I’m a man, a rather fashionable man, or at least I like to think I am. Which means, when my wife says a pair of jeans doesn’t flatter me or, “Are you really going to wear black jeans and white socks?” I get defensive and sad. I think, “Haven’t you heard of normcore?!”
Usually, of course, she’s right, and I should listen to her sartorial advice. But criticism is hard to take, no matter how valid it is. I asked Susan Kantor, one of the 2,700 personal stylists for the Dallas-based menswear brand J. Hilburn for advice on, well, giving advice. Kantor, who is based in Connecticut, sees between 100 and 200 men over the course of the year, helping them to fine-tune their wardrobe and augment it from Hilburn’s made-to-measure service. “Men are aware of their style but they want to make sure they’re wearing the appropriate thing too,” she says. Here are her top three tips:
Bring a Picture
"Men generally respond well to visuals. If I’m trying to illustrate how a well-fitting shirt or jacket can make you look like you’ve lost 10 to 15 pounds, I’ll bring a picture of a well-dressed celebrity like Ryan Gosling or Jon Hamm."
"Style is a very personal thing. My job is to make you feel better; to be a better version of yourself. It’s important to reassure that you’re not going to make them over or change who they are. You’re simply giving them the tools to feel more confident, to stand a little bit taller, to look a little bit better."
Couch Advice in Problem-Solving
"Men love to solve problems, so if you contextualize your advice as a way to do that, it’ll land much better. The problem could be something like, 'You want to find something you can wear to the office and go out in for a casual business dinner afterwards,' or 'You want khakis that don’t reek of business casual.' That gives him the impetus to change."