“Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.” – Epictetus

Ok so you may remember my last post on the concept of your personal style and your avatar. This post will outline a plan to bring your personal style up to master level.  Once again, this blog is not about fashion trends on some catwalk, this is about your own personal style and it being congruent with your personality.

Step 1: “Know thyself”- Plato


(photo: http://tinyurl.com/a4ke34k )

Plato’s words ring true here as this is the foundation of the new you. Everyone has clothes they feel comfortable in and this varies from person to person, I myself prefer to wear more tailored clothes, rocker type clothes such as boots , leather jackets, etc. I feel comfortable in these clothes as they reflect my personality, be it musical choices or just congruence with my personality. If I was to go out tomorrow night, wearing hip hop clothes or preppy/sporty clothes, it would be obvious to everyone that I’m uncomfortable in them and as such, it is not congruent with my avatar or the image that I should be projecting. However, when I am in a suit, it might as well be a second set of skin. I look relaxed and (hopefully) look good to other people.

So the first part of this change is to take a long hard look in the mirror and realise what you want your clothes to say about you, what you want people to think when they see you. We want your natural personality to radiate from you in all aspects and especially in your clothes. Grab a pen and a piece of paper and ask yourself the following questions and jot down some answers. I find it best to turn off or avoid any type of distractions (i.e. phone, iPod, background noise) and go somewhere where you can relax and spend some alone time with your mind

Who are you? What roles do you play in your life? In your career?

Example: I am adventurous, fun, going places, etc.

Roles examples: I’m a musician, artist, a student, an athlete, a businessman, etc.

Knowing your roles is very important because it is what you represent every single day.

What do you represent? What principles do you live by?

Example: Being adventurous, being open-minded, I value excellence over mediocrity, I value taking smart risks, I value hard work, etc. (try list ten values or life principles)

What is your vision and purpose for your style? This is where you set your overarching target and the purpose behind your image transformation.

Examples: Communicating my best self through my image, to define my look, feel great, and enjoy the process, and so on.

Once you are clear on whom you want to be and what characteristics you want to portray, you can begin to translate all of it into your image.




Step 2: “Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it’s the sincerest form of learning.” – George Bernard Shaw


(Photo: http://tinyurl.com/aswlfdk)

So you have your list of your core values and personality, what now? I truly believe that the above quote by G.B Shaw is the most appropriate quote in terms of starting out getting your  new look sorted.  I would recommend creating a folder on your computer and label it STYLE and start saving pictures of cool clothes or looks you find online. Inspiration is all around you, from the websites of Esquire, GQ or even better, Styleseek which I have discussed before or Lookbook.nu, to movie screens to people where you live.  Your job at this stage is to basically copy these people and try understand what items look good together ( for example, the always stylish basic white v neck tee and dark blue jeans combo).

(Photo: http://tinyurl.com/bj5o87y )

The pictures you see in GQ and Esquire, these stars have professional stylists to make them look good so in turn you mimicking their look makes you look good.

I’m not saying you need a $600 pair of jeans exactly like the picture but you can always emulate the style if it’s congruent with your personality at a more reasonable budget and slowly build up a few looks and outfits that should serve you well as you progress. Check out my beginners guide to get you started or the Zen pinterest board.

Step 3 :“The Devil is in the details, but so is salvation.” – Hyman G. Rickover




(Photo: http://tinyurl.com/b6me3c7)

So you’ve slowly got a few outfits built up in your wardrobe, got a few compliments about your style or how well you look, now it’s time to up the game even more.  You have got the basics down; your style folder has done its job because know all those looks are swimming around your subconscious and you know what works for your personal style. You are now what we call proficient but as the saying goes “the devil is in the details” so let’s jump straight into bumping up your style once more.


For the love of god when you are buying stuff try them on, a medium in one shirt does not mean you are a medium in another. Clothing should not be too baggy or too tight as shown below. The clothes should skim along your body.




(Photo: http://tinyurl.com/abcdxaj)


A key part of this journey is to expand your comfort zone in one sense (better dressed) but also to step out of it every now and again.  This is where congruency comes in- head to some of the clothing shops you don’t normally visit and just try on a few different items you would never have tried on when you started this change. These might be something as simple as a pair of dress shoes for the sneaker heads or something as outlandish as a bright coloured blazer or pair of chinos for the colour neutral guy. Next ask the lovely sales people what they would recommend to go with said item – they are there to help and even if they know nothing, they will rattle off something that was outlined in their sales guides (they are trained to sell so don’t doubt they have a guide that will put similar clothes together. We even have one in wine retail.)

These statement pieces will make your outfit stand out from the mass market buying crowd. For example, looking at the image above, the statement pieces I see are the bright coloured tie, the matching coloured pocket square, the interesting suit design, the accompanying bracelets and watch, etc.  If you stand him in the middle of a crowd of regular people wearing basic navy suits, he clearly will stand out, and that is what you should aim for. However, it’s got to still remain stylish, you can’t just pick bright pink pants, a camo jacket, and a load of glow sticks; you are not a clown, you are a stylish MAN, remember that.



Step 4: “For the loser now will be later to win, for the times they are a-changin.” – Bob Dylan

Remember that time when you wore terribly fitted clothes and looked like every other person out there struggling to buy over-priced t-shirts that are out of fashion in a month? Look at you now, with your fitted shirt and your stylish brogues, projecting your confidence and personality out for all to see.This journey might take four weeks or four years but the important thing is you have decided to take it and improve your overall look by modelling stylish people, wearing the right sized clothes and standing out from a background of mediocrity. The final stage refers to mastery but the word in itself is a lie- there is no such thing as perfection as perfection is a perception of the mind and as such, your idea of perfection and mine will vastly differ.

The best thing you can do know is to strive to continue your great work and self-improvement through a number of ways;

People watch

it might sound creepy but keep your fashion sense on form by constantly watching people; break down outfits that people are wearing, recognise statement pieces or colour co-ordination, or even better- what you could do to improve the overall look.


Continue imitating new looks-

fashions trends change but style is eternal. However, it’s nice to know when the next big thing is actually the best old thing. For example, those who take after the more tailored variety, like myself, were overjoyed in the last five years because shops had suddenly decided fitted blazers/suits/waistcoats/1920’s style was the next big thing in fashion trends. The reason was due to the cultural significance of shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire. As such, the different price ranges were filled with tailored looks from Primark to Burtons to H&M right up to the catwalks of Milan.  Take advantage of these fashion forays into your core style and personality.


Finally, one of the core ideas of this blog and its author is the idea that information is power and as such we have a duty to ourselves to spread the information out there for the benefit of everyone and that’s what I aim to do. So when you hit this level of style ‘mastery’, why not give some of your friends some pointers on how to up their style game. One stylish man walking into a bar gets noticed, six stylish men walk in and it’s a party!




As always, share among the stylishly challenged men in your lives and feel free to add your opinion down below in the comments.


4 Responses to ““Know first who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.” – Epictetus”
  1. Shane McEvoy says:

    Well done Dave, a thoroughly enjoyable read

  2. EVO says:

    Always a good read, Mr. Shine. Love the quote from Epictetus! Here are some points I thought of whilst reading:

    1) I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if the closet in that picture is ever MY closet, I can die a happy and accomplished man.

    2) On style: you make a great point about mimicking those whose style you find catchy and chic, right down to directly copying their outfit at first, then expanding on the general rules of fashion and style that you have picked up in assembling those first few outfits.

    3) Also on the topic of developing a style: everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, and it can help to consider potential differences between you and the style model you’ve selected. Johnny Depp has his own style that fits him, his body type, his facial structure etc, and it varies significantly from Jason Segel’s style, as it well should.

    4) Finally, regarding fitting clothing: even thought I have made a point to find the best possible fit in the store, I take my nicer items (suits, blazers etc) to be altered to fit even better than the generic S/M/L that comes with the fresh-out-of-the-store suit.

    Again, great post! It really is amazing what a bit of style tightening can do for you, both in terms of how women respond to you as well as how you feel about yourself. Keep it coming mate!


  3. Nicky says:

    What I’ve found is that the style icon you choose to follow, should have a very similar body shape to your own.
    I am of average height, but i’m quite skinny, so following the fashion of someone like Mike Tyson would simply not work. Justin Timberlake is a much better/sensible choice.

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