The Extra 10%

01, Andre 3000 Benjamin

When it comes to providing the extra ten percent, simply being well-dressed isn’t good enough. It isn’t good enough because the character—flair and personality—is missing. Following the many rules of dress puts many limitations on what one can do. When a person is well-dressed with character, they’re adding their own rules to the equation. Take a look at the above image; Andre “3000” Benjamin has put together an unlikely pairing. Wearing braces with polo shirts may be his style quirk. I’m a firm believer in having an overall look that will truly set you apart, not because you “tried” hard to be recognized, but because it’s your own personal identity.

“Some days I wake up and I just want to look a little spiffy. It’s not about what I think other people will say or how I think I’ll be accepted when I walk into a room—it’s about what I’m feeling that day.” — Andre “3000” Benjamin

Those who dress well and with character appreciate designers like Paul Smith. The man is a genius in the area of color and eccentric items; when it comes to his accessories, they all catch anyone’s attention. For example, the striped socks he wears below. It’s the small things that provide excitement, like the flash of colorful socks when the trousers rise. I’m sure the man himself designs these items with the dandies of the world in mind.

02, Paul Smith

“What I hope I get from my dad, more than any way to dress, was his character. He was very easy, the sort of man who’d walk into a room of strangers and would, within about three minutes, get everyone laughing. My character, my sense of humor, it’s always been a big part of my career, and I got that from him.” — Paul Smith

The extra ten percent can be performed by anyone, as long as you remain true to self and don’t end up trying too hard. It’s about creating style quirks that become yours, like unbuttoned shirt collars, cuffs, or undone buckles on a pair of loafers. The Atlanta store owner Sid Mashburn, who I get tons of inspiration from, sometimes wears the back of his tie longer than the front. Effortless ease, a feeling of being perfectly imperfect and undone, is what we should all strive to achieve. With that said, tuck your tie into your trousers, roll your chinos to flash a bit of ankle, and find out what works for you. Don’t just dress well, but dress with character.