Style

True Style Is About Looking Rough Around The Edges

Perfection is overrated.

BY Nick Sullivan | Mar 10, 2017 | Fashion

At Esquire, we often use reference photos from the past as guideposts in our attempt to define dressing well. In these candid moments, movie stars and rock gods are shot casually in their own clothes. No stylist cajoled a subject into wearing the latest label or poked a shirt collar into place. What you see is unalloyed personal style. 

Not so these days, when there’s an overwhelming temptation to preen ourselves to perfection. The explosion of street-style photography has only exacerbated that urge, causing an epidemic of men trying to selfie their way to sartorial nirvana, one precisely cu ed pant leg and puffed pocket square at a time. 

A former colleague of mine was always a stickler for a navy Savile Row suit, light- blue shirt and plain navy tie—the picture of reserved minimalism. Sharp. But he also made sure things didn’t look too perfect. The ends of his tie hung loose and separate, and they never, ever hit his waistband. A tie clip was anathema. The knot would skew an inch to the side, exposing the top button of his shirt. Shirt collars showed signs of fraying; one collar point refused to lie flat. His clothes were of the best pedigree, but the personality was all his own. 

It takes a while to discover that dressing well does not demand perfection. Instead, get the ingredients right and learn to let things go (even if you do so on purpose). Looking great while looking like you don’t give a monkey’s about it is the ideal to which we should all aspire.