A few years back I embarked on a journey to get more “fashionable.” A small part of it was driven out of a breakup with my very fashionable ex. Like all guys who try to scapegoat away their own shortcomings, I blamed my nubile fashion sense and unhealthy life habits like smoking and not excercising . I probably evolved a little bit out of the whole thing just due to those two small changes. The other, and much larger part of my fashion quest was professional.
Dressing business casual was damn hard for me, and it had wore on my self confidence for a while. When I got my first job out of undergrad, I would have to grab button-ups from my dad’s closet to fit in at the office. I was young, trying to make a positive impression to my executives, and for some reason I just felt dumb doing it while wearing my cargo pants and hoodie. As a marketer, I’m often talking to clients about the importance of brand appearance, and my personal brand needed an upgrade.
At first, I was immediately and thunderously discouraged by the sheer amount of clutter in the marketplace. Not only was there too much for me to wade through, I didn’t feel as if anyone had any credibility. Take skinny jeans, for example. I will never wear those things. Some guys can pull them off. I am not one of those guys. Something about cloth being that closely knit to my nether region made me briefly revert back to my cargo pants. I’m a big reader so GQ and Men’s Vogue helped a lot, but at the time I wasn’t prepared to hold my drinking budget hostage to monthly wardrobe updates. I also quickly realized that I had no eye for what jived and what didn’t. There were days when I felt like my best outfit consisted of blue dockers, an equally blue button up shirt and a just-as-equally blue v-neck. A good buddy told me I dressed like a janitor.
Fast forward 4-years and I still wouldn’t consider myself fashionable. Catch me on the street and you’ll more than likely see a tall dude wearing jeans and a button-up. In the summertime, the sleeves might be rolled. Other than that very slight heat based augmentation, my day-to-day style is pretty much set in stone. But I’ve made massive strides.
For me, 12Fold is my small contribution to guys like me who want help building the personal, professional brand that we struggle to build after college. Rightly or wrongly, we live in a society that judges us on first impressions. A pocket square isn’t going to single handedly turn you into the envy of the cigar bar, but it embodies a lifestyle decision you make to value your appearance and how that appearance impacts other areas of your life. That’s why I wear my square.