Life is composed of many stages. These stages bring many different aspects of culture, knowledge, responsibility, and costume. The last of these is what we shall concern ourselves with and explore further. We shall seek to understand it and apply .
To avoid argument, let us assume that life begins from conception and ends at death. Here are the stages: conception to birth, infancy to school age, school age to young adulthood, and full adulthood to middle age, eldership, and finally death. At conception to birth you wear nothing and from infancy to school age your parents dress you according to the fashions of your age, sometimes their whim takes over. During young adulthood you begin to develop your own ideas and dress according to them; most will follow what the media, their peers, or affiliate groups wear. The next stage full adulthood, by now you are firmly stuck in your way of dressing. If you are a man you have to own at minimum a 1 suit and you have completely become absorbed in your profession's attire. Eldership is a free-for-all. You can say and wear anything you desire. Many now have the privilege of dressing with all the exclusive items of their culture. In my culture, you can now wear tribal dress with a cane and highly decorated head dress even before the Chiefs. Then finally, at death, you once again wear nothing at all.
Mr. E living to dress at Christmas.
The sartorial blogosphere sometimes waxes poetry and philosophizes about dressing to the point of making it seem like that is the expression of ultimate masculinity. Dressing to them is intrinsically important to their life; they live to dress. This is advisable only in some circumstances. The most appropriate time for this is during eldership. It is in this stage of life that one has no responsibilities, theoretically and maybe only in the best case scenarios, and society has freed one to the point of allowing them to pursue and develop the intrinsic things in life. Some examples of this in Western culture are the senior citizen golfers, continuing education or life long learning programs at universities, and the Flavio Briatore like playboy billionaires.
Well what of the majority of us that are sartorialists. It is estimated by menswear retailers that we are of the 18 - 34 age range, the so called video-game demographic. This is the adulthood to middle age category. In the full adulthood stage of life we are seeking things that are instrumental. On the young side one is occupied with education on the older end one is completely engorged with wealth building in their career. These things are all to build a life for themselves and their families; the foundation for the lifestyle they will hopefully live during eldership is being created. This stage of life requires instrumentality in the choice of dress. For, to succeed in one's career one must dress according to the profession and peers in one's place of employment. One is said to be 'dressing to live'. To dress to unique or outdress the superiors will bring ill will towards you and hamper your success; Antongiovanni, the author of TheLondonLounge.Net fame, writes something similar in his book, "The Suit."
While it is admirable to seek the intrinsic values of dandyism it is much more useful for the majority of sartoralists to dress with what they can get away with. One should copy their peers and superiors but not to a tee. Copy the form but play with the particulars. Choose to be a dandy with the items one does not expose very much. Socks and pocket squares lend themselves to this quite well. Items that are front and center like ties should follow the norm to ensure one's livelihood. Remember this advise, dress to live in your youth and live to dress during eldership.