Small Town Living, Big City Dreams: A Style Story

I am from a small town with a population of under 9000. Individuality, expressed by the way you dress, isn’t exactly encouraged, especially if you’re male. Where I’m from, the staples in every mans’ closet are a trusty pair of oversized jeans and a t-shirt you got for free when you bought that lucky case of beer.

Where I’m from, you were stuck in a perpetual rut of playing it safe. Not all of us were raised in fashion forward environments. Not everyone grew up in a place where character was celebrated, not questioned. This was the situation I found myself in long ago, until one evening in 2006 when my way out came in the form of a phone call. Maybe it was fate, maybe it was luck or divine intervention. Either way, eight days later I packed my life up into a small suitcase and found myself in the middle of  urban New Jersey.

The transition from rural Vancouver Island to the Jersey Shore (pre t-shirt time) was a crash course in style evolution to say the least. With Manhattan just a quick commute away, I found myself in a whole new world. For the first time in my life I was outside of that stifling, monotonous, flannel obsessed small town, and I realized  that I could wear anything I wanted to. I was free.

When I was younger my biggest problem was where to start. We’ve all flipped through magazines like GQ and Details and have seen some outfits they recommend you wear. It can be overwhelming, especially when you’re used to seeing stained white t-shirts pass as appropriate.  Keep your head above floral printed water and  always remember: what works in print doesn’t necessarily work in real life. For those of you fresh off the small town boat, here are a few veteran tips I wish I had been given to help ease yourself into it.

  • Lose the Logos— I really can’t stress this one enough. No one should be a walking billboard. Losing the logo is the simplest way to clean up your look. Sorry Volcom.
  • Keep Flip Flops at the Beach—No one wants to be sitting in a restaurant having dinner and looking down at your bare feet.  Not feeling socks? Try a pair of boat shoes, or espadrille shoe, instead.
  • Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut—While I know it’s tempting to wear that comfy old CLASS OF ’06 hoodie all the time, don’t do it. Monotony is the antagonist of standing out.
  • Fit is Everything—It doesn’t matter how expensive that leather jacket is my friend, if it doesn’t fit right, it doesn’t matter what the price tag says.
  • Pick a Few Style Icons—Are there any dudes around that you have a “man crush” on? Guys who really know how to dress?  The guy women want, and men want to be?  Pick a few of those fine gentlemen and draw inspiration from them. Take pointers on how they put themselves together and try to incorporate their style into your own. Word of warning though, don’t go overboard. Being “inspired by” and “style stalking” are two different things altogether.

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Have any style man-crushes? We want to be in the know! 

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