Men: how to find your personal style

Upon meeting someone, our opinions are formed during the first tenths of a second. That fact alone, divined from a 2006 study on cognition by Princeton University, dictates that a sense of style is an asset that every man can benefit from.

Not only is the act of putting your best-dressed shoe forward a solid boost to your confidence, it also lets others know you're serious about making a good impression.

With the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival under way, the subject of style will be a hot topic around the water cooler.

Be a man with a plan

One of the first steps to winning at men's style can seem the most counter-intuitive. That is, find someone else whose style you admire and see how they do it.

Pick out a celebrity, athlete or even a designer whose choices intrigue you and visualise yourself wearing something similar.

Some see persistent envelope-pusher David Beckham as the perfect example of modern style; others gravitate towards the more casual, yet still sharp choices of Ryan Gosling.

David Bonney has worked as a professional stylist for more than 13 years and is responsible for curating this year's GQ Australia Menswear Runway at the Melbourne Fashion Festival.

His advice to style-seekers is to not only spy out the well-dressed men in the headlines, but to mine social media sites such as Instagram to see what fellow gents are wearing.

"I would suggest [to a client] to definitely look at 'street style' shots to get an idea of what you like," Bonney says.

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"Then from there, we would prune that back to your favourite looks and see where these could apply to your lifestyle, such as work and social life."

Start slowly

Being stylish doesn't translate to jumping on every trend thrown on a catwalk or shown in an editorial.

Designer Arthur Galan has been at the forefront of Australian menswear for more than 15 years. Known for his mix of classic suiting and innovative prints, he suggests that while men should keep an eye on trends, the focus should be on how it can work for them.

"Trends are important, but rather than going out and buying a whole new wardrobe, introduce elements of it slowly," he says.

"You don't need to go out and buy that über statement check suit. Start with just a shirt or a T-shirt and see if it works for you."

Inside out

Where men struggle most is to put it all together The answer, Galan says, is to work from the inside out. "I always start with the shirt," he says

"For me, this is the starting point and then you work your way out from there. If you're going somewhere a bit more casual, choose denim and a sneaker to match that shirt and then decide on a belt to add some details."

Both Bonney and Galan emphasise that the most important detail of all is getting the right fit.

"There is a way that clothes are supposed to fit," Bonney says. "For a long time guys thought you just bought something and then put it on.

"For example, guys carrying a bit of extra weight tend to just buy bigger in size. But the reality is, a tailored look is much more flattering. Structured shoulders, and even bringing things in a bit at the waist will create help create that flattering V-shape."

Galan agrees. "Fit is always the key to looking good and a man in well-fitting clothes exudes confidence.

"Whether you're a size 32 or 36 waist, you can throw on a black suit with a crisp white shirt and look the money."

Finishing details

All that's left is to observe a few minor points that can add so much more to any outfit.

  • A signature fragrance is a great way to leave a lasting impact and add additional nuance. Don't saturate; two shots to the chest, no more and no less.
  • Whether a pocket square, a nice watch or even a tie-pin, accessories show you pay attention to detail. To begin with, stick to one detail (although a classic timepiece always adds polish).
  • Footwear can be the pin that pops your stylish balloon. Well looked-after black Oxfords, brown brogues and white trainers are the perfect trio that work with every outfit combination.
  • A good barber or hair stylist knows how to make styles work for you. Schedule a visit once a month.

The Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival runs until March 22.