Let's be real here. I began my journey down the menswear rabbit hole following a really nasty break up. Suddenly, I discovered this extreme need to empower myself and send a message of confidence to the world at a time where I couldn't be more critical of myself. Sadly, this wasn't the best outlet for my grief and I quickly found myself justifying purchases with my emotions as opposed to my capabilities. Regardless of reason, many men do this when they're first starting. Retail therapy is an observed and confirmed phenomenon, I've witnessed every age of man rebuilding a wardrobe in a single purchase when working retail. Having made this mistake I urge all those starting out, pace yourself.
An engineered image is not something that can be achieved over night, nor is it something the 99% of men can afford to build quickly. How then, when one is starting out, can one craft an engineered image without investing in an entire wardrobe?
Simple. The new wardrobe must be built with three things in mind. Basics, outerwear, and shoes. Many youtube personalities and instagram models have created excellent graphics detailing the pieces that go into the basic wardrobe. As an advocate for self expression through individualized style I cannot wholeheartedly recommend you go and buy each of these pieces just for their versatility. Instead, I am going to tell you buy your basics, spend as much as you are capable of well built, but still frugal pieces. Within a year you'll notice that perhaps you're not a black polo guy, or a white oxford guy. Purchase these pieces with the knowledge that your style will likely evolve past them. More importantly, however, is your initial choice in outwear and shoes.
Nothing can make of break an outfit like good shoes and a sharp flattering jacket. I've spoken before about women's tendency to judge a man by his shoes. As men, we often judge a man by his jacket. By utilizing some of the money that one may be tempting to put towards expensive versions of basic pieces initially one should instead invest it into well made and classic shoes and outerwear. These two pieces are the highlights of any given basic outfit. By pairing a fine pair of brogues or Chelsea boots with a basic slack or jean, as opposed to trainers, one immediately conveys stylistic prowess. Furthermore, nothing will distinguish a man like a fine leather jacket. Even in a world where pleather runs rampant, the quality of a fine leather is immediately noticeable in any environment. Your date will not be focused on what brand you black jeans are, she will instead be focused on the well taken care of fine leather boots you've paired with those jeans and the suede jacket she will run her arm against when you're walking her to her door.
Gentlemen, don't make the same financial mistake I did. When starting out buy your basics, but invest in quality shoes and outerwear that make you feel confident. Topping each of your basic outfits off with these details will start you on your way to engineering your ideal image.
- The Engineer