Today’s guest needs no introduction. Antonio Centeno, owner of Real Men Real Style has been AoM’s main style contributor since 2008. Today Tony and I have a conversation about the history and science of men’s style. We talk about the martial origins of the business suit and what research says about how dressing better can improve your life. It’s a really interesting and fun discussion.
- Who’s more vain? Low testosterone or high testosterone men?
- The battlefield origins of the suit and tie
- Where in the heck did the tuxedo come from?
- How style can make you look more masculine
- How what you wear can make people think you’re smarter and more talented than you really are
- How your clothing can change the way you feel about yourself
- And much more!
Be sure to check out all of Tony’s great style content here on AoM and on Real Men Real Style. Also, this May Tony’s putting on a men’s style conference in Atlanta, GA. You’ll learn everything from how to improve your style to how to increase your confidence.
Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. Well today on the show we have Antonio Centeno. He’s the owner of Real Man Real Style. Also he’s the man who’s written the vast majority of our style content on the Art of Manliness since 2008.
Today on the podcast, Tony and I are talking men style. We are discussing the military origins of much of the clothing that men wear today. Everything from suits to t-shirts to even shorts have their origins in the military. Let me also discuss the science of style. Tony’s done a lot of research these past two years about what science says, how dressing sharp can affect how you think about yourself and how others perceive you as well and how that can benefit not only your love life, something else on big reason why guys get into dressing shops. They want to impress a romantic partner, but also your career and also your friendships with other men. It’s a really fascinating discussion. I think you’re going to like it, so let’s get on with the show. Antonio Centeno welcome to the show.
Antonio Centeno: Thank you Brett. It is nice to meet you.
Brett McKay: For us who don’t know, Tony and I go way back since like 2008 when the Art of Manliness first started.
Antonio Centeno: Yeah, when you first … I still remember that email. You contacted me through a random blog over my first website at Tailored Suit and you are like, “Hey, your articles are pretty good. Do you want to come write over here because we are starting to write about style but you seem like you know what you’re talking about?” I had no idea what you were trying to do. I think you still had the frugal law student at the time.
Brett McKay: Yeah.
Antonio Centeno: I’d have to say it really came down to I liked your mission. This guy’s trying to help men be better men. I can buy into that. I had a young son at the time when my daughter was on the way and I was like, hey, I can buy into this, this is solid.
Brett McKay: Yeah and since then it’s been off to the races. I mean you’ve been going strong since then. You’re the style guy on the Art of Manliness.
Antonio Centeno: I’m expanding out. We’ve got a number of different things that we’ve expanded into, but I love communication, I love the way that we are able to use visuals to send the message. That’s what I think we wanted maybe to talk about today and talk about why it’s manly, why it’s masculine to care about your appearance. Because a lot of what I talk about is grounded in science and it’s grounded in history. When you talk to a guy about that, he starts to realize, no it’s not feminine to care about your appearance. It’s actually something that’s very masculine, very manly and really does make a difference. I think you were just talking about a study about testosterone?
Brett McKay: Yeah. Before we are talking again in the show, Tony and I were talking, doing researches on the effect of testosterone on behavior. One study they found is that men with higher testosterone levels are actually more vain than men with lower testosterone levels, right? Because you care about your appearance if you have high testosterone because that’s how you attract women, that’s how you intimidate potential enemies and it’s how you showcase your allegiance to a group. You take a lot of care in how you present yourself.
How that vanity manifests itself, it’s going to vary from tribe to tribe or culture to culture. There is going to be, if you have higher testosterone, you’re going to care about how you look. For example, a group you might not think would care about how they look, biker gangs for example, they actually care a lot about how they look. Because the way their jackets are presented, the way they do their hair, tattoos, et cetera manifest their allegiance to their gang and it’s their identity and sort of an intimidation factor. If you have lower testosterone, you probably just wear like sweat pants and a hoodie everyday and not really care one way or the other how you look.
Antonio Centeno: The same thing is seen in the military. I remember when I was in the marines, it was something that you measured the exact, I mean to the centimeter, you knew exactly where your ribbons were going to be, how they were supposed to look on your chest, where each of the patches, each of the tabs, everything went. Although we didn’t use as many as the army does, but it is something that when it comes to uniforms, the marines were very, very proud that we were the best looking service when it came to our uniforms. We loved that especially getting up, dress up for the Marine Corps ball. You’ve got a beautiful woman on your arm and you go out there and you have a great time and you start a fight, wake up in a ditch at some point.
The point was your uniform looked pretty darn good going in there. That was something, I think you also asked a question Brett about, it seems like a lot of things come out of the military when it comes to men styling. That makes a lot of sense because when you think about it, the best way to start a trend is to force a million men to dress in the same way or to go down a certain path and wear something, and they like it, they get used to it and we are creatures of habit.
Men when they find a brand, when they find particular items that they like, we stick with them. We are not going through every single through every season changing out. We’ve got a jacket that we like; we are going to wear it again and again until it falls apart. That’s one of the things I love about man style is that it does have that strong base in history. If you focus on function of clothing, from our jackets, it’s not that, and a lot of guys complain, oh the jacket isn’t comfortable. Well it’s because it doesn’t fit you properly. If a jacket fits you properly, especially anyone who’s ever won a military uniform or jacket.
I remember it was something that we would have pull-up contest after you had a couple of beers and you still need to dress blues. You could still jump up on a pull-up bar and knock out 20 pull-ups. Because of the height of the armhole on the jacket and the way it fits so well, that it still gave you full function of movement. That’s something that I always focus on with style, is I don’t dress just for the, it’s not about the clothing’s, it’s about how it sends that message and how it fits you well. It still gives you full form of movement and it sends that message that you’re strong, that you’re masculine getting back to your point about high levels of testosterone.
That’s according to the animal kingdom. If a peacock, if a lion, if they’re exposed and they’re coming from lineage of high testosterone of very being very desirable, they’re going to have a very strong, if it’s a lion, he’s going to have a very strong and healthy mane. If a lion has disease or has certain issues wrong with them and they’re getting older, then actually the size of the mane drops. They just don’t look as healthy. That’s one of the things that we are … If you have a lot of testosterone, you want to look healthy not just for the opposite sex but also for your fellow males who in a sense there’s always kind of pecking order. That’s one of the reasons we put off that image.
Brett McKay: For human males, what would be the features that you would use style, the way you dress to accentuate, to show, hey I’m doing OK. I’m high status. What are some of those features?
Antonio Centeno: OK, and that’s one of the reasons I love the jacket. Everyone always says, “Antonio, you always say that the ailment to anything is throw on a sports jacket or throw on a suit jacket.” I’m like, yeah for a lot of guys, nothing is going to beat what a jacket can do for your profile, for your silhouette from a distance. One of the things the jacket does, is it builds up a man’s shoulders. Large shoulders, the higher up the shoulders; you can actually have a perception of being taller. By building up the shoulder, it makes you look taller, it makes you look a bit leaner, but it’s going to make you look stronger.
That’s something if you look in human beings as a male, as a child, if you received a healthy dose of testosterone, then you want to, in a sense, you want to look strong, you want to have that muscle build up in the upper chest area and a jacket does help that. In addition, you want to be a bit trimmer around the waist area. A larger gentlemen if you’ve got a larger mid section, you can hide it a bit but it’s still one of those things you ask me best to be in good shape. If you’ve got 15-20 extra pounds around the mid section, a jacket can help trim you up. That right there, it also accentuates you’ve got a bit of character around the hips, not as much as a woman, but you still want to have strong hips when it comes to human sexuality that is attractive in a male.
Another thing that the jacket does, is it accentuates the size of the hands. Large hands are perceived as a very strong masculine trait. If you look at a well fitted jacket especially once it goes to the sleeve area, then all over sudden even if you’ve got smaller hands, then a well fitted jacket is going to make your smaller hands look a little bit larger. Larger hands especially if we get into, don’t want to go down this path too much, but if you look in apes, large hands are perceived as a very attractive trait because they enable you to grab on to things.
Brett McKay: Interesting. Yeah, there is one anthropologist I’ve read talking about the shoulders on a male, it’s sort of a sexual signaler but also a signaler to other males that you’re strong. He called male-human shoulders man antlers.
Antonio Centeno: Think about that, let’s look at antlers. Here in Wisconsin people love deer. They’ve got them on the back of their trucks and like little stickers and during hunting season of course everyone has got them on the top of their trucks after they shoot one. Everyone is going after that one buck with, what is it? The 30 point buck or something, the mythical 30 point buck that doesn’t exist. When it comes to men, it’s going to be in our shoulders. The great thing about a jacket is it actually accentuates the shoulders. When a man walks and if he knows he’s being watched by a woman or he’s around women or if he’s around other men who he is looking to impress, he will actually sway his shoulders a bit more. Women actually do that with their hips if they know that they’re being watched, they will instinctively sway their hips a little bit more.
Little things like that, being able to add almost a little bit of a shiny tassel to the end of it, just draws their attention to it even more and subconsciously sends the signal; this is the kind of guy that if you’re a woman, that you perhaps would want to meet. If you’re a man, you would want to have your back in case you are in a fight in a dark alley.
Brett McKay: Let’s go back to this. Linking up that science of the military, because we are talking about how a lot of men’s clothing comes from the military. I guess military uniforms were designed in a way to accentuate those masculine features. Because it seems like a lot of military jackets, the shoulders are very wide often times.
Antonio Centeno:Yes. often times there’s two purposes with the military who’s function you simply wanted something that … I mean if we go back to the blucher, one of the classic shoes, it actually was developed, used to be if you were a foot soldier, you weren’t always and you weren’t issued uniforms. You pretty much had to show up with what you had, yet a lot of times officers definitely had the money to buy their own stuff. Foot soldiers, I mean a lot of these guys were barefoot. That’s horrible when you’re having a march a long distance barefoot.
A lot of these shoes developed out of very simple ways. A general realized, OK, if my units, if my army is well equipped, they’re actually going to perform better. There was a huge function in a lot of the clothing. Another thing is, being able to send signals of larger strength and intimidation. When you’re on a battle field and you’ve got … Whenever knights were charging on horses, look at cavalry. The cavalry, whenever it was coming in, part of it was a huge intimidation factor. Not that those ribbons that were hanging out from the horse, they weren’t necessarily going to protect the horse. What they would do is they made it look like you had a wall coming towards you. Literally you would have opposing forces just drop and run and of course they’d then get mowed over.
You’re sending visual signals, other things if you look, I mean we go back to the tights probably if anyone is familiar with men styling, they know it came out of the Croatians, the Croats. They used it to actually, to be able to signal what units they were with. If you go even further back and you look at the terracotta soldiers in China, they actually have scarves as well. Scarves and collars have been used to be able to designate military unit for a long time. That’s one of the beautiful things about that. Still to this day if you go to regimental neckties, tradition English regimental neckties, they still use those in those signal different units.
Brett McKay: We go back to the regimental neckties, isn’t like the way they angle, like show us the real deal of the angle the other way that is saying, “You’re just a phony.”
Antonio Centeno: Yeah, and I don’t know … I forgot I’m having a brain fart here, I don’t remember which way it is. We will let someone maybe correct us at some point maybe at the Art of Manliness community; they can go ahead and write about this. Yes, one direction is a signal that is a true regimental necktie. The other angle is something that, hey this is probably an American version of this, I mean we’ve run with it. It used to be that a man was limited to the clubs, to the military units, and to the organizations he was a part of as to what neckties he could actually wear, but they expanded out since then.
Brett McKay: All right, so basically the suit is a relic, not relic that came from military, military uniforms.
Antonio Centeno: Yes, exactly.
Brett McKay: Ties came from the military as well.
Antonio Centeno: Yes.
Brett McKay: What other men staples have come from the military?
Antonio Centeno: Let’s go ahead and let’s look at headwear. A lot of guys, if you look at hats and the functions of them, a lot of guys are always asking me, Antonio how can I bring a hat, how can I bring it into my wardrobe. If you look at the first function of a hat, it’s simply to protect you from the elements, to protect you from the sun. I know my experience of wearing headwear pretty much was my five years in the Marine Corps. I wore a hat or call it a cover pretty much every day. Then you look at a number of hats from the classic fedora which a lot of guys they feel you have to be a little bit more fashion forward to pull it off unless you’re really old school.
If you get down to some of the functional hats like the panama, I mean you’re in a hot weather environment, I mean pull it off. I was just in an air show in Oshkosh this last summer. That was a great place to be pulling off, you can pull off a panama, you can pull off a straw, but the function of the hat right there is solid. We can also look at the way that our clothing opens up. If you look at the button placement, one way a lot of people they find maybe a trench coat and they’re like, “Oh this looks like a great trench coat.” It’s actually a woman’s trench coat because of the placement of the buttons.
Usually on a man’s jacket, we’re going to have the buttons on the right side and then it’s going to flap over. On a woman’s jacket, you’re going to have usually the opposite. The reason for this was the placement of our weapons. Most people were right handed and so you wanted to be able to reach over and slide your hand right in, be able to grab your sword, be able to grab your side arm. That’s one of the reasons that we’ve got the actual positioning of the buttons on much of our clothing.
We can also get into other things; I’d say the length of, the lower of our jackets. Jackets used to be a bit longer and it was when men started to ride in vehicles such as tanks, such as aircraft, that we started to see like the bomber jacket, the field jacket. All of these were actually made a bit shorter so a man could get in and out of a vehicle, whether it be a tank, whether it be a jeep, whether it be an aircraft.
Brett McKay: Didn’t Eisenhower design his own jacket?
Antonio Centeno: Supposedly. I think he had a lot of … I’m thinking he had his own tailor there and it was something that he was able to say, “Hey, I want to get this adjusted, its snagging on my jeep.” Someone took that and run with it and probably made it a bigger story. I don’t think he was staying up at night doing his own clothing.
Brett McKay: No, he had other things to worry about. Like D-Day …
Antonio Centeno: Freeing Europe.
Brett McKay: Yeah, freeing Europe. Yeah, well a lot of our formal wear suits, do tuxedos have a military history?
Antonio Centeno: They do in a sense the build of them but the idea with the tuxedo was OK, a man has been on the horse all day. He’s been in the stables, he’s been working. There needed to be a clear designation. I mean when you look at a military uniforms, when we are out in the fields, we are not wearing our dress uniforms; we are wearing our cammies or the things that’s designed for the field. However, whenever you make the transition, we wanted there to be a clear distinction of when you’re going to celebrate, when you’re showing up in garrison and you want everyone to know who you are and you’re making this announcement. The same thing was with black tie. The idea of having something that you could wear in the evening to dinner that you clearly did not wear out in working out in the barn, that’s where black tie come from.
Brett McKay: Got you. All right, so suit, tie, a lot of our casual wear comes from the military like t-shirts and chinos, like are staple of a lot of men wardrobe.
Antonio Centeno: Yes.
Brett McKay: That has a military connection. Can you talk about that?
Antonio Centeno: Sure. Let’s go ahead and get to the color khaki and supposedly out of the British military, they showed up with certain colors which were getting stained, a lot of white. It just simply was easy to manufacture. They took supposedly coffee or tea, I don’t remember which one and they were staining a lot of their clothing. They wouldn’t have to spend time actually trying to get stains out of that. We also see that the terminology of blue collar. This doesn’t so much have a military origin but I think it’s an interesting, look at denim and you look at blue collar the word in general.
It goes back to blue work shirts which were dyed blue because indigo was cheap and it did a great job of covering up stains. Again that’s why when I get excited about clothing, is you look at the history and the function of it and then you see how you can bring it in. what was the other one that you mentioned?
Brett McKay: T-shirts.
Antonio Centeno: T-shirts, exactly. Yeah t-shirts were developed supposedly in the United States navy and they started becoming, but they were initially an underwear. The idea was you can have something that was very inexpensive that fit close to the body that would get dirty so you didn’t have to spend a lot of time washing your outer clothing. It was designed as the under shirt. A lot of guys when they’re up, one of the privileges of being on a boat is you get to swab the deck, just kidding, that’s not a privilege. It’s a lot of work and you do it.
Often they say the commanders or the captain he’ll say it’s because the maintenance but otherwise everyone knows it’s simply a form of torture being out there. You’re often times in the hot sun, you’ve got this especially like if you’re in the Gulf of Aden or you’re over in the Persian Gulf and it’s just incredibly hot. I remember we were off in the coast of Djibouti and yeah, I felt like that was … I’ve never been, yeah. If there is a hell, I felt that this would definitely be what it was like. It was the hottest. In any case, you’re up on the deck and guys are out there swabbing the deck and they’re going to take off their clothing.
Guys came out used to wearing their t-shirt, what we saw in the 1950s, you look at, go back to classic movies I think it’s the Wild One with Marlon Brando and I mean that’s when guys started wearing t-shirts. In fact when he wore that t-shirt, only a t-shirt on screen, that was a big deal. In the 1980s, we saw the t-shirt come around as a fashion piece and now it’s become a defacto piece. In fact most younger people, they realize haven’t we always worn t-shirts. No, we actually used to wear work shirts when you actually showed up. I still to this day advocate that a man wear work shirt.
If he handles like a blue collar let’s say you’re on a plumbing or electric company, actually get a series of work shirts made that send trust and also protect your workers from scalding pipes or anything if they’re underneath working at a person’s house.
Brett McKay: Awesome. We’ve talked about the military connection to men’s clothing. Let’s talk a bit more about science. We talked a little bit how typically the study research shows that if you have higher testosterone levels, you’re going to be a little vain or a little more concerned about how you present yourself. You’ve done a lot of research on what happens when you do start taking care, so how other people perceive you and how that can affect your professional life or romantic life. What are some of the research you’ve come across that sort of very convincing that maybe you should care about how you present yourself and how you dress.
Antonio Centeno: Well one of the things I like to throw and challenge people, we’ve got probably a lot of people listening that think of themselves as rational people. We like to think we are rational smart human beings, that we are not influenced by these visuals. In every study I see out there, I mean we are just incredibly irrational. Even maybe if you’re Spock, maybe Spock was the only person out there, but he was only half human. Understanding that you are not rational, then you start to look at these things that have had an effect. This one actually did come out of the military. What they did is they studied in the 1920s why certain officers were always getting ranked higher than others. They call it the halo defect; nowadays it’s called the halo effect.
The idea is that more attractive, basically people that we perceive to be something, we will attribute other positive things to them. They saw this with military officers and military officer that looked like the ideal military officer was consistently ranked higher than those that didn’t. I saw this in the Marine Corps, and to this day, if you can in a sense send that positive message, you can have an effect on others. Because if you imagine what a successful person looks like and when you think of people, Larry Ellison over at Oracle maybe, we think of Warren Buffett, maybe someone things of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. In any case, we’ve got an image of what that person looks like.
Even in the case of Steve Jobs he actually had a bit of a uniform that he wore. Most of those people are going to be dressed relatively nice especially if we start to get into more conservative industries like law or banking or consulting. The point is that the ideal of success and what that person looks like in our head, very rarely does he ever look like a slob. Knowing that if you can meet that ideal visually, then people are going to attribute positive things to you despite you not having earned them. That is the halo effect. It has been shown again and again. That’s why when we meet an attractive person with a great smile, nice white teeth, they look good, we just assume that they’re going to work out at the company.
We give them the benefit of the doubt and when they make a mistake, we don’t like to think we are wrong, we want to say; well it must be an anomaly. Versus if somebody shows up and they just got that bad first impression, perhaps we see a tattoo that we’re is that like a gang tattoo? Or he’s got tattoos all over his hands or perhaps going down his neck, he’s got like an eye … I mean this might be a great person. If he’s got a tear drop underneath his eye, that’s not … Many people have a negative association with that type of tattoo and despite his best efforts, he’s having to go that uphill battle.
Brett McKay: Well here’s a question; you’re a business owner, right? How do you not let the halo effect affect your hiring decisions? Because there’s that idea if he looks presentable, he looks successful, then if I need coder but he is not a very coder, I’m still going to hire him because I think he’s a good coder, because he looks competent, right? Because of the way he presents himself. That could backfire on you as a business owner. What do you do? I’m sure there’s a lot of managers and hiring managers who are listening. How do you overcome the halo effect if results are what matter to you in the end?
Antonio Centeno: The first two levels of, and I run people through a number of hoops before I hire them. The first parts I don’t even see them, in fact I don’t even see their resumes. I don’t want them to send me their resume. I don’t want them to send me a picture of themselves, I simply said, these are a number of things I want to see you answer. Based off of something that is kept the same for everyone and they’re able to show me what they’re able to do in a non scripted way. If I see that they went to Harvard, I’m going to have a positive bias.
When it comes down to it, I don’t want to have that, because when it comes down to most business owners know, it really comes down to what can that person do to help my company succeed? It doesn’t matter what school they went to, I don’t care if they didn’t go to school. What I care about is can you do the job. My first couple of hurdles of getting into my company, I don’t even want to see any of that. Then we have the Skype interview, then we have the phone interview. I will take note of, OK, does this person have, can they present themselves well?
Then the Skype I definitely do often times, see them. I probably got it better than most because most of the people I work with, I work with remotely, so we don’t see each other very often. I’m often surprised by how people look when I meet them, because we do get a different image in our head of what that person is going to look like.
Brett McKay: Yeah, I’ve had that happen to me a couple of times. There was a person I worked with over email. There was Mags, I just assumed OK it’s a dude and finally I met them in person and it was this nice lady. I was like, “Oh!” I had to ask about the nickname Mags and apparently it’s the nickname for the short for Margret so I didn’t know but now I do. There is an example of creating an image in your head without really having any details. Here is a question I had, you brought up Skype interviews what should someone wear for Skype interviews because that’s becoming more and more common instead of companies …
Antonio Centeno: It is.
Brett McKay: Flying you out to do the interview, they are just doing it over Skype. Should you dress up for a Skype interview? I mean it would be kind of weird, I think that sounds weird, right? That you are in your kitchen and then you put on a suit, I mean should you do that if you are doing a Skype interview?
Antonio Centeno: I think you should. Well, it depends on the job. I mean if you are applying to work with a bank, it’s a remote position and everyone at the bank wears a suit then yeah. I mean to me it immediately sends the signal that you didn’t just roll out of bed without saying a word, you quickly say, “I took the time to be prepared.” Every time I’ve, and I meet a lot of people on Skype, often times people just want to talk with me, I’m always blown away at how, I guess they think I’m going to judge them on how they dress, but it is always, it makes me smile when I see someone looking sharp. Often times they dress sharper than I am. I’m wearing a sweater or something and I see this person wearing a full suit and looking sharp and I always compliment them and it makes them feel great.
I would say, “Yes, it is important but, here is something that, focus on the audio.” That’s something on the Skype interview a lot of people drop down, I would say you should, if you are going to be doing a number of Skype interviews, invest into a solid microphone, in a good camera and make sure you have got a decent internet connection. I just had a presentation the other day that was shown to me and there was a dog in the background barking and as much as I wanted to pay attention to their presentation, we’re just all kind of laughing because there is this dog back there and it did detract from the presentation. Try to control what you can.
That’s what to me when you dress sharp for an interview, you realize that maybe she couldn’t have controlled that, that wasn’t her yard or, it was the neighbor’s dog, but she did everything else right. She had great slides and I understand that but if you don’t take control of what you can then that’s sends a signal to me that well, “How do I expect this person to work for me?”
Brett McKay: Got you. Dressing well, you take advantage of the halo effect. What are some of the other, what else has research says that if you take some care into your appearance that what are the benefits?
Antonio Centeno: Well, we’ve talked about how it affects other people but it also affects you and there is whole body of science called Enclothed Cognition. They have done a lot of research over North Western and a few other universities in which they show when people wear things it has an effect on them. An extreme example would be now if football players, let’s say the University of Oklahoma football team goes out into the field, everyone excited where we are ignoring them and everyone is going crazy but then they realize wait a minute those guys are wearing ballerina tutus. It is going to have an effect not only on the crowd but it is going to have an effect on the players. They are going to be a little bit embarrassed; they are going to wonder, “Why are we …” I mean they are just not going to be able to play that well and they probably going to lose to the University of Texas.
Brett McKay: Who won this year? Did OU win this year?
Antonio Centeno: Yeah, that’s true that’s true.
Brett McKay: Okay, there we go.
Antonio Centeno: Yeah, if anyone doesn’t know Brett went to Oklahoma University and I went to UT, so.
Brett McKay: Yeah, we got that. There is a lot of UT people in my life for some reason.
Antonio Centeno: I don’t know how that happened.
Brett McKay: I don’t know how that happens.
Antonio Centeno: Enclothed Cognition amazing. The study that they did that blew everyone away was they took two populations, they gave them the same white jackets and they told one group, “Hey, these are doctor jackets.” The other group they said, “These are painter’s marks.” They did these series of exams and what they found people that wore the doctor jackets performed statistically higher on every category than guys wearing painter jackets. The reason being when they are wearing those doctor jackets they felt a little bit smarter, they felt like they had to pay more attention in … If you think about that women have known this for a long time.
I remember when I was getting my MBA at Texas, a friend of mine she looked really good at one day and normally she’ll dress down and I asked her like, “Are you feeling okay today, are you a little bit sick?” She said, “Yeah, how did you know?” I’m like, Well, it’s a trick that you know my sisters talk about which is when they feel sick, they dress sharp and they dress sharp and they know they are going to get complements all day and it makes them feel better. That has an effect on us because it is from people giving us complements to us feeling like we are in control, somewhat control of the situation.
I know you’ve done a lot of research you have got a number of people talking about when you are in a situation in which you can’t control it, like you are strapped to a rocket going into space, well focus on something you can control like your breathing and all of a sudden you feel more confident. You feel you don’t panic and that’s one of the powers of Enclothed Cognition and focusing on your image. Maybe you can’t control what are going to be those test exams or what’s going to be those test questions but you can control how you prepared and that you got this got sleep, that your shoes are shined and you look good and you have received five complements on your way to your exam. I have had a number of students reach out to me and say, “Antonio I did exactly what you said, I dressed up for my exam and I performed higher than I thought I would.”
Brett McKay: Sounds very familiar, it is very similar to that Stanford experiment where down in the 70s they had to shut it down because it was just horrible what was happening. They had a group of students and they made one group prison guards and the other group prisoners. They put uniforms on the prison guards and they put prison clothes on the prisoners and just right away the prison guards just started treating the prisoners like crap. They finally had you shut it down because it was just like psychological torture going on but it is very similar, yes. Just putting on the uniform can change the way not only others treat you but how you think of yourself and what you are willing to do.
Antonio Centeno: The FBI did a study in which they, again, they took guys and they put them in two different rooms and they gave them the same problem and they said, “What are you going to do in this hostage situation?” One group said, “We are going to go down and kick down the door and we are going to shoot the hostages in the head.” The other group said, “No! We are going to negotiate.” Now the only difference between those two populations was what they were wearing. One group was dressed in camis and of course when you are dressed in camis, you are thinking action. “I’m going to go kick down the door.”
Problem with that is you almost always have, you lose some of the hostages verses the other group which is the preferred negotiations they were wearing suits. That’s one of the reasons if you think about in civilian leadership here you want, I mean having been around military guys we think like military guys, we feed off each other and awe are all about action.
Brett McKay: Yeah, one thing we have talk a lot about this site and I get questions about this all the time is like, “Brett, I’m 25 getting on to 30, I don’t feel like a grown man, what can I do?” One of the easiest things I tell them, well I say, “Well start dressing like a grown man, make simple upgrades in your wardrobe.” “Move from a t-shirt to a polo shirt.” “Stop wearing cargo shorts all the time and invest in a pair of just nice khaki shorts or a pair of chinos.” You will be surprised how that will affect how you perceive yourself.
Antonio Centeno: I completely agree man, you are preaching to the choir. I love it.
Brett McKay: Preaching to the choir.
Antonio Centeno: Preaching to the choir.
Brett McKay: Yeah, okay so anything else any other research, how about facial hair? You have written about facial hair and how that affects how people perceive you.
Antonio Centeno: It goes from culture to culture but in general having a bit of stubble is shown to actually be attractive. It shows that you have a healthy dose of testosterone usually smoother faces. Especially when it comes down to it I don’t think it is as powerful as actually being in shape. A lot of these stuff I talk about when it comes to style, it can negated if you are really in poor shape, if you have got a heavy chin. The great thing is that if you got a double chin growing a little bit of facial hair does a great job of elongating the face and hiding that double chin.
That is where it can become very powerful and it sends that signal that you’re a good provided but I would say when it comes to beards, there is a lot of mixed research out there. I’d say it comes down to more confidence and wear it with confidence and you can see them have a big comeback as of late, I think that’s a good thing but it is something that, make sure that you own the look. Another thing and when it comes down to aggression they do show that if you want to scare people definitely grow a beard. Leonidas just wouldn’t look like Leonidas if he wasn’t screaming with that beard. Shave them down give them that clean cut face; he’s not going to be as intimidating to the Persians.
Brett McKay: No way. What about moustaches?
Antonio Centeno: Moustaches. They’ve got a bad rap and I know you get a lot, does anyone say anything about your moustache Brett?
Brett McKay: I mean I get complements all the time when I’m out and about like, “Hey, awesome moustache.” That’s the only thing I get. It is just how people identify me now. It’s like the Art of Manliness is my moustache. I’ll be out like at the grocery store or like quick trip and they are like, “Hey, moustache Art of Manliness guy.” I’m like, “Yeah.” I think if I shave my moustache off I will become completely unrecognizable.
Antonio Centeno: I think you would too and I think that’s the power of the moustache. You have to realize if you have to own it or if you are going to wear it you have to own it. Because you will be the only guy most likely in the room with a moustache especially if you are under the age of 50. It’s going to be one of those things that you just need to wear with confidence but there are some negative, Charlie Chaplin. He definitely didn’t have the most, he had a great career but then he had some negative things that popped up but then Hitler just ruined.
Brett McKay: He ruined that moustache.
Antonio Centeno: He did, he ruined that. It was called the ‘Little Tramp’ for a while but then Hitler destroyed that one. Don’t ever go, so that not the one you want to go down. Also as I hear a lot of people will make comments, people that remain anonymous on the web but they say it reminds them of like a child molester or something like that. I’m like, “Yeah, okay.” I can see some people saying that but I think if you smile it definitely sends a signal that you have a healthy dose of testosterone and that what it comes down to. Is that when it comes to signaling, strength and that you’re either you are a great mate or you are a great person to have your back and to be a business partner with that I think it is a good thing.
Brett McKay: Grow a moustache.
Antonio Centeno: Grow a moustache, why not.
Brett McKay: Why not.
Antonio Centeno: Become that rebel.
Brett McKay: Become that rebel. On YouTube a lot of the discussion on my videos is always revolves around my moustache and whether I should shave it or not.
Antonio Centeno: You might as well have like a big voting.
Brett McKay: I should, I should let YouTube decide the anonymous commenters on YouTube what I should do. How I should dress, had someone said I dress like a dad?
Antonio Centeno: Yeah, can you believe that.
Brett McKay: Well, I’m a dad.
Antonio Centeno: You are?
Brett McKay: It’s a good thing I dress like a dad, because I’m a dad. Anyway, so let’s talk about this, you have got something coming up pretty exciting, it is called Style Con. Can you talk a little bit about that and what’s going on there?
Antonio Centeno: It is going to be May 1st through 3rd at Atlanta Georgia and if anyone goes to the website in menstylecon.com and it is definitely something that we are excited about. You are going to be there so I’m excited to have you there Brett. We are also going to have, my partner is Aaron Reno over at I’m Alpha and if you find my style advice boring or a little bit uptight, go check out Aaron. He has, it’s just amazing. He is funny, he’s entertaining and he covers style in a way that let’s just say I’d probably wouldn’t go down the path that he does sometimes but I love him, he is an amazing person.
We’ve also got Ryan Masters from Spartan Strength coming in and Rafael Schneider of the Gentleman’s Gazette just I’m bring the who is who of when it comes down to I think men’s lifestyle to one location. I haven’t seen anyone do anything like this and I’m excited about it because I want to bring in, I would say people that want to meet us in person and just shake hands and realize, hey we are regular people just like you. I think that’s important so that men realize especially young men that they are capable of anything and that we are here to support them and really want to see them take that jump because the world needs more better men.
Brett McKay: Awesome, so what’s that site again that people can find out?
Antonio Centeno: menstlyecon.com
Brett McKay: Awesome. Well, Tony as always it has been a pleasure speaking to you. I hope we can have you on again and get some more insights about men’s style.
Antonio Centeno: Sounds good Brett.
Brett McKay: Alright thanks Tony.
Antonio Centeno: Yeah, bye, bye.
Brett McKay: Our guest was Antonio Centeno he is the owner of Real Men, Real Style you can visit his site at realmenrealstyle.com and get access to just lots of great free content on improving your style. Also make sure you check out Tony’s style content on our website artofmanliness.com category style and grooming or dressing and grooming, excuse me. Also if you’re interested in attending his style con you can find out more information about that at menstylecon.com.
Well, that wraps up another edition of the Art of Manliness Podcast. For more manly tips and advice make sure you check the Art of Manliness website and artofmanliness.com. Please, I would really appreciate if you check out store at store.artofmanliness.com. We have a great looking coffee mug there that’s huge beastly thing, we have a Ben Franklin Inspired journal. This is inspired by Ben Franklin virtue journal that he made for himself when he was a young man. It kind of tracks his moral progress. We also have our books there. Posters, a lot of great stuff go check it out. Your purchases there will support the podcast and the site so I’d really appreciate that shop.artofmanliness.com. Until next time this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.
Last updated: October 1, 2015