Next Level Style

Full disclosure: I am not anywhere near a fashion icon. 

That does not mean I don’t know what great fashion looks like or that I am unable to drench myself in trendy attire and make it look dope. What it does mean is that my style of dress is somewhere between trendy and affordable while blending my own sense of what looks good when I step out on the scene. When I step back to consider my slow evolution in style, it makes me consider if other 40-ish men have experienced the same journey. Which brings up another thought, when is a good time to decide to mature your style and elevate to the next level of dress.

Before you make assumptions that my goal is to tell you when to mature your wardrobe, understand that I am telling my story. I’m from the baggy pants era where men wore shirts that were two sizes too big and multiple layers of headgear including a durag and/or bandanna and a fitted baseball. Who can forget the jersey era? I haven’t. There is photographic evidence that I was a full-fledged member of the jersey squad.

As I reflect on my style evolution, I personally tie my style changes to body image and modified physique. If I feel good about my physical appearance, I tend to take more risk with my clothing. The funny thing about it is that I never really worry about the budget side of things. It has always been about the look and how good the clothes felt on my frame. I find it necessary to mix trendy styles with the right look. The magic is in the coordination of different garments, blending colors and patterns with the perfect footwear to drive the style home. No matter if I sought a baggy, retro look or a more fitted, form hugging look, my body type was my first consideration. But then there was a shift, once I achieved 35 years of wonderful life, I wanted to present a different image both personally and professionally.

Somewhere around the spring of 2015, I decided to take my health seriously including diet changes and more physical fitness. With the change in health, so came a change in my physical appearance. The hoards of clothing I’d collected over the years began to fit differently, everything was way too big. Even with a belt now, those baggy jeans that seemed to fit better in 2008 felt like an ocean of fabric, drowning my now thin frame. It was time to level up.

I started with my jeans and slacks (I still like baggy gym shorts), swapping them out 2 pairs at a time to achieve a fit that was neat and comfortable. Fast forward one year and many workouts later and it was time to revisit the wardrobe again. Intense training had slimmed my frame and, in my opinion, helped me fill out a shirt a lot better. Gone were the over-sized t-shirts, replaced by physique-accentuating gear. From head to toe, I found that the look was more appealing and fit in any environment. Whether heading to the office or out for a drink with the bros, my Next Level Style gave me a feeling of comfort and cool.

I firmly believe that all men go through style transitions, whether forced by work or wife, the change will come. Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs has frequently evolved his style to coincide with aging, success, and trends. I’d love to find out what sparks the change in others. For me, it’s all about the look!

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