This is my boyfriend. When we first met, he favored baggy clothes, dressing loudly or "peacocking" and wearing his favorite outfit - polos and 1990's gym shorts. One time I threatened to throw the gym shorts away and he said, "Don't do it! My mom had to work really hard to try and find those!" Ummm... yes. There is a reason she couldn't find them easily. NO ONE wears them anymore. He also had worn the same clothes for a very long time. This partly that wasn't his fault because finding clothes in Korea to fit him is next to impossible. But the fact was, I was very eager to update his wardrobe.
While I wrote these tips with my boyfriend in mind, that doesn't mean they couldn't also be used to jump-start a fashion transition for the resistant best friend, sister, mom or dad who could use a game-changer in their closet. Anyone who might who might need to spruce up his or her look now and then. Here's how I "got" my boo to step up his own style game.
1. Baby Steps - I never said, "Oh, your wardrobe is horrible. We must go out and change it NOW." (Although, I might have wanted to once or twice.) Instead, we first worked with the clothes he already had. My boyfriend actually has some great suits which he wore to work but that's about it. So when we would go out to dinner or drinks, I started suggesting he wear khakis and a polo, or cargo shorts and an oxford shirt. He saw how he got favorable attention not only from me but others. Pretty soon, I wouldn't even need to suggest anything; he was already more inclined to dress it up a little more.
2. Use Rationality - Whining, threatening or withholding affection will get you nowhere. Neither will negative remarks. The whole point was having Stephen dress nicer, not that he would feel worse about himself. Instead, I laid out the reasons why it would be beneficial for him. My reasoning (totally stolen from an advice column in my dad's Men's Health Magazine I had read years ago) was this:
- If he really doesn't care about the way he dresses, what difference does it make what he wears? If he wears clothes that I think look nice, he'll be getting more affection, kisses, and compliments from me. Sexy boyfriend = happy girlfriend = happy boyfriend. Meeow.
- Girls are better at fashion. We read up on magazines; we tend to know more of the trends and tricks of the trade. Use us as a resource.
- Besides his girlfriend being pleased, he also would reap other benefits. Typically, when you dress better, you feel better. You feel more confident and people respond well to that.
3. Call in the Ranks - My boyfriend trusts me, respects me, and understands that there are things I know about that he doesn't. But even still. Sometimes he just isn't going to be convinced initially. So I used my fashionable friends as extra resources. Guys aren't going to necessarily start a conversation about what they are wearing but my guy friends were quite easily persuaded to have a discussion about it. When one of our man-friends looked particularly sharp, I would point it out to Stephen. Also, when Stephen was looking on point, our lady-friends would shower him with compliments. And who doesn't like that?
4. Give Him Simple Rules to Follow - Stephen always said that he wanted to dress nicer, but just didn't know how. The whole world of fashion can be daunting to anyone - but especially someone who doesn't know the first thing about it. By showing him specific things that worked or didn't work, he was able to start following "the rules" by himself. For example, saying "I like/don't like that shirt" won't help him to pick a better shirt next time. Saying, "I like that shirt because it fits you nicely in the shoulders, isn't too big around your waist and the color matches your eyes" will be helpful.
5. Show Him the Possibilities - There were a couple things we stumbled upon in the stores that Stephen wasn't quite sure how he felt about. A striped henley shirt was something he had never worn but I knew it would be something he would like and get a lot of mileage out of. I created an outfit in the store for him to try on. The shirt went from something hanging on a hanger to being a part of a spiffy outfit on a studly man. I also found a few pictures of men in henleys on Pinterest. By giving him visuals, he was able to "get it" easier and faster.
6. When Shopping Set Clear Expectations - Let's face it, shopping isn't a lot of guys favorite pastimes. When you say, "Let's go shopping!" they just don't know what will happen down that rabbit hole. Seeing a long rack of pants he might have to try on seems really overwhelming. So I told him that we were going to try on 10 pairs of pants and then after that, we would go. Putting a time limit on shopping also helps. Having to grind through 2 hours of shopping doesn't seem as bad when you know can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Also, strike up an agreement before you go into the store and then stick to it. One more expectation to set is what you are going to buy. Knowing what specifically you are looking for will cut down on time.
7. Listen to Him - Stephen has his own fashion style, he just didn't know it. He liked to dress loudly because he felt it matched his loud, big personality. So I was able to use that information to help him find a stylish way of dressing with a lot of personality. We never got him anything he didn't feel comfortable in or didn't like. If he dresses better but doesn't feel like it represents him - what's the point? Also, during the whole experience I didn't try and push him too hard. If he didn't want to talk about his clothes and told me to (politely) shut it, I did. At the end of the day, fashion is supposed to be fun, not a cause for irritation in a relationship.
8. Enjoy Him Enjoying the Reactions - After the first time he wore his new clothes, Stephen excitedly told me a story about running into a friend. The friend said, "Dude! You look awesome in that shirt! Wow! You look so muscly and thin." And the stories don't stop there. But at this point, I start to. When Stephen wants my input, I'll give it. However now that he knows the rules, I let him do his own thing and let him take all the glory.
At the end of the day, my boyfriend didn't do anything he didn't want to. I can't make him do anything. And I don't want him to change. I love him for exactly who he is. I just wanted his outward appearance to be a better reflection of the funny, sexy, responsible, and intelligent grown-man he is inside. He was already receptive towards change. When he went back home this summer, a friend gave him a hard time saying, "Why are you wearing that button-up shirt?" His answer: "Because I'm an adult and want to look like one."
Have you had any experience helping out a boyfriend, friend or family member change their wardrobe? What tips do you have to add?
|My dog, Pepper, wanted in on the fashion action.|