I am just starting on my second year of college. I live in an area that is very casual and also very hillbilly. I've grown up farming all my life which seems to be quite apparent to people from the way I dress. I enjoy the AoM's dress articles very much and I do try to dress nicely in the obvious ways with clean clothes, no holes, belt, ect. However, it would be quite strange and I would feel very stilted dressing like they suggest when I go to school. Further, dress clothes is just not something I own nor have the money to buy. Most of the clothing I own is in a western taste with wranglers, cowboy boots, flannel shirts, romeos, etc.
So, how would y'all suggest I dress manly but still maintain my preferred style of dress?
Be who you are, and let the chips fall where they may.
Most college kids barely manage to get dressed. Basketball shorts, flip flops, that sort of thing. You're dressing in long pants or jeans, boots, and woven shirts...and you have a definite style of your own.
What is the problem? Do you *want* to be like everybody else? Is that your intention?
The problem is that all the articles on here seem to advocate dressing rather differently than I do now. So I was wondering if I'm dressing down too much with the way I dress.
I think there have been some that discuss a more casual or Western style of dress. Perhaps the biggest reason that most of the articles are about dressing well in a more urban way is because very few young men seem to know how to do so, but most would benefit from the knowledge.
What you're wearing sounds just fine for everyday college wear, you can worry about how to wear suits when you start having interviews where you should wear them, or attending dressier weddings, etc...
It is not because they *advocate* dressing in a specific way, but because they *instruct* men how to dress in a specific way.
If you're in college, I expect that you are wearing basketball shorts, a worn out tee shirt, an ill-fitting tank top yellowed from age, and maybe some flip flops. Oh, and the requisite backwards baseball cap.
Instead you're wearing clean clothes, coordinate, and have an identifiable sense of style. You're miles ahead of the curve.
Is your sense of style causing you distress? If so, change it. But, recognize that western style is a design classic, and flannel if accessorized correctly could lean either lumberjack or hipster.
So long as you neither look nor smell like something that was scraped off the highway, you're ahead of the curve.
Think about how George Strait always is turned out for performances. Nothing flashy, generally understated, nothing really noticeable, but always Western, and always clean, neat and tidy.
I wouldn't dress the way articles on dressing well say, either, unless I'm going to a wedding or an interview. Nor would anyone I know. Which is what people would ask: "What's up with you? Do you have an interview?" That's also what I ask my college students. The answer is always "I have an interview" or "My fraternity has dress-up Friday."
The way that you're dressed in your picture seems perfectly appropriate. Jeans and a collared shirt, even if it's unbuttoned (as long as there's an undershirt!) is fine.
Besides the country-western theme of the photo-truck, dog... hey where's your ex-wife?--nothing really says too terribly much that you're a country boy either.
I'm in my 4th year at college and spent the last calendar year actively trying to improve my dressing. I'll admit I'm much more of a city man than you are, and my dressing desires reflect that, but I think what you say you're aiming for is pretty good.
I think the real heart of the dress advice on AoM isn't that everyone should wear a suit and Italian loafers every day, but that you should be comfortable in whatever outfit you put on in the morning. My "rule" of wardrobe is that man looks best in a collar, pants, and clean shoes, regardless of if it's "urban," "western," "formal," or whatever. So, I'd suggest taking the articles' advice with whatever grain of salt fits your personal style. If you walk out the door believing you look good, then by the magic of human attitude/emotions those around you will see your confidence and remember you as a good-looking dude.
Like everyone else said, you're already in great shape by focusing on the details; no holes, clean clothes, etc. I might suggest learning how to properly iron your cloths (if not investing in an iron/board). It's not hard once you've practiced, and the sharp appearance an iron gives is notably different from the "dryer smooth" you get from normal laundering.
As far as expanding into dress clothes, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and thrift shops like those are your friends. I've found a healthy number of shirts from my local shops, and I'm still hoping for that diamond-in-the-rough sport coat I can add to my casual attire for under $15. You just have to get out and start looking (and be sure to stick to your budget).
Are you looking to dress up but still have a Western flair? Try a place that sells square dancing clothes. That's what I did back in my Urban Cowboy/ western rock phase back in the early 70s.
If only I could pull off the Faron Young nudie suit!