Wardrobe: Measuring Up
Fashion designer and wardrobe consultant Jack Simpson has long been an enthusiast of 1940s-era fashion and pop culture, particularly the works of Alberto Vargas, a Peruvian-born airbrush artist. During the 1940s, Vargas created a series of paintings depicting sultry, sensuous women for publication in Esquire magazine. His Varga girls were an immediate hit with G.I.s during World War II, and the artist established himself as the father of the modern-day pinup.
Simpson recently teamed with New Jersey tie maker Robert Stewart to create a limited-edition collection, Just Jack, which Simpson says “echoes the spirit—the fantasy, frivolity, and just plain fun” of Vargas’ pinup theme without copying his original works. The jacquard ties depict curvaceous females in retro bikinis and polka-dot skirts on silk woven by Vanners of Sudbury, England. Although the $125 ties are intended as a novelty, they offer a glimpse of the colorful sensibility Simpson hopes to bring to men’s wardrobes through his new custom clothing venture, the Jack Simpson Group.
After resigning as creative director of Oxxford Clothes in 2004, Simpson partnered with New York master tailor Sal Cristiano and opened a full-service bespoke clothing shop on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Tailors make custom suits and other items by hand on the premises of the atelier. Unlike many custom suitmakers, Simpson, who served as president of Alexander Julian and later as creative director for the house of Dormeuil, develops for his clients an entire collection—from suits and overcoats to handmade shirts and neckwear. Simpson also provides image consulting, offering advice from his “Thirteen Wardrobe Necessities for Accomplished Men” seminars for businessmen who want to assemble stylish yet sensible wardrobes.
“I tend to look at color, texture, and fabrics in relationship to one another, which is the same discipline a designer uses to create a collection,” says Simpson, noting that tailors understand suit construction but often lack the creativity of designers. “Most tailors have a house style, which is a shape they have made their whole careers, and they try to put it on every man who walks through the door. I approach clothing from a more aesthetic point of view.”
Simpson creates seasonal color palettes and coordinates complementary fabrics as well as suggested designs, from which clients can select and customize to their tastes. Simpson’s spring offerings include a slightly longer, four-button, notch-lapel suit, and a one-button, peak-lapel blazer with three patch pockets. The palette combines shades of paprika and rusty brown with French blue.
While Simpson says his “house style” is a firmly structured suit with a soft, slightly roped shoulder, he employs 10 tailors to ensure that each client receives the model that best fits his personality and physique. During the consultations, Simpson conveys his views on assembling the perfect wardrobe. “I find most men need 13 clothing categories,” he explains. Recommendations include a blue-gray suit for business, a light-colored linen jacket for summer, a black cashmere jacket that can double as formal wear in a pinch, and a suit with a subtle chevron shadow stripe for speaking engagements. However, if you want a conversation starter, Simpson recommends one of his Just Jack ties.
Jack Simpson Group