Welcome to another installment in our Signature Style series. As I’ve mentioned before, this series is a favorite of mine, because you, Dear Reader, get to see real world applications of the things we discuss here on EG.
Ian Anderson runs From Squalor to Baller, a site focused on simple style advice for the modern man. We share very similar ideals when it comes to personal style and building a basic, flexible wardrobe.
Ian has an envy-inducing closet, much closer to a perfect Lean Wardrobe than my own, as evidenced by his Packing for Travel posts.
The unfortunate thing about being interested in personal style at a young age is that you cycle through different styles and trends as you learn little by little throughout the years, which is unavoidable.
While you end up with a few classic, long-lasting pieces, the majority of it is questionable at best; after all, you’re still in the learning stage. Even though discarding ill-fitting and unused clothing is a necessary step in the leaning out process, you can’t help but feel bad getting rid of barely used stuff that you bought when you were younger and less informed.
(Side note: if you’re anywhere between 22-30+ and just now developing an interest in your appearance and clothing, you’re not too late. In fact, this is the perfect time to start learning.)
Read on to hear a bit more from Ian.
In 3-5 words, describe your personal style.
Simple, muted, and evolving. I work hard to appear put-together, but I try to avoid flashy and loud clothing; I want the people I interact with to be focused on what I’m saying and not on what I’m wearing.
Also, as a man on a limited budget, I find that the most cost-effective way to create a wardrobe is to invest in simple, versatile items that I can wear the heck out of, week after week.
Who or what influences / inspires your style the most, and why?
I was never the type of person that drew inspiration from movies, TV shows, celebrities, and the like.
I also grew up in an area of the country that didn’t really put style as a priority, so like many men in our generation I turned to the internet for guidance on something that my own father couldn’t really teach me.
The internet is a big place and there’s lots of crazy stuff out there, but once you find something that connects with you it’s easy to learn more about it.
Over the years, one of my biggest sources of inspiration has been my grandfather. He passed away years before I started becoming sartorially minded, but looking through his old wardrobe and photos is surprisingly insightful.
Editor’s Note: Some quotables from the article linked above:
One mantra we all hear a lot in the #menswear community is the importance of finding your own personal style and to avoid being “dressed by the internet.” There is a huge amount of knowledge out there, to be sure, but it can lead to a canned sense of ‘personal style’ if you only wear what people tell you to.
I was startled to find that every item I saw was immediately recognizable with my newfound knowledge: gray flannel suit, Harris Tweed sport coats, OCBDs in all the right colors, a Brooks Bros. blue blazer, gingham shirts, khakis, leather-soled shoes, a white linen pocket square, hell, even an Omega Seamaster that he wore every day. It was as if a #menswear list of essentials had appeared in my closet during my absence.
Great read about finding your own personal style and finding inspiration even when you don’t have any immediate influences. Check it out here.
What’s your favorite piece in your closet?
I’m terrible at picking favorites, but for this I might have to go with my Ralph Lauren Purple Label navy knit tie, picked up on eBay a couple of years ago. It’s a wonderful piece, and I think it does a good job of representing my sense of style – simple, versatile, and fun to wear.
Note: While not exactly RL quality, a similar-looking yet much more affordable version here.
What’s one essential item of clothing every guy should own, and why?
There are a lot of ways you could go with a question like this, but in all honesty I think that a dark, unadorned, well-fitting pair of jeans is as close to “essential” as you can get. We all use them, so why not take the time to find and invest in the perfect pair?
Do you have one piece of advice for those still trying to find their own personal style?
Be slow and deliberate with your purchases. Have a long term goal, and shop with purpose. Be realistic about your lifestyle, your budget, and what you really need. Most importantly, don’t take it all too seriously or you’ll just end up as some weird style blogger on the internet. It’s just clothes, after all!
Note: Ian put together a great set of tips for building a basic wardrobe that expands upon the above.
Any questions for Ian? Which morsels of advice hit close to home and resonate with you most? Let’s chat in the comments below.