Style Director of The Jackal magazine and stylist to actors such as Richard Madden, Taron Egerton, James Norton and Daniel Craig, talks to us about tailoring, textures and clarifies smart-casual.
shot on location at: The Jackal head office, central London
Gareth wears: DAKS jack jacket, terence trousers & classic white Shirt
Photography by: Francesco Foroni
Our working lives have never been more flexible. Which often leaves men stuck between a choice of dependable formal suit or comfy track pants paired with a smart blazer. So, we asked Gareth to help us achieve that winning balance of meaning business, without the formality.
How can men look smart and well tailored without having to wear a traditional suit?
The best and most effective way to look and feel smart is to invest in a tailored jacket. This should be the most versatile piece in your wardrobe, pairing it with everything from a slim fit chino to a light wool trouser. Unstructured jackets have also become more popular in a working man’s wardrobe. With the spring summer season upon us, the soft shoulders, unlined, super lightweight jackets should absolutely be part of your summer arsenal. It doesn’t have to be a plain safe navy option either, go for something more interesting with a waffle or herringbone texture or a bold check or stripe.
Bold patterns and textures are becoming more popular in mens tailoring. How do you strike the right balance?
Well obviously you don’t want to take the colour and pattern trend too far, so you look like you’ve joined Billy Smart’s circus, but its true, lots of menswear brands are offering so much more than your business smart navy suit. British tailoring has a rich heritage when it comes to using bold fabric choices. My advice would be to go for one prominent item, whether it’s a graphic check blazer teamed with a crisp white or blue shirt and dark tailored trousers or a striking piece of knitwear.
do you have any style icons that you draw inspiration from or look up to?
I wouldn’t say there is any one person or era that I fixate my style inspiration on. There are lots of style references that relate back to all those candid black and white shots of Steve Mc Queen, Paul Newman, James Dean and Cary Grant. I get it because these guys look cool and effortless in clothes we still wear today and are often referred to as our wardrobe ‘staples’. I draw a lot of inspiration and admiration from just observing guys on the street. I can sit outside a café in a number of areas in London and within 20 minutes, your eye has been drawn to any number of guys walking past that I think have a great sense of personal style. That’s why photographers capturing street style from cities all over the world opened up our eyes. They continue to be a source of style inspiration and London really is a melting pot of creative style.
Do you believe in or have any style codes?
The problem with codes or rules is, you really have to know them to break them or make them work for you. We live in such a fluid society, that these rules of what is accepted and what is frown upon have become increasing blurred. A twenty something entrepreneur working out of one of London’s start up hubs isn’t expected to wear a suit and tie to show he’s good at business, equally you wouldn’t want your doctor or lawyer to be talking to you dressed in a designer tracksuit. So there are still accepted codes of dress that probably will never really change, but there is more flexibility than ever before. My advice is to make sure what ever you wear, make sure it fits perfectly.
How can you add colour to your working wardrobe this Spring?
When the sun starts to shine and everyone’s mood lifts and shifts to after work drinks in the park, its like a light goes off. British men struggle in the warmer months to stay cool but still on top of their style game. You don’t need to swap your suits for shorts in the office, in fact, if you’ve found a style that works for you, then small but crucial adjustments is all you need. I don’t ditch all my navy and grey just because the sun’s out. Instead, I’ll add some light coloured shirts or knitwear, like mustard yellow and orange which look great against navy and dark charcoal suits or separate jacket and trousers. My advice is to stick to one or two colours.
The term “smart casual” seems to be the new rule for workwear. But what does this actually mean?
It’s a question I get asked a lot from friends. Since sportswear became such an influence on our wardrobes a few season’s ago, it quickly filtered down into tailoring. Unstructured jackets and cotton jerseys, suits with trainers and drawstring trousers all became part of the language of dressing more casually. Smart to me, always means a jacket, whether that’s a structured wool blazer or an unstructured cotton ‘workers’ jacket with patch pockets. The casual element can be as simple as switching your brogues for trainers or your tailored trousers for a slim cut chino. Go smarter with an open neck shirt or more casual with a polo shirt or T-shirt. It’s all about balance. Keeping some items and replacing others, you’re looking for a 50/50 split between casual and smart ideally.
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