BY MAT BATTS
The Man Page is a new monthly column discussing the day-to-day topics of a man’s life, including the struggles and successes of men embracing an ever-changing world. Feel free to contact me with comments or column suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s no secret that some men struggle with style. Count me as a longtime member of that club.
But recently, I have worked to expand my wardrobe a bit, seeking out a few sport coats, purchasing my first full suit, all in an attempt to be a little bit more presentable.
The effort to dress better comes as I enter the working world; unfortunately, grown men don’t wear shorts and a t-shirt to the office on a regular basis.
Men’s fashion, though, is tricky to master. Some guys do it flawlessly, without much effort or attention. Some struggle to find a balance between traditional men’s apparel and the ever-changing trends of dress code.
While women’s fashion is no doubt complicated as well, it does seem from the outside like women have an easier time stepping beyond their comfort zones. From bright colors and new designs to unthought-of combinations, women just seem to do new fashion better.
For me, loud colors are hard to feel comfortable in. I have one pink shirt in my closet and it, by and large, sits around longer than most between wears. The same can be said for pants. Rarely do I venture from the traditional navy, black, khaki or gray.
So why does this matter?
For me, the effort to dress better coincides with an overall attempt to step beyond the many things in life I have grown comfortable with. Be it music or food or vacation destinations, I have hoped, in my mid-20s to appreciate many of the things I may have shunned as a college student.
The transition has been anything but seamless.
Recently, my wife and I attended a dinner party with her co-workers. I saw it as an opportunity to try out a new outfit, a balance between a formal suit and casual t-shirt. I went with relaxed khakis, a t-shirt and a blazer. My wife was less than impressed.
“I know the look you’re going for,” she said. “But…”
I wore it anyway. And, by all accounts, as it probably should be, my outfit was as inconsequential as the silverware we ate with.
But it was an example of how difficult it can be for a man to step outside his long-established personal style. Think about the last time you bought a new shirt. Chances are it looks just like 10 others in your closet.
It is downright difficult for a man to break out of his mold.
But, the fear of looking foolish is never justified. At the very core, we dress for ourselves and ourselves alone, both men and women. It’s less about impressing others and more about boosting your confidence.
There’s an old saying I learned while playing minor league baseball: “Look good, feel good. Feel good, play good.”
It’s simple enough. If you feel good coming to the stadium, you’re going to carry that over to the field. The same can be said for the working man. If you feel good in that new suit, chances are you’re going to dominate your 10 o’clock meeting.
Your outfit should be a tool for yourself as much as it is a statement about yourself.
As you probably know, new clothes won’t make you more successful. Expensive clothes won’t bring you more happiness. But, a new style can do well to change your outlook on life and push you through those groggy summer months at work.
Wear what you like and like what you wear, and know that more times than not, you will be your outfit’s own worst critic — except maybe your wife.