The 12 Levels of Dread: Level 5 – Style

“Style is a reflection of your attitude and your personality.”

-Shawn Ashmore

Well gentlemen, today we reach a milestone in this series.  I’m officially calling this the end of Part 1 on the 12 Levels of Dread Series.  Why here and now?  Simply because it feels like a good stopping point for Part 1.  You’re going to have plenty to work on and all this is going to take time implementing so take your time and really nail down these first 5 levels.  It isn’t enough to be adequate or mediocre with these steps.  No, you must master them.  They should be second nature.  You should be at the top of your class.

Just a brief recap of what we’ve covered so far:

  1. Recognizing and mastering shit tests
    1. Shit/Fitness Tests
    2. Comfort Tests
    3. Compliance Tests
  2. Self-Improvement
    1. Physical
    2. Spiritual
    3. Mental
    4. Financial
    5. Personal
  3. Build a life outside your wife
  4. Condition your availability to your wife based on her behavior.

So what’s next?

What else could we possibly cover?

Quite simply, lots!  In fact, we are barely scratching the surface up to this point.  Consider Levels 1 – 5 the basics, your cornerstones.  Everything after this revolves more around getting out in the field and practicing, but more on that later.  Let’s move onto Level 5: Style.

Style

The first question that most people are probably thinking is “This is more self-improvement.  Why wasn’t this covered in Level 2?”

The reason is because hopefully in the months separating Level 2 and Level 5, your body has made some significant changes.  If you’re overweight and then begin hitting the gym and eating healthy, your body composition is going to be radically altered.  If you made the mistake of buying a new wardrobe at the beginning of Level 2, chances are none of those clothes fit the way they should.  Same applies the other way around for those who were scrawny and began beefing up.  Those medium sized shirts will begin busting at the seems.

Hopefully your finances are starting to get in order since Level 2 because today you’re going shopping.  However, before we do that we need to determine your preferred style.  This may not be as simple as it seems at first glance and can be based on many different criteria.  Let’s break down a few basics that you’ll need to take into account:

  1. Your preferences
    • What colors do you like?
    • Do you prefer dressing up or down?
    • Do you like a particular style?
  2. Workplace dress requirements
    • Does your work require at least business casual or do you work a manual job?
  3. What do you do on your off time?

Probably the easiest place to start is at your work.  Now if you are a blue collar worker and work in a factory or something similar, you probably already have strict dress requirements in order to adhere to safety standards, so this section won’t apply as much to you.  However, if you’re a white collar worker in an office, you have a little more room to set yourself apart.  That is where we’re going to start.

Taking Inventory

Let’s take a look at what you’re currently wearing on a daily basis and compare it to what others at your work are wearing.  A good goal is to be the best dressed person at work.  If everyone is wearing slacks and a button-up, you up the ante with a tie and vest.

Don’t make the mistake of feeling like you need to go out and purchase high end brands that cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, but also don’t skimp and buy a suit from Goodwill unless you’re just that strapped for cash.  Shop around at a few retail stores and get a good idea of what exactly you like and the pricing.  I was fortunate enough to find some really nice slacks and vests on sale at my local J.C. Penny’s for $150 for both the vest and slacks.  Add in a nice shirt and tie, and you’re all set!  Okay…there’s a little bit more to it than that so let’s dig a little deeper and establish a few ground rules that will help you out.  These rules aren’t hard as fast rules, but are good for beginners who are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the thought of upgrading their style (so don’t crucify me in the comments section).

  1. Slacks, vest, and jacket should match: Buy them as a set all up front or you run the risk of the store discontinuing that set leaving you with incomplete sets.
  2. Make sure they fit just right: It’s a bit of a balancing act.  You don’t want to look like a slob with baggy clothes, but also don’t want to have them be too tight. Here’s a good infographic to help give you an idea of what to look out for.
  3. Belt and shoes should match:  Look for a belt and shoes that match both in color and texture.  Some sites and stores have begun selling them together so you know what you’re getting works together.
  4. Make sure your colors go together:  This is an admittedly weak area for me.  If finding colors that match is a weak point for you too, stick to solid, neutral colors like white, gray, and black.  Here’s a link to help you out.
  5. Don’t forget the flourishes:  Areas like ties and socks are a good spot to add a little flourish of color and personality to your outfit.  One friend of mine wears some pretty outlandish dress socks, but makes them work.
  6. Accessorize: Want to know what separates a well-dressed man from a sharply dressed one?  Little touches like cuffs, watches, and tie clips.

Now this all is going to be a lot of work so don’t feel like you need to complete everything on this checklist all at once.  Break it down step by step, focusing on the things you can begin incorporating immediately.  There’s no point getting a tie clip if you don’t have any ties.  Start from the ground up.  Here’s the approach I would suggest, in order:

  1. Dress shirts
  2. Belt, shoes, and basic black dress socks
  3. Ties
  4. Slacks, vest, and jacket
  5. Accessories/Flourishes

Dressing Down

The great thing about getting your professional clothes sorted out is you can adapt them for less formal social outings.  Add in a couple pairs of nice jeans and you’re all set for some mixing and matching!

dressed up
Yours truly on his way to church. Just need to put on my tie.

Most people spend their weekends as sloppily dressed as possible.  If they do need to dress up for any reason, such as church or a wedding, you can bet they’re getting out of that suit and tie as soon as they hit the front door.  I challenge you to not do that.  Wear the dress clothes throughout the day.  Take off the tie, sure, but leave the rest of it on.  Make a run to the grocery store or go out for lunch all dressed up.  Trust me, people will take notice.  Sharply dressed men are so rare as it is nowadays, but to see one out at Publix or getting their haircut draws extra attention (especially important if your wife is accompanying you).

Conclusion: Why Go Through All This?

Some of you may be asking why upgrading your wardrobe is a big deal.  Others are probably outright scoffing at the notion.

That is a big mistake.

There’s an old idiom that says the clothes make the man.  As silly as that sounds on the surface, it’s partially true.  Humans are visual creatures.  We pick up most of our cues about others based on what we see and, whether you’re willing to admit it or not, judge them based on their looks.  An obese person is seen as gluttonous and lazy.  Someone dressed in ragged clothes is viewed as slovenly and unambitious.

This is the same guy. Which pic of him looks more respectable?

You really can’t help it.  Humans look for patterns between visual appearance and their corresponding personality.  Before you even shake a stranger’s hand, they’ve already made many subconscious assumptions about you based on how you’re dressed and the way you carry yourself.

So how’s this apply to your wife and Dread Game?  Your sudden transformation from normal clothes to James Bond incarnate is going to pique her amygdala.

“Why’s he dressing up so nice all of a sudden?”

“Look at all the attention he’s getting from other women…”

“What’s going on here?!”

As you take charge and lead the family, your wife will naturally follow.  If you’re dressing nice whenever you go out she will begin to follow suit IF you pass the shit tests that she poses along the way (“Who are you trying to impress?”).

Ultimately, dressing nice improves every facet of your life and regardless of how this impacts your marriage, you should do this for yourself.  When I throw on a vest and tie, I feel like a million bucks.  You can’t help but feel confident and ready to take on the world when you’re looking sharp.

One last point that needs to be made is your hygiene.  Now this wasn’t addressed directly in Level 2, so I’ll address it now: PRACTICE GOOD HYGIENE!  That means all the basics, teeth, ears, nose, deodorant, as well as maintaining a clean and well-trimmed mane.  Find a hairstyle that fits your facial structure and style and maintain it.  Same goes with your beard.  Keep it clean and keep it trimmed.  If your hair is a mess and you have a scraggly beard, a $10,000 suit isn’t going to save you.

Levels 2 and 5 are about taking pride in yourself; to look and feel your best.  A man who holds himself to a high standard is a man that others will naturally respect and seek approval from.  This isn’t about peacocking or acting like a douchebag who looks snubs his nose at the peasants.  In fact, a large part of masculinity revolves dignity and pride.  Dignity and high expectations of yourself and others are powerful tools to incorporate into your Dread Game as women want to be with a man who is well respected.  As people begin to look up to you, she will too.

That concludes Part 1 of The 12 Levels of Dread.  The information that you’ve been provided should be more than enough to last you at the very least 6 months.  Use my break from this series to master these first five levels and we’ll will jump back in for Part 2 of The 12 Levels of Dread in a month or two.

One final reminder: Remember why you are doing this.  I am writing this series to help you to restore harmony in your marriage.  The intent of this series is to not get back at your wife for the time she spent making you miserable because truthfully, that’s your fault for being weak.  Own your mistakes, get over them, and get to building the life you want to live.  Best of luck, gentlemen.