Today, I am with Tanner Guzy from Masculine Style. In this video, we discuss how you can tell your personal story with style and using clothing.
Sven Raphael Schneider: Tanner welcome!
Tanner Guzy: Thanks for having me. I’m excited.
SRS: Absolutely. So tell us more about this concept of having a story that you tell by dressing, I think it’s foreign for most men.
TG: Yeah, I think that most guys when they decide that they are going to start dressing well, a lot of guys kind of get into the idea that the end goal is to dress well or that that’s like you want to have the reputation of being stylish, you’re being a style guy and that’s the end goal. But ultimately that’s typically not. What you want to do is you want to be able to communicate something that’s deeper and more meaningful and so you want to be able to signal things like where you fit within your tribe or even who your tribe is or what your personal taste is or all these other things that is storytelling. It’s being able to have somebody look at you and be able to make an assessment which people do, whether or not they should is irrelevant. They do, they make these snap judgments about you and it’s you being able to communicate what you want them to understand about you based on what you’re wearing.
SRS: Ok. You know some people like dressing for dressing’s sake
TG: Yeah, absolutely!
SRS: And that’s totally fine. It’s like a hobby
SRS: I would think that I fall in that category.
TG: I think you definitely fall in that category.
SRS: I simply enjoy it and that’s okay. But just because I do it for that reason, it doesn’t mean it has different impacts as you mentioned.
SRS: The perception by others…
TG: That’s part of your story.
TG: People know that you’re a hobbyist in menswear based on the way that you dress.
SRS: But I also know it evokes something, for example, I was at the airport coming here. And you know a guy in front of us was like, “you know you look really sharp and I remember what it used to be like when you dress in the 60s.” You know and all of these things come up. People think about it, they project things on to you. They think you are more competent and I always notice that when I’m like traveling in some places and I’m not from there, people always come up to me and ask me for the way or ask me things because automatically they assume that I know simply because I’m dressed well.
SRS: And it’s just interesting to me how these things really have such a big impact as a first impression. Probably subconscious, people don’t necessarily seek out and think, “Oh, this guy must know it,” because he is well dressed.
SRS: They feel it.
TG: It’s the halo effect. It’s just something in our subconscious that just kicks in.
SRS: So, if someone is like not familiar with this concept of telling a story. How do you think they should start?
TG: I think one of the easiest ways is to just be aware of what’s going on around you whether it’s the media that you’re consuming or the way that you see other people dressing. Because the thing that is so interesting about this to me is, okay, what you wear to the airport and what the evokes for us now if you were to wear that in Ancient Egypt 2000 years ago, you would have no benefit by wearing that clothing. They wouldn’t say anything. It wouldn’t communicate a better time, a more sophisticated time. There would be no story that was told in that other than who’s this weirdo wearing these weird clothes that have nothing to do with the way we dress.
But if you pay attention especially the way that men have dressed historically in any culture, in any point in history the vast majority of these kind of stories or themes that men have been interested in telling each other are things like how strong we are, or how much courage we have, or how good we are at something, or how loyal we are to other people around us. And so if you could kind of work within those universal themes and tell stories that fall within that based on what your clothing is, then you can start to line up with what all those different historical storytelling aspects are.
Because even the guy who’s in cargo shorts and flip flops is somehow trying to tell the story of I’m secure in my masculinity, I don’t care what I look like, I am a rugged American individualist and your opinion of me doesn’t matter. Now he may think that it’s those things or that’s a subconscious thing. But he’s actively telling you that story because most guys who dress like that if you were to tell them “wear what you’re wearing today,” they would resent that. They would be uncomfortable. Whereas, if they really truly didn’t care about what anybody thought of them, they would be just as comfortable wearing what you’re wearing as they would be wearing what they are. But that’s part of their story. That’s part of their uniform in their identity that’s wrapped up in their clothing.
SRS: Okay, so let’s take a step back and assume what are the pillars that you think are most important when it comes to telling a story?
TG: I think, the biggest ones, in fact, I break them down into 6. I’ll give you a couple of the biggest ones because a lot of them can really kind of get a little bit more detailed but the two biggest ones are going to be tribe and then your personal taste. If you can combine the two elements together then you’ll always dress not only well and appropriately given the different environment, but you’ll always have it be something that’s communicating who you are as a person that’s able to tell that. So tribe is basically the people around you.
SRS: Okay, so does it mean, let’s say I’m a doctor, would that be part of my tribe or is it that I’m white, or is that I’m religious or Christian or Muslim?
TG: All part of it. Because again, take what you’re wearing now and what you wore at the airport for example. If you were part of the motorcycle club that tribe has a very different set of aesthetic requirements and expectations and what you wear now would be inappropriate for that tribe.
SRS: It’s like punk if you’re a punk rocker.
SRS: Oftentimes there’s a very specific guideline that evolves in the group to kind of separate you from others and include you in your tribe or group.
TG: Exactly. Think about high school when you dress like your friends.
SRS: I never went to a high school.
TG: Okay, but you know the stereotypes, right? You think about all the kids who they all sit in different parts of the cafeteria and they’re all dressed like each other. But they are not dressed like everybody else because it is this very fundamental subconscious way for us to signal who we are and also who we aren’t. And not only that, but then you can get even deeper where there’s hierarchy within the tribe and so the guys who are high status within the tribe can dress a certain way compared to the guys who are mid-tier, compared to the guys who are low status. And none of this is conscious at least not until we teach guys about how it’s conscious.
SRS: Or you have the Catholic Church, where it’s very specific like what you can wear and what not.
TG: Exactly, right.
SRS: Well one could also argue though that, let’s say the high school example, because people there let’s say Adidas sneakers right. And that’s what they have and everybody has the same. It’s kind of a lack of self-confidence that makes you want to dress like your tribe. How would you reply to that?
TG: I would say that we’re all guilty of that to some extent. And I don’t think that having confidence in who you are and being concerned with the opinions of people who matter are mutually exclusive. I think that having confidence in who you are and being concerned with the opinions of everybody in the world, there’s some conflict there.
But take the group of men that we’ve been with all week, for example, your opinions matter to me when it comes to style because you’ve earned my trust, you’ve earned my loyalty. You guys are experts in your field. Whereas, some guy at the airport who’s going to call me out for wearing loafers instead of sneakers, I don’t care about what that guy says of me. He’s not part of my tribe. But we have a tribe very much within here and you have earned the right for me to care what you think.
SRS: So it also has to do with the respect.
SRS: If you respect other people, you just have the authority in a different regard than if it’s a complete stranger or someone that you don’t think very highly of.
TG: Right. And so you can do that where everybody wears the same sneakers and yes there’s a lack, especially in high school kids, there’s a lack of individuality. And that’s why I tell guys to balance it out with taste. It can’t be 100% tribe because then there’s no personality, there’s no individual identity.
SRS: It would be a uniform.
TG: Exactly. And that’s why militaries have uniforms. That’s why dictatorial governments have uniforms. Because you want the collective to be greater than the individual. Whereas in your life, there needs to be a balance of both.
SRS: So taste, how do you develop it in your opinion? What are the pillars to get there? Because a lot of people are like taste, “I don’t know it, it’s hard for me.” Some people are further along that path and they have dabbled into taste, but a lot of people feel like it’s subjective. You know they go to an art museum and they see something from there “Oh I think my 5-year old could do that.” And others think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. How would you say or what do you think can help men to develop this taste or how would you define it?
TG: I think that that’s really where confidence comes in. Because it’s a willingness to go against the tribe in some regards. Where you can say, everybody in my tribe loves that art and I think it looks like a 5-year old did it or vice versa. It’s being willing to say that the emperor has no clothes or go against the grain in any regard and be willing to kind of stand your ground on some things. What I think lots of guys, and I certainly been guilty of this myself is, when it comes to our clothing a lot of times we will assume that the way to have taste or personality in our clothing is to inject more. It’s to take the uniform and add something else that’s unique to it.
But I think a lot of times, taste can also be being willing to take some things away. It’s being willing to say, “I’m not going to wear that” or “I’m not gonna do this.” And I’m just going to distil it down even further. I’m digesting everything that I’m being given and only choosing what I want. As opposed to, I’ve taken everything that the tribe gives me and then adding more on top of that.
SRS: That’s a good concept. I also think sometimes you hear people say, “Oh he has good taste.” And you can already have it reflected or connected to your tribe in the sense that people assume that their taste is good too.
TG: Yes! Exactly. Usually, when you hear somebody say he has good taste, they’re saying I like his taste, we have the same taste or he is better at my taste than I am. But it’s not something that is totally ex-tribe or something completely different.
SRS: So apart from tribe and taste. What are the other pillars?
TG: So you can look at things like your body. Your body is a huge one whether it’s your coloring or your contrast or just the way that things fit. A big one, location. You know we are talking about this before we started recording but we’re here in LA. This is a very casual environment and it’s a very laid back town. It’s warmer that what you and I are used to.
SRS: Well, it’s warmer in Minnesota. In Minnesota it gets warm but when you’re in LA, I wear a polo shirt. It’s a casual interview and we are sitting here in front of hot lights in a warm room so it’s just the most comfortable thing to wear. Now it’s also stylish in a sense that you know it’s colorful like you kind of mean like, hey can you recommend some polos because you wanted a specific shirt collar, these things. So it’s not like it’s a sloppy decision. It’s just adjusted to the environment for in that day.
TG: Exactly! And that can even get even more micro than we’re not in Minnesota or Salt Lake, we’re in LA. But it’s even things like I’m at the gym. And you’re not wearing the same thing to the gym that you are wearing when you are at the opera which is not the same thing that you’re wearing when you’re at work. So location is a big one and a lot of times we can get into this mindset of I have to wear the same thing everywhere otherwise, somehow I’m being inconsistent or incongruent.
SRS: Yeah, you’re not selling out by adapting things and have different clothing for different purposes.
TG: Exactly right.
SRS: I mean, when I’m at home, I wear a sweater and my TV jacket, which for a lot people looks goofy or maybe more like a dinner jacket.
TG: So like “What’s a TV jacket?”
SRS: Exactly. And for me it’s comfortable, it’s warm, it’s kind of my style. And so, this is about as casual as I get. For others that may be as formal as they get, right? So it just depends on where you are.
SRS: In general I always feel that people assume that dressing up and getting more formal is something that doesn’t suit them and I understand. If you are a car mechanic, a suit in not functional. It’s not appropriate especially during regular workday or after hours, totally. But what do you think or why do you think most men assume things are too formal for them and they naturally gravitate towards the more casual end of the spectrum.
TG: I think that it’s something that’s relatively unique to, I mean it’s been within the last 60 years. You look at the baby boom generation, everything that happened with the cultural revolution of the 60s. And it was the rejection of the discipline and the formality and the Christianity and all these other things that kind of had established Western civilization up to that point. And the baby boomers basically gave that all the middle finger and the suit was the ultimate representation of that. It was the easy aesthetic scapegoat that perfectly represented all the things that they were rebelling against.
And so, our generation grew up with that being the bad guy, that was the man, that was corporate America, that was selling out, and that was the complete antithesis of being comfortable, being who you are, being unique. And so, we have all this wiring and all this programming that’s gone into us for decades telling us that suit is bad or suit is sell out or suit is corporate.
SRS: At least in the US.
TG: At least in the US. And a lot, I think a lot of kids even in kind of Western civilization in general, but definitely way more focused in the US. And it’s wrong. There’s no reason that it has to be that a suit is bad or that a suit is wrong out that the only time people wear one is because they have to.
SRS: Absolutely. It’s also I think when you wear a suit or when I wear a suit you get lots of compliments from people and they couldn’t tell you why. I mean, they see the suit and they automatically assume someone put more thought into the outfit and you stand out a little more. But if you show people different things and ask how attractive people are, they will say that the person in a suit is more attractive than the person in the t-shirt.
TG: Because the whole reason the suit even became such a dominant article of clothing is because it evokes things like discipline and power and self-respect and respect from other people around you. And those are the things that are universally attractive. And so the fact that subconsciously we see all that when we see a man wearing a suit, of course, we are going to see or thinks somebody’s more attractive when they are wearing something like that.
SRS: So, you mentioned body and we already did like a video of body type and how to dress for that, so maybe let’s move onto the next pillar.
TG: The next one is effort, because there are some guys like you and I who are hobbyists. The idea of having a really big and a really full wardrobe is awesome and it’s fun and exciting and there are a lot of benefits to come from that.
SRS: It’s not for everyone, though.
TG: No not at all. And that’s the thing is you don’t have to think that in order to be well dressed in order to have your clothing work for you that you have to have a massive wardrobe. You can follow Barron like what he does with the lean wardrobe.
SRS: Effortless Gent.
TG: Yes, Barron from Effortless Gent, follow his lean wardrobe principle or follow other guys who are very spot on what they do and they could just be as well dressed with few items that they wear because they are very versatile because they work together. And neither one of those is better or worse than the other. It just depends on how much effort you want to put into it.
SRS: And I mean, there’s always a certain degree of effort and you can put a lot of effort into things and have a very minimal wardrobe. Like I remember when I went on a trip around the world, it was for 105 days and I have to figure out – okay, what am I going to bring that can fit into one suitcase so you know, it’s not overly heavy. We can travel and I can adapt to different events and cultures, climates, and just degrees of formality.
TG: What a cool challenge.
SRS: I should make a video about it.
SRS: So you know how to pack like that and the thought process.
TG: Yeah, because that is way more than overnight or for a week.
TG: And to be able to fit, that’s a cool challenge.
SRS: Alright. So apart from effort, what is the next pillar?
TG: Okay, so we’ve talked about body, we’ve talked about tribe, taste, location and effort. And the one that’s in there out of those six is your archetype. And so what I teach is that there are three major archetypes. It’s based on how you interact with the world around you. So they’re rugged, refined and rakish. And it’s pretty easy for us to think about this. So the rugged guys are the auto mechanics or blue collar workers, they’re cowboys, they’re lumberjacks. So they’re guys who their primary interaction with the world around them is based on the physical interaction with the world around them. You’ve got refined, which is very much where you fall into. It’s men who are in upper echelons of society. Their impact is based on their monetary or social connections and those kinds of things. And then the third one, the rakish archetype is guys who their whole way of interacting with the world is by rebelling against it. They are the guys who like to break the rules, who like to get attention, who like to be loud, who are comfortable being in the spotlight in that regard. And if guys know where they fall within one of those 3 archetypes, if you’re rugged then yes, there are times when it’s appropriate to wear suit and that need to look good on you. But a suit is probably not the mainstay of your wardrobe and you don’t need a dozen of them.
TG: Or if you’re rakish then you don’t want to just wear simple staples and dress in a way that fits in because that is inconsistent with how you interact with the world. You need to be wearing bold and loud stuff and getting attention and leveraging your clothing to help you with other goals in your life.
SRS: Like Justin Jeffers in the Fine Young Gentleman?
SRS: He combined this Canadian field jacket which was somewhat like sloppy and kind of cool when he combined it with more dressy elements, such as I think he got chinos on, maybe even a jacket. I’m not so sure, maybe a shirt and some loafers. But it’s definitely a stand out thing. He also had a corp initial leather jacket. Something that says “Hey, I’m different. Hey, I’m bold.”
TG: What’s so cool about the way he did it is that he still combined Canadian military field jacket, I mean talk about rugged. You know like totally for the rugged guy but because it’s kind of sloppy on him and he’s wearing it over refined clothing with chinos and loafers and an open button up shirt. So he’s got rugged, refined and rakish all thrown in there. And that’s such a good point because most men may lean primarily towards one, but we all have elements of the others in us. That’s why you lean more refined but you definitely have elements of a rake in you. Because in this modern society, wearing seersucker trousers with a pleat and a linen bow tie and a green sport coat, there’s an element of a middle finger out to the current status quo of society by doing that. So yes, it’s refine but it’s also rakish in that regard.
SRS: Yeah, and you can also show, “hey I know it can look good,” because sometimes I think, “Oh I can not wear that.” But once they put it on and they look at it and they’re like “Oh, I’m positively surprised.” Or “I didn’t realize I could combine green with so many things.” They had just never thought about it because they weren’t exposed to it and they didn’t dare to take the next step and get there basically.
SRS: But it’s a good point. So within these 3 points or 3 types, rugged, rakish and refined, you can develop a personal taste then you can be more like one and as you said you can just figure out where you fall in the spectrum and it doesn’t have to be black and white.
TG: Right, yeah. You can combine all three of those and then especially from there you can get into tribe. Because guys who are in the military vs cowboys vs survivalists vs lumberjacks all fall within the rugged archetype but very different tribes. Their clothing has very different functions aesthetically and from a function perspective. And so, you can’t think that all rugged guys dress the same, all rakish guys dress the same, or all refined guys dress the same, because that all gets distilled down into tribe from there. And then you have guys who are combining and pulling all these different things together which is where taste comes in. And then it gets even deeper based on your location and your efforts. And so that’s what all that combines together to truly tell a story of who you are with your style.
SRS: Okay, on your website a Masculine Style should go much more in depth and teach them about all these principles. Tell us a little more about that.
TG: Yeah, so what I found is that there are guys like you who do so well when it comes to the actual execution of stuff. I don’t need to make a how to tie a bow tie video. You’ve already totally nailed that. There are other guys who have totally nailed that. But when I first came onto the scene, I found that there were not a lot of men who are talking about the stuff we just did. Being able to understand the underlying philosophies, the sociology, how masculinity is communicated through our clothing, how we tell stories. So I dive into that kind of stuff and then what’s really fun for me with other readers or viewers or anybody else’s, most of my stuff is just asking questions and then forming these ideas with my audience as we go. And so as you guys watch this stuff, you start to think well I like this idea but that doesn’t make sense. You’re telling me that because we can refine these philosophies and understand this better so we can teach more men how to tell a story with their clothing.
SRS: Alright. So people enjoy this conversation, where should they go?
TG: So I have my own channel on youtube if you just look up Tanner Guzy. That’s G-U-Z-Y. That’s my biggest, most pushed format for being able to talk about this stuff and then the other is the site which is Masculine-style.com. And there I actually have an archetype quiz. So you can take it. It’s 8 questions long and based on your answers, it will tell you if you are rugged, refine or rakish.
SRS: Wonderful. Thank you so much!
TG: Thanks for having me Raphael, seriously.