Being a man is about being a good person, and part of being a good person is knowing how to fit into society. Demonstrating that social savvy will make you more attractive to women, earn you more respect with other men, and make frailer people feel safer around your strength instead of threatened by it.
As you gain more strength, that last point becomes more important.
There are a few things we can do. Being polite, knowing when to smile, improving our posture, and knowing what to wear.
Even by just fixing up our style, we can start living better almost instantly.
But for us ectomorphs, things are not quite so simple. We’ve got a rarer bone structure, and it can be hard to find clothes that fit and flatter us.
Then as we build muscle, we look better in clothes, yes, but new challenges are introduced. Having a butt means switching to a whole different cut of jeans. If you don’t, you’ll blow out the crotch.
Building up bigger shoulder muscles will bring you up a shirt size, but that bigger shirt will be enormous around your still-slim waist.
So now that you’ve bulked up and you need to buy new clothes anyway, let’s see if we can help you do it right.
Style is a cultural construct, but it’s not just a cultural construct.
Consider hair. A woman living in downtown Toronto might fancy a guy with a low fade and a long fringe, where his hair is very short on the sides but longer on top. But a few hundred years ago, when Toronto was home to the Mohawk tribe, women preferred men who plucked their hair out, tuft by tuft, leaving only a small square of hair on the back of their heads, which they would grow out and braid.
Same place, very different haircuts. One isn’t innately more attractive than the other. It just depends on what circumstance you’re in.
The same is true with clothing.
Here in Toronto, you have some guys who dress like Drake, others who dress like Jesse F. Keeler. These two guys both epitomize Toronto fashion, but if you show up to a date dressed like the wrong one, you might get rejected on the spot. And I wouldn’t recommend showing up to a job interview at a bank dressed like either one.
There are tribes—niches—and a major role that clothing plays is to communicate that you understand how that system works, and can categorize yourself accordingly.
There’s nothing wrong with dressing like a jock… unless all of your friends are goths. And vice versa. One style isn’t better than the other, you just need to do it properly depending on who you are and what your goals are.
That might even mean having a style so versatile that you can flow between a couple different tribes.
Or if you have enough social clout, that could even mean inventing your own style—starting your own tribe.
The important thing is that you understand how to communicate what you’re trying to communicate. If you hate hip hop, don’t dress like Drake. All the hip hop lovers are going to start talking with you about hip hop, you’re going to tell them that hip hop is dumb, and they’re not going to like you.
Wearing the right clothing proves that you’re socially aware.
It allows you to fit in when you want to fit in, and to stand out when you want to stand out.
You can wear a classically masculine outfit, people will associate you with those stereotypes, and you can reap those rewards. Or maybe you do the opposite. You have a lot of options, but you have to be smart about it.
For another example, let’s look at Jon Snow, from Game of Thrones. Regardless of personal preference, he’s a fairly universally attractive guy. He’s good, brave, healthy and strong, and he looks it. His appearance correctly signals his character. It doesn’t even matter that he dresses like a professional larper because he’s dressed properly for his situation.
Take that same guy in the same outfit and put him in Manhattan. He’d have a hard time asking a stranger for directions because they’d assume he was insane. That would be a fair assumption. It would take a truly insane person to dress so incredibly far outside of societal norms.
Style can be arbitrary. It pays to know what type of jeans you should be buying, but understanding how arbitrary style is gives us little reason to hate on the guy whose jeans are too tight or too baggy.
But style isn’t just a cultural construct. Across all cultures, patterns emerge that stem from human nature.
As E.O. Wilson said, genes hold culture on a leash.
Jon Snow and Drake both wear clothes that fit them. They both wear clothes made out of good materials. They both wear clothes that are appropriate to their niche. They both look strong, successful and socially savvy. They’re also clever enough to know when they should do the wrong thing.
Drake didn’t wear a sweater because he knew sweaters were cool, he wore a sweater because he knew he could make sweaters cool. And him standing out from the crowd elevated his coolness even further.
A recent study found that in a group of guys with beards, the guy without the beard is seen as more attractive. But in a group of guys without beards, the guy with the beard is now seen as more attractive. This goes to show that if you can find a good way to stand out, you can reap the rewards of being different. But if you’re too different, it will showcase that you don’t understand society. So being different is good, but we need to be smart about it.
Before we break the rules, though, we need to understand them.
How to communicate rugged masculinity
This article is about the dilemma that every bulking skinny guy faces: we finally start working out and eating well, our bodies finally turn into men’s bodies, and we’re eager to replace our tattered outfits that we’ve just grown out of with ones that will look far better.
This is a site about becoming Beastly, so to speak—about how to go through life with a sense of rugged ease and instinctive manliness. Some outfits are better at that than others.
We want to pick a style that comes packaged with all the right cultural context. We want to communicate all of the best sides of masculinity and benefit from all of those positive stereotypes.
T-shirts communicate a powerful message
According to the Art of Manliness, t-shirts were popularized by sailors, miners, soldiers, ranchers and athletes. With a history like that, you’d be hard-pressed to find a piece of clothing that looks more masculine or feels more practical.
Yes, t-shirts were originally meant to be undershirts. But just like your growing muscles, they insisted on bursting out of all the things that were supposed to cover them.
Miners sweating underground didn’t want to be encumbered by a button-up shirt. Neither did soldiers fighting in tropical climates. And neither do I, with my questionable air conditioner not quite pumping enough cold air into my office.
Anyway, to quote that Art of Manliness article:
After WWII, veterans continued to wear their undershirts with trousers while working around the house. Then in the 1950s, films like The Wild Ones, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Rebel Without a Cause, popularized the undershirt as stand-alone outerwear. Marlon Brando and James Dean lent the tee an air of edgy rebelliousness, turning it into an emblem of masculine cool.
Other shirts can work too. A nice oxford, plaid, flannel, or chambray will also do the trick. But a simple t-shirt is a good place to start.
T-shirts look best on a fit body
The whole reason that t-shirts look so ruggedly awesome is because they humbly show off our ruggedly awesome physiques. That means that the first step is building up a ruggedly awesome physique. To quote that Art of Manliness article again:
Nearly all clothes look better on a fit physique, but this is especially true of t-shirts. If you’re overweight or thin, the tee will either cling to and emphasize your belly, or drape lifelessly over your skinny frame. So too, the contrast between the sleeve and your skin will draw attention to your alternately pudgy or bony arms. Thus thin and overweight men always look better in garments like dress shirts and sports jackets that add some structure to their frame, build out their shoulders, take in their waist, and form a more masculine v-shape.
As you might imagine, while Art of Manliness recommends picking a different shirt because you’re bony, which is fair, our specialty lies elsewhere. We’d rather help you gain 10–20 pounds so that you can look amazing in anything forever.
The good news is that us skinny guys can gain 10–20 pounds within a month or two, allowing even the skinniest of us to look great in a t-shirt. If you’re curious about how that’s even possible, check out our article on newbie gains. If you’d like to actually do it, I’d recommend our Bony to Beastly Program.
On that note, if you’ve already gotten your newbie gains, it’s not a bad idea to get new clothes, just err on the side of getting them slightly bigger. If you haven’t gotten your newbie gains yet, maybe start there, as you might go up a shirt size or two in just a couple months.
When it comes to building muscle, if you focus your efforts on general strength training, you’ll be putting a big emphasis on squatting, not so much emphasis on your arms or the sides of your shoulders. You can build a good amount of muscle that way, and it will certainly help you look better in clothes, but you’ll be sizing up your pants before you even fill out a size small t-shirt.
If you follow a program with more emphasis on your shoulders, chest, traps and arms, you’ll look noticeable better in a t-shirt in months instead of years. You’ll look better after gaining 15 pounds instead of 30.
On the left we have a regular “ectomorph” skinny guy. In the middle we have a guy who follows your typical strength training program. On the right we have a guy who shifts some of his efforts away from squatting while putting a bit more emphasis on building up the muscles around his shoulder girdle: his neck, traps, chest, upper back, shoulders and upper arms.
Keep in mind that both the balanced and top heavy guys are comparably strong, it’s just one will be able to squat more, the other will be able to press more overhead. The point isn’t that you should build a physique that only appears to be strong, but rather that you should build a physique that gets you both form and function. (Here’s our article on building the most attractive physique.)
Build up enough strength around your shoulder girdle, and you can make even the dorkiest of outfits look moderately passable:
But as passable as California’s strongest man looks, we can do better.
Problem is, one thing I’ve realized over the years, only to see my own frustrations mirrored back at me in the Beastly community (member thread here), is it’s damn difficult to find clothes that fit an ectomorph properly!
So we’re going to talk about some general principles for finding clothes that fit us naturally skinny ectomorphs, and we’ll also suggest some brands as we go along.
How to choose the perfect t-shirt
Step 1: collar
Starting right in the heart of this, what kind of man are you? Crew-neck, V-neck or polo?
If you want to make your neck seem thicker, choose a classic crewneck. Many of us ectomorphs are long: long limbs, long torsos, long necks. A classic crew-neck collar chops your neck off right where your traps end, giving your neck a shorter, more masculine appearance. The bigger you build your traps, the more pronounced this effect becomes. It also creates a straighter line from shoulder to shoulder, making them look nice and square.
Crew-necks will sometimes feature a pocket. Pockets add a little more structure and mass around your chest. They’re also pretty classic and tasteful. You can’t go wrong with a pocket, but you don’t need one either.
The crew neck is culturally classically masculine, with or without a pocket, and is a good look for most ectomorphs.
A modest v-neck will visually extend the length of your neck. This works wonders on guys who are shorter, rounder and beefier, but it doesn’t do a lot of favours for ectomorphs who tend to have longer necks and narrower faces.
With that said, not all of us ectomorphs have long necks or narrow faces. You might find that your proportions suit v-necks well.
Polos. Not technically a t-shirt, but certainly a suitable alternative if you’re looking to be a tad less rugged, a pinch more preppy. They were designed to be a more comfortable version of tennis whites, and were popularized by two famous tennis players: René “the Crocodile” Lacoste and Fred Perry. They soon spread to the sport of polo, then to golf, then to my dad.
Step 2: size
A shirt shouldn’t be so big that it makes the man inside of it look small, nor should it be so small that it makes the man wearing it look like he’s trying to look big. You have to find that perfect middle-ground.
Shoulder seams at the tops of the shoulders. Your entire torso should be in the torso part of the shirt, and your entire arm should be in the sleeve. Keep in mind that most people are between sizes. Just do your best.
In this example, I intentionally drew a guy who erred on the side of choosing a slightly big shirt. At least that way he’ll feel fairly unrestricted in it.
As Antonio Centeno from Real Men, Real Style says, a well-fitting shirt is never restrictive and should allow for comfortable movement. If the shirt is clinging to you, it might be a size too small. Just don’t go so far as to choose an obviously oversized shirt, as shown on the right.
Even just getting this one thing right will make you look decent in a t-shirt. Still, there are things we can do to make things far better.
Step 3: fit
According to Antonio Centeno, women think that men look attractive in t-shirts, but only in fitted t-shirts.
Slim-fit clothing isn’t slimming. Rather, it’s clothing designed to make slim guys look their best. As guys with thinner frames, ectomorphs tend to look best in slim-fit clothing. If anything, it tends to make us look stronger, as our clothing stops looking so baggy.
This remains true even once we become muscular because we’re still going to have a slim waist but with a much larger shoulder girdle. If we switch to buying a regular shirt, we’re going to have even more extra fabric floating around our torsos.
Snug across the chest, but not clinging to the stomach. A couple weeks ago, at my dad’s 60th birthday, my mum was looking at photos of my sister’s new boyfriend. She commented: “You can tell he’s athletic. Look at how his chest fills out his shirt.”
That’s what your t-shirt should make someone think: “You can tell he’s athletic.”
According to the YouTuber Alpha.M., you can accomplish this by picking a t-shirt that’s snug across the chest, but loose enough in the torso that it isn’t clinging to your stomach.
That’s easier said than done. Most of us ectomorphs don’t have naturally thick ribcages or chests. However, with a good slim-fit shirt, a little extra chest work and another few pounds gained, this is a realistic goal for all of us—even those with pectus excavatum.
If your chest still isn’t filling out a slim-fit tee yet, don’t worry, we’ll help you grow into it.
How much arm to bare? If you’re still skinny, baring your arms shows that you’re confident in your frame, and there’s little risk of you appearing vain. Don’t shy away from shorter sleeves.
If you’ve successfully bulked up a bit, your arms are going to look either pleasantly fit or impressively strong. In either case, you have earned the right to bare arms.
The standard advice here is that your sleeve should end halfway down your upper arm. For us skinny guys, I think it pays to consider our muscle bellies. Our muscle bellies are often shorter, and thus often look better with even shorter sleeves. (You can find out if you have ectomorphic muscle bellies in this article here.)
When your arm is straight, notice where your triceps muscle belly ends. Does your sleeve cover it? If you can’t see the bulge of the muscle belly, it will look like you don’t have a muscle there at all.
Now flex your arm and notice where your biceps muscle belly ends. Does your sleeve cover it? Again, if your bicep is covered, your t-shirt is erasing your hard-earned muscle.
Slim-fit, fitted, and athletic shirts will often have a sleeve that’s about the right length. If it’s not, you can always roll your shirt sleeves up a little bit. When rolling, as with everything, strive for balance. You want your sleeve to be short enough that you look athletic, but not so short that it stops looking like a classic t-shirt.
If even slim-fit shirts are overly loose around your waist, tuck it in. It’s a less forgiving choice, yes, but if you get the rest of this stuff right, it should look fine. Plus, skinny guys have been pioneering this look right from the get-go:
Still, it’s not fashionable right now. You’d be like Drake wearing that dorky sweater. Whether it works depends on the power of your spirit.
Your shirt should end about halfway down your fly. Shorter shirts look fine when you’re standing, but a t-shirt is supposed to be a versatile, practical thing—something you can chop down a tree in. Your stomach shouldn’t be saying hello every time you go to shake somebody’s hand.
Here comes the dilemma:
- We size our shirts based on shoulder width.
- Ectomorphs tend to have narrow shoulders.
- Ectomorphs also tend to be tall.
This means that if we pick the shirt that fits our shoulders, it’s often too short. Going with a slim-fit shirt should help, but you might still run into length issues.
There are a couple solutions for this. The first solution is to build up your shoulders, upper chest and upper back. We normally have guys going up a shirt size every 20 pounds or so. If the small is too short, maybe the medium won’t be. If the medium is too short, maybe the large won’t be.
The other solution is to make sure you aren’t wearing low-rise pants and/or that you aren’t wearing your pants too low. If you’re already in jeans with a classic rise, you might even consider switching to an even higher-waisted style of jean. If you’re a guy with a longer torso, higher-waisted jeans tend to be more flattering anyway.
Step 4: material
Heavier cotton t-shirts are a good default choice. They look good in a classic way, they tend be comfortable, they have the right amount of sheen, and they don’t pill as easily, which makes them age well. That’s why you’ll see those Iron Maiden t-shirts that are 30 years old and still look great. Or maybe that’s just me.
You’ll usually want to default to a heavier weight of cotton to give your upper body more mass and structure, especially around the shoulders, and also to differentiate your t-shirt from an undershirt. Fortunately, these are the norm.
Step 5: style
You can’t go wrong with a plain crew-neck t-shirt. For guys with wild hairstyles or lots of tattoos, that simplicity will help keep their overall look from being too garish. If you aren’t communicating a lot with the other aspects of your overall style, though, you might want to put a little more personality into your shirt. Fortunately, you’ve got some good options.
Choosing a crew-neck with a pocket is a good way to add a little flair while still staying totally true to the classic and versatile nature of the t-shirt. There’s no real downside here, but the pockets also aren’t mandatory. Depends on what you like.
Horizontal stripes are still classic and have the added benefit of creating the illusion of extra width. The lines lead our eyes outward, making our upper bodies look wider. Not a bad look for those of us with narrower upper bodies.
Graphics make a t-shirt look younger and more casual, but are otherwise fine. If you combine a plain t-shirt with a nice pair of shoes, a decent pair of jeans, a nice belt, and everything fits right, your outfit will be ideal for most daily situations. Graphic t-shirts are more casual, losing some of that versatility.
On the plus side, though, graphic tees offer another way to communicate. Wearing a t-shirt with your favourite band or video game on it might earn you some brotherly nods or flirty smiles from exactly the types of people you’d enjoy spending time with.
Just notice that the style becomes a bit less classically masculine, a bit more about being a guy communicating a specific niche. For example, if I saw a guy wearing that specific graphic tee, I’d know what to chat with him about and I’d expect to like him.
The paler your clothes, the bigger you’ll look. One trick you can use to make yourself look fitter is to go with the classic white t-shirt and blue jeans combo, both of which are light and will make you look a little bigger.
However, white is too light to register many shadows, so a mid-tone blue or athletic grey will usually look like it has more depth. That’s why professional bodybuilders slather themselves in spray tan. It helps create shadows under the bulges of their muscles, giving them greater muscle definition. Same thing with clothes.
Ironically, athletic grey’s downside shows itself when you engage in athletics: it changes colour when you sweat. But if you’re doing something to work up a sweat, you probably don’t need to worry about looking sweaty anyway.
The colour of your skin, hair and eyes help determine what colours you look best in. A guy with blond hair and blue eyes will look pretty good in a blue shirt because it matches his eyes, makes his skin tone look warmer by comparison, and is a complimentary colour to his hair.
A pale guy with dark hair has more contrast between his skin and his hair, and will often look better in harsher colour combinations. A white t-shirt and black jeans might suit him well.
A black guy might look awesome in a vivid pink or a bright orange because his skin tone is strong enough to reign it in, but wearing brown might look too bland.
If you’re good with this kind of thing, you might be able to step your style up a notch just by picking colours that suit you especially well.
T-shirt brand recommendations
You don’t necessarily need to look flashy, just strong, fit and respectable. If you aren’t that interested in fashion, there’s nothing wrong with falling back on the manly staples: a plain white, blue or black crew-neck t-shirt, untucked. I recommend going for a slimmer fit, too. And you might need some extra length.
Some companies do this better than others. We’ll go over three. Also note that we’re not affiliated with any of these companies in any way. We’re just telling you what we’ve had luck with as a community for skinny guys who are at various stages of building muscle.
A popular option is the Gap and their associated brands, Banana Republic and Old Navy. All three of those stores sell t-shirts of good quality that fit well, and they’re all popular among our members. One downside is that they outsource their manufacturing to factories that aren’t always known for treating their workers ethically. Their shirts, however, are good.
Another popular recommendation is Uniqlo. Everything there fits pretty slim, which our guys tend to love, and their clothes are known for being pretty comfortable even as you move in them. Athleisure, as they say.
Your third brand is Everlane. First, they focus on skinny guys, so their fit is pretty good on all of their stuff. Second, their shirts are a little longer than average, which means that even if your size is small for your height (like a 6’ guy getting a medium), they’ll be long enough. Third, they believe in something they call radical transparency, meaning they’re brutally honest, to a fault, about all of their factories and factory conditions. As such, their heavily incentivized to make their clothes as ethically as possible.
You won’t just look like a better man by supporting them, you’ll be a better man.
Plus, their clothes are really easy to order online, their prices are reasonable, and my order arrived just a couple days later. (I got the muted black cotton crew.)
Choosing the perfect jeans
Like t-shirts, jeans come packaged with the right cultural undertones. They’re the logger in the pickup truck, the Triumph motorcycle roaring down an open highway, the cowboy riding off into the sunset.
They’re also designed to be practical. They’re sturdy, they hide stains, and they look better as they get older, as you will. They’ll even serve you well if you sit at a computer all day long.
Before we even talk about size, you’ve got to figure out how far up your waist you want your pants. This is called the “rise” of your jeans, and it can vary by up to 5 inches, making it an important first step that most men forget.
The most common advice is to get low-rise jeans if you’re going to wear your pants lower around your hips, or higher-rise jeans if you’re going to wear them up higher around your waist.
However, as you build muscle, especially in your butt, the crotch area of your pants is going to get real cramped real fast. You’ll do better avoiding low-rise jeans.
Besides, low-rise jeans remove our ability to bend in the hips, forcing us to bend at the lower back instead. That’s not great for our posture, nor for developing a naturally athletic physique. Plus, it makes us look weird when we move around in our jeans.
And if you’re a tall guy with a long torso, getting jeans with a regular or higher rise will make it easier to get a t-shirt that’s long enough, as your pants will come up to meet it.
Another benefit to pants with a bit more rise in them is that they’re less casual, more classic, and they give you the option to tuck in your shirt.
Now that you know that your waistband should be around your waist, it’s time to make sure that it fits your waist. Wearing a belt is great, but you shouldn’t have to wear a belt. We want to minimize any bunching or extra fabric.
Unfortunately, if you build up a strong enough butt, you might need to size up in the waist. We can try to delay that by putting more emphasis on your upper body instead, but honestly having a strong butt is worth it. Women love hw it looks, it looks athletic, it is athletic, and it even helps prevent lower back injuries.
So do your best to avoid getting a too-large waist size, but you might have to pick your jeans based on your butt size and wear a belt. That’s not your fault, that’s just most brands designing clothes for guys who aren’t athletic.
Some brands, like Levi’s, are designed for fairly strong guys, so they do a decent job of getting the proportions right.
The next thing to do is make sure that there’s no bunching in the legs. Some jeans will come with a couple different choices for length. Otherwise, you’ll need to roll or hem them. Rolling and hemming both look good. It just depends on your style.
Stretch, and the curse of raw denim
You have to be able to move in your pants. It’s cool to get raw denim, but remember that without any stretch in your pants, you’ll have a really hard time moving in them—especially if they aren’t oversized.
We’re protectors who need to be constantly on guard, we’re youthful dads who need to roll around on the floor, we’re husbands who enjoy chasing our giggling wives up the stairs, and sometimes we might need to race a bus towards the bus stop.
Ours jeans should encourage that.
Back in the day, guys would wear their jeans fairly baggy. It would allow them to move around fairly easily at the cost of not looking as good.
Nowadays, the solution to this is getting denim with a little bit of stretch in it. 3% stretch is all you need.
It’s almost always best to wear jeans that are snug around your butt, but neither baggy nor skin-tight around your thighs and calves. How big your butt, thighs and calves are will determine what cut of jean that is.
As a skinny guy, baggier pants will not only float around your legs, they’ll also make your lower body look oversized compared to your upper body. Skinny or straight-legged jeans tend to fit about right, as both are designed for guys with smaller butts and thighs.
As soon as you start developing an athletic lower body, though, your skinny jeans will start becoming tight. Jeans aren’t supposed to fit like leggings, and not just for style reasons. They’ll restrict movement, and the underside of the crotch area will tear, forcing you to get new ones anyway.
As you bulk up, you’ll want jeans with more of an athletic taper, where there’s more room in the butt and thighs while still having a small waist and tapered lower legs.
Levi’s 511’s with a little stretch are great, and even classic Levi’s 501’s can be good for that. They’re roomy enough in the thighs and butt but still taper in to small calves and ankles, giving your lower body a nice “V” taper.
I highly recommend trying on a few different pairs of jeans to find a pair that works for you. Just be sure to always choose the right size, make sure they’ve got at least 3% stretch, and make sure to wear them at the right place on your waist.
Colour. There are acid wash jeans, glow-in-the-dark jeans, and even white jeans. Those are fine, but they’re more about making a statement. Camouflage jeans can be a good choice as well, but it’s too hard to find a good pair.
With that said, there’s a good case to be made for black jeans as well. They aren’t quite as classic, but they’re slimming. If you’ve got a smaller upper body, you can create the illusion of more upper body mass by making your legs seem proportionally smaller.
Brand recommendations for jeans
Levi Strauss & Co invented jeans in 1871. They’re about as classically masculine as you can get, and they’ve been known for combining quality, practicality and value for nearly 150 years now.
Levi’s 511s are a good fit for most of us. They’re roomy enough in the butt and thighs, but taper down to thinner calves and ankles, allowing us to create an overall V shape without our pants being restrictively tight. If you get the 511s with some stretch, and you should, they’re also very practical.
For an edgier look, Naked & Famous is a newer company with a love for doing denim right. Denim aficionados appreciate them for making their jeans in Canada using high quality Japanese raw selvedge denim. I recommend getting jeans with some stretch in them, though, so I’d avoid their raw denim. Go for the power stretch instead.
And again, Uniqlo is well-liked for how comfortable and flexible their pants are.
You can get far more expensive jeans, but the quality won’t necessarily go up with the price. Sometimes higher price jeans with a prestigious brand name just cost more to help you communicate that you have access to more disposable income. Depends what you’re trying to say.
Some final points
Don’t pretend like clothes don’t matter. Not caring about your clothes is needlessly short-sighted. It can impede your ability to date, it can hurt your chances of getting a job, and you risk making people feel uneasy around you.
Many guys act like they don’t care, and you can certainly act that way publically, but you should care at least enough, however privately, to do it right.
That’s how I think we should approach everything in life. There’s never a need for narcissism, however, we should exercise, eat, shower, groom, dress or behave in a way that matches our goals. Failure on any one of those fronts can make it needlessly hard to live a good life, and others might perceive us as being less socially aware, inconsiderate or even rude.
This doesn’t mean your clothes should be fancy or expensive. It doesn’t even mean you need to spend a lot of time thinking about them—my closet is full of 7 identical t-shirts, and I always wear the same pair of jeans—but it does mean that you should make sure they are of good quality, that they fit properly, and that they are clean enough.
Make sure you look like a good guy. Especially if you’re a strong guy, and especially if you have tattoos, the clothes you wear can be the difference between old women crossing the street to avoid passing too close to you, or them approaching you to ask for directions. I would much rather be that second guy—the one who makes people feel safe.
On that note, even while looking rebellious can be cool, I’d at least recommend avoiding looking dangerous, whether that’s looking like a Hell’s Angel or a Crip. Any coolness points you get among your peers will be inconsequential compared to the amount of fear you’ll impose upon the frailer people you come into contact with.
If you get a face tattoo, that might mean doing your grocery shopping in a suit and tie.
Wear clothes that you can more or less forget about while you’re in them. My mum always said that the last thing you want to do is be worrying about your clothes while you’re trying to be social, constantly re-tucking your shirt, adjusting your collar, pulling up your pants, tugging down the bottom of your shirt, or whatever else might be going wrong.
Get clothes that fit properly and that aren’t too hard to manage. If you can’t move properly, or if the outfit is too high-maintenance, it’s probably not worth it. Any points you get for looking good will be undone by the points you lose from constantly monitoring your appearance.
If you get enough right, the rules you break will help more than they hurt. You can’t go wrong with a well-fitting white crew-neck tee from the Gap paired with some blue Levi’s 511’s worn around your natural waist.
But if you want to be more daring, go for it. You have little to lose. Even if people give you flack for how you dress, they’re doing at least as much wrong as you are. After all, when it comes to manners and style, gentlemen don’t tell other men when they aren’t being gentlemen.
Just try to make sure that you’re communicating what you’re trying to communicate. At the bare minimum, I recommend showing others that we understand social norms, and that we respect those around us.
I know one guy who wore drop crotch pants that I didn’t understand. He got pulled aside by a fashion recruiter and now he models clothes in the UK.
Now I understand even less, but his wild style has always been to his benefit.
For those of us in our teens and twenties, it can pay to venture down that same road. Get the basics right and then get a little crazy with it. As we get older, we’ll often settle into a more refined, low-key style. But while we’re young, fortune favours the bold.
To leave you with some inspiration and an example, check out Hugo92’s recent transformation. Knowing that this article was about to come out, I asked him to take a photo in a t-shirt and jeans.
Pretty cool, right?
Let us know your clothing struggles, tips and tricks below.