Meet Gerry Nelson, a Styleforum member who routinely posts in both the Classic Menswear and Streetwear and Denim subfora. Gerry has a great eye for color, texture and fit, and in this week’s member focus he tells us about how he honed in on a style that’s versatile, eye-catching, and always well put-together.
My journey began half a lifetime ago in England. Up until then, I didn’t have much of an interest in menswear. Hanging out with a group of people who were into designer clothing got me interested in clothing by Giorgio Armani. This, in turn, gave me a love of interesting textures and soft tailoring…I then proceeded to gain a bunch of weight and consequently lost interest in menswear over the next two decades until I decided to get things back on track.
After getting back in shape around 2011- 2012, the first thing I did was to start looking out for resources on how to dress better which led me to StyleForum and Put This On. The latter has a wonderful list of items for an essential wardrobe. It was fantastic – there it was, all laid out for me in a list and all I had to do was to acquire the pieces, one by one. Of course, things are never that straightforward, but more on that later…
From Styleforum I got a love for English men’s shoes, combined with an itch to polish them to a high shine. The members were helpful but what really got me going was when a good friend of mine, Christian Kimber, sat me down and showed me how it was done. Of my most memorable moments was when I finally got it! I figured out that:
- Most men pay more attention to the clothes than the shoes
- If the clothes fit well, you didn’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money
- A nice, well-polished pair of shoes stands out for all the right reasons
So that’s where I started.
I, of course, took it further and decided I needed a mixture of styles to cover any occasion from tramping in the woods to a black tie dinner! So, I ended up with black, brown and burgundy oxfords, derbies, monkstraps, boots and loafers in shell, calf and suede. Most of these were bought second-hand, and naturally, mistakes were made along the way. Fortunately, I was able to resell the pairs that did not fit properly and ended up with a collection that I am extremely happy with (but there will always be another pair out there to tempt me!).
Similarly, with suits, I got the standards – a navy and a mid-grey single-breasted suit and then branched out into a lighter blue, a charcoal, a grey flannel, brown linen, a green Donegal tweed and finally, a dinner suit.
Regrets? I had a few – I bought a Chester Barrie suit off eBay because of the name and because it was made in Savile Row. I thought it was awesome but didn’t realise how out of date it looked – always ask yourself if you would buy something if there was no label. I’ve bought trousers based on the waist measurement and found that they fit more like skinny jeans or were way too baggy – pay attention to ALL the measurements. Think about where any potential purchases would fit in your wardrobe before you buy something. In some cases, I didn’t and things either had to be sold or donated (yes, I’m looking at YOU, seven-fold teal satin tie!).
I prefer textures to patterns and that’s how my Classic Menswear style developed.
There came a point, however, where I felt that I had a handle on the more formal side of things but had no idea how to dress outside of that. I wanted a style that incorporated classical elements but was something I would wear while going out on weekends, i.e. not a jacket and tie. This search eventually took me to Japanese workwear and the love of the looser, flowing fit. I still love textures and indigo-dyed sashiko and boro fabric have got my attention these days. I’m as likely to be at work in an untucked button-down collar shirt, fatigue pants and work jacket as I am in a suit, tie and pocket square. One of the great things about where I work is that there is no specific dress code.
I’ve built up a great wardrobe over time and it’s time once more to sift through and get rid of the pieces that no longer fit in with what I wear these days. It’s a good exercise when you feel you’ve accumulated too many clothes. There is no such thing as the perfect wardrobe but the best wardrobe for now is one that is constantly edited – with additions and removals – which keeps it exciting.
A great thing about Melbourne is that we get all four seasons and the weather doesn’t necessarily stick to a schedule – I’ve worn lightweight tweed on cold spring days and linen on warm autumn days. The colder weather also affords me the opportunity to layer my clothing and that opens up a lot of options in terms of colours, textures and accessories like scarves (cotton, wool-silk, lambswool and cashmere) and gloves (cashmere, calf leather and peccary). I often wake up excited about the sartorial possibilities the day promises.
It’s been a long process of experimentation that is still going on. Along the way, I’ve been influenced by many different people and made some great friends. The one thing they all have in common is that they primarily wear clothes that I would be very comfortable wearing, so it’s very easy to draw inspiration. Some of the people and brands I get my inspiration from:
For casualwear, I draw a lot of inspiration from Engineered Garments, Blue Blue Japan and Kapital for their workwear-inspired pieces, indigo dye and sashiko – what is there not to love?
Find your inspiration and I wish you all the very best on your journey. If you want to talk more about menswear and the journey, I would love to hear from you!