1. How did you start with menswear? What was your first contact with classic menswear?
It all started at age 14, when I began making copies of 19thcentury garments thanks to my interest in history. The construction techniques of those old clothings are nearly identical to that of today’s bespoke suits, and learning how to make those old clothes introduced me to today’s. Knowing how classic menswear is put together, and seeing the evolution from the 19thto today made me begin to appreciate modern clothing. It’s sort of spiraled out of control from there.
2. How do you normally put your outfit together?
I don’t have a formula, but usually I begin centered on one piece of clothing. It might be something I particularly want to wear, or it might be something that just fits with my mood that day. But usually once I have one piece of clothing- a jacket, or trouser, or what have you- I build out my outfit from there, choosing other pieces of clothing that work well.
I find I usually choose by colour. I’m becoming a big fan of using tangential and tonal, instead of contrasting, colours. For example, as I’m answering this question I’m wearing a pair of khaki-brown trousers. It’s a pretty common pairing to wear brown trousers contrasted with a blue shirt- which isn’t a bad look- but I’m wearing these with a yellow-stripe shirt. Another example could be a white shirt with ecru trousers. You get the idea. I find that by having most colours close together, instead of contrasting, makes an outfit far more harmonious.
3. Tips for starters?
I think first look around. Of course, people always say “be original” and you should be. But everyone has to start somewhere and to begin, look at people around you, or online. Or TV, or movies, or anywhere. If you like what you see, do it. Wear it. I’ve got a folder full of pictures of other people’s clothing and outfits I like. Once you get a sense of what sorts of things you like and don’t like, you can understand where to go from there. You can figure out for yourself what style is most attractive, if you want wide or narrow trousers, double-breasted or single-breasted suits, and what feels most you.
Also, expect to make some wrong purchases. I’d love to have the money back from all the bad purchases I’ve made, but I’d probably spend that money on something else I never wear. Sometimes you like the way something looks, buy it and wear it, and realize it just doesn’t work after all. As long as you can step back and see why something doesn’t work, it was a good lesson.
4. How would you describe your style?
Tough question. I guess roughly a mid-century style. Particularly given my history-rooted start in menswear, I find myself often looking to the past for inspiration. I figure if, after all these years, an outfit from then still appeals to me, it must be doing something right. It is a balance, though, because it’s very easy to go too far and look like a caricature of someone from 50 years ago. So my particular style is always a balance between my affection for mid-century and my modern life.
5. Where do you look for inspiration? Who are your role models when it comes to style?
Well, I hesitate to say people like Cary Grant, or Sean Connery. Those aren’t very interesting answers and besides, everyone cites them. But they are good examples of classic done well, and it can be worth looking at them every now and again. Now Humphrey Bogart, I like a lot. He has a very natural sense of dressing; he’s perfectly comfortable and at ease in whatever he wears. Plus, we’re both the same size and neither of us are leading-man handsome which gives me a certain sense of kinship with him.
For people right now: I think Ethan Newton is doing many things well. Even when I don’t care for a particular piece of clothing he might be wearing in a picture, I’m always intrigued by his overall look. Ralph Lauren, too. There’s a lot of things he does I actively don’t like- think jeans and black tie- but when he’s good there’s no one like him. Yukio Akamine has a seemingly endless wardrobe, and he uses it to great effect. All his outfits are wonderfully personal, each combination unique, and his daily pictures are a pleasure to look through.
And of course I must mention Max Mogg. His enthusiasm for double-breasted suits is contagious, and I’m happy to have caught the bug.
6. Which are your favourite brands at the moment and why?
There are a couple I’m very interested in right now: Bryceland’s, and Scott Fraser which, now that I think about it, both do a very good job of drawing inspiration from vintage sources and bringing it into modern day.
Bryceland’s not only has some very cool pieces on its own: rayon shirts and buffalo check hunting jackets spring to mind, but Ethan Newton embraces an unashamedly masculine silhouette in his dress. In a world with a lot of questionable unisex clothing, it’s a nice thing to see and a good reminder of how tailoring shapes the body.
Scott Fraser has some cool stuff going on now. I originally found him through his wide-legged trousers, one of the few places to buy them online. But I stuck around when I saw some of the other items he has on offer. He’s got a great sense of proportions going on, with high waisted trousers, short over-shirts, and a very easy, relaxed sensibility. Plus, he clearly embraces summer, a bit of seasonal rebellion I share.
7. Do you have a favorite garment and is there a piece of clothing that you would never wear?
A favourite garment is tough- there are so many that I enjoy wearing. I think right now it probably is a seersucker button-down shirt. It’s light, airy, incredibly comfortable to wear, and manages to work with almost everything I own. Unlike many tailoring enthusiasts, I tend to prefer summer over winter, and I can hold onto the summer a little longer each time I wear it.
Something to never wear? One thing comes immediately to mind: short sleeve dress shirts. Think Dwight Schrute from The Office. I think those shirts are incredibly ugly, and a symbol of the bane of any menswear enthusiast: business casual. Seriously, just roll up your sleeves. It looks so much better.
5 quick questions
Your favourite Bond movie?
Dr. No. The opening scene is one of my all time favourites. However, my favourite Bond theme is You Only Live Twice.
Your favourite shirt colour?
It may seem boring, but I like a simple white shirt.
Your favourite shoe model?
My current favourite is a pair of Allen Edmonds loafers, in a dark brown.
Break or no break?
DB or SB?