Member Focus: Leanderthal

This week, we feature another relative newcomer to Styleforum: Leanderthal, who can be found most often in the Classic Menswear WAYWT thread. In this installment, Leanderthal talks about inspiration, hobbies, and growing up – but more importantly, about why menswear is such an impactful part of his life.

I grew up in a small rural community in the central United States. I was raised in a log cabin, deep in the middle of the woods, and led a mostly simple and sheltered life. I first became enamored with men’s clothing after watching Fight Club for the first time. I became obsessed with Brad Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden, and I wanted whatever the look was that he possessed: his bad-ass attitude and his vintage red leather jacket. Mostly that jacket though. But other than hoarding GQ magazines, I mostly chalked my ambitions up to a pipe dream. It didn’t seem realistic to pursue them, largely due to my roots and my up-bringing. It didn’t fit into my life, and I had no idea how I would even get involved in something like that anyway.

So instead, when I was of age, I enlisted in the United States military and eventually forgot about whatever it was that I thought I wanted to do in menswear…until about two years ago. Fast forward a decade. I found myself still serving, and while I was proud of what I had achieved, I hated the work that I did. I had become addicted to alcohol, and it seemed like my life was falling apart all around me. I was swinging at air, trying to keep my head afloat. It finally dawned on me that I had to stop drinking, and that I had to get my life in order, so in 2015 I admitted myself to treatment. I got sober, and I’ve stayed sober thankfully. But I found myself yearning for something; something that I didn’t have, but I didn’t know what it was. I had devoted most of my previous time to drinking and work, and I realized that I had no hobbies, and very few friends. I needed to find something for myself. I needed something that made me feel like I had a purpose, to fill the void I had dug myself into.

Then, one day, I was rummaging through my closet trying to find something appropriate to wear to church. In all of my drunken stupor, my wardrobe had fallen by the wayside, and I really didn’t have much to choose from. I was complaining to myself because apart from a few boots and tennis shoes, I really didn’t have any footwear other than a pair of black, square-toed derbies, which I hated. I decided that I needed to go shoe shopping. So, like any wise person, I turned to the internet to begin my search! Almost immediately I was overwhelmed with endless amounts of brands, opinions, and options. I had no idea what to look for or where to start. So I just started to read everything. I read all day that day at work about everything shoe-related that I could find. And I enjoyed it. I loved it! All those little dreams and fantasies that I had when I was a young adolescent started to resurface, and for the first time since I could remember, I became excited.

I decided that I wouldn’t buy a new pair of shoes, but that I would instead begin to build a wardrobe. A wardrobe that I wanted. I discovered websites like and Styleforum. I started watching how guys were dressing, and noted what I liked. At first I thought that I should build a formidable wardrobe of modest staple items. Things like a charcoal suit and cap toed shoes. But before I could even make a purchase, I started to become bored with the idea. I really didn’t need a charcoal suit. I worked a uniformed job, and apart from an occasional wedding or funeral, I had nowhere to wear a suit to.

I wanted to dress like the guys I was seeing on threads and in magazines. I wanted to wear what I wanted to wear, how I imagined it. I wanted to dress how I was feeling. I wanted to wear colors, and textures, and unique pieces. So, that’s what I started to do. It took me awhile to come out of my shell. I was scared of what people on the internet would think if I posted a picture of something I was wearing and they didn’t like it. It meant putting myself out there. I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was just trying new things every time, things that I liked. And I still am. What has changed is my confidence.

I still consider myself just a novice menswear enthusiast. Every day I am trying something new and experimenting. If I see something I like or that inspires me, I try it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I get critiqued, and I get complimented. But it really doesn’t matter to me either way. I am doing something that I take great pleasure in and that makes me happy. And every day and every ensemble is new and fun. Even if I don’t get it right! It’s always an experience that I love. My confidence has sky-rocketed since I started dressing how I like and how I see myself dressing.

Working a uniformed job gives me the freedom to dress as I please when I am not at my place of work, something I find very unique and that I am grateful for. Menswear has also filled that void that I once had in my life – that void that I used to fill with alcohol and depression. It has kept me alive, in a sense. Because of everything that has happened in my life in two short years, I have decided that it is fitting for me to change my choice of career. At the end of this year I will be discharging from the service, at which point I will go on to finish my bachelors in Fashion Design and Merchandising and begin my MBA. This is a whole new world for me, and I am ecstatic to be stepping into it.

You can follow @Leanderthal on Instagram @ollisleander

6 thoughts on “Member Focus: Leanderthal

  1. How fascinating! This is actually quite an inspirational story. It perfectly illustrates how important it is for life to have meaning. It doesn’t really matter what gives that meaning, as long as it’s there to pursue. Clothes, and the projection of one’s personality via one’s dress, is as good and honourable a place as any.

    Kudos to you sir!

    • Very much agreed. I always think it’s interesting how, especially in times of personal struggle, it can be the most – seemingly – simple things that help us get back on track or give us direction. Many thanks to Leanderthal for sharing.

  2. I would like to be associated with the words of Cox and Jasper.

    Well done to you Ollis

  3. What an inspiring story – thank you for sharing it. Best wishes to you in your new career!

  4. Ollis is now a good friend of mine and I couldn’t be more proud to see him getting attention and recognition, not only for his terrific sense of style that he created all by himself, but also for his whole personal story.

    I am preparing a feature on my blog, with a more detailed story of Ollis’s life and written by Ollis himself. If you don’t mind I will come back here and share with all the members. It is truly a wonderful story that needs to be read.

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