By David Michael Newstead.

There’s this particular shirt from H&M and after I bought one it didn’t take long to realize that lots of other guys own this shirt too. It’s a checkered button-up: red, white, and black. And once you see how common it is, you can’t ever unsee that. I mean, this shirt is everywhere! On several occasions, that’s sparked conversations between myself and similarly dressed coworkers. Once, I even ran into a complete stranger who was my exact fashion doppelganger that day. The same checkered shirt. The same shoes. Same tie! We were like twins and both of us seemed very perplexed about it.

Anyway, all of that is a roundabout way of saying that there isn’t much variety in men’s professional attire. During lunch recently, I saw eight guys walk out of their office together, all wearing the same slightly blue dress shirt. And for the record, I also have one of those shirts too.

To me, the eerie thing about this is the idea that whole populations of men are going around looking like carbon copies of each other: same shoes, pants, ties, shirts. Not similar looking clothes either. Literally, these are the same items from the same stores worn on the same day like a standard issue uniform.

Best case scenario, this is just boring in my opinion. Perhaps, it’s reflective of a lack of imagination or effort. Maybe everyone’s too tired to care. Or the problem could be that corporate giants are now churning out mass quantities of sameness where there were once diverse options to choose from. At its worst though, this is really kind of creepy if you think about. It’s monotonous and conformist.

That said, I’m not proposing that you start dressing like an eccentric weirdo. And overall, your clothes should fit your setting. But there’s actually plenty that you can do to highlight your own individual style without appearing unprofessional or out-of-place.

Some solutions to the aforementioned lack of variety include:

  • Having an eye-catching accessory like a great watch or a sharp-looking tie
  • Incorporating select vintage clothes
  • Layering your clothes, depending on the weather
  • And consulting a tailor so that your wardrobe benefits from some outside perspective

Of course, at the end of the day it’s really up to the person. I mean, no one is going to make the extra effort for you, but that’s kind of the point. With clothes and in life, do you want to blandly go with the crowd all the time or do you want to stand out?

The goal is to look your best and to be your best and that doesn’t always involve blending in.