Do you look like you belong?
A lot of men are worried that they don’t fit in or don’t “look the part.” They want to dress in a way that makes them appear more congruent with their environment — or perhaps an environment that they aspire to be in.
On the other hand, some men are more interested in standing out. They want to find a way to communicate that they’re “not just another face in the crowd.”
Ultimately, everyone has their own ideal balance of those opposing signals. We all want to fit in enough to look like we belong to whatever spheres we frequent. We also want to distinguish ourselves enough that we aren’t forgotten.
Our style determines how effective we are in materializing either of those intentions. A lack of style fluency can lead you to send a message you didn’t intend.
Let’s say everyone else is wearing a sport coat with chinos and you try to fit in by wearing an orphaned suit jacket and denim 5-pockets. Whoops.
Conversely, let’s say you’re attending a dressy social event and you want to stand out a bit with a bolder patterned piece. You rock a garish plaid tie; like every other dude with the same idea. Whoops.
So of course it behooves every man to have some grasp of style and how they convey themselves. What’s most interesting is that being able to communicate with style is entirely parallel to having a style that is aesthetically pleasing or flattering.
There's a balance to be struck between conveying belonging and individuality. A lack of style fluency can send the wrong messages on either front.
While it’s more expected of a novice to accidentally blend in or stand out when trying to achieve the opposite... even men who have a great style (in the traditional sense) can fall into that same trap!
That’s right! Even men who are skilled at dressing aesthetically will often send the wrong message as well!
Ultimately style is both art and communication. Most of us focus on the first and ignore the second. Your appearance and style can be flattering yet work against your goals.
In more conservative contexts, where a sense of uniformity is valued, looking great in an eye catching fashion can undermine your credibility. Your expression could be misinterpreted as vanity or a lack of focus.
In a more relaxed environment your attention to detail and overt polish could be misconstrued as pompous or stuffy.
In both cases you can display flattering, aesthetically pleasing style... while digging yourself into a hole because of it.
To unlock the full potential of style fluency, and how it can improve your life and efficacy, you must embrace it not just as art but as communication! That is how you learn to strike the balance of fitting and standing out; of looking sharp yet appropriate for the context. That is how you will look like you belong.