I started a tumblr in an effort to focus and improve my personal style from the worst iteration of “business casual” that you can imagine. Before taking this approach, I would see a person on the street or a photo on the internet and see some aspect of their look that I liked, but I had trouble defining what I liked and figuring out how to get something out of it without purely replicating the look. I also sought out every “essential men’s wardrobe” list in existence (and still do). But I still didn’t have a clear vision of how to move forward.
However, after running this tumblr for a few months, I feel like I am making huge strides toward developing a personal sense of style that plays by most of the “rules” and doesn’t stand out too much, but still feels unique to my own aesthetic preferences. Here’s the process I followed. It might not work for anyone else…it definitely won’t correct bad taste:
- Don’t worry about anyone following you, ever. I consciously made this decision and it made me much less self-conscious about what I post.
- Follow tumblrs that post lots of photos of menswear. Try to find ~15 minutes a day to scan through your feed (get the Android/iPhone app and do it while you’re “indisposed”). Start reblogging photos you like…preferably ones with clothing you could see yourself wearing. Reblog photos based on the entire outfit, not just one element. Eventually, you’ll figure out which tumblrs you like and which ones you can do without. Un-follow the ones you can do without.
- Follow tumblrs that offer sage wisdom, even if the photos aren’t all that relevant. Rather than reblogging these types of posts, I recommend “liking” them.
- Every few weeks, skim through the photos you’ve reblogged. If you’re like me, you’ll see some that seem way out of place. Don’t be afraid to delete those posts…in fact, I recommend you do so. Once you have 20, 30, 40+ photos reblogged, go through and delete any photo that doesn’t have something in common with at least 2 other photos.
- You’ll probably start seeing some patterns in the photos you’ve chosen (see below). Keep reblogging with these patterns in mind.
- Next time you’re thinking about making a clothing purchase, skim through your tumblr. If you’re thinking about buying a bright purple paisley tie, but don’t see anything similar in your own tumblr, walk away. If you need something to keep your shoulders warm and you see lots of brown tweed in your tumblr, pull the trigger.
I’m still far from finished, and though I am getting closer to defining my style, it will take years to build my wardrobe in a responsible manner (e.g., a manner that will be allowed by my wife). That said, as I look through my reblogs (especially the more recent ones), I see a lot of:
- Navy and blue sport coats. A lot. Very few sport coats of other colors and practically zero brass-buttoned blazers.
- Texture. Hopsack, tweed, herringbone, suede, knits, etc.
- Classic Anglo/American shapes. I may be making this part up. Definitely nothing too Italian or anything resembling a sack suit.
- A bit of ruggedness.
- Burgundy ties.
- Place. Some of my favorite photos that I’ve reblogged have been set in great plaza, street, or cafe. This probably has nothing to do with the clothing, but it makes me happy.
You won’t see:
- Skinny high-water pants.
- Much fashion, if any.
- Trad. For a while, I thought my style was leaning that way, but I don’t think where I’ve landed can be considered trad.
- WIWT posts. I love seeing what other people wear, but there’s no need to post what I wore since, again, I don’t expect anyone to follow me.
I really wrote this for myself, to help me keep on track. However, if this helps someone that is where I was a few months ago, that's great. Just to get you started...
...here are some of the tumblrs that I follow for photos (there are many others out there, but a couple of these reblog dozens if not hundreds of photos per day, so it’s easier):
...and here are some of the tumblrs that I follow for wisdom: