If you are a guy and you have graduated from university or college or you are in your final/senior year, or you have reached the age of 25, then this is most definitely for you. For those who haven’t started, it is time to man up and put some ‘respek’ in the way you dress.
Just today, I drove by the Lekki-Ikoyi toll gate and saw something refreshing. The young man from the Lagos Tolling Company, who attended to me, had on his official vest uniform but underneath that, he had on a very crisp, well tailored black button down shirt. I remember saying ‘Good morning sir’ because he looked the part.
So, what does it mean to dress like a boy. This could be anything from guys who sag their pants to wearing ill fitted, baggy suits to wearing an undershirt underneath a t-shirt. At the end of the day, it simply means to dress up without caring about how you present yourself and your image to the rest of the world around you, just like a little boy. It is not only disrespectful to yourself but also to those who want to invest in you.
Again, I was out and about, this time at my barber’s, and I generally observed how the barbers sized up various men based on how they were dressed, as they walked in and how that influenced the way the barbers received them.
What I realized was that the men who came in outfits like a simple plain t-shirt/button down shirt, fitted pants of any kind and decent shoes like 'pam slippers' were hailed and quickly offered seats. Meanwhile, a few gentlemen who came in together wearing sleeveless t-shirts, with sagged jogger pants and slippers and socks were disregarded almost as soon as they walked in.
So, the society does respond to us in the way we present ourselves. Now, let’s escalate that same barber shop scenario to the boardroom, while interviewing for a high profile job. That could simply be the difference between the people who get a second interview and those who are told, “don’t call us, we’ll call you.”
I think the dangerous mistake most men make is to think, “I’ll change up my dressing when I get a job at the bank or at the law firm” but I guess those men are not aware of the present Nigerian economy. There are no jobs waiting for anyone anymore, rather men are creating jobs, so you should start dressing different now.
Another great misconception is, “what’s the big deal, afterall Wizkid is doing it.” However, you forget that Wizkid is a very specific brand, with a specific vibe and a specific audience, so he can afford to have super casual and relaxed looks. And not that I am the biggest Wizkid fan, but I actually think he makes an effort to look clean, within his sphere of brand and style. He’s worn a few suits and tuxedos by the likes of T.I. Nathan or Okunoren in his day too.
This simply means that no matter what profession or field you find yourself in, and no matter where you are, there is always a way to look more mature. You don’t have to have a white collar job to look smart. There are so many men in the media, service and entertainment industry, who pull off smart-casual in so many cool and fresh ways. If you doubt me, just look up fashion styles from Tinie Tempah, Sabir M. Peele, Pastor Paul Adefarasin and many more.
So what’s the action plan in making this transition from boyhood to manhood? First, know that you don’t have to lose your youth in trying to look more mature. Instead find cool pieces that represent you well and put them together in clean, tasteful ways that gain you respect. For example, you can pair well fitted print pants with a crisp clean white shirt and a nice pair of slip on loafers.
Also, being mature doesn’t translate to using up all of your life’s savings and two months worth of your salary, just ‘cos you want to look grown up. Men of Nigeria, there are levels to this! You’re not gonna look like ‘Ghost’ from all in one day, so take baby steps. Although, you may get investment pieces like a great pair of shoes or watch, otherwise, start with the essentials like a grey suit or a crisp white shirt.
In addition, take note of the environment or occasion you are getting dressed for. Don’t wear a tie to a meet and greet because you are trying to be mature and likewise don’t wear agbada to a black tie event because you want to seem grown up. Pay attention dress codes, or to the atmosphere of the venue or the sort of host that is inviting you.
Finally, there are simple things to look out for if you want to look more mature. First, make sure everything is tailored, as it is all about having great fit. Next up, make sure to have clean and sharp lines, so ironing and dry cleaning is a must. Also, see that you are careful with undershirts, which means no undershirt with polo shirts or undershirts that go higher than your collar bone.
Dressing isn’t all that speaks toward your level of maturity, but it is most definitely a huge indicator and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.