How to Expand Your Style Comfort Zone | Part 2: The Statement Piece

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.

You can refer back to part one here or jump ahead to part three here.

cover photosIf you’re interested, I’ve compiled the entire 3-part series into a handy PDF that you can download for free, print and read at your leisure. Simply enter your name and email and I’ll send it right away.

How To Expand Your Style Comfort Zone: Making a Statement | Gentleman Within

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.

statement pieces
The key is to keep things simple, whether it’s a power necktie, a colorful, patterned sock, or a tan oxford.

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.

Ready?

Let’s go.

3 Statement Pieces to Start Experimenting with Now

statement pants
Shorts and pants in warmer months can be lighter and brighter, while pants during cooler months can still be rich with color

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.

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

statement socks
Bespoke Post does it right with these subtle color and patterned sock options, perfect for fall

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.

A photo posted by SprezzaBox (@sprezzabox) on

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.

Natostrapped for the summer. #natostrap

A photo posted by khoi n. ? (@lifeaskhoi) on

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:

  1. 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
  2. Comfortable: The nylon and leather straps are soft, yet durable
  3. Inexpensive: Crowne & Buckle or Cheapest Nato Straps has them for as low as $9 with discounts all the time
  4. Durable: Made of synthetic fibers, originally developed for military divers, will be sure to resist wear and tear

That looking forward to fall, don’t want to say goodbye summer, feeling…⌚#gw

A photo posted by khoi n. ? (@lifeaskhoi) on

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:

  1. There is a hierarchy to the level of statement being made
  2. There is a relatively small difference in statement levels—in other words—the pieces are not competing for attention.

How do you make a statement? ?

A photo posted by Gentleman Within (@thegentwithin) on

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.

So what are some of your go-to statement pieces? Share in the comments below.

  • Cristian Reyes

    Great advice and tips on clothing. Will definitely be coming back here.

    • Appreciate that! Glad to hear that you’ll be sticking around.

  • nickie burke

    Great advice, thank you for the tips

  • ClickClick

    I just found your site and I really like it. A good watch is a great statement piece.

  • Jennifer Heintz

    Statement Pieces can be a great pair of cuff links. Nothing like a well dressed man with links!

  • BaileyDexter

    I just sent this link to Hubby, I keep trying to explain the statement piece to him. You covered it perfect!! Thanks!

    • Thanks Bailey! Glad you enjoyed reading. Hope he checks it out too!

  • SCOTT BRUNSKILL

    Statement pieces are a must when out to present well….I’m old school and a watch and cufflinks always add style

    • I’d have to agree with you there. Even the littlest piece can make the biggest statement. A simple watch paired with some clean cufflinks can set you apart from the crowd. cheers!

  • Ali Haider

    Watch is a nice statement piece.Thanks Baily you explain it qute nicely.

    • Agreed. Watch is one of the simplest ways to make a statement while being functional at the same time.

  • Melanie Corning

    These are really good tips and fashion advice is always helpful

  • Thea Kleynhaus Lennox

    wow this is so awesome

  • Cathleen King

    Nothing beats a guy who is clean cut and knows how to impress.

    • Most def. One’s style says a lot. Doesn’t take much to impress these days, given so few who actually care about their appearance!

  • Laura

    These are some great tips. I’ll have to show it to the hubby!

    • Awesome, Laura…Glad so many women want to share with their man!

  • Mark

    Very nice, and good points in this article. I have a journalist friend whose signature statement pieces are his unusual dress socks, paired with conservative suits that are “de rigeur” in the halls of legislature where he practices his craft.

    • Thanks Mark. I appreciate your comment. It’s such an easy way to add a bit of flair and personality. It can be an effective contrast when paired with a more conservative suit. How about yourself? Any brightly colored or patterned socks in the rotation?

      • Mark

        Just this year started with some patterns, as well as couple of pocket squares and tie bars. I love tie bars that are optical illusions, becoming something else when seen up close, and the reactions can be conversation starters.

        • So great to hear that you’re implementing some of the things I mentioned in this article. Hmm..I haven’t thought of tie bars as optical illusions before. Guess I don’t see too many in my area. But I’m usually the only one wearing them at work. It’s nice when someone notices the little details. It’s good knowing there are those of us who have an appreciation for style.

  • MPaula Whelan

    I had to look up Temple University as I had not heard of it. (I’m Canadian in case that is an acceptable excuse.) I have worn a tie on occasion and love to wear cuff links. I had a beautiful pink shirt that needed them. I wonder what happened to that shirt?

    • Ahh, okay, makes sense. As a Canadian, I wouldn’t expect for you to know Temple. It’s not a huge name, beyond the North East. Our football program performed exceptionally well last year, so that helped garnering in more attention. But even out west, not many know of or heard of it.

      When you wear ties do you always pair them with cufflinks? It makes for a classy combo if you ask me. Perhaps, you’ve gotta pick up a new pink shirt! 😉

      If you entered the giveaway, good luck to ya!

  • Mindy Bel

    What a great articles! Thanks!!

  • Allyson Becker

    I definitely think most men should take baby steps. Great tips!

    • Thank you, Allyson! As with anything in life…in order to get good at something we must “crawl before [we] ball” as Kanye said.

  • vickilorenz

    Very good tips that all men should be using! Thanks for sharing them.

    • Thanks Vicki! Just trying to help any way I can, one article at a time.

  • Brandon Sparks

    I love all your stuff. Thank you so much..