Jun 12, 2016691 views

An inductive approach to discovering your style

I tried writing this yesterday, but I encountered an error when I tried to upload a picture. Beta. Anyway, it was probably too long winded.
In short, when people ask for advice about what to wear, it seems they aren't often sure what exactly what it is they want to look like. My stock answer is always: find 15-30 pictures of outfits you like you like, what really speaks to you. Don't think too hard about why you like it; just find and collect those examples. After you do, look at them all together and try to draw out common themes. Those themes likely are a very good representation of your style preferences.
I like this approach because it, to a large degree prevents our preconceptions of what we think we should wear from influencing our understanding of a unified style (or styles) that speak to us.
Of course, just because a person is able to discover his style in this manner, that doesn't mean he can successfully execute it. That requires an understanding of why the pieces work together to create the effect that he finds so appealing. But it is a necessary first step.
Alright. I'm going to try posting an example in a separate reply. This is where it crashed last time.
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Israel Alexis Tejada Quintana, j-tech, and 9 others
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All this over fucking suits? 😂😂😂😂
Hmmmm....well, emergent preferences I notice:
- You don't like (or at least wouldn't wear or feel comfortable wearing) patterned shirts, so probably avoid those if you are just building a wardrobe. - Seems like you prefer ties with texture over ties with patterns - a gray suit, though a staple, would probably be a waste of money for you - if possible, try to be an older Asian fellow - if you don't own gray wool trousers, they are clearly something you like and would get a lot of wear out of - if you don't already own a slightly lighter navy suit, that would be a good place to begin building your wardrobe. Particularly the maligned/loved blazersuit, in which the fabric isn't particularly smooth and the jacket has patch pockets (so you could wear the jacket as part of a suit and as a separate) - gray ties are good - solid jackets are good
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Just posted this in the What are You Wearing thread, but I recently got a navy fresco blazer suit - here it is as a suit and a worn as a separate. From a tailor in Osaka, Japan. Definitely happy with the versatility and now that I live in the burbs of SF I'll need it for the heat!
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"if possible, try to be an older Asian fellow" - great life advice
My photo that you posted (center) is my variation of the BlazerSuit, a commission from last year. The jacket gets a lot more wear than the trousers, as one would expect I suppose. @tailorandtie has a great one as well, and given the fresco fabric, it's probably easier to wear than my flannel one.
Thanks for the post, Alex. Here are mine.
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Very interesting. I feel that this would be a great method for someone who wants to step up his style game without essentially becoming a men's style enthusiast, by which I mean spending unhealthy amounts of time in style fora and looking at product photos and reading product reviews even if you have no intention of buying anything at all.
For me, what works is this. 1. Look at a product (either in stores or online storefronts or in outfit pics by people) and go "wow that looks nice but I'm not entirely sure if that would work with my style". 2. Keep looking at other outfit photos, from shoots or other "normal" people. 3. Whenever you see something (that you've taken note of earlier) being used in a way that you think matches your style, make a note. My brain does that for me subconsciously. 4. Once you've done step (3) multiple times your brain would say "OKAY YOU NEED TO BUY THIS THING RIGHT NOW", or something to that effect.
Note that these steps happen pretty much in the background - I do not intentionally make note of products and look for patterns, it happens on a subconscious level. This is not essentially a good thing for your wallet because these are basically wants, not needs.
As an example, this has pretty much made me a lover of balmoral boots over time, and now I lust for one. Also, watches. Even though I might not like "store" product photos of watches, looking at people's own photos sometimes makes me want to buy it right away.
I guess in one word this method would be called "inspiration"? I can't believe I wasted all that time writing this comment when I could've just said "I buy something after I've been inspired by others rocking a style similar to mine with that product".
Argh.
payodpanda
But that process assumes you've already got a good idea of what your style is (or what you want it to be). For a lot of people beginning to take clothes seriously, I don't think that's necessarily the case. As a result, they might like (and purchase) an item which they like in some picture but they don't actually like with what they often wear (or intend to wear).
For example, I dislike loud jackets; I don't really feel comfortable with them, and if I were to compile a list of my 100 favorite outfits, I doubt a loud jacket or suit would make it on there. But early on, a few folks regularly wearing loud jackets stood out to me, and I liked it when I saw them. I definitely purchased a few that I never wear, culminating with a beautiful bespoke linen windowpane from B&Tailor, a jacket which to this day I consider my biggest mistake. Had I really paid attention to the outfits I most regularly like, I would have noticed there isn't a single loud jacket among them.
Claghorn
Ha, yes, I'm sorry I'm really not good with words.
What I was implying was that for someone just starting out, and for someone who doesn't have any idea about their own style, and who wants to discover what *style* he likes, your method would work well. On the other hand for someone who already has a defined sense of personal style it might not (of course, the thread is about an approach to defining / discovering your style). So my comment could be considered fairly OT to be honest, haha.
I was just pitching in on / trying to make sense of how I personally make purchases; I don't even know if it'll help anybody else at all, really. I'd never given thought to the process itself before, writing that comment made me think about what really goes on in my head (or what I *think* really goes on in my head, or maybe what I *want to think* goes on in my head - any psychologists here? :) ).
Nice post. Good point re: brown jackets. Never would have thought to put them above blue/navy but you do have a point
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Interesting, I've never thought about an approach like this. I generally try to do the opposite and avoid taking too many cues from inspiration photos (since they're usually not something I could get away with wearing in real life), but I see your point. I'll have to give this a try.
IanAnderson
Well, it's more like what you'd want to look like in. For example, I really like the way a lot of Yohji looks, but it isn't something I could get away with, so it isn't something I'd include if I were trying to discover "my style." I think a person's style isn't something that is independent of the wearer. Both the items and the way the wearer feels in those items are important. So if I had all of those suits and ties and shirts, I'd be happy and comfortable in any of those combinations.
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Here are 8 I grabbed. And I didn't discover anything I didn't know about what I like. I generally prefer outfits that have at most two patterns. If the tie has a pattern, I probably prefer a solid shirt and even a solid jacket. I definitely like solid colored ties. So if someone posted these and said "I really like this. What should I do?" I'd probably point him in the direction of some important staples (again, I have boring taste, and a lot of what I like involves boring staples) like a gray suit and a navy jacket and suggest he stock up on solid ties (especially in cool colors) with a few patterned squares before getting adventuresome. Actually, looking at that, I suppose I'd suggest he get a brown jacket before he gets a navy jacket. I know I like navy jackets. And I know that it is a great and versatile staple. But based off those 8 images, I'd argue that a brown jacket (or suit) should be higher on that guy's list than a navy one. (Credit: Chad Park, Urbancomposition, me, Chad Park, Braddock of Shibumi, Braddock again, me again, and Anden the Swede, someone from BnT)