Styleforum member @mossrockss is probably best-known for always looking good in a blazer in jeans. He exists in the very nonchalant space between East Coast Ivy and Neapolitan tailoring, and is as popular on Styleforum for being A Very Nice Guy as he is for his well-considered outfits. Here, he talks about the three pillars of his personal style, and what took him to where he is now.
The Three Pillars of My Style
The first pillar is advice I read in 2007 or 8 in Glenn O’Brien’s Style Guy column in GQ. A reader had asked whether he should wear his trench coat in his car—will it cause undue wear and tear? What does Glenn O’Brien do? Glenn memorably replied that he generally let his car’s highly engineered climate control do its job, but as to whether the reader should be concerned about wear and tear, he replied, “Don’t worry about your coat, it was made for the trenches.”
Wear your clothes. This is foundational to me because I can’t afford to buy and own things I don’t actually wear. I recently posted a picture of myself holding a baby sea turtle on the beach in Mexico, about to release it into the bay, wearing a white Eidos polo. Someone told me, “that shirt is much too nice to be wearing on the beach!”
Forget that. Clothes are meant to be worn. Wear them.
Baby sea turtles deserve the best sartorial example before embarking on their life-or-death journey into the sea
The second pillar is a feeling I had shortly after starting to wear tailored clothes, around 2012 or 2013. I thought something along the lines of “I just want a blazer I can wear dressed down, with jeans and stuff.” I wanted to dress well, in tailored jackets because they make me look better, but without coming across as fussy. The reason I felt like my jackets looked out of place – too “dressed up,” too “put on,” that they were “trying too hard” – was shoulder padding. I had bought a Brooks Brothers navy blazer in the “Regent” cut and tried to dress it down, but I always felt self-conscious wearing it casually. It was those shoulder pads! I saw pic after pic of the knocked-down, natural, pad-free (but not necessarily wadding-free!) Neapolitan style from @whnay, @voxsartoria, @maomao, and others, and I knew that’s what I wanted.
Shoulder pads and skinny lapels ruining my look in 2014
This is why every sportcoat in my wardrobe is now Eidos—soft-shouldered, slightly casual, Neapolitan in heritage, at a price point I can swallow – in textured, unique, fantastic fabrics. And of course it is paramount that the fit on me is perfect like lamb and tuna fish (what, you prefer “spaghetti and meatball?”). I was lucky to get on the Eidos train before it became more about Indian pajamas or whatever, but the key here is the fit and fabric, not the brand (and thankfully, Antonio – @NickPollica – still throws us tailoring fans a bone).
The third pillar is the very simple economics 101 principle of opportunity cost, which was somehow baked into my DNA from birth: When I was a kid and my family would go out to eat somewhere nice, I’d ask my parents if I could choose something on the menu, but get McDonald’s dollar menu food instead, and then they could give me the cost difference in cash (to save up and buy Metal Gear Solid or Tomb Raider II or whatever).
When I first got into clothing, I was a college student on the cusp of graduating and getting married within 4 months. Then I was a poor married guy with no full-time job for about a year. Then I got a modest-paying job while she pursued her dream of running a photography business where all the profits were reinvested in the business. Today I’m in the same modest-paying job, but with a house and its attendant costs. In other words, I’ve never been in a position to drop loads of money on clothing.
My style journey has been the opposite of so many a Styleforum newbie, who discovers he loves clothing, then goes on a ridiculous buying spree dropping thousands before realizing two-thirds to three-quarters of what he’s bought doesn’t fit him, doesn’t suit him, doesn’t work in his life’s circumstances, looks ridiculous on him, and was ultimately a waste of his money. Yes, I have made dumb buys, but thankfully every ill-considered purchase I’ve made has been a second-hand eBay (or B&S) purchase.
Erm… So there was this unfortunate Corneliani purchase.
Given these three pillars, and since I love tailored clothing but am not a suit guy (don’t need to wear one that often), my wardrobe looks like this:
- three fall/winter sportcoats (one in dark emerald green, one in brown donegal tweed, one in navy small-herringbone faux-donegal)
- two spring/summer sportcoats with a third coming soon (one in navy, one in dark chocolate brown with matching suit pants, one in tan)
- one navy suit in a year-round standard suit fabric that I’ll upgrade at some point.
My shirts and pants collection is a hodgepodge of brands, mostly inexpensive, because opportunity cost (a nice, say, G. Inglese shirt is $300; I’ve gotten some of my Eidos jackets for just over double that. Explain that to me). And shoe-wise, I rotate between four pairs of shoes (snuff suede penny loafers, snuff suede chukkas, tan suede jodhpurs and brown calf double-monks; I’m looking to add some light brown suede tassel loafers to the mix) when I’m not wearing my beat-to-death Sperry canoe mocs.
So, when people tell me “You do the sportcoat and jeans look so well, how do you do it?!,” hopefully this will give you some clues. I’ve spent nearly a decade ruthlessly pursuing my style, figuring out what I feel comfortable in, what makes sense for my life’s circumstances and that I like the way I look in, then trimming away everything that doesn’t get me there. Here’s where I am now: