Signature Style is a series I dreamt up a few months ago. I realize that at times, there can be a disconnect between reading about how to develop your own style and actually doing it.
Seeing examples of people doing their thing and exhibiting their personal style has the potential to be super helpful and informative, so I reached out to a few of my fellow bloggers, friends, and other stylish gents I know and asked them to answer a few questions.
Signature Style was born.
Hopefully through this ongoing series you’ll see that there’s no one magic bullet for getting it right. In fact, there is no “right” in the first place.
What Signature Style Isn’t
Don’t misunderstand this as an instructional series you must follow to a T. This series is meant to inspire, not instruct. Take away from it what you like, apply what appeals to you, and simply discard the rest.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that you may see looks, styles, and outfits that aren’t conventional (to you). That’s kinda the whole point. If I show you a bunch of people who all dress the same and follow the same rules, what could you possibly learn?
Because of this, approach every Signature Style article with an open mind.
How it works
The setup of Signature Style is simple (That last sentence was brought to you by the letter S). I ask every stylish individual the same five questions, and hopefully through their answers, you can glean a wealth of resourceful information that is applicable to your own life.
Remember, your style is simply a combination of your physique, tastes, your surroundings, your disposable income, and your personal preferences.
This should reinforce the fact that it doesn’t take much money or time to create a great look of your very own… Just a little patience, creativity, and the willingness to be open-minded and experimental.
First up is my buddy Alan Maramag, Visual Merchandising Manager for Onassis. A fellow San Franciscan, Alan developed his style at a young age in much the same way I did.
In his words:
As a teenager growing up in the 90′s, I was heavily influenced by the hip-hop movement on the East Coast. The emcees at the time were all wearing Polo, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica and Helly Hansen — all brands that were reserved for a higher, conservative class.
I admired the way that urban youth were able to claim and redefine an image that was not intended to market to their lifestyle. Through the years that concept of balance stuck with me, and I incorporated it into all aspects of my life.
I really started to come around stylistically in 2003, because of my job as a creative writing mentor for high schools around the Bay Area. Looking as young as I did back then, dressing professionally helped me gain the respect of all the faculty members I used to work with.
That was the same year Outkast released Speakerboxx/Love Below; and Andre 3000 had really begun to emerge as a serious style icon. I was inspired by the way he was able to balance sophistication with the flamboyance of hip-hop; and so I quickly followed suit.
Since then, it has been a long careful process of developing my personality through that same foundation.
These interests led him to stints at J.Crew, Ralph Lauren, Brooklyn Circus, Barneys, and now at Onassis where he’s making ish happen at the brand’s San Francisco location.
EG: In 3-5 words, describe your personal style.
AM: American Rugged Dandy. Pitti Flair.
EG: Who or what influences / inspires your style the most, and why?
AM: Above all, I am inspired by the idea of opportunity. I believe that everyday we are presented with the chance to meet people who can offer us friendship, love, or a better career. Looking your best only attracts a more positive first impression.
EG: What’s your favorite piece in your closet?
AM: Florsheim by Duckie Brown Cordovan Long Wings. They are comfortable, versatile, classic and just flashy enough. The fact that I can re-sole them over and over again make them well-worth the price tag.
EG: What’s one essential item of clothing every guy should own, and why?
AM: The one essential item that every guy should own is a well-fitting white oxford button down shirt. It is always the correct answer when someone asks the question “What do I wear with this?”
EG: One piece of advice for those still trying to find their own personal style?
AM: To every guy who is still trying to find his personal style; try to maintain a proper balance between self-expression and the perception of others. Oftentimes people get too excited with being creative; they disregard the fact that others might think they look ridiculous. Those are the guys who unknowingly throw opportunity away.
If you haven’t yet heard of Onassis, it’s a men’s brand I’ve been digging lately. Check them out online, or if you’re in or near Manhattan, San Francisco, or Shibuya (Tokyo), peep their retail spots.
I’m also excited to publish a (hopefully) helpful article on cold weather layering soon, featuring some killer pieces from Onassis. The dudes there were nice enough to let me shoot some outfits in store. Here’s a little sneak peek in case you missed it.
Any questions for Alan? What do you think about the first entry in this new series? Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments.