What we choose to wear communicates a message whether we like it or not. Before we open our mouths and say a single word, our clothes have already spoken for us. This week’s topic is all about the statement piece and how to make a statement with style.
This is part two of the How to Expand Your Style Comfort Zone series where I go in-depth on ways to begin incorporating some common, every-day items, into your style rotation.
What is a statement piece?
It can be an article of clothing or accessory that’s bold and unique. It can make you stand out.
A statement piece lets you express your creativity and personality.
It’s how you wear a statement piece that makes all the difference.
Taking baby steps
In the beginning, you want to start small. Wear one statement piece at a time.
It’s not necessary to go crazy with statement pieces, especially if you are just starting to experiment. It defeats the purpose if you wear too many things competing for attention.
Once you feel comfortable with a particular statement piece, you can move on from there.
I’ll go over a few items that I think are good starting points.
3 Statement Pieces to Start Experimenting with Now
1) Colorful pants or shorts
First off, you can do it without looking like a pack of Skittles. Avoid neons or colors a construction worker would wear.
Wearing a pair of colorful pants or shorts can be done subtly and still provide a visual punch that’s pleasing to the eye. Make sure the rest of your outfit is relatively muted so that the pants make the statement.
And though it’s not imperative, being mindful of the season when choosing color is a good idea.
For example, a kelly green or teal khaki works better in the Spring and Summer. While mustard-yellow corduroy pants or a burgundy chino can shine during Fall or Winter.
Personal presentation is highly underrated. Your clothing sends powerful signals. How you present yourself is the single most important factor in what a stranger thinks of you. Best to be deliberate in what you wear and how you wear it. #nojeansjanuary #yellow #cords #brownboots #mensfashion #mensstyle #menswear
Why it works:
Yellow is harmonious with Fall and Winter months because it offers a contrast of brightness against the overall darkness of colder months. Plus yellow blends well with the fall foliage.
2) Subtly colorful and patterned socks
It seems that many guys at the start of their style journey begin experimenting with socks. Rightly so.
It’s one of the simplest ways to show personality. It also shows confidence in expressing yourself.
Maybe you’re used to wearing black, gray and white socks. That’s okay, but you’re depriving yourself of the wonderful world of colors and patterns.
If you think you can’t pull off vibrant colors or eye catching patterns, don’t worry too much, as this is one area that you can go crazy and you’ll be okay.
A general rule of thumb is to match your socks color to your pants. Reason being, it allows for a seamless transition from your shoes to your pants and it can also make you appear taller. But you don’t always have to. You want to avoid being too matchy-matchy. For example, matching the color of your socks to the color of your tie, pocket square and other garments you’re wearing. Unless you’re intentionally going for a monochromatic look, it’s no fun.
For now, I recommend starting with subtle colors and patterns like the socks above from Bespoke Post.
Why it works:
Clean lines are always a good look. Stripes effortlessly adds visual interest without looking like you are trying too hard. The contrast of the lighter blue against the darker blue just feels right. A clean striped or dotted pattern is a safe way to start expanding your comfort zone.
3) Colorful and cool nato watch straps
Summer’s behind us, at least according to Labor Day marking the “unofficial end of summer.”
Although traditionally worn during the summer, there’s no hard and fast rule as to when you can or can’t wear a nato strap.
Nato or Zulu straps are the original all-terrain, wet-dry watch strap. Made of a synthetic nylon fabric or soft, flexible leathers—they’re casual, but can still be dressed up. So you can wear it for a casual weekend or dress it up for a day at the office.
They’re available in virtually any color and in a variety of patterns so that you can mix and match like a boss.
If you’re a watch guy, then a nato strap is a perfect opportunity to break free from your more formal leather and metal straps.
A few more reasons why nato straps are awesome:
- Interchangeable: Quickly swap them in and out of your watch in seconds, simply thread the band right through the bars on your watch without the need for tools
- Comfortable: The nylon and leather straps are soft, yet durable
- Inexpensive: Crowne & Buckle or Cheapest Nato Straps has them for as low as $9 with discounts all the time
- Durable: Made of synthetic fibers, originally developed for military divers, will be sure to resist wear and tear
Why it works:
In this case, I’m dressing up the nato strap with a minimalist, white watch face with rose gold bezel and indexing. The stripes and pop of red on the strap give off elegant vibes all the while still feeling casual. The smart casual look is topped off with a tan, subtly patterned blazer and mid wash denim jeans.
Taking it a Step Further: Combining Statement Pieces
Now I’m going to contradict myself. At the beginning of this article I said to only wear and experiment with one statement piece at a time.
I still stand by that. In the beginning you want to keep it simple and start small until you feel comfortable enough to step it up a level.
With this example, I want to show that you can combine statement pieces and still have a well-put-together outfit that doesn’t scream “look at me!”
I believe that statement pieces can be successfully combined as long as two things are true:
- There is a hierarchy to the level of statement being made
- There is a relatively small difference in statement levels—in other words—the pieces are not competing for attention.
Why it works:
Navy and brown is a classic color combination. You can’t go wrong pairing the two. It’s classy yet remains relatively understated.
The neutral colors of the shirt and blazer lets the pocket square shine.
Proportion and scale allows for the pocket square’s smaller shell pattern to play well with the blazer’s big windowpane pattern.
Since the blazer and pocket square are patterned, I went with a solid knit tie to complement the pocket square.
As you can see, another piece has been added to the outfit. The owl tie bar is unique, it’s decorative, but also functions to keep the tie in place during a windy day.
The Final Statement
I hope I was able to illustrate how a statement piece can be utilized to compliment your style.
Thoughtfully selected statement pieces can help for you to expand your style comfort zone.
Don’t be afraid of bolder colors and patterns. Just as color and pattern can be used to instantly enhance the ambiance of a room, they can also amplify and awaken your personal style.
The key is being confident and knowing that you can pull it off.
In the third and final installment of this series, I’m going to talk about a simple strategy that you can implement right away to take your style comfort zone to another level.