StyleFILE: Finding your LOOK, Discover YOUR Style

StyleFILE: What’s Your Look?

Fashion is a crossroads of a wide spectrum of looks built on fundamental style.  There are only so many articles of clothing we can wear: pants, jeans, shirts, blazers, shoes – yet each clothing article can be creatively designed and incorporated into an outfit in a million different ways.

As I broached in the last StyleFILE report fashion is comprised of trends, some fashions may transition into a lasting style, fashion is geared towards seasonal looks, while style is fundamental – a foundation you build upon.  LOOK is the bridge between the foundation of style and the heartbeat flash of fashion.

Today we are going to do a snapshot overview of some basic foundational styles and the rules they adhere to.  Style Genre is a foundation for a diverse set of looks.  What is YOUR look?  Don’t be boxed in by one style genre – rather find inspiration from the diverse range of styles and looks surrounding you.  I work in a department store.  In preparing for this entry I spent my lunch break wandering around my store looking at varying designers – each have their own identity and brand that is identifiable.  Some brands are rooted in one specific style, while some brands are a crossroads of fashion statements that appeal to wide base of customers.  When creating your STYLE Identity – make sure it has your DNA in the look  – even if you are copying the outfit on the mannequin – that is okay – just make sure the look speaks to you as you incorporate it to your style.

Step into any clothing store and you will notice the great variety amid the striking similarity in men’s fashion.  Sounds like a paradox?  Truth is every brand in my store has pants and shirts…look-style comes from how basic articles of clothing transformed into a look, the clothing articles each have their own character communicating the thematic message of the piece – think of each article of clothing as a page in a chapter in a book – your outfit is a chapter in your book of style.  You want to create a story in every outfit – communicating who you are and also speaking to the occasion.  You don’t have to hang on every detail – rather keep theme and purpose in mind.  If you are going to the swimming pool you need swim trunks and a shirt, you don’t need a blazer and jeans.

Think of style as a CD compilation of all your favorite songs – you have rock, classical, urban beats and folk-Americana – each song speaks to your soul – your wardrobe is like that album – you can blend genres to create a look and you can have different outfits from varying style genres.  The total fabric of the wardrobe – your character and chapters is your style book.

Style Genres:

noun: genre; plural noun: genres
  1. a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.

A style genre is an artistic foundation that builds a classification/category of style.  Each genre has many sub-genres rooted in the over-arching them of the style.  Don’t forget style is art, the most brilliant art often comes in the most basic everyday places.  That is why thinking about color (remember the Trifecta) and layering is so important.  You build an outfit like a song with composition – a wardrobe is your clothing style symphony.

In this snapshot of STYLE Genres I am not going to include every single style genre in men’s fashion (don’t worry ladies – I will be talking women’s fashion soon!) Rather my approach is to give a Polaroid quick view of genres – consider the style and how it relates to your current wardrobe – what do you want to change in your wardrobe?  What do you like about a style look – what don’t you like?

We will continue to focus in on outfits and tips in the varying Style Genres.  Right now we’re focusing on the drums, we’ll layer in the rest of the fashion beats that create style genres in later reports.


Classic Style is tried and true fashion that has stood the test of time.  Classic Style looks good on most everyone and relies on simplicity with complex layering of color – Classic style is about quality, looking your best, rich texture and colors.  In spite of its conservative roots, Classic Style is one of the most diverse genres of clothing, because classic speaks to a variety of time honored traditions in fashion.  Classic has evolved from simply Brooks Brothers and Talbots to more cutting edge and bold looks.  Vineyard Vines is an example of the bridge between traditional classic prep and Coastal Island Prep or Southern Prep (although V.V. comes from New England its greatest following is in the southeast).  Vineyard relies on traditional concepts in prep and classic fashion, but they use bold bright colors – fusing southern prep traditions with maritime laid back classic of Martha’s Vineyard and Boston Proper prep.

When you consider classic style it is anchored by the likes of Ralph Lauren and J.Crew.  It includes a variety of sub-genres, with Modern Prep or New Prep, Southern Prep, Classy Cool and Traditional Classic being some of the main hues in the classic color spectrum. I am separating one of the main sub genres of Classic into its own genre style – City Style is just edgy and distinct enough (due to European influences) to stand on its on.

We’ll discuss different classic sub- styles in a future report with outfits ideal for spring flings and work events.  To me classic style is timeless, effortless and can be dressed up/dressed down and is quality.  Classic clothing influences all other clothing styles – including hip/hop urban to boho surfer (look at Ralph Lauren’s website and you’ll see this classic ideal brand has incorporated some more urban apparel like cargo shorts and hoodies – classic have span all style and is a beacon in any wardrobe) – let’s face it you just cannot go wrong with a nice pair of slacks and a blazer.  A pair of khaki shorts and a blazer always looks sharp.

Polo I Wool Twill Suit - Polo Ralph Lauren Polo Ralph Lauren - RalphLauren.comTraditional Classic – Ralph Lauren

Coastal Island Classic – think Vineyard Vines, and Tommy Bahama (TB has its own unique Island genre of clothing, but the line is highly classic in style)

Street Style: Street Style has elements of classic style but is free verse – if classic style is Shrunk & White English mixed with a hint of Latin, Street Style is hip to beat of the street nouveau cool.  Street Style is often bold and trendy, but still remains rooted in key elements of classic style.  Street Style is a sign of the times while still maintaining enough of a timeless element it doesn’t fall into fast fashion or a trend. Street style often includes layered looks – but it can be minimal and modern – Calvin Klein Jeans has a few Street Style pieces, while most of CK is Modern Minimalist.  This cutting edge blend of classic, modern and free verse is popular with twenty-somethings, touring musicians (who also love the rich textures of the Americana genre).  Because street style is homegrown it often comes from innovators in design – like Citizen for Humanity (made in America jeans) – which starts off with a regional following and grows.  To me Kenneth Cole and David Bitton-Buffalo are the essence of street style.

Bonobos (one of my favorite brands) is a hybrid of classic and street style…Bonobos use of colors that pop against chinos and jeans make it simple and dynamic clothing – ideal for city urbane who are wanting to have a flair of high fashion but still maintain the cutting edge classic hues of street style.

Street Style – think faded denim with distressed streaks or dark solid denim, cargo shorts and hoodies, graphic tees and darker colors – when color is incorporated it has rich tones that stand out.  Street style encompasses its own sub-genres of what is making waves in homegrown fashion.

Minimalist & Modern: Simplicity is the name of the game.  Less is more.  What you have you maximize in style.  Minimalist is not about being boring as much as having pieces that accentuate your features – it is a sharp sophisticated look that continues to gain followers.  In our merchandising practices at the store – minimalist concepts are even in with clothing fixtures – a ideal you can apply to your closet #messycloset/cleancloset.  Minimalist & Modern is classy and cool, simple and refined.  The king of minimalist modern is Calvin Klein.

Calvin Klein’s designs are rich in detail, yet simple, they have a lot of solid colors and their button downs are printed with barely there designs that add a bit of contrast in the wardrobe, just enough of a design to bring an outfit together.

Another department store brand that is heading in the M&M direction is Perry Ellis.  M&M fashion likes to incorporate geometric shapes that are subtle and unique – M&M has a clean, but not sterile look.

M&M is often slim cut – but it can look great on bigger builds – if the fit is right

A Little Rat Pack, Very Right-Now Calvin Klein X, $50 Shirt, $225, by Lorenzini. Suit, $2,650, by Gucci. Pocket Square, by Paul Stuart.


Americana is the tapestry of the cultural fusion of America – from vintage Steinbeck meets Kerouac Traveling Vagabond Hemingway run look to John Wayne edge (think Lucky) American is as diverse a genre as classic…Americana is a bridge between numerous genre – it is the most diverse because it is homegrown from American roots and also inspired by our diverse immigrant culture.  Americana can be sophisticated cool (Tommy Bahama meets Hemingway) or laid back (Boho-Surfer) Americana is one of my favorite styles because it derives from so many fashion influences.

Some of my monikers for Americana sub-genres:

Springsteen: Heart of America – true blue jeans – and tees, a well loved leather or jean jacket boots or sneakers.

Kerouac – Beatnik high fashion, bohemian road trip with a writer’s refined perspective for layering pieces and making up a tapestry of style from the road they’ve traveled

Steinbeck – hunting jacket, khakis, jeans – similar to Kerouac – a little more refined

Vintage West- think old west meets new west with a dash of NYC – Lucky brand excels at this

Bohemian Surfer: This Baja look a la Chip and Pepper and Pac Sun is a mix of sun, sand, faded cargos and tees.

Jim Bridger – Into the Great Outdoors – this is mountain wear fashion that is stylish and practical for adventurers and travelers – think REI, Columbia, Northface and Patagonia.  This style genre crosses over into active wear, but its soul is in Americana.


Active wear is the fastest growing segment of fashion right now.  Active wear encompasses: Golf, HIking/Outdoor gear, Nike and Under Armor…many are cultivating their style around a more refined gym look while keeping their wardrobe sporty.

I like Golf clothing because you can dress it up or down – Greg Norman, Callaway and Under Armor are my favorite Golf brands.

Trendsetter/Fast Fashion:

The trendsetter is a risk taker who is not afraid to take bold moves in declaring their fashion style.  A Trendsetter is a bit of a voyageur always ready to jump ship, yet equally capable of the keen acute awareness of what’s in/what’s out and being ahead of the game.  Their style changes with the times and that is part of their personality and risk-taking creative spark.

Tallia Orange Navy Linen Tropical Floral Sport Coat  This suit from Talia is bold, but it can be a great piece with dark denim a button down and tie (or you can ix the tie, add a flower pin (the in thing now) with pocket square – European colors and fits are the trend right now.  Fast Fashion is the quick trend set – while some trendsetters strive to create a lasting style versus flash in the pan statement

As I stated earlier there are hundreds of additional STYLE GENRES but hopefully this gets you started on your journey of exploring and creating your own personal STYLE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s