Fashion fades; style is eternal. We have heard this far too often. But it is true to a fault. Fashion is merely the trend for the moment, a hypebeast drop. But effortless style is like the Star Wars “Force,” everyone has it in some form, it just needs a bit of coaxing, some inspiration to bring out. It is an inner power that takes time to tame.
You won’t pick up a tip from me on street wear. I think its time we look beyond loco-logoed joggers and overpriced sneakers and go back to classic tailoring. Don’t get me wrong: a classic look need not be expensive. I have done a bit of malling for the holidays and there are great pieces out there at Zara, Massimo Dutti, and even SM. I guess we all need just a few practical tips, or “inspo,” to see where we want our wardrobe sense to be guided.
Thank goodness for Instagram, the style-challenged is afforded a range of inspirations. Make no mistake, I myself take a visual tip or two from these guys who seems to have a mastery of the style they’ve chosen to embody. I thought it would be a good idea to talk about them here, and classify them in categories that may suit your own journey and your age. I wouldn’t like to put labels on anyone, but when it comes to defining your sartorial M.O., it is good to set some parameters around the glut of different fashion types that I draw inspiration from.
Whether you’re more of a rake, a prep star with a hipster side, a Euro dandy, or even the uncompromising sportsman, you have our permission to fully embrace any underlying split-style mood disorder. Mix and match as you please.
The Corporate Rake
Suits, and barongs are often your choices. You like the tailored stuff, and you are a fan of those special trunk shows that bring in those fly-in tailors and cobblers. You pick up a few shirts from Signet, and maybe have your specs done by Nacky Made or Ateliers Baudin when they land. You have eschewed the branded luxury goods for those hard to find Japanese, Italian or French makers. Your watch could be worth—sorry I need to stop. Money talk is tres déclassé. Your beachwear could be some old thing you picked up in the South of France. Your back-up tailor is in Hong Kong, perhaps in the Mandarin. You accessorize, but not too much. In this case, you are approaching, or at least would like to approach, Alexander Kraft levels. Kraft is CEO of Sotheby’s Europe, a dandy, rake and corporate powerhouse rolled into one. Also akin to Mr. Kraft’s style is that of Alan See of The Armoury in Hong Kong.
Oh, the preppies. They are still quite alive and kicking years after “The Preppy Handbook” has run out of print. Still wearing blue blazers—but bespoke this time around—and precision pressed khakis, now made by some Italian dude. Hey, even Waspy sartorialists need to grow up and face the real world. Their inner hiptser came forth to mix and match an unpologetically edgy t-shirt with a Purple Label jacket. They ditched the polished Alden shoes for new kicks. Think the likes of David Lauren, Wild Gentlemen of Preps and Hipster, and Anton Miranda, and check out their IG for a snapshot of prepster chill.
The Euro Dandy
There are those who like to put things together in the spirit of “sprezzatura” that the Italians like to bandy so much. It’s a fun mix of classic Neapolitan style, with the contemporary quirkiness of being #pitti ready. More dandy than stiff British aristocrat, it’s an attitude that pushes the peacock envelope. Live in Madrid a few months and it will acquire a sense of the new normal. Florence even more so. The staples of this look: the much needed hat, the tie with a longer tongue in the back, the beaten out satchel, and the genetically attached cigarette between the fingers. Over the years, the Japanese have also picked up on this, as well as Koreans. Exemplary practitioners of this look are Tapi-style, Shuhei Nishiguchi, Danilo Carnavale or Steve Calder.
It’s not that you don’t care about fashion (yeah right, and I am the king of England), you just would rather be backpacking across Europe, riding your bike, camping—or just appear to be doing any of these. Hence, even if you’re simply navigating the jungle of everyday life (like getting a Grab, or sitting in your Jeep or Range on EDSA traffic), your wardrobe still looks like it’s straight off the back of Indiana Jones, or a flight deck of the USS Nimitz, or one of those Asia to Africa safaris. Fatigue/canvas/denim jackets, twill, plaid flannel, and corduroy in natural tones make regular appearances on your person as you trek the narrow streets of Poblacion. Guys like Nigel Coubourn, Broadway and Sons, the cool guys at Leon Denim, and the dudes at the Signet Store can provide some light at the end of the tunnel if more inspiration is what you seek.
Being too much of each one of these looks can be perilous. I know very exacting gents that just overthink what they wear—too particular on the construction, or the fabric, or the fit. Live a little. Mix it up. That way, a look becomes your own.