What does confidence look like?
Since one of the reasons I started this blog was to help guys build self-confidence through their style, it’s a question I should probably address.
But as with many of life’s great questions – Why are we here? What does it all mean? Why do they keep making seasons of Jersey Shore? – the query may sound simple, but the answer is deceptively more complex.
For instance, if you Google “what does a confident guy look like” you’ll find that the world’s greatest search engine seems to think self-confidence means putting on a suit and adjusting your shirt cuffs in a stock photo:
Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for making sure your shirt cuffs are on point. (I did, after all, choose a logo for my blog that’s basically an illustrated version of these bozos.)
But I also know that most of us don’t wear suits anymore, and it would be silly to assume that the only guys who look and feel confident are the ones who do.
Get it Your Shit Together, Google!
So why can’t Google’s algorithm nail down what a confident man looks like? Simple: because confidence looks different to everyone.
Sure, there are some fundamental male body language cues that convey power, dominance and confidence to the more reptilian sides of our puny human brains, and it’s important to understand what those are and how they work.
But if you’re looking to give your own confidence a boost through what you wear, then you don’t need to ask Google what confidence looks like—you need to ask yourself. (Deep, right? Did I mention I studied philosophy? [Brag.])
Creating Your Personal Style Profile
One of the best ways I’ve found to address the question of how to look confident is by creating and adhering to a Personal Style Profile.
“Hey Dave, quick question: what the hell’s a Personal Style Profile?”
– You, just now
Great question, you. A Personal Style Profile is essentially a template for your style. It’s the underlying, fundamental framework that makes it easy to assemble your wardrobe, choose your haircut or navigate any of life’s myriad other style decisions.
Your Personal Style Profile is the paradigm in which you feel the most comfortable and confident.
Let me put it this way:
Imagine a good friend of yours is describing you to someone you’ve never met. The stranger asks your friend, “How does he dress?”
You friend, of course, isn’t going to describe every item of clothing you own. They’re going to give a broad, shorthand description that captures the essence of your style and allows the stranger to paint a picture in their head.
What two or three words would you want your friend to use as shorthand to describe you?
Maybe it’s something like “Don Draper-esque.” Or you might be going for a “modern cowboy” look. Or maybe it’s “fashion-forward scientist,” “Japanese DJ,” “Savile Row gentleman,” “K-Pop all star,” “hillbilly hipster,” “CEO-chic” or any of a thousand other possibilities.
Your Personal Style Profile is whatever fashion, style or archetype most inspires you; it’s the overall look that makes you feel the most comfortable and confident.
Why Define a Personal Style Profile?
The truth is that whether you take the time to define your profile or not, you’ve got one.
Though some of us may spend more time thinking about how to look confident than others (cough, guilty, cough cough), we all have certain influences and style inclinations that we associate with confidence.
Exactly who you’re influenced by will of course be unique to you and your own situation. But no one lives in a bubble – except early-00s’ Jake Gyllenhaal, obviously – and no one is immune to these influences.
Your own Personal Style Profile may stem from authority figures in your life, movie stars you see on screen, your colleagues and peers or any of umpteen other sources. But one way or another you’ve developed some sense of what you think confidence looks like.
Taking time to devote deliberate thought to this will help crystallize it in your mind and help you come up with an overall look that feels authentic and comfortable—both of which go a long way toward answering the question of how to look confident.
This can be a personally revealing exercise too, as it forces you to question your influences and determine which of them you truly want; what look really speaks to you on a visceral, gut level?
Do it Right, Do it Once
While determining your Personal Style Profile may require a little thought and effort, the good news is that, in all likelihood, you’ll only have to do it once. The Profile is meant as a template, a broad and overarching set of guidelines, rather than a blueprint, which is specific and precise.
Throughout your adult life you’ll no doubt go through hundreds of different pieces of clothing, and your tastes will vary over time. You’ll also likely go through phases where you prefer one look over others, for better or worse. (Many of my friends still revel in reminding me that my sweater vest phase was decidedly for worse.)
But in all likelihood, you’re not going to make too many wholesale changes to your Personal Style Profile – not many guys switch from the “Wall Street Titan” look to “Modern Goth,” after all – so chances are good that once you put in the time to define your profile, it can guide you for the rest of your life.
Invest in Yourself
How a Personal Style Profile Can Save You Money
Taking the time to define your Personal Style Profile may seem like an unnecessary chore, but it’s actually more like an investment.
In one sense, it’s a monetary investment. I don’t know about you, but in my younger days I wasted a lot of money on clothes I erroneously thought I had to have.
Sometimes I would see a certain look in a movie and just get obsessed with it. On other occasions, I would let salespeople talk me into shit I knew deep down I didn’t need. (Ohhhhh, so that’s why they have attractive women working in the menswear department. I literally just got that.)
But now that I have a well defined Personal Style Profile, shopping is a lot easier. Do I still sometimes make impulse purchases? My closet full of shirts in a plethora of very slightly different shades of blue would suggest yes.
But I never buy things that I know I’ll only wear once or twice or get tired of after just a few months. In fact, I never buy a piece unless I know how I’m going to wear it, and I can reasonably expect that I’ll get at least a few years worth of use from it.
How a Personal Style Profile Can Save You Time
And my Style Profile hasn’t just saved me untold dollars; much more importantly, it’s also saved me a ton of time.
Previously I would wander around a mall or department store for hours, indecisively trying on every manner of clothing. Do I want a super-bad ass motorcycle jacket or a friendly and approachable cardigan? Should I drop a few hundred dollars on leather dress shoes, or just pick up a pair of Chuck’s and embrace my inner skater?
And then once I made up my mind, I would have to start the deliberations all over again to choose a color…
No more. Now that I know my Personal Style Profile, I can tell right away whether or not a piece is in my wheelhouse. And while I try to diversify my color options – again, I’m still guilty of overdoing it on the blue, for which you can probably blame these guys – I also know that there are some colors that just don’t fit with the look I’m going for. (Sorry, pink. It’s not you, it’s me.)
Personal Style Leads to Personal Confidence
But most importantly, because I now have a dresser and closet full of clothes that were specifically chosen because they fit my own Personal Style Profile, I know that I can look and feel my best every time I leave the house. (Even if I’m wearing a [email protected]¢&ing sweater vest!)
Create Your Own Personal Style Profile
Creating a Personal Style Profile is easy, empowering and a hell of a lot of fun.
Enter your email address below and I’ll send you a free PDF checklist and guide, Create Your Own Personal Style Profile, to help you cultivate your most confident look.
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Irreverent Gent founder Dave Bowden is a men’s style specialist, an Amazon bestselling author, an unrepentant introvert, a (patient, if long-suffering) Toronto sports fan and the husband of a wonderful (and fortunately much more patient) wife.