Style – A Sense of Consistency

As I talk with men, and sometimes with women, about this blog, I often see smiles. Those smiles are sometimes accompanied by comments like, “Well, I wouldn’t have any need of that. I don’t have any sense of style.” Never mind that such an individual could frequently benefit from a little blog like mine (or any of the others out there that address similar topics). No, what really concerns me about those types of comments is the clear fact that such an individual has confused style for fashion.

I see that all too often.

Perhaps I can take a moment in today’s post to describe what I see as the difference between Style and Fashion.

Let’s start with Fashion. According to that great repository of wisdom, the internet, Fashion is defined as “a popular trend, especially in styles of dress and ornament or manners of behavior.” The emphasis here is on trends. Current trends are considered with the Fashion, or fashionable. Trends that are either too new to be widely adopted or were considered fashionable in times recently past are subsequently considered unfashionable. And, as many of us know, to be considered unfashionable in some circles is to be considered irrelevant.

Contrast that with the concept of style. As we have indicated in this blog in the past, style can be identified as “A way of behaving or approaching situations that is preferred by or characteristic of a person.” This sense of style is somewhat independent of fashion.

For example, earlier in my life, denim jackets were considered a useful and fashionable element of a man’s wardrobe, especially if that man spent a considerable part of his life outdoors and working with his hands. During that period of time, I acquired a denim jacket that was somewhat fashionable.

Immediately I began to adorn it with embroidered patches. The patches came from all sorts of places. I received some as gifts from friends. Others I purchased. Some were specific to the space program or military organizations, while others were reflective of things I enjoyed like racing, entertainment franchises and travel. Putting patches on my jacket immediately made it unfashionable. At least at the beginning.

As time went on, it suddenly became fashionable, in some social circles, to have a patch jacket. At that point, I became quite fashionable.

At least until the jacket began to wear out and become threadbare. After all, embroidered patches were fashionable, but functionable patches are still considered quite unfashionable.

And I couldn’t have cared less.

You see, the idea of a patch jacket for me, or even the material of the jacket involved, was not important to me. I wasn’t trying to be fashionable . I was cultivating a personal sense of style, and that style was characterized in part by making my casual clothing distinctive of me, my interests, and my experiences. The clothing was functional, but it was also a carefully cultivated expression of what was important to me.

And that is style.

Now, there is a definition of style that refers to a sens of sophistication and elegance. Those who have read this blog for any period of time will recognize that I am also an advocate of developing that type of style as well. In that case, the style we are speaking of lends itself to a sense of substance, of appreciation for what I call “time and place conformity.”

Allow me to share an example that serves as something of a case in point. I am a firm believer in the idea that every man should own a tuxedo. But I am not a strong advocate for following trends or the dictates of fashion in the purchase of a tuxedo. Instead, I advocate a classic cut and fit. Lapels that are neither too wide nor too thin, notched instead of peaked. A shirt whose pleats are neither noticeably wide nor outrageously decorated. Pants tailored to fit with a conservative break and neither too full nor to tight. In short, a tuxedo that is likely not fashionable because it is timeless.

This sense of style is what embodies elegance, and it is wholly in step with the cultivation of both a sense of substance and a sense of personal style, because it can be accessorized with touches that come from the man’s personal style. For instance, the cuff links I wear with my tuxedo are very much in keeping with my earlier descriptions of my personal style. Whether I wear the Millenium Falcon ones given me by a student, the Michael Kors ones I bought on a trip to NYC, or any of the ones given me by my wife and children.

Gentlemen, cultivate your personal sense of style. Learn to describe it, champion it, embrace it, and recognize that, while there will be times that the fashion is in step with you, there will be many times when you may be out of step with it.

And your confidence in those moments is what can make you a man of style and substance.

Notes from a conference

This may be the longest post I’ve ever composed. It is made up of thoughts that came to me while I was attending a recent work conference. Few of these ideas we’re entirely new, but all of them made it into my scribbles from the two day conference. Enjoy!

  • We need to become more interconnected in our teams.
  • Power is unleashed when we commit to people long term.
  • If there isn’t a plan for keeping promises, they probably won’t be kept.
  • Taking ownership for the work is how outcomes are influenced.
  • When a person is passionately connected to his or her purposes, overcoming the little stuff along the way becomes easier.
  • Harnessing trust requires understanding.
  • original thought during convention everyone is talking about how important it is to develop trust, but no one said anything about how to go about it. . . what about t


  • T
    – transparency
  • R – Relationships
  • U – Understanding
  • S – Service
  • T – Time
  • An individuals mood or state of mind influences communication patterns more than almost anything else.
  • It isn’t selfishness to spend time doing what makes us happy, it is attitude protection.
  • The most important skill is the skill of developing new skills (this is obviously my thought that was triggered by something that someone was saying at the time).
  • To accomplish something more than you have ever done, you must become someone bigger than you have ever been.
  • Purpose turns a job into a career and a career into a calling
  • You don’t move out of your comfort zone; you expand it to include new things.
  • If you want to go fast, go alone; If you want to go far, go together (African proverb)
  • When a professional shares, there is almost no difference between what they share individually and what they share in a group
  • The fact that one impacts another is not proof that one could only be impacted by that other
  • Just because your contribution may be less visible does not mean it is less valuable.
  • The most potent poison in the world is a hateful, ungrateful attitude.
  • Information is the beginning of planning. We must not only be brave enough to gather information, we must also be brave enough to question and understand all the implications of our information.
  • It matters, you are an actor, take pride!
  • One can be phenomenal. One can do amazing things. But as amazing as one is, one is never as powerful as many.
  • The difference between a professional and a specialist is the willingness and ability to something extraordinary.
  • When people have all the facts, most of the time they react positively.
  • The influence of one is multiplied by time and space as others share how they were influenced.
  • We may never know what will stay in the minds and hearts of others, but we do know that two things can affect what they might be: repetition and simplicity.
  • Others may not remember everything we say, but they are quite likely to remember how we treated them.
  • Dynamite comes in small packages!
  • When it comes to family, I’ve never known someone who regretted having (another) child, but I know a lot of people who regret not having another child.
  • Resist the temptation to define yourself or others by limitations. Instead define yourself and others by aspirations and the efforts made to realize them.
  • While it takes all of us to make a positive experience, it only takes one of us to make a horrible experience.
  • Directionless passion is annoying and exhausting. Directed passion is energizing and infectious.
  • Great coaches are masters at asking questions, and listening to the answers.
  • Great coaches use sensible directness
  • Great coaches seek clarity
  • Great coaches challenge paradigms.
  • Great coaches have integrity in their actions and their intentions.
  • The manager gets to the end result by informing. The coach gets to the end result by questioning. — Eric Juhlin
  • Authenticity is the doorway to trust. Is there a difference between being genuine and moving to the lowest common denominator?
  • What if I was being treated like a valued contributor and appreciated patron at every interaction?
  • What if I treated everyone I dealt with in the same way?
  • Do we treate our students the way a customer is treated at Tiffany’s?
  • Products attract attention; service keeps involvement.
  • Information acquired but not applied is undervalued.
  • If you cannot balance your own emotional roller coaster, how can you ever hope to help another with theirs?
  • Growth or fixed mindset – we are all on a continuum. People operate from fixed or growth mindset perspectives.
  • It’s a lack of faith that makes people afraid.
  • It’s just as bad to have an inner dialogue running when trying to listen to someone as it is to interrupt them at every turn.
  • Failure is a temporary event, not a permanent label.
  • The best version of you is when you are happy. That is the time we are most likely to help and serve.
  • Service is a key to joy. Purpose makes service meaningful