Style Q+A is a new feature we have started at Well Built Style where we interview men’s style aficionados, popular bloggers, and other experts for their opinions on all things related to menswear.
We started this interview feature because we wanted to give our readers a multitude of different perspectives on men’s style aside from our own. We feel this is important because not only will it enrich your sartorial knowledge, but it will also better help you develop your own personal sense of style.
In this edition, we are pleased to have our good friend, Barron Cuadro – the creator and editor of The Effortless Gent, one of the top style blogs on the net.
1. You’re one of the most popular men’s style bloggers on the internet, but for our readers who don’t know who you are, could you please give us a brief introduction about yourself, your website and how it all came about?
Barron: Am I? That’s flattering.
I’m Barron and I run Effortless Gent, a site that help guys figure out what looks best on them. We discuss things like a Lean Wardrobe (http://effortlessgent.com/
I started EG four years ago. In high school and college, I had a few guy friends who always asked me style questions. I guess they thought I knew what I was doing. As I became more interested in a grown-up, modern interpretation of classic style, I decided to take the common questions my friends asked and answer them online.
2. On our website, we speak about the importance of first impressions and appearances and how style and fitness has a major impact on them. You mentioned on your website that you’ve lost a signicant amount of weight (dropping from 241 lbs to 164 lbs). How has this weight loss affected your sense of style? How has it affected your personal and professional life? Do you find that people have you treated you better since your improvement in fitness?
Barron: I’ve always been really interested in style, even when I was bigger. I just have more fun now, because all that nasty body fat isn’t in the way. Being a bit leaner allows me to experiment more and be more confident in what I wear.
Personally and professionally, I just feel more comfortable in my own skin. Granted I made these changes seven or eight years ago, so I don’t really remember what it feels like to be that big anymore. Sometimes I see old pictures, and I think to myself, thank GOD I shaped up.
I don’t know if people treat me better now that I’ve become leaner. I was never treated poorly when I was bigger. I know some people are. Maybe I was just lucky. Or nice? Maybe I was just nice, so people had no reason to be mean.
3. Related to the previous question, you mentioned that you’ve always been into style since you were a kid, but it took you a while to develop and refine your look. Since polishing your style, have you noticed a benefit to your personal and professional life and the way others have treated you?
Barron: I think the change in style just came with growing older and maturing a bit. When you’re younger, you’re more liberal with trends. You mimic what you see on TV (or I guess the internet, for the kids nowadays). You want to wear what’s considered cool and popular. You’re experimental.
As I got older, I learned to dress for myself, to wear what makes me happy and feel good. I realized that dressing well just to make myself feel good is what it’s all about.
Again, I’m not sure if people treat me differently because of this. Those who know me best always knew me as a person who’s really into clothing and style. I’m the same today, I just happen to be into clothing that’s more grown-up, and less trendy.
4. On your site, you stress that one piece each man must have in his wardrobe is a pair of dark-washed, straight leg jeans. Aside from, what’s the next item that is should be every man’s list.
Barron: This is probably a boring answer, but I’d say a nice all-season wool, single-breasted, double-vented sport coat. It goes with everything! I’m still looking for that perfect one; haven’t found it yet.
5. For those men who are just getting their feet wet with improving their style, what’s one thing that you think they can do that can immediately to elevate their look?
Barron: I think it depends on their goals. If it’s simply to polish up their look, improvements can be made on every level.
Wear T-shirts all the time? Switch it up to something with a collar. Are your jeans sandblasted and a bit loose? Find something slim, dark, unwashed, and with the correct break. Do you live in your sneakers? Put on a pair of leather lace-ups.
The important thing, especially if that man is feeling overwhelmed with all the information and possibilities, is to take things one step at a time. No need to rush or jump into things too quickly.
6. On the same note, what do you think is the biggest style blunder that most men commit today?
Barron: Not wearing clothing that fits correctly… either it’s too loose, or too small and tight. I personally think clothing looks best when it’s designed to fit your body and silhouette. To each his own, though.
7. As a young man is transitioning from college/university and into the “real world”, what significant changes (if any) should he be making to his wardrobe? What items should he be investing in if he wants to elevate himself from his peers and have the world to take him seriously?
Barron: I think the best thing to do is get out of that sloppy college wardrobe and into something more put together. I realize I’m generalizing here, but for the most part, college students don’t give a shit. They roll out of bed and hike to class in whatever they have on. Again, not all students, but a significant number of them do this.
You don’t have to invest in much to have a solid post-college wardrobe. It will depend on your career and budget, but good choices can be made whether you’re shopping at a place like H&M, or a high-end department store like Neiman Marcus. Bad choices can be made at both places as well.
If I was just now leaving college and entering the real world, and I had nothing but pajama pants and my college sweatshirt, I would pick up a good pair of dark, straight leg denim, a few OCBDs, a few clean T-shirts in white and gray, a navy chino blazer, a pea coat. Not the most exciting, but essentials are important. You can add more things as you go.
8. On our website, we are huge proponents of the notion that style is timeless whereas fashion is fleeting. What current men’s fashion trend(s) do you wish to see disappear forever?
Barron: Good question. Maybe the overuse of tees with witty sayings? I’m not sure; I don’t pay attention to what’s trending. Oh, what’s up with people wearing Birkenstock clogs? Is that a thing now? Terrible.
9. When it comes to men’s style, there are certainly a number of different rules and guidelines that men are often urged to adhere to. These rules exist to help men put together an aesthetically pleasing package. However, if all men follow the same style guidelines, they might run the risk of losing their sense individuality. We believe that style should be personal – how do you think a man can develop his own personal sense of style?
Barron: I always tell my readers to learn the rules and then break them at will. I know a lot of the “style rules” and I break them all the time. It’s okay to do so, if you know what you’re doing.
Another thing I tell them is that when they’re learning about something, keep the bits and pieces they care about, and discard the rest. If a particular rule or trend or style doesn’t resonate with you, then don’t follow it. Plain and simple.
Clothing and dressing well should be fun. It should come naturally. As long as you know the basics (especially when it comes to fit), you’ll be just fine.
Thanks for giving our readers the extremely valuable style insight, Barron.