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What Makes a Modern Well-Dressed Man?

October 26, 2021

Many steps go into making a well-dressed man, especially in a time where fashion is changing so rapidly. Still, it’s easy to identify the elements that distinguish exceptional dressers for how much these qualities help them stand out.

Whether you see the below qualities reflected in you, or you’re always looking for self-improvement, Daniel Patrick has cultivated a list of attributes that help set apart those exceptional dressers among us. 

He Knows That Good Style Lasts Forever 

There’s a reason why “timeless” is a word often used in fashion. While some bold trends come and go in and out of style, certain trends stay the same. Certain trends, like monochrome color combinations, silhouettes which are fitting without being skin-tight, and a general kemp appearance, never seem to leave the public consciousness. 

While you can’t necessarily be wearing something as heavily associated with a time period as a leisure suit, other articles of clothing from the formal suit to casual sweats have stood the test of time for their aesthetic and practical merits. 

On a philosophical level, style is about the way someone interacts with the world around them. It’s in the way they move, their swagger, and even imbued in the way they dress. If someone has an attitude built to survive the times, it stands to reason their style will survive too. 

He Knows When To Follow Trends and When To Buck Them 

Trends come, and they go. One year denim is in; then, it’s not. The same goes for facial hair, whose trends come and go. For example, there were massive quantities of mustachioed men in pop culture decades ago, whose bare chins have since been covered by full beards or matched with a resolute lack of facial hair.

One essential aspect of a well-dressed man is that he adjusts his fashion ever-so-much to account for trends but doesn’t let trends completely define him.

Just because something is in vogue doesn’t mean you have to be embracing it. Many celebrities are known for their sense of style, but few are known for flaunting ever-changing aesthetics.

Following your own sense of dress means embracing the trends you like, experimenting with ones you are potentially interested in, and ignoring those that clash with your own sensibilities. By embracing your own style, you turn into an idiosyncratic dresser whose very wardrobe is a statement.  

He Knows What Fits Him and Sticks To It 

Not every fashion trend is right for everyone. This isn’t to say that there’s such a thing as being unable to wear something, but rather that few people have as ephemeral a style as to feel perfectly comfortable wearing anything.

Many fashions “rules” are more of a guideline than an actual rule. One note is certain: you should, on a fundamental level, only wear what you truly feel comfortable in. 

A well-dressed man, in particular, knows what works best for him. Whether that be particular styles of clothing or a few preferred colors which dominate the closet, dressing according to your own personal style is the most authentic way to express yourself. 

We still support going beyond your comfort zone but not staying in discomfort if something isn’t working for you. Generally speaking, it’s easy to tell if you enjoy a new garment or not. Although, wearing something in a completely new realm might take more time to get used to. Experimenting with a new style can be daunting.

After a while, getting to know your individual aesthetic makes it fairly easy to assess whether or not you like something. 

He’s Not Afraid of Color

A lot of stylists would have you limit your color palette, suggesting you stick to a monochrome or neutral wardrobe of blacks, whites, grays, browns, blues, and other highly conservative colorings. This isn’t a new trend. For decades, men have been told to wear or to avoid certain colors, most significantly pink.

Anyone who’s ever been around a newborn knows people try to assign the color blue to boys and the color pink to girls. This ignores the fact that for centuries prior, the opposite would have been true. 

It’s fairly well-known that pink used to be considered a masculine color. It was considered a subtler form of the color red, highly appropriate for boys and young men alike. Somewhere in the 1950s, trends changed and established blue as the de facto color for boys and pink for girls. In modern times, it’s more acceptable for people to wear whatever color they would like. 

Are we suggesting you go out and buy an all-pink wardrobe? No, not unless you really want to.

Still, the fact remains that a well-dressed man must not be afraid of color if he truly wants to always look his best. 

Knowing how to mix and match colors in an outfit can be an essential tool, as well as knowing when to mix them. Keeping a wholly black-and-white outfit makes a statement, as does having a neutral outfit embellished by one or two brightly colored pieces, as does wearing nothing but brightly colored clothes.

There’s no single right way to wear colors. Each person has their own complexion, personal preferences, and event-specific needs when it comes to dressing.

The essence of wearing colors boils down to one point: Dress how you like, not how someone else would like you to dress.

He Takes Care of Himself, Not Just His Clothes

Your clothes certainly impact the way you’re perceived, but people don’t make visual judgments based on looking into others' closets.

For this reason, taking care of yourself is essential in dressing well. Some activities, such as working out and getting enough sleep, can be difficult to fit into a packed schedule. Other aspects are simple enough and only take a few minutes a day to achieve.

First off, develop a skincare routine. Even a simple one, involving just a cleanser and moisturizer is better than no skincare at all. This will help your skin look healthier, and the act of self-care inherent in taking charge of your physical appearance can help you feel better, as well.

Depending on whether you have specific issues with dry skin, oily skin, acne, or anything else, there are plenty of products on the market targeted to specifics that make it easy to find one that fits you. 

Also of importance: proper diet. The body needs a good balance of carbs, fats, protein, and a variety of vitamins to keep itself running in top condition.

Proper hydration is also essential. An individual ideally should intake eight to 10 glasses of water a day, a figure which can easily go unmet with how busy daily life gets. Dedicating a small portion of each day, or periodic reminders, to take care of one's health can have tremendous benefits. 

Maintaining facial hair to whatever your desired length is, as well as trimming nails (if one is in the habit of biting them), are additional ways to take care of yourself. While spending hours on every single detail of your appearance isn’t necessary, thorough grooming is a good way to show others you care while also helping yourself feel like you’re operating at your best. 

He Has the Necessary Accessories

“Accessories” is a single word that refers to a massive amount of clothing articles. The right accessory can transform an otherwise ordinary outfit into something great and turn a great outfit into something eye-catching. 

Whether you’re dressing in your best suit or putting on something casual for a relaxed day, there are watches suitable for just about any event. A dress watch in silver or gold can provide either a minimal touch of subtlety or a bold burst of style to formalwear. Sports watches come in a wide variety of styles, stretching the gamut from casual to office to athletic wear.

A fine watch also has the added benefit of being as intricately designed inside and out. This gives it both an aesthetic and, eventually, antiquarian value. Men don’t get as much leeway when it comes to accessories designed to go with our garments, so it’s little wonder timepieces have such a storied pedigree. 

Also of essential value is the hat. While the straw boaters, top hats, and bowler hats of the 20th century have by now thoroughly gone out of style, there’s plenty of value to be had in a tightly styled casual hat. 

Snapbacks have evergreen appeal in streetwear and athleticwear alike. They can easily be combined with any number of casual outfits. Similarly, beanies have the benefit of adding fashion to your outfit while also helping to keep your extremities warm in colder months. Bucket hats are easily dressed up or down.

As it stands, while the state of men’s hats in 2021 trends towards the informal, that still gives plenty of opportunity to upgrade your everyday outfit with one. 

Generally speaking, men have fewer accessories specifically tailored to them, so it’s important to make the most of ancillary gear where you can find it.   

He Dresses for the Occasion 

Nearly every event has a dress code, either stated or unstated. Different dress codes exist for parties, work, going out, religious services, athletics, and just about any other activity. Part of being well-dressed doesn’t just mean dressing well; it also means dressing well for the event. 

There are numerous types of dress codes that can be specified, but the most frequently encountered today are formalwear, businesswear, and casualwear. The ideal wardrobe has a mix of all three, broken up based on the frequency with which you encounter each.

You don’t want to be wearing the same blazer to every event you go to, but limited closet space prevents you from stocking up on countless different items. Similarly, if your regular daily attire involves sweats or jeans, you’ll want a wide variety. This will keep you from looking highly repetitive in your day-to-day and finding yourself needing to do laundry every three days.

Similarly, it’s important to identify what the standard dress is and how you want to fit in. It might not hurt to show up wearing something a little more formal to the theatre, but showing up a little too formal to the gym might get you some odd looks.

Knowing when you have a bit of leeway, in which direction that leeway can be taken, and when to dress exactly to match the code is an essential mark of fashion sense. The 21st century has, in general, seen a casualization of fashion, making it an ideal time to investigate versatility in fashion. A cardigan or Roaming Cloak, for instance, offers a lightweight way to dress up casual and business-casual outfits alike.

Whatever your personal sense of aesthetics, dress code can largely be learned and then intuited, making sure you're dressed to fit the occasion, however you express yourself.  

He Invests in Shoes 

The old adage states (and psychology supports) that people make assumptions about you based on the shoes that you wear. Even more notably, The Journal of Research in Personality suggests that people’s judgments in these cases were often accurate (to a certain degree).

Unless you have a dress shoe or prized sneaker you set aside for all but the most special of occasions, your shoes are the part of your wardrobe that takes the biggest brunt of wearing. This is the fashion note that most people see on a daily basis.

Your shoes say a lot about you. Is your usual go-to a purely comfortable, old pair of sneakers? An almost-new pair of running shoes you keep track of? Or is it something more formal? 

Whenever you put on a pair of shoes or spend the money to invest in a new pair, you should take a moment to think about what it fits in your wardrobe and what it says about you.

You have to judge your shoe to the outfit. Unless you’re a true iconoclast, sneakers go about as well with a suit as a pair of oxfords go with sweatpants. The critical point is to make sure that you look for quality in pieces that truly, authentically express yourself as you want to be seen. If you fill your closet with interchangeable shoes you only half-adore, they’ll stay buried in the back of your shoe rack.  

Part of investing in your shoes also means investing in gear to take care of them. It’s essential that you polish leather shoes, waterproof suede, and other materials that may be highly susceptible to damage, and research the proper way to clean the type of shoe you have.

Whether you prefer dress shoes, boots, sneakers, or something else, putting effort into your footwear is a minor task when you think about how long a good pair of shoes lasts. 

He Understands the Basics 

When it comes to a versatile wardrobe, the three greatest words to ever grace the English language are “ready to wear”.

Also known by the French “prêt-à-porter,” this style of fashion design results in batch-produced, individual pieces made to fit general sizes as opposed to costly, inaccessible, custom-tailored pieces of Haute Couture. While many high-end ready-to-wear pieces are still hand-made, sizing concerns make it easier to produce a line of clothing designed to be worn in tandem.

Consider the following:

White, gray, and black shirts. A pair of jeans. A jacket. A pair of sweats.

These four items have one aspect in common: They are wardrobe staples, easily worn in combination with other garments to create a full outfit. It is essential that one understands the key elements in his wardrobe. Otherwise, he runs the risk of having only a few outfits and running out of clothing items to pair them with

By relying on basic items to form the foundation of your wardrobe, you make it easier on yourself to create a distinguished outfit without giving a massive amount of thought to it (though, of course, you should put some thought into how you dress). Plus, you also make it easier to add elements to your wardrobe since you have a base layer to build from.

By centering your wardrobe around a series of basics, you simplify your dressing process while creating a widely versatile wardrobe, thanks to the interchangeability of your closet elements.

Key Takeaway: The Well-Dressed Modern Man 

The well-dressed modern man is many things. He changes with the times but doesn’t let the times change him. He goes back to the classic standards but is willing to reinvent himself to buck convention where it suits him. Most fundamentally, he takes pride in every aspect of what he wears and what he does.

The above list isn’t some checklist to seek to mark off yourself, but a list of principles that require cultivation and active effort to maintain. At Daniel Patrick, we find ourselves constantly seeking to bring our style to the next level, whether that be through designs that merge athletic gear with streetwear fashion, collaborations around our home base in Los Angeles, or planning our next drop.

One thing is certain: While we currently live in the world of modern dressers, we’re always going to keep our eyes firmly placed on the horizon of the future of fashion.

 

Sources:

Pink Wasn't Always Girly I The Atlantic

Step Up: Research Shows You Are Judged By Your Shoes I Psychology Today

What is the Difference Between Haute Couture and Ready to Wear? I Medium


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