It is amazing to see the changes in men’s fashion over the past decade. Wall St. would be a little less casual than I thought. Sneakers will become a staple in a timeless wardrobe. (I’m still unsure about the last one.
It’s even more amazing to realize that I have been helping men improve their style for half of that time on The Essential Man. That’s 5 years! He’d be tiny and have real opinions if he were a child!
As we begin the new season, let me share all I have learned from working 1-on-1 with professional men to help answer one critical question.
How can you be a stylish, modern, and essential man in the 2022
01. Modern essential man’s style can be adapted
It’s evident that the shift to casual attire is not going away after working with many men in a variety of industries, including journalists at The New York Times and tech companies like Google.
The new addition to the existing range of dress codes is what is coming.
Despite their different backgrounds, ages, and locations, my styling clients all shared one thing: They were all successful men who could not fit into any one dress code. They were not casual. They were not formal. They were not even business casual.
They could wear casual clothes to work but they couldn’t wear track pants or a tee. Although they didn’t want to be Mad Men every day, there were a few times when they had to “Boss Mode” to wear sharp suits and perfectly dilled.
They wanted to be able to wear a grown-up, professional look on weekends. Men today need the Ethan Hunt wardrobe: something that can handle nearly every situation.
Modern, essential men are successful earners who live a flexible lifestyle (S.E.L.F. He needs a wardrobe that reflects this.
For big meetings, be professional and sharp. You don’t need a lot of clothes and you can still look stylish with a cohesive aesthetic. This is the great thing about it: this is not an impossible wardrobe. This is what I have been sharing on The Essential Man for many years.
02. He is a quality-oriented person and will invest in it.
Growing up in San Francisco Bay Area, I am always asked the same question by anyone who asks me: “In-Nout vs. Shake Shack? I always reply, “Shake Shack. No contest.” (I scrunch my eyes to emphasize how simple that answer is).
You can bet that when I tell people about my love of Shake Shack online they will also point out that Shake Shack is 2x more expensive than In-N.Out. You know what I have to say about that? Exactly. It’s just that much better. Quality comes with a little more investment. This holds true for both a burger and a pair boots.
My favorite thing to do with private styling clients is to let them try on high-quality, well-made clothes and then have them pop into Zara. Why? Quality must be experienced in order to be understood.
It’s possible to watch YouTube videos for months about what it’s really like to fly first-class, but nothing will compare to flying first class for eight hours. It’s amazing and will forever ruin your flying experience.
This year, I want to show you how transformative quality investing can be.
Quality investment doesn’t necessarily mean buying the most expensive model. To get the best quality in your clothes, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. I have always advocated paying for the best quality, and as you climb the ladder of success, you will be able to upgrade the parts of your wardrobe you love.
My daily t-shirts, which I wear every day, are $9 Supima tees by Uniqlo. It’s a big upgrade over a $5 Hanes shirt, even though it’s very affordable.
03. He is unapologetically himself
You’re likely to have my style mantras down pat if you’re a regular reader. Find the right fit for you. A wardrobe that is timeless and high quality should be your first step. These essentials can be purchased in the core colors.
The problem? They have a solid wardrobe and they’ve followed my advice, but it feels repetitive. This feeling is familiar to anyone who has ever tried to lose weight by following a training program. This is the style equivalent to stalling on a diet or training program.
What’s the solution? You can add some personality to spice things up! Since 2005, I have been emphasizing the importance of having a basic, but essential wardrobe. My goal was not to make one style that fits all. It was to provide the foundation for you to create your own style.