Your teenage years and your early twenties are an exciting time in your life, you're developing as a man and you're starting to discover more about yourself.
It's at this point in your life than most men decide that it's time for them to start dressing sharper. They want to swap out the t-shirts for a dress shirt, but after years of dressing casually they don't know how to get started and they are worried that they'll get it wrong.
This is the most important time in your life, it's the time when you're making some of the most impactful decisions you'll ever make and dressing sharper will help you in whatever it is that you decide to pursue.
1. Ignore Fashion Trends
The biggest mistake that younger men make is to pursue the latest trends without understanding the basics of fashion. Trends, by definition, will come and go. By relying on trends you'll have to constantly be changing your wardrobe to keep up with what's fashionable.
Instead, if you choose to stick with timeless pieces, classic colors, reliable patterns and traditional materials, you'll always be fashionable. Although even basic items like jeans will change through the years, you can look back at younger photos of men who are now in their sixties and want to copy their outfits.
In the past year, pictures of a young Joe Biden began to trend . If you look at what he's wearing it would have looked great in the 21st century. They are classic, timeless pieces that will last for many years. By sticking to options like dark jeans, button-down shirts and leather shoes, you're always going to look sharp and fashionable.
2. Upgrade From Your T-Shirts and Hoodies
A tell-tale sign of a young man is that he's wearing a t-shirt without any layering. We won't go as far as to say that t-shirts always look bad, but unless you are strategic about using them and layering them, a dress shirt or button-down will look far better.
The safest move you can make is to set aside a few t-shirts that you'll use to workout in and then donate the rest to charity. Replace them with polo's, Oxford Cloth Button Down (OCBD) shirts and dress shirts.
Now that you've removed the t-shirts, it's time for the hoodies to go, too. Instead, you should look at cardigans, smart sweatshirts and cardigans. They'll serve the same purpose of keeping you warm and comfortable, but look much smarter with a shirt underneath.
3. Don't Be Afraid to Invest
It's hard when you're young, you don't have a lot of money and the last thing that you want to do is pay over $150 for a pair of jeans when you can get a $40 pair at H&M or Topman.
However, when you're ignoring trends and sticking with timeless pieces it's not as scary to invest a little more money. Basic pieces like a suit or dark jeans will last you for years to come, if you take care of them, and won't go out of style. Spending that little bit more will get you a higher quality product that will look amazing compared to the cheaper, trendy pieces that your friends are choosing.
Most outfits consist of a few core items and then small changes, but you're likely to wear the same jeans most days, one of a range of identical shirts in different colors and one of maybe two-pairs of shoes.
By investing in these core items you can improve all of your outfits very easily and you can create a large wardrobe with only a few expensive items. Instead of buying fashionable brands like Gucci, look for classic men's brands that have been creating the same products for years.
4. Make Sure that the Fit is Perfect
We've all seen a young man who has clearly borrowed his father's suit, even though he's wearing a lovely, expensive suit, it looks terrible because the fit is poor. A perfect fit can make even the worst outfits look halfway decent, by nailing the fit you'll instantly look better than 95% of other guys your age.
The most important thing to consider when you're trying a piece of clothing on is the fit. Even if it's the best looking piece of clothing you've ever seen and the fabric is super soft, with a poor fit, you'll still look terrible. Prioritize fit above everything and if in doubt, get your favorite pieces tailored.
On the topic of fit, don't fall for the trap that a lot of young men fall into of believing that slim and skin-tight clothing is what a good fit is. If I can tell what phone you've got in your pocket, that's not a good look. Don't be afraid to have some breathing room, but you want to avoid baggy. The ideal fit is when the clothing is hugging your skin, rather than drifting around it or stuck to your skin.
5. Don't Be Afraid of the Suit
There seems to have been a wave of fear and hatred surrounding the suit. It's reminiscent of the 70's, it seems that young guys don't want to feel like they are 'part of the system, man!'.
Don't be afraid of the suit, it's the uniform of a gentleman and should be worn with pride. As a young guy I've been caught out by not owning a suit and have ended up at a wedding event where I was the only person not wearing a suit.
As a young man looking for a suit you need to be careful with your decision. It's likely that you only have enough money to invest in one suit and this means you'll want to be very conservative and head down the middle of the road. Avoid pinstripes, fancy colors or tight fits. Sticking to a classic suit will be the safest option.
A dark navy or grey suit is usually the best choice for a first suit and will be applicable to the most occasions. Black suits are great too, but they are often too formal and look out of place at weddings and casual events.
Above all, make sure that the fit is excellent and be sure to take your suit to a tailor if your body shape changes. This will ensure that it always fits as it should and will keep you looking great in your armor.
6. Dress Well From Your Head to Your Toes
The old saying that you can tell what a man does for work by looking at his shoes still stands true. If you wear work boots it suggests you work in building, brown leather might suggest a professional but casual workplace, whereas black leather could mean you're a lawyer, business man or a banker.
Everybody loves to wear their running shoes, they are comfortable and easy to walk in, but they don't inspire confidence or make others admire you. If you want to dress sharper as a young man then you'll need to keep the running shoes to the gym only and wear a smart shoe the rest of the day.
A pair of leather dress shoes is an excellent investment and if they are comfortable, which they should be, you'll be happy to wear them all day long. If you're looking for something a little more casual then you should check out suede shoes and if you want something more casual still, a pair of chelsea boots or chukka boots are an excellent choice.
7. Buy a Watch That You'll Wear
As the popularity of smartphones grew it seemed that the amount of young men wearing watches fell. It's understandable if you think of a watch is a utility item that you use to tell the time.
However, because men have worn watches for centuries, they are part of our culture and they are something that we associate with powerful, strong men who can lead a company or a nation. Wearing a watch is an absolute must and if you don't, you'll feel like something is missing in your outfit.
A safe choice is a classic silver metallic watch with a large but simple blue face. If you're skinnier then you might look at a slimmer watch with a large white face and a leather strap. Finally, it's always a good idea to buy a NATO strap, they aren't expensive but you can throw that onto most watches and make them instantly casual.
8. Stay Confident and Create a Powerful Aura
As a young man you'll probably feel a lack of confidence. You might even have a case of imposter syndrome when it comes to wearing some of these dressier clothes, however, you need to understand that it all comes down to confidence.
If you step outside promising yourself that you'll present yourself as confident, even if you don't feel it, you'll soon begin to develop true confidence. When you do, you'll suddenly feel a sense of power.
Many men go through their lives without ever feeling powerful. Don't be afraid of feeling great, don't worry about what other people think and most importantly, don't judge yourself. You are who you are, now take the decision to make the most out of your life and become the best version of yourself.