The Best Style Advice I’ve Ever Received: Keep It Simple

By Behn Watson

Posted 2 years agoGROWTH

With varying results of usefulness, we’ve all received some style advice in our lives. The quality of that advice can often be traced to the source and their own relationship with personal style. Having spent time in a few different industries in my years (including men’s fashion), many of these sources have given me what they consider to be sage advice.

Every so often, however, you stumble across a useful tidbit from someone that you’re not expecting; something that has the ability to shape your style and change the way you think about how you dress. This leads me to sharing the best advice I ever received.

keep it simple

I realize that sounds easy, but I can assure you it is not. We all want to separate ourselves from the pack, have our style speak for itself. This often ends up taking the form of trying to stand out, by dressing outlandishly.

Sometimes simply having the fit of your clothes on point is all it takes to stand out and look stylish. What really resonated with me about that piece of advice, though, is that the more I thought about it the more applications it took on.

The idea of keeping it simple doesn’t have to mean dress plainly, or don’t do anything that may garner attention. I think, primarily, it means to not over think things. I want to show all the ways we can “keep it simple” as it relates to our personal style while maintaining the things that makes us unique.

1. Fit

How do we keep things simple in regards to fit? Well, wear clothes that suit your body type. If you’re a little heavier, don’t wear things that accentuate your lumps. If you’re skinny, don’t wear clothes that billow and bag out.

It’s all pretty straightforward. Pick things that are comfortable and that you’re confident in. Confidence is the best thing you can wear and something people will surely notice.

A grey suit, with a white shirt and a grey tie. This is a classic example of a very simple look, which looks extremely sharp. A huge part of this is how well the suit and the shirt fit.

1 - Daniel Craig

2. Colour Palate

Stick to a relatively muted colour palate. A man’s wardrobe should primarily be made up of grays, navies, and blacks (in my mind you can throw olive into that mix as well; a great basic).

Mix in a few colours here and there to accent the basics, but keep things muted. Dressing in well-fitted, understated clothing will get you noticed in a positive manner, whereas wearing brightly-coloured pieces will make you stand out, but probably not in the way you want to.

How many “hey girl” memes have been made? Yeah, it helps to be devilishly handsome but his style is always on point. If you cruise through images of Gosling you’ll notice one common theme – he’s never trying too hard. The colors and patterns are typically pretty simple.


2 ryan

3. Trends

Like fad diets, clothing trends come and go. While there are fast-fashion giants out there providing the latest trends for a relative pittance, I think it behooves most men to spend their hard earned dollars on pieces that will stand the test of time.

It’s a simple mindset that pays dividends long-term. Avoiding trends and spending your money on classic, quality pieces is a great way to shop.

If you look at all the men’s style icons over the years (Steve McQueen,James Dean, Daniel Craig, Ryan Gosling) the parallel you can draw between all of them is timelessness and simplicity. None are known for outlandish outfits wild pieces. No, they’re all known for simple, classic looks that stand the test of time. Here is a great example of timeless style.

3 - Gosling and Dean


White tee and a pair of jeans is a timeless look. James Dean rocked it in Rebel Without A Cause, Ryan Gosling is crushing it getting out of a cab with a Dunkin’ Donut sign as the back drop. Either way, it’s simple and timeless.

4. Know What You Don’t Know

What’s always been important to me is to admit what I don’t know and seek help from those who do. If you don’t know how a suit should fit properly, head down to your local men’s shop and ask; there’s no shame in that.

To keep things simple is to not confuse yourself with concepts you don’t understand.

Instead of providing you with a picture of a celebrity who has a style team, I’d rather pose this question: are you fashionable? No? Then ask for help, and ask for it often.

5. Don’t Stretch

Don’t go too far out of your comfort zone. I’m not saying to never take risks, that would be foolish. But if you’re on the fence play it safe. There’s nothing worse than taking something home and realizing you’re never going to wear it. If you’re unsure if you like a piece of clothing in the change room, you’re probably going to like it even less wearing it in front of strangers.

Don’t stretch too far out of your comfort zone and don’t stretch your budget on things you don’t need. Most items in your closet should strike a balance between form and function.


4 - McQueen

If you look at old pictures of Steve McQueen he’s usually in swimwear (with a babe on his arm) or a white t and jeans. Despite this simplicity, he is still widely considered a men’s fashion icon.

Keep it simple: it never fails to work

I think fashion and style at their core are about feeling good about yourself and giving you the confidence to be who you really want to be. Your clothing should accentuate the things that people enjoy about your personality whether it is your warmth, sense of humour, or intelligence (hell, how about all three?).

I don’t need my style to be art, or free marketing, or a costume in which I’m trying to hide from the public. I think simplicity in dress makes you, as a person, confident and more accessible.


About the author Behn Watson

Behn Watson runs a men’s fashion blog over at Prior to starting Duck Soup Style, he worked at a local high end men’s fashion retailer as a consultant. For more style inspiration, check out Behn’s instagram account @behn_watson

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