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31 Days

Day 10

Embrace Your Personal Signatures

Words by Cory Ohlendorf

Cocktail illustration

Life is full of so many choices. Some are big and challenging, others are more mundane. But one thing is clear: How your life plays out is often determined entirely by the decisions we make. Of course, there are some things a man should figure out and then stick to—if for no other reason than to simply take that decision off his plate.

I'm talking about personal signatures. Those items in your life that you've tried, tested and found work for you. They're perfect—just what you want—so why mess with a good thing? You may not have all these figured out just yet, but that's part of the work that must be done. Because once you have these figured out, your life is suddenly much easier.

Cocktail illustration

Not only that, but having a reliable signature instantly conveys confidence to the world around you. You don't have to waffle about your choice. You know exactly what you want because you have it figured out. Let's say you belly up to the bar. If you're feeling adventurous or the place is known for a specialty cocktail, then by all means, peruse the drink menu. But you should always have one cocktail that you know works for your palate. You should even be able to explain how to make it to a hapless bartender.


Similarly, you should have one meal you cook for yourself and others. Even if you're not much of a home cook, there has to be one thing you really like to eat and should master for yourself. It can be an easy breakfast or a more substantial dinner (both of which come in handy when you're looking to impress a date). It doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be your favorite. And the more you cook it, the easier and more reliable it becomes.

Cologne bottle illustration
Cologne bottle illustration

One of the most common signatures men lean into is a scent. Your cologne is an invisible part of your style, and it powerfully impacts the way people see and remember you. Having your own signature fragrance can imbue in others a sense of familiarity with you when they come across the smell—not only your words and appearance, but the way you make them feel. And don't think you need to have just one. Perhaps you have one for work and another for play. Maybe you have a lighter spritz for the warmer months and something darker and rich for the winter. Find the fragrances that you love and embrace them. And when it comes to personal signatures, more niche brands offer a little more independence. More mass-market fragrances are fine, but you run the risk of smelling like some other guy in your office.

Other signatures to consider come down to more of a personal uniform. Think of your wardrobe. Do you have several versions of essentially the same chore coat? Four or five denim shirts that are only slightly different? These are your signature items. Embrace and lean into them. You don't need a bunch of watches. Just one you really love. Ideally, a vintage option with some history that means something to you. And a reliable, versatile pair of shoes or boots that you can pull on over and over again. When they wear out, get them resoled or re-up and buy the same pair. Why? Because they'll never go out of style. It's not some trend. It's your go-to, your signature.

& Revaluate

Men's top hat

Just because something is your signature now, doesn’t mean it has to be forever. Every few years, take stock and decide if any of your signatures need updating.