off the long hair. You can bring back the bell-bottoms and flares or you can wear slim-fit jeans. You can sport a tie-dye shirt or have on a low-cut v-neck tee. You can go bare foot or have leather sandals. Whatever floats your pipe! Notice that hipsters are more or less the new hippies. It says you’re the new school of old school and that you smoke weed.
6) Skater/Surfer. No matter if you surf on the West Coast or skate on the East Coast, both styles are literally the same. What differentiates them is the fact that skater boys are emo, while surfer boys are jocks. Bring on the bright shades, v-necks, graphic tees, plaid button-downs, baseball caps, board shorts, and skinny jeans. It says your girlfriend is a board and that your hair is greasily long.
7) Urban/HipHop. Our culture usually identifies this style of clothing with rappers. Decked out jewelry (gold chains, diamond earrings, over-sized watches), super duper extra-large shirts, baggy jeans and sneakers. It says you’re ghetto and that you carry a weapon inside your clothes.
8) Military. The army, navy, air force and marines have always been great influences in Fashion. Camouflage prints, aviator glasses, duffle coat, peacoat, desert boots, etc. It says you’re disciplined and that you’re too scared to serve your country.
9) Retro. Bright colors and vintage clothing from the 1980’s. Hi-top sneakers with matching color t-shirts and skinny jeans. It says you’re old school and that you own a disco ball in your room.
10) Androgynous. Many guys are starting to wear women’s clothes because they fit better. The clothes are also trendier than some of the plain men’s clothes that we see on the market. It screams I’m gay and that you probably can’t fit a size xxx-small in men’s.
11) Streetwear. It combines the styles of skaters, urban, and preppy, with a touch of retro and hipster. It says you’re a wannabe and that you think you’re cool.
12) Fighter. With the success of UFC and designer jeans, MMA clothing has kicked a lot of buttocks in department stores. Majorly overdone graphic muscular graphic tees and designer denims with iconic patches. It says you’re a dickhead and that you idolize Jersey Shore.
13) Dandy. A man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self. Clothes that fit like a glove, vintage-looking, effortless style. Style is innate to them. They accessories with matching tie clasp, bow ties, top hat, pocket watch, etc, and carry murses (man handbags). It says you’re intellectual and that you’re the quintessential gentleman.
Usually people grow out of one style and jump onto another as they mature. Some stay loyal to one style for their entire life, while others combine different styles together for a unique look. Remember, people judge you by the way you dress because first impressions are lethal. But if you think about it, people will judge you anyway whether they like you or not, so why listen to their opinion? As long as you’re confident with what you’re wearing and don’t give a sh*t what they think, you’re good to go. Hey, I’m a Men’s Fashion Designer, so what’s the very first thing you think off when you hear that? That I must be gay! I’m as straight as the Eiffel Tower, but I don’t get offended by such absurd comments. I invite their feedback in a positive regard because as they say, gay guys know how to dress!
Nonetheless, style is natural but based on the list above, whichever you see yourself fit in the best is what and how you should portray yourself. There are many stereotypes that come with each style, but as long as you’re comfortable in the skin that you’re in, such labels should not matter. As Mary Kate Olsen once said, “I'm not afraid of walking down the street into something that people think is crazy. What I can't stand is looking like everybody else.” So be yourself, be confident, and live life like a catwalk because every day is a fashion show!
About the Author
Ninh Nguyen is one of Amped Asia's style columnists. Of Vietnamese origin, Ninh was born and raised in Paris, France and currently resides in New York City. He's the designer of the NINH COLLECTION, a clothing line designed for the modern-day renaissance man.