Developing Real Personal Style

In this day and age, a lot of people want to develop their own sense of style. Yet almost no one really achieves it. A lot of people blame social media. Is that fair? Impart I think it’s true because of social media we are getting really self-conscious and we are desperately looking for positive reactions. Personal style is all about yourself…
But is it the only factor? No, I think there is another reason. Do we actually know how we can ‘achieve’ it? When I type ‘Personal style’ in my search engine I get all kind of lists telling me to copy this and that and to buy this and that ‘essential’. Is that personal style? Let’s dive in!

For all the guys just starting out and feeling too frightened by all the mistakes someone can make in the world called ‘classic menswear’. You may want to put that fright to the side and just start! Embrace that criticism, it means that you are learning. Without pain there is no growth.

What do I mean?
Well, life in the sartorial world starts with making mistakes. It means that you are learning. Without pain, there is no growth. So embrace that criticism.

Knowledge is key in this world. Don’t start by buying a ‘complete’ wardrobe and afterwards start to read some ‘stylebooks’ and coming to the realisation that your whole wardrobe doesn’t fit your body. I did it that way and I wish I had that money to spen it on something that did fit me.

So first start with some prior knowledge, ‘dressing the man’ by Allan Flusser is, in my humble opinion, one of the best books to start your journey with. While you may want to jump right in…keep my story in mind.

With that prior knowledge you run to the store and you buy some suff. When you get home you start to dress ‘nicely’ and it looks great! Well done. 

So you are dressing that way for a couple of months or maybe even a year. Then it kicks in, you feel that something is ‘wrong’. You don’t know what it is. Nobody can see it, yet whenever you leave your home in your perfectly chosen outfit there is some strange feeling. the feeling of: ‘am I doing it right?’

This is a voice you want to listen to, while everybody in your environment will tell you that you look the part, you feel despair. You watched all those ‘menswear’ YouTube videos telling you what the rules are. You are following those rules to the letter. So that’s not the problem.

This is crucial, don’t outvoice this. Because this voice is actually your inner-personal style starting to pop out! When you are not hearing this voice… don’t worry you didn’t experiment enough. Just keep acquiring stuff and wear it until you get it.

This all sounds really ‘guru-ish’ so let’s give a personal example.
When I started out trying to dress better, I watched a lot of ‘Boardwalk Empire’. In this series they wear bow-ties. I liked that look, it looks distinguished. So I bought a dozen bow-ties and started to wear them every day. Even when it was extremely hot/humid weather, I was rocking my bow-tie. I got compliments, and also some mockery. I laughed that mockery away, they didn’t know what style meant. I had read style- books and videos. So I clearly knew what I was doing.

I’m very happy that those outfits are lost too the past…

Well, not all… I really thought I was looking like a gangster from Boardwalk Empire…

At a certain moment in time, I got a strange feeling. Do you know that feeling when you are lying the whole time and somebody gets to know the truth and calls you out on it?

Well, that was the feeling I got. I didn’t feel comfortable with that bow-tie. I felt that I was telling a story that wasn’t congruent with myself. When I told my mom that I wasn’t going to wear that bow-tie she told me that it looked really good and that she was a bit sad that I would ditch it. So I kept wearing that bow-tie. Until it really felt strange and I started to wear something else. I instantly felt more comfortable with just a regular tie. It didn’t stand out, and I didn’t get a lot of compliments. Yet I felt better. That was me listening to my inner-voice and that was the first step to personal style.

This voice comes out every time you are wearing something for a couple of days/months. When it feels great and you like it a lot carry on. When you start to doubt yourself don’t ditch it immidiatley. Wait for a couple of monthes and then judge it again. When you are still feeling a bit iffy get ‘rid’ of it.

How many things did I try and ditch after a while? First of all: bow-ties, ill-fitting waistcoats, two-tone brogues, oxford bags, funny socks, Jeans (only for real work), etcetera. (basically everyting in the above picture…)

Some pieces did look really good though, they just didn’t speak to me.

The hard part is, listening to the voice of oneself instead of the voices of the people around you. That’s why a lot of people don’t start to acquire their personal style. It’s also the reason why a personal stylist cannot mimic personal style.

Or to use the words of Iris Apfel: “Most importantly, you have to be yourself, be who you are and take time to be open and honest with yourself. That is what it’s all about. If you don’t know yourself, you’ll never have great style. You’ll never really live.”

Good Luck!


  • Photo 1: Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire (BAMF style)
  • Photo 2: Arnold Rothstein in Boardwalk Empire (Fineanddandyshop)
  • Photo 3: Me…:(
  • Photo 4: Me…:)
  • Photo 5: Me…:)
  • Photo 6: Me…:0
  • Photo 7: Me…:]

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