|Andy wears soft tones that often complement his surroundings.|
Andy, from the media, as consumers we are told that software engineers and Silicon Valley types are mostly wearing sneakers and jeans, adding a hoodie for more formal occasions …. Are you an anomaly for the world and culture in which you exist and can you tell me a little bit about your professional life and how dressing well plays a part in it?
I am very much an anomaly. The stereotype is actually accurate. Indeed, until a few years ago, I mostly wore jeans, sneakers, and a polo shirt to work. I’ve always had an affinity for jackets, though, and I decided to start wearing some of my jackets to work. At around he same time, I lost about 35lbs, which necessitated buying many new clothes. I started to indulge some of my ambitions and desires and started on this sartorial journey I seem to be engaged upon.
Dressing well plays no part whatsoever in my professional life. I’m simply fortunate, in a way, in that my employer has no dress code, so I’m free to dress more or less however I want. On any given day I am the only person on campus wearing a tie or a suit, or a jacket.
I notice you have a love for hats and they suit you well – can you tell us about the quality of the materials and types of shapes you look for in a hat and can you tell us some of your favourite places to source them?
I like Fedoras and Panama hats. I have one or two caps (one or two in linen and a Kangol in red wool). I like the size, especially the brim width of a Fedora. I have one custom Fedora from John Penman, in Oregon, and the rest I have purchased from Bates’ Hats in London. My Panamas are all from Brent Black, who does business as Panama Hats Of The Pacific, out of Hawaii. Again, my preference is for a fedora shape, but I also have a classic optima shape, too. I find trilbys too small for me, generally, and homburgs seem not to suit me. I am eagerly awaiting a new hat, called a Cruiser, being made for me by Steven Temkin (who does business as Leon Drexler) in Toronto. This one will be a kind of lightweight felt hat in a pork-pie shape, sorta. It’s intended to be a felt hat that one can wear in summertime.
|Earthy tones are sometimes offset by the brightness of silk.|
Your dress sense is that classic British style of dress where you seem to favour comfort and drape over the need to look tightly fitted into your clothes. Is that a factor of your age or were you always dressing like this. For example, in the 80’s would you have squeezed yourself into tighter jeans?
Yes, most of my bespoke clothing is in the Anderson & Sheppard school. Comfort was important back in the day and it’s important now. Fit is paramount. If your clothes don’t fit, then you’ve wasted your money. Tight clothes (at least in the way I perceive you to mean) do not fit.
It might be a factor of my age, I don’t know. My jeans are now, and always have been, Levi 501s. I’ve almost never worn any other kind, certainly not since I was fifteen. I’ve been considering a commission at Chittleborough & Morgan or maybe Huntsman, to get a more structured look, but even there, fit will be the primary driver.
Can you tell us about the evolution of your style and if you ever experimented with types of dress or style habits that you no longer enjoy or perhaps which even conjure up some level of shame ?
For example, in the early 90’s before I decided I was desperate to be ‘cool’ I used to try and copy exactly what my father wore which was rather gawky, well, the clothes weren’t but I was because I was 15 going on 50.
In the seventies I wore highly flared jeans, tie-dyed shorts, cheesecloth shirts, velvet jackets, and so on. I’ve tended to try different things. I had a Harris Tweed jacket when I was twenty, and I bought a bespoke dinner jacket & trousers when I was twenty-one. So, I have ranged far and wide. Color has always been important and I am not afraid to stand out because of what I wear. So, absolutely, there are things that I wore at various times in my life the memory of which makes me cringe now.
Looking back, I suppose I’ve always liked tweed jackets. An early influence, if you can call it that, was the British TV series “All Creatures Great and Small”, based on the James Herriot books. Robert Hardy’s character, Sigfried Farnon, wore a beautiful lovat Tweed jacket and a tweed hat. To this day I would love to get a jacket that looked like that one, and I have searched for decades to find the hat he wore, to no avail.
|Colour still plays a part of Andy's wardrobe but it is often limited, such as the bezel on his watch face or the Le Noeud Papillon silk bow tie he wears on his neck in this photo.|
I have a love for great neckwear but I am not that clued up on classic tie brands. Can you tell us a little about the long neck ties you wear, the silks and blends you look for and what size blade suits you?
I prefer a 9cm tie width. I do not care for skinnier ties. These days, that rules out Drake’s. I usually go for a 147-150cm length. I like grenadines, and madder silks. I also have come to like wool challis, too. And linen, shantung, and matka. Sam Hober makes perhaps the best ties in the world. Harry White, in London, and Gerald Shen of Vanda in Singapore are in the same ballpark. I also like Marinella, E.G. Capelli, Shibumi. There are lots of quality brands, I think, but these are the ones I have direct experience of.
I loved your recent deep forest green velvet smoking jacket. Can you tell us a little bit about that ensemble and who made it? Can you tell us who you use as your tailor and if you could use any tailor, who might you choose?
Well, I was in London about a year ago and saw some amazing velvet dinner jackets and decided I would get one made up at some point. Then, this summer I decided to do it, but my original concept was to go with burgundy velvet. I requested some Holland and Sherry swatches from my tailor and he sent me a burgundy and also a bottle green. The bottle green was a much nicer cloth than the burgundy. I also looked at a burgundy velvet from Cacciopolli. Turns out theirs is a wool velvet and it’s fantastic. I’ll get it made up, too, at some point. Anyways, I wanted a shawl collar jacket, with grosgrain facings, and standard dinner jacket details. For this job, I used Hemrajani Brothers, who make a lot of things for me. They did a great job on it for me. If I could use any tailor, I might go with Dege and Skinner, but when a tailor has your fit nailed down, why change? I will probably have a classic black dinner jacket made up next. I have a nice and rather unusual seersucker dinner jacket that I use quite a bit, but my dinner jackets are one of the few remaining things I have that were not custom made and I’m less and less happy with them over time. So probably I’ll replace the back one first, then the ivory one, then get this burgundy Cacciopolli velvet made up.
Your wife has become very much a part of your thread – has she also begun to take a more keen role in her dress sense since you started documenting your journey?
I would say yes. She has always dressed well, but we encourage each other, so I think she dresses better on a more consistent basis than she used to. She is, day in, day out, the best dressed person in her office.
If you could recommend one menswear product or brand to our readers that they might not know about, what product would that be?
I don’t think I know of any “unknown” brands, not that I purchase from and could therefore recommend, anyway. I believe though, that when you find a brand or a product that works for you, stop experimenting. So for shoes go bespoke or use Edward Green. Scarves, pocket squares use Drake’s. Cufflinks, Longmire. Socks use Pantherella or Mes Chaussettes Rouges. Hats, go custom or use Bates’.
Above all, dressing well should be enjoyable.
|When it comes to evening wear, Andy knows how to dress black tie well, and classically, but with a twist, as is done here with a forest green smoking jacket from Hermarajani brothers and a diamond point Le Noeud Papillon bow tie.|