Personal Touches to Your Personal Style

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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.


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Chris Hogan, an association executive based in Washington, D.C., blogs at OffTheCuffDC.com. A lifelong interest in style and clothing led to sales and management positions at several Ralph Lauren stores and an active wardrobe consulting practice

Comments

  1. Nick says:

    Monogramming… seriously? Surely it is the adult equivalent of getting your mum to sew your name onto your school PE kit?

    It is cheap, tacky and should be avoided at all cost. If you don’t have heritage, don’t try and fake it.

    Also, I’m not sure what you were trying to achieve with inclusion of the naked cowboy in your piece? Sure, I could wear a luminous yellow tie with a matching hankerchief, but I’d look like an idiot.

    I think you were trying to say that people shouldn’t be afraid to be a little bit daring. But this gets smothered with the cowboy analogy. Being daring requires moderation otherwise it becomes absurd.

  2. Chris Hogan says:

    Hi Nick, thanks for your thoughts. I have to disagree with your comment about monogramming. While I am not a proponent of the recent trend that seems to encourage the monogramming of everything in sight, I do feel that discreet and judicious use of monograms is not only tasteful but interesting. As I mentioned in the column, having your initials embossed on a nice briefcase or flat leather envelope adds a level of personalization that changes something from an object into a cherished possession.
    And, sure, I was a little tongue-in-cheek about the butler observation, but I fail to see the lack of a distinguished bloodline as a reason for not having, say, a nice signet ring. Even the most highbrow among us can trace their roots back to the ordinary.
    As for the naked cowboy, I think you are being a little too literal. My only point was to show that by contrast, adding a little extra personality to your wardrobe is less dramatic than most people think. Yes, you might look like an idiot with your matching neon accessories, but many people feel that even a small amount of color or flair in their wardrobe is too radical a change from the ordinary. Compared to the NC, adding a pink pocket square to your suit may not seem like such big issue.

    Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment!

  3. Nick says:

    I still disagree about the monogramming, but that’s a personal opinion. Perhaps it is a matter of which country you live and work in. From a UK perspective, to emblazon items with monograms would probably be sneered at. (Although we are a sneering bunch over here…!)

    As for the naked cowboy, I still think it was a poor example. A lot of people read these blogs for specific style tips to make them stand out rather than a generic statement that wearing something different makes people remember you.

    Your reply to my first comment was much more useful than the blog itself.

  4. Chris Hogan says:

    Ha! Well, the British may sneer but we do have Donald Trump, so you certainly have something over here at which to sneer. He’ll put his monogram, name and face on just about anything. Anyway, I think we’ll agree to disagree on the general monogram issue, but I will accede to your naked cowboy point.
    After re-reading the original column, my main point – which I made in a clearer fashion to you – was more general than intended. I try to vary my columns between specific “how to” discussions and more general commentaries. In this case I used a general example to make a specific point, but rather lost that point along the way.
    Thanks for bringing the discussion back to specifics. Now, I’m going to go and sew my initials into a few pair of socks!