I called Jeff on a rainy Friday afternoon in Dallas around 10:30 am and he was an hour ahead of me. He was talking to me from sunny New York. Jeff was chipper as ever and I can hear the city in the background. The slight sirens, honking, and people talking in the distance couldn’t dull his passion through the phone. I was chugging my Starbucks to try to be on his level.
“What are you wearing?” I asked. (lol I ask everyone this on the phone jokingly)… but with him I had to know.
“Ha! My new uniform. A navy blazer, a crisp white shirt and chestnut leather loafers. I’m also wearing a classic white and blue pocket square, a gold watch and a rose gold wristband,” Jeff said.
The damn details are what makes Jeff……Jeff. He’s powerful and in the moment when he answers questions. I wish this interview was a podcast interview so you guys can truly grasp his energy.
Let me set the scene on how I met Jeff. I would say we met about three years ago. We both worked for a styling service in Dallas.
This job was my nine to five and I additionally bar tended two to three times a week. I was hustling to build my book of business … and I was tired. Dead. tired. Through my fatigue I was woken up by Jeff’s undeniable passion for custom clothing. Besides being known as the only guy in office who wore a suit EVERY SINGLE DAY (not exaggerating… rain or shine he was dressed in a suit) … Jeff taught my fellow stylist coworkers and I about custom clothing and formal wear in general. He was always on (and not in an annoying way but a helpful way). You could truly tell that passion was his driving force and he taught me so much.
Jeff made me excited for men’s fashion. Believe it or not my men’s book of business was more thriving then my women’s back then… and I believe that was because of the excitement that he helped create. He taught me that menswear can be a lot of fun because it has a lot of moving parts that you can really get creative with (i.e. cufflinks, pocket squares, ties, belts, etc). A lot of aspects that go into picking a suit. I love wearing different fabrics and intentionally mixing them to play with my wardrobe and I was introduced to a whole new fabric world through menswear.
Jeff has so much knowledge because he’s been in the business for a long time…he’s knowledgeable of fabric and he actually wears suits all of the time. HE HAS 25 SUITS GUYS. A lot of you guys just started wearing suits out of college with your new jobs. I’m hoping by sharing this interview that the same passion can help inspire you GUYS to try new things with your wardrobe and using him as a reliable source to build on.
NOW LET’S DIG DEEPER SHALL WE?
Q: Tell me about you. How did you wind up in the business of selling custom clothing?
I’ve been in menswear for about six years now. I fell into it randomly. After graduating I was looking for marketing and advertising jobs. I never had a fascination with clothes and never understood fashion. I had a friend come up to me for help at a startup company that was in custom clothing and I was immediately interested. I never worked retail. I never read GQ. They loved that bc they could use someone with a clean slate. I worked under the wing of a guy managing the Dallas location who had over a decade of menswear fashion under his belt. That’s how it all began… that’s how I fell in love with the clothing industry. Also, I’m going to preface these questions a nice little saying “style rules are written in pencil, not pen.”
Q: Pick a sneaker that describes you or is your go to favorite … or in your case you can pick a dress shoe.
I’m still new to the world of sneakers, so I’d have to go with my Santoni ‘dress sneaker’ that’s a light brown with a white gum sole. Nice combination of business up top and party on the bottom.
For my dress shoe, I’ve gotta go with this unconstructed suede tassel loafer from DiBianco. It’s perfect to pair with jeans or with tailored clothes – versatility is key for anything I have in my wardrobe and both of these shoes fits the bill.”
Q: How many suits do you have?
Q: Of those twenty- five suits what are your top three?
I have this beautiful three piece blue fresco suit. It’s very versatile. Breathable, has some natural stretch (no spandex), wrinkle resistant, all the boxes you want to check. The fabric is unique – it has a “dry hand,” as we say in the biz. This isn’t a super soft cloth, it almost feels rough to the touch. It tailors extremely well. This one’s special because it’s kind of an insider’s type of fabric, “if you know then you know,” situation.
Another one would be my hunter green wide notch lapel three piece suit. Most of the suit styling is “old school.” Wider notch lapel, pleated trousers with cuff, and a double breasted vest. The “new school,” part of the suit is how it’s tailored. High armholes, nice suppression on the coat, a tailored fit through the legs I love the suit because it has a juxtaposition of old and new.”
My last pick isn’t a suit in particular, but my navy blazer, charcoal trouser, and crips white shirt combo. I like to wear this look because it’s an easy way to look put together, but not too stuffy. It’s just dressy enough.”
Q: Let’s say I’m a newcomer guy looking to amp up his wardrobe – I already have the traditional a blue and grey suit. What style suit should I get? Fabric, style, print, etc for the “special occasions.”
My biggest piece of advice is to think about versatility – if you need to wear this third suit a bunch, go with another solid. Maybe a char-blue (mix between blue and gray). If you’ve got your mind set on a patterned suit, go with something subtle – a thin windowpane or maybe a glen plaid. You don’t want to be that person wearing a super loud suit more than once every couple of weeks. If you’re not in a suit as often, or you want to branch out, go with something seasonal. Right now in June heading into summer go with a cotton or a maybe a mohair. If you need a fall/winter, you could go with a lightweight flannel.”
Q: I know a lot of men who only dress up at weddings/special events and that’s it – with that being said name a common of fashion faux pas you see men do at these “special events.”
Just get a suit that fits! There are a ton of great options that won’t break the bank. No one will know (or care) if you spent one dollar or ten thousand dollars on what you’re wearing. Everyone will know if your clothes fit or not. Also, it’s somebody’s wedding. This is a special event in two people’s lives. Please wear a tie.”
Q: Name five essential items a guys should have in their closet.
1. A navy blazer. You could spend 200 or you can spend 3000. Price doesn’t matter just make sure it is a good fit. You need a good fucking navy jacket guys.
2. White dress shirts – The cost doesn’t matter make sure its a good fit again.
3. Grey slacks – These are very versatile … I can’t stress them enough you can wear these with anything. They go with a navy blazer, almost any sportcoats, dress them up or dress them down.
4) A good pair of brown dress shoes – Pick something that is timeless…. nothing too funky. I recommend a loafer so you don’t have to worry about tying your laces up.
5. A “nice” watch – Guys you’ve got to get rid of your old G shock. Think
to yourself, can I wear this thing with a tailored outfit? I’m starting to swing around to apple watches, personally I prefer something more “analog,” but to each their own. Also, get a good pair of sunglasses. It shows that you can at least take care of one expensive and fragile item that you wear daily – says a lot about you.
Q: Any male trends that you hate?
Intentionally oversized clothes. The style pendulum is swinging away from super tailored, almost skin tight, fits and going to really big fits. It’s mainly runway fashion, but that means we’ll see it in stores in the next handful of years. I just want a nice clean fit. “
INSTAGRAM QUESTIONS – questions I received from my Instagram users.
Q: What’s the deal with button down collars?
Don’t quote me on this… but it is said that the origin of these shirts came from guys playing polo. Basically they needed help keeping their collars down while they were playing polo. If you wear this style of a shirt under a suit it looks weird. Don’t wear this with a suit. It should be worn casually but itself or maybe under a sweater. These type of shirts are reserved for the trendy or “spreezy” guys… or for the preppy ones with layering. “
Q: Where can a guy keep up to date on fashion/trends?
The Rake. I follow and I subscribe to it. If you feel like you like GQ, The Rake would be another great resource. I also follow influencers on Instagram .. like Andreas Weinås for example, (@andreasweians) he has great style. I love his feed because he’s great for inspiration.
Sartorial Journal (@sartorialjournal) is another great follow, but here’s what I’ll say about them…. they have really long captions that can be a little stuffy. If you guys can look past that and grab a few takeaways from the core message they are a great follow.
Another great Instagram follow is @lundochlund – it’s a Swedish menswear store that always puts together cool jacket/shirt/tie combinations. They always put together great jacket/shirt/tie combinations.
Lastly I follow different fabric houses to stay informed.
Zegna, Ariston (couldn’t find instagram), …..etc.
Q: Grey tan/khaki together? Some people say yes, some people say no…
Grey and khaki… I’m not a huge fan. I would not but a khaki jacket on a grey pant.
Q: Should your watch match your suit or your shoes/belt?
No, I don’t think your watch needs to match with watch/tie/shoes/belt. A rule of thum to keep in mind is just don’t be too matchy matchy. Thats a faux pax. It looks too manicured. Just do things in moderation when it comes to your overall look.
Q: A men’s trend you are loving..?
Surprisingly, pleated trousers … it gives pants a little bit of character and
style, especially a forward pleat. Just make sure if you sport the trend make sure it doesn’t look like you are wearing your dad’s pants – buy a tailored fit or have them tapered to your leg a bit.
Q: Let’s say you and your girlfriend have an unexpected wedding this weekend that she forgot she RSVPed the both of you for… what are you wearing?
If it’s black tie…. I have three different tuxedos I can choose from, but it’s important for me to understand the crowd first before I get ready. I would probably wear my tux that is black with a wide peak lapel with a standard tuxedo shirt and a black bow tie. For shoes I’d wear smoke slippers… and almost forgot my cuff links.
If it isn’t black tie… now that we are into June so I would wear a cotton suit with a crisp white shirt and navy knit tie. I love a good knit tie. It really depends on the crowd. Another option would be my fresco suit. It’s perfect because it’s breathable. I’d be wearing it white shirt and one of my Eton or Ferragamo tie with brown dress shoes and a good pair of sunglasses.
Q: Any last tips for guys today trying to navigate the world of fashion/custom?
Invest in custom. Custom in general may be more expensive than off the rack – but I guarantee you’ll end up wearing it so much more. I talk about fit so much and custom is the key to that. Get a custom blazer or a navy suit. You can break these apart and wear so many ways. It’s never too early to start…and never too late.
Stock up on your basics. You can never have enough collared white shirts. Have at least three pairs of grey/navytrousers in your closet/etc.
Don’t over think what you’re wearing. If you’re trying to make sure everything is perfectly matched or you have a million accessories it will look like you’re trying too hard. In my opinion, the best dressed guys always look like they just threw their clothes on without giving it a second thought – really the definition of “sprezzatura,” (look it up). Wear the clothes, don’t let the clothes wear you.
Finally, ask for help….find a trusted advisor and don’t be afraid to reach out. We go to experts all the time, doctors/lawyers/electricians/personal trainers it’s the same with tailored clothing. You can give me a follow and ask me anytime! When in doubt, ALWAYS just keep it simple…..
You can follow Jeff on Instagram @jchood. He’ll be back on here again…..