Over the years, I have come across many men’s style blogs, but I never really found one that seemed to get what I was about.
Until one day I found a blog that gave fashion tips for guys like me: Guys who want to look sharp, but like to keep it casual as well.
It was a blog that wasn’t all about suits and ties. A blog that kept things clear and simple. A blog that, instead of telling you to dress like the blogger, tells you to add your own flavor to your outfits.
The only thing I regretted about this blog, was that I didn’t find it 5 years earlier, when I was still a complete newbie. It could’ve saved me sooooo much time and effort.
The blog I’m talking about is Effortless Gent, and a few days ago I had the honor to interview its author Barron Cuadro.
Barron is not only the genius behind Effortless Gent, but he’s also co-founder of menswear label Fifth&Brannan and author of The Effortless Guide to Graduating Your Style.
Keep reading to find out more about how his own dress sense evolved, why he thinks any man needs to own at least 1 pair of dark blue jeans, and what he thinks of the casualization of the modern work-environment.
|So Barron, When did you start developing an interest in your personal style, and how has it evolved over the years?|
|I’ve pretty much always been interested in the idea of my own personal style. Essentially it’s an extension of who you are and how you choose to express it says a lot about you.When I was younger and more impressionable, the music I listened to determined my style. I listened to a lot of rap in the mid-nineties to mid-00s, both that gangsta West Coast sh*t and also that flashier, more dimensional East Coast stuff… so you can just imagine how I dressed.
As I got older my style matured a lot. I guess I realized you can’t dress that way forever. Plus, it just wasn’t my taste anymore.
I moved on to more preppy brands like Abercrombie, American Eagle, etc. way before they were considered mainstream or trendy… at least in my circles. At the time, those stores weren’t here in SF yet, and I bought a lot of pieces on the East coast when I was visiting family.
Keep in mind I was still a teenager, barely entering my twenties.
Looking back, I guess I’d call myself trendy, but personally I feel like I was ahead of the trend curve juuuust enough for it to be acceptable (at the time).
Obviously I’ve since grown up even more, and I tend to prefer things with less logo visibility, and clothes I can wear for years.
This is funny to talk about. I don’t think too much about my style’s history but it’s entertaining when I take a step back and reflect.
|I know! I often think back about the different ways I used to dress in the past; the different styles I adopted when I was young, and especially the many, many bad choices I made.Anyway, you said your style matured a lot as you got older. You went from a hip-hop look to a preppy one. Was that a gradual transformation or was it quick?|
|It was pretty gradual, maybe one item at a time. Like for example the jeans went from baggy to slightly less baggy, and then to straight leg, and then finally to a slimmer cut straight leg which I wear today. Same progression with everything else: shirts, outerwear, etc.|
|Why did you start Effortless Gent, and how has the site changed since you started?|
|I always had guy friends who commented on the way I dressed. To them it was overly-dressy or fancy, but really it was just dressing like a grown-up.They’d make lighthearted jokes but then a bit later ask me about how to best dress themselves. “Hey B, so do these shoes go well with this shirt?” “What should I wear with these pants?”
I figured that if they had questions, other guys probably have the same types of questions as well. I thought, well, why not create a site that discusses the finer points of crafting a man’s personal style?
At first I really had no other direction than that… Actually, I’m not even sure I had that. I just knew what I wanted to talk about, so if you look at earlier articles, they were just a smattering of random men’s style tips.
Over the years I’ve learned to hone my message and write articles speaking to that message… Things like my Lean Wardrobe philosophy, buying fewer but better things, learning what to spend the most on vs what’s okay to skimp on if needed, and how to craft a personal wardrobe that reflects one’s own style accurately, using a mix of classics and a few trendier things too.
|You mentioned your friends made comments about your clothes. Some of my readers have let me know that one of the biggest things holding them back is peer pressure. Can you let them know how you dealt with it?|
|I was never one to be overly reactive to my peers’ comments. If they weren’t dressing the way I cared to dress, why should I entertain their opinions?That can be a tough one to battle though; it really depends on the person. It helps if you keep in mind that people tend to make comments or criticize things they themselves aren’t comfortable doing, such as making big changes in their lives.
Personally, I’m just not one to care, so for me it was easy to laugh off or ignore. And like I said, eventually these were the same guys asking me for tips on how to put things together.
|EG has an emphasis on classic looks with an injection of personal taste. What would you say to someone whose style is heavily influenced by modern trends?|
|Just to clarify, I don’t see anything wrong with trends. It’s what drives innovation in fashion and style and allows people to develop preferences as to what they like and don’t like.If a man’s personal style is heavily influenced by trends, I would just say that I hope he’s prepared to spend a lot on keeping up with them.
Staying up to date on the newest trends can be expensive. At EG we focus on developing a personal style that’s more classic, because those looks last a lifetime.
Certain pieces I talk about have been around for years, and if you see dudes wearing them in older photos, their style looks just as relevant today as it did back then.
To keep things exciting though, I encourage experimentation in trends. I just advise that you do so sparingly, and to save the bulk of your clothing expenditure on classics that you won’t want to get rid of after one season.
|I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I just recently wrote about establishing a good foundation for your wardrobe with such classic men’s wardrobe essentials. One of the items in the capsule is a pair of dark, inky blue jeans, which I’ve noticed you mention on several occasions, and you even proclaimed them the ultimate wardrobe must-have.
Can you tell us what has made you such a big advocate of dark, inky blue jeans?
|They’re just so versatile. If a man has a great pair, he can wear them in 85-90% of situations he may find himself in… From mowing the lawn, to the bar for happy hour, to Sunday brunch with the significant other… assuming that in between all those events, he lets his denim air out.What makes them so appropriate (assuming they’re the right kind) is that they’re dressy enough to wear to more formal occasions, and at the same time, they’re still jeans.
I think the way men dress nowadays (especially here in the states) is so casual, that putting on a pair of dark denim with a button-up collared shirt is actually a step up from the masses.
Most jobs allow their employees to dress casually. Most church-goers can go to Sunday service casually.
These are probably two of the most common formal situations a man would find himself in. If these places allow guys to dress down nowadays, a pair of dark denim and a nice button-up dress shirt can really go a long way.
|You know, I have been thinking about the casualization of the modern work-environment lately. I think it’s great that a lot of men are being allowed to choose what to wear to their job these days, rather than having to wear a suit… But on the other hand, I think it has just made a lot of men lazy dressers. Where do you stand on the issue?|
|It has made men lazy dressers, but I think what’s worse is that there’s a whole new set of young men growing up and getting into the workforce, that don’t know how to dress at all. They have no one to be inspired or influenced by.It’s one thing to decide to dress casually or sloppily, but another to not know the difference.
The one thing I’ve discovered as EG has grown is that there are still plenty of guys (a silent majority, perhaps) who do care, and who want to learn how to improve their personal style.
That’s the kind of guy we tend to attract at EG; dudes who care enough to learn and try, but aren’t too obsessive over it. They want to know enough to look good and appear natural and comfortable in their clothes, but they don’t necessarily care who Brunello, Boglioli, and Bastian are (though if you know what I’m talking about, extra brownie points for you).
|Besides your own site, you must know some other great style resources. What other blogs would you recommend to someone who is a fashion beginner?|
|I think Primer Magazine has some good style tips for beginners, plus my friend Andy that runs it does a great job with visuals and illustrations.Dappered is a great site if you’re a bargain hunter. Joe spots deals all over the interwebz and brings em staight to you via his site. He also has a very active message boards that you should check out.
If you’re looking for more tips on how to be REALLY sexy, I’d say check out Real Men Real Style. Antonio knows his stuff, understands suits and how to wear them (good thing, considering he sells custom made suits at A Tailored Suit), and has a bunch of great videos on YouTube.
I’d also browse the #menswear tag on Tumblr. Lots of great imagery on there. Don’t get too caught up in the details if you’re still a novice. Just take a mental note of the styles and images that appeal to you, and keep that in mind for the future.
When you have a good grasp of your own personal style, you’ll be able to return to those photos and see what actually works with the way you dress.
|Alright, great tips, Barron. I think that about wraps it up. Thank you for your time and lettng us get to know you a little better. It was a pleasure getting to pick your brain a little. As for you guys reading this, If I had to recommend you check out any men’s style site (besides this one, of course), then I would recommend you check out Effortless Gent. It’s an amazing resource, full of great tips, and I have no doubt it will help you sharpen your sense of style.|