The style advice dispensed as an afterthought by many PUA gurus to their acolytes seems to more often than not involve the instruction to ‘get your fashion sorted’. It makes sense; most of the guys who come into the game are ‘dressed to code’, rather than ‘dressed to kill’. However, once they go through the PUA sausage factory in London, they all bizarrely seem to come out the other end looking like each other (the PUA kit).
Whether they happen to be a 25 year old student, a 35 year old computer programmer, or a 45 year old businessman many London PUAs seem to all have adopted the same ‘look’. Currently this usually includes unlaced boots, skinny black jeans, a low cut T shirt and a leather jacket … usually acquired at All Saints (a seller of cheap Rock Chic clothes but with a farcical mark up .. see designer brands below).
Clothes are an expression of one’s personality and lifestyle, so this clone army uniform adopted by the PUA fraternity is not just odd, it also goes against the big picture in Game of being a free thinker. If anything these men were ironically expressing more individuality beforehand!
One of the most well known ideas in pickup is the idea of ‘peacocking’. Mystery defined the concept as;
‘Wearing outlandish clothes in the field to advertise your survival abilities to women. Being unaffected by the social pressure that this creates demonstrates higher value.’
Mystery and Neil Strauss ready to go infield back in the day 🙂
That is a quote directly from his first book, ‘the mystery method’. It’s interesting that even Mystery was happy to describe this type of dress as ‘outlandish’. In my mind this concept is relevant for two more reasons. The more esoteric one is that dressing ‘differently’ attracts attention, when this attention is directed towards you, it gives you something to work with. As every PUA knows the worst reaction from a set is to be totally ignored (‘better to get a slap, than the pity pat’ as the maestro Mystery once famously said).
A women’s focus on you allows you to project your persona toward her, a protracted glance may even act as an invitation to approach (or IOI). The second more practical reason is that using props, a hat, a ring, a scarf etc. offers women bait to comment on, to ‘open you’, or as material for them to talk about during the pickup, both of these of course are indicators of interest and give you signals of her intent.
This idea of ‘peacocking’ was well understood in the western world by men up until the late eighteenth century. It was often the man who dressed more flamboyantly than the woman and attracted attention by wearing wigs, brightly coloured coats in various shades along with breeches (knee length tightly fitting trousers made for riding). It was only until the regency period (1795-1837) that men adopted a simple and Spartan look with the rise of the dandies (ironically the word is now misused to mean a man who overdresses, when in reality the dandies stood for the exact opposite principle, they abandoned the wigs, wore a dark navy coat and adopted trousers). This was the forerunner of the modern navy suit which became the uniform of the English gentleman.
The leader of the dandies; Image from the 1954 film ‘Beau Brummell’ (illustrating the difference between Brummell’s stark simplicity on the right and the ‘peacocking’ of the previous generation’s dress on the left)
(The leader of the ‘dandies’; Statue of Beau Brummell on London’s Jermyn Street)
Post War with the demise of English geopolitical power and associated culture, men started to look in another direction. Italian manufacturers had drawn upon the basis of English dress but softened up the tailoring, made clothing lighter and comfortable and experimented with new cloths. As America started to boom post war it exported its culture Hollywood and its pop and rock and roll music. American ‘work wear’ began to be adopted by the new generation, wearing jeans became popular, the T shirt was accepted and leather jackets started to be worn.
Around the 1960s the rise of the ‘designer brand’ started. The idea was that a designer would use his eye and knowledge of men’s style to produce a whole wardrobe for the modern man. These brands have spawned huge corporations as well as a whole sea of smaller entities who develop certain strategies to maximise their profits (as we will discuss below). The designer brands went on to become ‘lifestyle brands’, which essentially meant they would sell a lifestyle to a man through the vehicle of clothing.
By clothing yourself in a certain designer’s clothes you could appear to ‘belong’ to a tribe and give the appearance to others that you had a certain ‘lifestyle’. The best example of this is probably Ralph Lauren who created clothes post 1970s which imitated those worn in Preppy / Hamptons circles for decades previously.
(Image from the 1965 Japanese style book ‘Take Ivy’ which is fawned over by menswear fanatics and contains images of real ‘Ivy League’ style as worn on elite US campuses)
The discount clothing retailer, the Zaras and H&Ms seek to copy draw upon the designers fashions, but at a fraction of the price.
So what do I mean by the strategies used by the fashion industry to make you part with your hard earned money?
1) Changing what is in ‘fashion’ in an arbitrary and cyclical way in order to make older iterations of clothing look out of style. Men should perhaps think themselves lucky as women’s fashion and accessories change even more dramatically from season to season. Women spend incredible amounts of money (or fawn over) to get this season’s handbag or at least imitations of it. However, menswear brands use the same tactics to dupe men.
The length of blazers, the types of casual jacket worn, the rise of a trouser all move in a cyclical way. Currently men are wearing short jackets which are reminiscent of school boys who have grown out of their old school blazer. This works for the brands concerned as men will be forced to keep updating their ‘look’. It is of course utterly foolish, as there are certain ideal proportions for men’s clothing which serve to flatter the male form. For a jacket for instance the length used by (good) tailors was always half the distance between the bottom of the neck and the bottom of the shoe. This splits the body in half and gives an ideal sense of proportion for a man. Just as the ‘golden ratio’ applies in nature, there are also ideal proportions which can be applied to men’s clothing to give an aesthetically pleasing look (refer to Alan Flusser’s books for more detail).
2) Using the cheapest possible form of materials and manufacture in order to cut costs while spending most of their budgets on aggressive marketing techniques to suggest high product ‘quality’.
Materials used in the modern clothing industry have shifted to the cheapest cloths, cotton being the main one, while more expensive (& IMO better) cloths such as wool and linen have been pushed out. Production is usually outsourced to licensed factories in places with the lowest labour costs (Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey etc) with staff often working in abysmal conditions. Any talk of heritage and history is frankly rendered laughable through these practises, and usually represents the bullshit factor used to build enormous margin into the final sales price.
Don’t be a fool and fall for these naff marketing tricks. See them for what they are, a cynical ploy to fill greedy board member’s pockets with money.
So what should you do when building a wardrobe?
1) Understand who you are. You want your clothes to be congruent with your (real) lifestyle.
2) Understand what proportions of clothing will flatter your form, this is dependent on your build and body shape (it doesn’t mean as some PUAs have understood it to wear figure hugging clothes, it might look nice on a women, but NOBODY wants to see your nuts in those skinny jeans).
3) Understand what colours suit your skin tone, hair and eye colour (navy seems to flatter most men, which is probably why it has remained the dominant colour in men’s clothing).
4) Don’t buy clothes on the basis of a ‘brand’. It’s utterly meaningless and very few ‘brands’ actually stand for anything whatsoever, bar a handful of family controlled companies at the top end of the spectrum (Charvet & JM Weston are two companies whose products I like and spring to mind but there may be a handful of others).
Ultimately, realise that your style and the clothes you wear are only one (small) variable in successfully attracting women. We are conditioned by the retail industry to believe that the way we dress will lead to success in attracting the opposite sex (sex sells after all). It may well help you to some extent to stop a girl, lead to a better impression, but a good PUA doesn’t need to dress well to pickup even the hottest girls. Focus on your Game, but think about your style too as it’s an easy thing to improve on to give you a slight edge on the street.
Good luck on your journey guys.
Look forward to seeing what you all choose to look like on the street.