Style Q+A is a feature we have 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.
With that said, for our most recent feature interview we are excited to have Will Moul, the creator and editor of The Houndstooth Kid, a popular men’s style blog. So without any further ado, here is Will’s interview:
1. We’re familiar with your popular men’s style blog over at The Houndstooth Kid, but for our readers who don’t know who you are could you share a little bit about yourself and what your blog is about?
My name is Will and I’m a vintage-aholic. My wife and I married a year and a half ago and have no kids yet, if you don’t count our fur baby Sir Kingsley. I have a bachelors degree in history and have an interested in firearms, Second World War American militaria, political philosophy, and my faith. I love to shoot guns, hike, camp, fish, research history, and smoke a pipe.
The Houndstooth Kid blog is meant to share information about vintage menswear and style as well as my thoughts on those same topics. I started it as an amateur blog in 2008 just when I was beginning to collect vintage and it was and still is a learning experience. Hopefully my readers have also learned a lot along the way. I’ve not always been the best about keeping the blog posts coming, especially in recent months, but I plan to continue blogging for the foreseeable future.
Like everyone else who collects, I started out small and without many resources but thanks to other more knowledgeable collectors who took me under their wings I was able to build my knowledge and experience. That is why I started and continue the blog: to provide new information to beginning and, occasionally, even experienced collectors. We all start out at the same place, I might as well offer help to beginners just like those experienced collectors who helped me when I was new to the hobby.
2. When did you start to develop an interest in men’s style? Were you always a sharp dresser or was it something that took time for you to develop? When did you become more interested in men’s vintage style?
My parents taught me to dress my best, especially for church. From a young age I always dressed well for special occasions and was usually the only boy who wore a suit in Sunday School. Even so, I wasn’t always a sharp dresser. Like a lot of men, I lost interest and any sense of style in high school and into my college years. Jeans, oversized t-shirts, it was really bad. I wanted to fit into the crowd, like most young men. I did have one suit during this time that I thought was sharp but it was three sizes too big! Obviously ambition can be dangerous without knowledge.
Then in college all of a sudden I became interested in dressing well again. And not just dressing well, but using vintage to achieve it. I’ve always been interested in the past; my parents filled our Victorian home with elegant antique furniture, beautiful antiques, and historical pieces. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my family traveling to antique shows and spending hours at auctions waiting for that one piece. It was only natural I’d be drawn to vintage menswear. It might also have something to do with family history: my great- great-grandfather founded a small chain of haberdasheries around central Iowa in the early 20th century. I like to think it’s in my blood. Not to mention vintage clothing is relatively cheap and available in my area, not to mention vintage tends to be better quality compared to the clothing of today.
3. Back in November 2012 you were the winner of that month’s edition of Thrift Store Runway (congratulations btw!). Thrifting seems to play a big role in your style as a result of your interest in vintage inspired looks. What kind of advice can you offer guys who are just starting out with thrifting?
Like most things, knowledge is key and it takes knowledge to build experience. Know what you’re looking for, otherwise you’ll get burned. Thrifting involves sifting through mountains of junk just to find a single gem. It’s like a treasure hunt in that most of the time you’ll leave without finding anything. It can get frustrating and you may feel like quitting. But then after a lot of time and patience you’ll stumble upon a jewel.
Over time, because you’ve educated yourself, you’ll acquire some nice pieces and having those pieces in your hand will be priceless. You can learn a lot from reading a description or examining a photograph of a vintage piece but that can only take you so far. To build experience you need to handle the pieces and look them over for yourself. Even if you don’t purchase anything from a thrift store or vintage shop, just going in and looking at good vintage pieces does more for your experience than researching in books or sitting at your computer.
So, first gain knowledge and through knowledge you can gain experience. Eventually you’ll be able to pick out a good piece of vintage from across the room.
4. If you were to choose one item of men’s vintage inspired clothing that you would like to see more of today, what would it be?
Most readers might think I’d say the fedora and while I like a good hat, I love a well tailored Drape Suit. During the 1930s the drape suit became the main style of suit available in Europe and America. The proportions were just right, following the Golden Ratio, and emphasized the athletic male figure to good effect: strong shoulders, nipped waist, and a full chest. Obviously it is difficult for larger men to pull off the drape suit but for the average size man the drape suit was a godsend. The 1940s took the drape suit to the extreme with the Bold Look, enlarging the proportions and creating a caricature of itself. That spelled the end of the drape suit, though it still affects how suits are styled today. Modern Neapolitan suits take some characteristics from the vintage drape suit but aren’t quite my taste.
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 to immediately elevate their look?
Experiment. Get in front of the mirror and try different things on. Mix and match, keeping in mind what you’ve already learned. Keep what looks good and either discard or tweak what doesn’t look right. Get another person’s opinion, preferably a male opinion. And like I said before, knowledge can only take us so far. Take what you learned in front of the mirror and apply it out in public, on the street. You’ll either get a positive or negative response but either way, you’ve turned knowledge into experience. Learn from your mistakes (we all make them) and you’ll elevate your look.
6. 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?
Start out learning and following the so-called-rules. You must first understand and apply the rules before bending and then breaking them. This will probably take years to do and developing your own personal style is always an ongoing process that likely will never end. Look to your style mentors, see what they often wore, and see how those styles work for you. Like I said before, experiment with different pieces and keep those that best suit your body type. This goes for colors and patterns as well. Keep in mind that skin tone, height, and weight will also affect what colors, patterns, and styles will work with you. The fashions of the day will change from year to year and it’s best not to chase them. Instead, follow the stylish classics of yesteryear. There’s a reason they’re considered classics.
Most importantly, wear what style makes you look and feel most confident. I’d rather look confident in a cheap suit than look downtrodden in the best tailored suit money can buy; clothing can always be upgraded but confidence in your informed style choices should be constant and consistent even when those choices are wrong. And then learn from your mistakes. The man truly makes the clothing: the spirit of the man will either make or break his outfit.
Will, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. We’ve learned a lot from your blog about classic men’s style and our readers will definitely benefit from your perspective.
For those of you who want to read more about Will’s perspective on men’s style be sure to visit his blog over at The Houndstooth Kid.