Monday, June 4, 2012

How to Look Good

Recently, with sadness, I had to say farewell to some of my older shirts. When I bought them, I was a smallish lad of 15, and they fit nicely. On an average-sized thirtysomething, they didn't fit so well. Then there was the inevitable wear and tear of a decade and a half as the mainstay of my wardrobe. Considering their cheapness to begin with, I have more than had my money's worth from these shirts.
They'll live on in spirit, though. Not only have I harvested the buttons from them for potential future use, the influence they had in setting my style as an adult will continue. These were pretty much the first casual adult shirts I owned, and certainly the first I felt any major degree of control in the purchasing of. Since that summer in the 1990s, I've kept a consistent look: plaid, short-sleeved, buttoned shirts. There are some shirts which break from the plaid into more ambitious patterns or even into overall designs, but they're outnumbered and I feel "fancy" when I wear them.

So for roughly half my life, these shirts have been the benchmark for my style. I'm lucky, being male; women's styles are far more volatile, and far more subject to "dressing one's age". That said, the key to looking good is always comfort. My style took shape because the light cotton shirts I chose were very comfortable, and so I looked good in them. A sour face will wreck any clothing, while a smile can make even an ill-fitting suit look better. These days, the shirts I choose look similar out of habit, and because I know that I can carry off the short-sleeved button-down well. I have, after all, been doing so for more than a decade.

Last time I had to buy shirts, the LA was with me. She went to look at something else, and when we reunited I had several shirts picked out, all but one being variations on tasteful plaids. I showed her what I'd chosen, and she later said that her first thought on seeing them had been: "Don't you already own those?" I counted that a success; if it's something my wife sees as so much "me" that she's surprised that I don't already own it, it's clearly something that will suit me.

So, the takeaway on my advice for looking good: find your style. It need not match anyone else's style; just make sure that you feel good wearing it, and you'll look good.

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