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When you think of shopping for clothing, what kinds of thoughts or feelings arise? If you’re like many guys out there, it may conjure memories of aimlessly wandering through countless stores searching but not finding, all in the name of confusion, frustration and impatience. Hell, the mere thought of shopping for clothes has many of us breaking out in a cold sweat running for the hills! Well, we’ve been there too and not to worry, we got your back. In this upcoming 3 part series, we’ll help you re-orient your approach to shopping for clothes in a manner that’s much less financially and emotionally taxing. This week, we’ll start with Part 1, which is using visual inspiration to define your desired look so you know what you need to buy.


Why use Visual Inspiration?

Knowing how you want to look provides the sartorial premise for two important things: 1) getting you to think and see things from a more “stylish” perspective and 2) using that inspiration to figure out what you need to acquire in order to build the foundations of a dapper wardrobe. After all, without knowing how you want to look, you won’t know what to get and how to efficiently get it.


Create Your Own Portfolio of Visual Inspiration

Start collecting and saving down stylish images that you like. The internet holds an endless amount of images waiting to be discovered. Here are some good places to start:

1) Tumblr – Tumblr provides an extraordinarily simple and effective way to quickly find rich images with common themes. Don’t know where to start? Try Black Lapel’s very own visual inspiration board, which each of our team members contribute to: All you have to do is start scrolling, clicking through and saving! (Note: we apologize beforehand if you happen upon beautiful images of the fairer sex…but they happen to be inspiration for us too!)

2) Pinterest – Pinterest allows for personal curation at its finest. In fact, there’s no reason why you can’t use this as the medium to collect your own images. You can even segregate the different styles you like into separately themed boards. Need a starting point? We’d be happy to provide some of course:

Just sign up and start creating look books for stylish images that you like!


3) Blogs – There are a plethora of style blogs out there and many of them provide great looks along with explanations to these looks. Further, you can click through blog rolls of the blogs you like to discover new ones that suit your taste. Here are some with great visuals:


Defining Your Visual Inspiration

Now that you’ve started collecting your visual inspiration, you’re already on your way to shopping more effectively and efficiently. How? You’re creating a collage of your personal tastes and preferences. And remember, don’t be intimidated by these images; don’t let the thought of “I’ll never look this good” cross your mind because it’s simply not true. You can look this good and by identifying the elements that make your particular visual portfolio so appealing to you, you can figure out what sort of looks and outfits will be best used to express your own style. So pay close attention to the images where you find yourself reacting in “damn, that’s sharp!” kind of way and start writing down the patterns you recognize. Click on the image below for an example:

(Click on image for a larger view)

As you’ll see, if your hypothetical patterns were similar to the above, you could safely conclude that your preferred aesthetic could be identified as dressed up, clean cut, sharply tailored, worn in simple and classic styles and colors, with some extra pizzazz in the form of tasteful accessories. Now that you have a framework to work off of, you’re also less likely to fall victim to recklessly buying something that doesn’t quite fit your taste profile, whether it be browsing online or in a store.

So if you’re building your wardrobe, visual inspiration is a great way for you to identify your own tastes. If you’re refining or adding to your wardrobe, it’s a great way for you to identify how your tastes have begun to evolve. Regardless of what stage you’re at, make sure you’re using visual inspiration as the first step of the shopping process!

In Part 2 next week, we’ll show you can use the “top-down” approach to shopping by breaking down visual inspiration into individual pieces to recreate an entire wardrobe of photo spread-worthy outfits.

Stay tuned!

We love to know what inspires you, so please share your own visual inspirations with our community at or leave your own Tumblr and Pinterest accounts in the comments so we can follow you!


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