Learning to dress for success is not rocket science. Still, for many men, knowing how to make their wardrobe work requires more than just which tie goes with which suit.
Previous generations of men had a simpler decision-making process: a couple of dark suits, white shirts and coordinating ties. Look at the ’60s sitcom “Bewitched,” for example – Darrin Stephens and Larry Tate always were impeccably dressed.
Today’s gents have considerably more choices on how to present their own personal style. For some, it may be the traditional suit and tie … but others may opt for a more casual look, while some prefer a “trendy” wardrobe.
Whatever the look, Oklahoma City has a number of options for obtaining diverse elements of style.
What’s in Your Closet?
Image consultant, personal shopper and style coach Kevin Samuels said style and fashion have been his passion for as long as he can remember. Samuels works one-on-one with clients, helping them develop their own personal sense of panache.
“I have worked with clients who have budgets ranging from $45 to $40,000,” Samuels says. “It just really depends on what look they are trying to achieve.”
One of the first things Samuels does is go through his client’s closet, asking them about each item and whether they have worn it within the past 12 months. If the answer is no, that item is gone.
“Typically, most people don’t wear 70 percent of their wardrobe,” he says. “I suggest going through and getting rid of anything that may be just taking up space. And those clothes that remain can help simplify your wardrobe choices. I also have a ‘nostalgia’ category. Perhaps you have a Thunder T-shirt signed by Russell Westbrook. You may want to keep those items but not necessarily wear them all the time.”
Samuels suggested starting with shoes and working up. Anything that is no longer functional should go. It’s equally important, he emphasized, to take care of the items that remain.
“In the words of Joan Crawford, ‘no wire hangers,’” he says with a laugh. “I also recommend using cedar shoe trees. The average foot perspires about a half a pint of sweat a day, so it’s important to keep them smelling fresh.”
Your style is your brand, according to Samuels. In the first 11 seconds of meeting someone, judgments are made about your education, financial status, sexual orientation and a number of other factors. Putting your best foot forward, so to speak, makes a big difference in how others perceive you.
“I believe in fit over fashion,” Samuels says. “It is very important to have a good tailor, one who knows how to make the clothes fit the man. Dressing for success is all about projecting an air of confidence, and that is important to all of us.”
At the end of a busy section of Nichols Hills Plaza sits Spencer Stone Co. The high-end men’s clothing store offers fine suits and fashion-forward pieces for the discerning gentleman. But don’t be misled by the term “high-end” – Spencer Stone is anything but a stuffy, old man’s store. Stone opened his shop in 2003, and according to his website, he “blends East Coast tradition with West Coast vivacity.”
“Having a sense of style is akin to having good taste,” Stone says. “It conveys an appreciation of balance and harmony. Color and fabric choices are subjective, but fit and form are rarely disputed. A man who has a true sense of style causes those in his audience to respond in a positive way. Whether he is in sales or management, or frankly any capacity, he needs his audience to stop and say, ‘Let’s see what this guy has to say.’ Style helps get his audience listening.”
Putting together a wardrobe takes practice. Trying new things will elicit responses, Stone said, some positive and some negative.
“This helps create a comfort zone for the wearer in which to hone their style,” he continues. “A professional clothier can help limit those negatives by giving parameters to the consumer, based on their physical needs, as well as those parameters created by the arena in which they operate.”
Stone says each customer is different, and he provides advice based on each one’s particular needs. It takes a fair amount of time getting acquainted and consulting, but he can help build a wardrobe that can be utilized to its fullest. Sometimes he may encourage a client to step outside the box when the opportunity presents itself, but never presses the issue when it comes to a professional image.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to ensure my customers are well served,” Stone says. “I am always available to help with any needs, whether it is advice or emergency clothing needs. My cell number is on my card, and I’m always open, theoretically.”
The bottom line when developing your own personal style is to take baby steps.
“Confide in your inner circle and listen to your friends, because a true friend should always tell you when you look ridiculous,” Stone smiles. “Also, if you bought that thing they’re calling ridiculous from me – bring it back!”
Billed as Oklahoma City’s premier men’s style and culture event, Evolve OKC is planned for this fall. Taylor Hanna, owner of The Clad Stache, is putting the event together as a way for our city’s clothiers and stylists to showcase their services.
“I don’t know if it’s a lack of education when it comes to clothing,” he says, “or maybe a lack of enthusiasm about buying clothes, or a fear of looking properly dressed. I feel like the younger generation doesn’t know who our expert clothiers are and what they do. This event gives them a chance to show the way a suit should fit, what style is all about and those classic pieces every man needs in his wardrobe.”
Evolve OKC is geared toward anyone who is interested in learning more about how to develop their own style. The event features a fashion show and an educational piece about how to put together your own look, in addition to a cash bar, hors d’oeuvres and a special whiskey tasting as part of the evening’s activities. Find Evolve OKC on Facebook for details.