I must admit, I hesitated to publish this. Appearance is so visible, and it is obvious to anyone who knows me that I’m no expert when it comes to matters sartorial. Nevertheless, I am learning… and that is, after all, what this blog is about. So, don’t be discouraged: we’re all on the same road. Some of us may be lagging behind a little, others are surging ahead. The important thing is to keep taking small steps, and to enjoy the ride.
Work from the Inside Out
A common approach to better looks is to start with the outer layers and then work inwards later. To a certain extent this will work: there is no doubt that what you wear on the outside can hide a multitude of flaws underneath, and you can end up looking pretty good. On the other hand, if you’re not content with good and want to look great, you had better start the other way around.
Why? By way of analogy, think of this:
Working on your appearance is like building a house: if you don’t get the foundations right, you’ll soon end up with a mess.
Choose Substance Over Style
Who you are matters more than the way you look. No amount of sartorial slight-of-hand can make you a better person. Shallow people might find you attractive, but anyone of depth won’t be fooled beyond the short term. Inner peace, genuine kindness and a sunny disposition are far more attractive in the long run than a well tailored suit.
That said, if you want people to enjoy what you’ve got inside then you may need to advertise a little, and there is no doubt that a little widow-dressing can go a long way. If you smarten up, you’ll feel more confident, people are more likely to hang around with you, and they’re likely to take you more seriously when they do.
So, be a great person… but don’t hide your light under a bushel.
Upgrade Your Health
So, you want to look great. But lets face it, you’re never going to look your best if you’re constantly exhausted, sickly and obese.
If you really want to look your best, start with getting to bed at a sensible time! Beauty sleep doesn’t just for the girls, right dude? A good night’s sleep has the dual benefits of making you less tired, and giving you more energy to put in to improving other aspects of your appearance.
Similarly, fixing your diet, drinking more water and getting a little more exercise can go a long way to improving your look and increasing your motivation.
Finally, cutting out the bad stuff – drugs, drink, carbs and so on can add far more to your quality of life than you’ll be giving up.
Work on Your Grooming
I don’t think I need go in to the reasons why grooming matters, do I?
The essentials are:
- Cleaning your skin and hair
- Trimming and tidying your hair
- Trimming your nails
- Taking care of your oral hygiene
- Wearing an effective deodorant
It shouldn’t take more than 15 – 20 minutes / day to get take care of your exterior.
By the way, if you haven’t got a decent sized mirror, conveniently located for your daily grooming, go get one.
Get Your Base Layer Right
Finally we get to your clothes, but following our inside-out philosophy we’ll we’ll start with your base layer. By understanding the purpose of underwear you can choose the undergarments that are most suitable for you.
Underwear Should Protect You
Underwear should be comfortable, kind to your skin, and may help keep you warm and dry. Whilst I appreciate that this seems obvious, a surprising number of underwear manufacturers don’t seem to understand this basic idea.
An undershirt, for example, should be:
- A good fit
- Made of a skin-friendly fabric
- Without one of those itchy labels
- Closely fitting so it doesn’t wrinkly and uncomfortable
- Long enough to stay tucked in
Underwear Should Protect Your Outer Garments
A basic purpose of underwear is to provide a defensive layer between your body and your more expensive clothing. It should protect your outer wear from from sweat, dead cells etc. so that they look better and last longer. For this reason, you should, therefore, always wear underwear.
A vest, for example, should therefore be:
- Made of an absorbent material
- Be without gaping arm holes
- Cheaper than the garments that they’re there to protect
This implies that a vest isn’t just for winter, as a basic purpose of an undershirt is to absorb your sweat. Of course, the thermal properties of a vest should pe appropriate to the climate in which you wear it.
Underwear Should Be Invisible
It’s called underwear for a reason: if people can see your underwear, you’re doing it wrong. Of course, you may choose to do it wrong, but if you must then it is better to do so intentionally rather than through ignorance. A T-shirt, for example, is technically underwear – a fact that many chaps don’t know.
Again, taking an undershirt as an example, it should have:
- No folds, ridges, buttons or wrinkles that effect the look of outer garments.
- A low collar that won’t be seen even if you decide to undo a couple of buttons on your shirt
- A colour that doesn’t show through your shirt
By building up your look from great foundations you can be sure that anything you put on top won’t be spoiled by what lies beneath.
- The Art of Manliness: A Man’s Guide to Undershirts: History, Styles, and Which to Wear
- Effortless Gent: Why You Should Care About What’s Under There: A Quick Guide To Undershirts