You Are The Brand

A client ‘JP’ once came to me with a style dilemma.

“I work in an environment surrounded by much younger and fashionable men; there seems to be an unsaid enforced dress-code which pigeonholes me into looking like a school teacher. I want an outfit which doesn’t alienate me at work and allows a cool night out once the clock hits five”.

Well it was something like that.

It’s not the dilemma itself which I want to focus on here. It’s the intentions and motivations behind his sartorial desires. JP was dressing for others and not himself. Afraid of the impression he was giving at work and eager to give off an artificial flavour of cool; JP was willing to compromise on his typical style and fashion sense by asking someone like myself to completely work him over. Fortunately for him, that’s not the way I work.

I firmly believe we are each our own brand.

If you want to delve deeper, it’s an inescapable fact. Like any successful brand, we’re all unique. We carry our own DNA and identity which makes us just so. Do truly successful brands buckle under the pressure of competition? Do they copycat? Of course not! Successful brands analyse their identity, vision and roadmap to success. They innovate and find solutions to problems which avoid interfering with their goals. Is this sounding like advertising mumbo jumbo?

Put simply, if we don’t believe in change, the beneficial effects will never take place. Who we are as individuals is perhaps the only aspect of our lives that we have firm control over – provided we’re in a sound state of mind! Given this, our personality is our one unique asset when attracting the opposite sex. Granted, looks can be a short-term clincher; but ultimate engagement and desire comes well from within.

As individuals, it’s no surprise we give a lot less credit to ourselves when we face a daily confrontation of celebrity endorsements and lifestyles of the ‘rich & famous’. I constantly meet men who insist on styling their look and habits on cultural icons. This in itself is not always a bad thing, but when followed to the extreme you begin to wonder who the person is. I’ve met so many middle-aged men dressed in skinny jeans who explain how much they hate the style, fit, look and price-tag to their new drain-pipe denim pants; but insist it is an absolute if they have any chance of looking and feeling young and attractive to women. In reality, often they look older than they should and feel anything but young.

The answer?

You can probably tell I’m not an avid fan of ‘peacocking’ in its traditional sense. Many pages on Pick-Up Artistry communities and publications lend a lot of support to this approach. The beauty of the world we live in though is that we’re spoilt for choice.

Dress for who you are and hope to become – not what you think you should be. While I’d hate to deplete my client base by imparting this knowledge; you don’t actually need a style doctor if you’re willing to put in the effort and legwork. Do the research and learn about fashion. Don’t rely on single publications. I’ve been invited to speed-dating events as a half-time motivator and you can spot the two-dozen or so men who have relied solely upon a ‘wardrobe-basics’ piece in GQ for the look. What you end up with is a mish-mash of casual-formal outfits it may as well be a Matrix duplication. Take that approach and you even the odds for the rest of the women-hungry men out there. Give yourself a head-start.

Luckily, there are hundreds of reputable fashion blogs which dig deep into the heritage and authenticity of fashion brands, trends and products. It is through this very research that you can learn what styles you like and how they might be adapted to your own look. Leading online stores now offer feature articles, look books and trend research. This is what I call ‘dressing for tomorrow’. Get ahead of the game by developing a unique style that is intrinsically linked to the person you are. You’ll walk around owning your outfits and never feeling out of place.

We all need basics just as much as we need our idols. In fact, one of my first approaches when I meet a client is to get a gauge of who their cultural icons are, the music which appeals to them most, the films, and the advertising campaigns. I’ll even go so far as asking a client to visualise themselves in their own television commercial. Is it an honest interpretation of their style-sense or does the fantasy need to be nurtured into a reality?

…and so we come full circle back to JP. I identified several misgivings or to put it lightly; misinterpretations. You’ll hear the phrase ‘fashion faux-pas’ or ‘fashion rules’ often. Unfortunately as is proven every season, there is no such thing as an unshakable fashion rule. It’s not always black and white; otherwise we’d never have grey.

JP felt colour was unwelcome in the workplace so he isolated it from his wardrobe. Yet, JP’s apartment was full of colour. In fact, he was a pretty colourful guy! Yet, his outfit generally consisted of black. His attempt to blend into the background had failed him. Clothing bought for purpose and not fit/style, resulted in that very problem he first described. I was looking at my former primary school maths teacher.

I pushed JP on his decisions and found out he was defensive of the suit. Perhaps we were onto something. Upon further investigation, I discovered JP was a huge fan of the Mad Men television series. He loved deep autumnal colours and most of his favourite film stars were from the past. Musically, JP’s taste was eclectic, but with one congruence – the tunes were always chilled out. Gradually a new picture of JP was being formed – his fashion identity was breaking through. Why the hell did he dress like Steve Jobs? I asked him to watch the film A Single Mandirected by Tom Ford expecting to hear from him the next day. I received a message moments after the credits were running. ‘I LOVED IT! The style and filmography was incredible. Why did you ask me to watch it?’

JP now has a new wardrobe he is truly proud of. After a weekend shopping experience, JP rocked up to the office in a fitted deep brown hand-woven flannel suit, blue & grey tinted shirt and red check narrow tie. As an added optional flair; accompanied with a bright auburn pocket square tucked into his suit pocket and a waistcoat. He no longer looks like the old teacher and may not appear younger; but certainly suave, sophisticated, elegant and intriguing – and with that came a subconscious youthfulness. Just like his favourite characters in Mad Men. After work, he could ditch the blazer for a more suitable jacket or switch the shirt & tie combo for a bold t-shirt or sweater.

Did someone ask, “women?” He hasn’t enjoyed a bed all to himself for quite some time now.

D.L. Jay, Fashion Creative and Brand Specialist

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