When it comes to really setting yourself apart from the crowd it’s those little things that make the difference. Today, it seems as though exclusivity itself is no longer exclusive; so taking some time to focus on the personal things that you find special will indeed pay off in the end.
They can range from expensive wardrobe additions to simple touches. The point is not to break the bank because as you should know by now, money does not buy style. On the other hand, money well spent can be a smart long term investment.
So, here are a few things to think about. By no means a comprehensive list, these are just a couple of ways you can bring some more personality to your personal style.
Custom clothes: Let’s start big and get this out of the way. If you can afford to do so, investing in custom made clothes is a wonderful way to add flair to your wardrobe and overall appearance. Handmade suits, jackets and shirts will fit you like nothing else and will simply look better than off the rack clothing.
Remember that assembling a working custom wardrobe can cost a small fortune and take a while to pull together. Additionally, even if you stick to traditional cuts and fabrics, styles do change and your clothes won’t be the height of fashion forever. Regardless, well thought out and designed purchases will stand the test of time better than trying to be just another fashion plate.
A good place to start is with a few custom shirts. There is usually a minimum quantity for your first order, but you’ll get a nice variety of fabrics and several options when it comes to collars and cuffs.
Move on to suits, sport coats and trousers as your interest and income dictate.
Good shoes: The next rung on the high-end investment ladder is a pair of good shoes. There are many makers of fine footwear from which to choose. Most are English, but some American makers like Alden and Allen Edmunds are well known in their own right. Look for leather uppers and Goodyear welted leather soles. The leather adapts to your foot’s shape and Goodyear welting allows soles to be replaced, adding years of service.
If you have cash to spare, custom footwear is the ne plus ultra of bespoke. Feet are the real workhorses of your body and deserve respect. Custom shoes will be molded to each foot and hand assembled by skilled craftsmen. It can take a while to get them to you, but when you finally slip on those custom brogues or oxfords, your feet will never feel the same.
In addition to just looking different than most mass produced footwear, handmade shoes will last a very long time due to the quality of materials and level of craftsmanship employed. They many even outlast you.
Monograms: Here we get into a less expensive but nonetheless high impact sartorial tool: the monogram. Formally the purview of upper-classes, modern technology has brought monogramming to the masses. While this option is now available almost anywhere – from shirts to socks, golf clubs to toothpicks – limiting its usage can increase the cool factor.
Though shirt cuffs, handkerchiefs and signet rings are great locations for the well placed monogram, try not to overdo it. Your initials in small gold lettering on a leather briefcase is a nice touch but a monogrammed baseball hat is a bit tacky. Be conservative with all the branding or it will look silly, not sharp.
What most people want to achieve with monogramming is a hint of the patrician life; for someone to think that, just maybe, you have a butler laundering your shirts every other day. I mean, why else would you need your boxer shorts monogrammed?
One-of-a-kinds: These are the really unique items that speak to your own interests, hobbies or collections. I know people who collect vintage leather briefcases, fountain pens, mechanical watches and Tiffany desk sets.
Whatever your interests, don’t be afraid of integrating them into your day to day life. Use a leather journal to keep your schedule, trade in your old dress shirts for new ones with French cuffs and put your dad’s old cufflinks to work, wear that fedora you’ve always coveted.
More than anything else these are the things that make you unique and individual. Ever been to New York and seen the naked cowboy in Times Square? You’ll never look at a cowboy hat the same way; but you’ll also never forget his get-up – or lack thereof – again. Is he nuts? Perhaps; but he also makes a good living and sure seems to enjoy his work.
However you choose to approach defining your personal style just don’t be a drone. Don’t go through life towing the sartorial line because you are afraid of taking a stand and standing out a bit.