We’re halfway through the course! Let’s go over what we’ve learned so far:
In Module 1, you learned that dressing well has almost nothing to do with whether we won the genetic lottery. Any man, tall, short, skinny or fat, can look amazing if he follows the Two Rules to Amazing Style: Buy clothes that fit your body and build a core, versatile wardrobe that makes putting amazing looks together effortless.
In Module 2 you learned that it’s important to focus on rules that have the biggest impact on your style. You don’t need to memorize 30 rules on fit, you just new a few. Follow the clues in the construction and be mindful of your proportions.
In Module 3, you saw how paying attention to your “Style Needs Type” will insure you won’t over shop, buy too many trends or styles that don’t fit with your lifestyle. By building a classic, core wardrobe, you can still explore trends without a lot of risk.
In today’s lesson, I’ll be showing you:
- How the work we’ve done in the previous Modules with make the next half a breeze because we’ve frontloaded the work.
- How we can use “The Swap One Trick” to safely take our looks from good to effortlessly amazing.
- Why I hate how 99% of other style blogs teach color mixing, and how the professionals do it.
THE SECRET TO LOOKING GOOD WITHOUT EVEN TRYING
In the video below, I’ll show you how you already know the secret to effortlessly looking amazing, even though you might not realize it yet. Check it out:
You already have all the tools you need to finally start putting together great outfits with ease.
If you ever need to review any of these concepts, or need a bit more time to fine tune your fit or build your wardrobe, you can always jump back into a previous module. When you’re ready, make your way back here and learn how to start putting it all together.
In the video, I pointed out 3 concepts to looking good without trying. Let’s turn these concepts into actionable styling techniques you can apply.
TECHNIQUE #1: LET THE CLOTHES DO THE WORK FOR YOU BY FOCUSING ON CLASSICS
As you continue to build your essential wardrobe, you’ll start to notice something interesting.
As you put together looks, they all seem to just “work”, as if by magic.
This isn’t by accident.
The #1 request I get from clients is to have a versatile wardrobe, and this is why I emphasized that all “Level 1” pieces that you get be neutrals. Neutrals colors are right in the middle (hence the name). They don’t overpower one another.
You’ve front loaded the work by making sure you purchased classic, neutral colored pieces first.
This means maximum versatility and infinite combinations.
Because the styles have been time tested, and they are in neutral colors (meaning they do not overpower each other), you don’t even have to think about mixing colors or styling.
Literally any combination will look great.
Let me show you some examples from the “Smart Casual” wardrobe.
These were nearly done at random. I just pulled pants, tops and jackets together with shoes and they all work.
As I mentioned in the video above, you’ve set yourself up for success by frontloading the work, focusing on building a solid, core, essential wardrobe that does the work for you.
If you start finding your looks are a little boring (a small downside of stocking classic, neutral pieces), I have a solution for you…
TECHNIQUE #2: TAKE YOUR CLASSIC OUTFIT TO THE NEXT LEVEL USING “THE SWAP TRICK”
While you can stick Level 1 pieces and look good, I recommend every guy dabble a bit in Level 2 and 3 pieces after you have your foundation down.
Because while creating a Level 1 wardrobe of classic neutrals is essential, it also can get a little boring. That’s a small downside to maintaining a solid, safe wardrobe. It’s safe.
As your wardrobe starts getting bigger, you’ll start incorporating more Level 2 and Level 3 (more color, different styles and trends), to make it even more personal and fresh.
Adding more color pieces, different styles or something a little trendy from Level 2 or 3 will, literally, “take it to the next Level”.
To do this the right way, I recommend doing what I call “The Swap Trick”.
Take a neutral outfit of yours and swap out a Level 1 item with a Level 2 or 3 item.
It’s a simple swap, but can change the entire mood and feel of the outfit.
Let’s start with this outfit I put together based on the Smart Casual Wardrobe. All “Level 1” pieces. A black leather jacket, white t-shirt, grey cashmere crewneck sweater, dark blue jeans and white leather sneakers.
I’ll swap out the grey cashmere sweater with a “Level 2” red cashmere sweater.
The swap is simple, but instantly changes the feel of the outfit. Side by side, the left outfit, although solid, feels a little bland in comparison to the pop of red. You’ve made your outfit more interesting, but it’s not a huge leap and doesn’t require an entirely new outfit. Just one swap!
Let’s take it a bit further. This time, I’m going to swap out a “Level 1” piece for a “Level 3”. Here, I’ve swapped the black leather jacket for a beautiful light brown suede leather jacket. Now things are getting interesting!
Your look has gone from solid and safe, to something worthy of The Sartorialist!
Wanna keep going? Ok, one more swap.
Boom! Look how much brighter the look on the right is compared to the left. It’s essentially the same look, with a minor tweak, but feels completely different.
This is the real secret to amazing style. You start with a solid base and gradually build around it.
This is how you can:
- Stand out without looking like you’re trying too hard.
- Look like a man with refined taste. Using the “Swap One” trick just enough to add Level 3 pieces that are a lot more luxurious to your look. Allowing you to look successful, refined, without resorting to obvious, flashy designer labels.
- Have a lot more fun with your look!
Remember our analogy about building houses, you start with the foundation. Adding a trendy piece is like changing your plain white front door to something with an intricate paneling, unique knocker and handle. Your home looks a bit more unique, but the overall, house hasn’t changed.
Now, in the beginning, I recommend you limit it to just one item you swap out per outfit. If you swap out too many Level 1 neutral items, you run the risk of looking too trendy, like you’re trying to hard. The Swap Trick works because the majority of your outfit are still Level 1 pieces that work beautifully together. When you start getting too many Level 2 and 3 pieces in there, you run the real risk of pieces not mixing well and clashing (whether that’s in color, style, or both).
The goal is subtlety.
This is what separates people with great, effortless style and fashion victims. Having a “base” of neutrals, with a few pops of interesting items, will ensure you’re not overdoing it. Think of swapping out pieces like using truffle oil. A little is great, but it can go south very fast.
If you don’t have any Level 2 or 3 pieces yet, and find that your outfits are getting a little boring for you, you can use it as a sign to go pick up something in a fresh color or style.
If you find that you’re having a hard time putting together outfits effortlessly, it might be a sign you have too much Level 2 or 3 pieces and need to pull it a bit back.
TECHNIQUE #3: NEVER THINK ABOUT WHAT TO WEAR IN THE MORNING BY CREATING YOUR “GO TO” OUTFIT
Whenever I work with entrepreneurs, they love bringing up the fact that people like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs wore the same thing all the time.
While I admire that dedication, I enjoy dressing too much to adopt that way of style. (I suspect you are too, why else would you be in this course? All you need to do is go out and buy 10 of the same thing.)
I do, however, like the idea of having an outfit (or outfits) you can rely on when you are in a rush or just don’t want to think about it.
You need a “Go To” outfit.
A “Go To” outfit is not the same as a uniform.
Having a “Go To” outfit is putting on a movie that you can watch a million times for those days you can’t figure out what to watch. (*cough*Back to the Future*cough*)
Having a “Uniform” is forcing yourself to only watch Back to The Future when you want to watch a movie.
A “Go To” is everything you love about “The Uniform” without the extremity.
The only true rule when creating your “Go To” look is this: it needs to be simple. Clean. Minimal.
If you, say, chose a sweater with a wild print all over it to be part of your “Go To” look, the uniqueness will stick out a lot more in people’s mind.
You could also run into trouble trying to buy multiples of it, should it go out of style. Compare this to a pair of blue jeans, which you’ll never have a hard time finding.
My Go-To look? A chambray shirt, white t-shirt, charcoal grey dress pants and some minimal white sneakers, like Stan Smiths.
I might wear a different shade of chambray shirt, or swap out my Stan Smiths for even more minimal Common Projects, but the overall vibe is the same. That should be your goal with your “Go To”.
Casual or dressy? It’s up to you. If you find yourself in suits most of the time for work,or as a personal style preference, pick a suit, shirt, tie combo you love and make it your “Go To”
Prefer jeans? That’s ok too.
Your “Go-To” doesn’t have to be all Level 1 pieces either. Feel free to use “The Swap Trick” to elevate your look into something a little more interesting and original!
As your wardrobe increases you can add a few more outfits to your arsenal. You can have a general Go-To outfit and one for dates. Or events. Or business meetings. Or even one just for the weekends. Right now, I recommend you have at least one Go-To outfit.
Need some ideas on where to start?
Here are some of my favorite combinations. Notice it’s a mix of Level 1 and Level 2 and 3 pieces. Use them as is, pull them back to Level 1, or put your own riff on it.
THE T-SHIRT AND JEANS
A classic Go-To. Throw on a chambray shirt over it and a leather jacket for some edge. Soften it up with a cashmere sweater and sportscoat.
THE CHAMBRAY AND CHINO
The button up shirt and chino with boots is often considered the “new work uniform”. It’s perfectly casual, but shows you’re putting a little effort into it. I opt for olive chinos over the traditional khaki. It brings in an army feel (upping the masculinity) and is a bit more unique.
THE DRESS PANT AND SNEAKER
For the guy that likes to dress up and show them who’s boss, just not an uptight one. Some say sneakers and dress pant don’t work, I politely disagree. The key is to make sure it’s not too flashy. You could go with the all white leather sneaker (a solid choice). If you want something a bit more cushy, a monochromatic running sneaker is your solution. Add a bit more color by choosing something like a deep red (if you’re going for a seriously look), or a bright blue for something a bit more fun.
R.I.P. THE COLOR WHEEL: HOW PROS ACTUALLY THINK ABOUT AND MIX COLOR
Wearing and mixing colors and patterns is often the final challenge guys face. It doesn’t help that most style blogs and magazines are terrible at teaching how to actually do it.
And it’s primarily because they love using three little words that make me cringe: the color wheel.
In this video, I’ll share why it annoys me and a better way to approach color:
Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing some collections of images of each color profile in the Facebook group.
For now, you can review the video above to get familiar with these color profiles. Start looking for them when you’re browsing online on shops like J.Crew. Look at blogs, magazines or noticing another guys style on the street (just don’t stare, please) and see if you can pick up color profile patterns, whether it’s the one’s mention in the video, or ones you don’t know yet.
LESSON 4 RECAP
- We’ve set ourselves up for success by frontloading the work Building a core, essential wardrobe with classics in neutral colors, we can create outfits and mix colors without thinking.
- To take our outfits to the next level, we use the “Swap One Trick” To start, replace one “Level 1” item in an outfit with a “Level 2” or “Level 3”. This breaks our outfit away from safe, adding more color, letting you try out new styles and trends without looking like you’re trying to hard.
- Nobody with great style or works in fashion uses the color wheel to mix and match colors. Approaching color by thinking of them like food “flavor profiles”. Color Profiles are groups of colors that work well together and or often repeated. A pattern. By approaching mixing and matching color this way, it not only becomes more intuitive, it becomes less of a headache than trying to remember all the parts of the color wheel.
ACTION STEPS & HOMEWORK
- Create 1 Go To outfit
- Practice The Swap One trick by taking your go to outfit and “taking it to the next level”
- Study the Color Profiles, see if you can spot examples of them in real life, magazines and blogs