Photographer Jamie Ferguson’s natural habitat is on the streets of London and Florence, where he documents menswear’s nattiest dressers in the wild. But lockdown forced him, like so many of us, into hibernation. Cooped up at home in the Belfast countryside with his wife and three-year-old son, Ferguson decided to make lemonade (or perhaps a whiskey sour?) out of his pandemic lemons. With his usual milieu off-limits, he took to his ad hoc home studio and turned the camera on himself.
“The idea was to create something with a little more levity, a sense of humor,” he says. “Especially since it’s me as the subject, I don’t mind taking the piss out of myself.”
As a 10-year veteran of the menswear world, working for brands including Drake’s before becoming a fulltime lensman, Ferguson has a wardrobe that provided ample material to shoot. Since you, too, are likely shopping your own closet, we figured we’d take this time to get back to basics and address a few perennial tenets of menswear, and enlisted Ferguson to illustrate them. Even if you aren’t buying any fresh duds, these essential rules can guide you in refashioning your existing attire anew.
Ferguson’s personal style mantra? “Fit, above everything else. As long as things fit properly, you can wear whatever you want—within reason.” Below, six more elements of style according to us.
It’s All in the Mix
We may not know each other personally, but we at Robb Report are pretty confident that you’re a complex guy, a many-layered, nuanced personality. Most men aren’t one-note, yet their outfits often are. A beautiful suit with a beautiful shirt and a beautiful pair of shoes is…yawn. You’re better than that. The key to keeping things interesting is a dash of the unexpected—tempering the polish of refined pieces with a few not-so-precious ones, wearing the high with the low. Exhibit A: Jamie’s pinstriped suit goes from banker blah to ‘Who’s that guy?’ thanks to a faded denim shirt and a weather-beaten hunting jacket. Remember, a little bit of wrong is very, very right.
Barbour coat, Berg and Berg suit, Barbanera shirt, Alden boots, Lock & Co. hat
Blue and Brown Is Always a Good Idea
Steak and red wine. Jay-Z and Beyoncé. Netflix and chill. Some pairings just work. When it comes to fashion duos, you can safely rely on blue and brown to always sing in harmony. It’s a tried-and-true combination that can be riffed on endlessly: a baby blue oxford and khaki chinos, a navy blazer and chocolate tie, indigo denim and cordovan brogues. And those are just the classics—having a stable of these pieces in your wardrobe affords you the opportunity to mix, match and experiment ad infinitum. That blue suit that ceased sparking joy? Team the trousers with a camel sweater and dark brown loafers and thank us later.
Lardini jacket, Barbanera shirt, Stóffa trousers, Baudoin and Lange loafers, Giles and Brother necklace
Bow Ties are the Only Ties for Eveningwear
We don’t believe in dictating right and wrong—great style isn’t about one-size-fits-all. But there is one menswear matter that’s best stated plainly: the only tie that belongs on a formal getup is a bow tie. Sure, you may see celebrities on the red carpet going rogue with a tux and a three-fold (or, quelle horreur, a bolo). That waifish model on the runway may look slick in a skinny black suit and even skinnier necktie. Just say no. We could get into the history of why neckties have traditionally been for day and why bow ties exist at night, but we’ll spare you. Let’s leave it at this—diamond-tip or butterfly, satin or velvet, a classic bow tie ensures even the wildest eveningwear still looks smart.
Caruso jacket, Suitsupply shirt, Campbell’s of Beauly trousers, La Bowtique tie, Kirk Originals glasses, Drake’s cummerbund
Linen is Made to be Lived In
There seems to be a widespread misunderstanding of linen, so consider this your summer sartorial PSA: don’t fight the wrinkle. There’s a reason why linen and warm weather are such cozy bedfellows, and it’s not just because the material is so lightweight. Linen is, by nature, breezy and laid-back. It is the textile equivalent of a lazy July afternoon, lounging by the pool in a two-glasses-of-rosé haze. Even if your afternoons are spent at the office, linen should still exude that rakishly crumpled, carefree attitude—like you’ve just rocked up from doing something far more fun. Trying to making linen look sharp is futile, just go with the flow and let it be languid.
MAN 1924 jacket, Drake’s shirt, E. Tautz trousers, Alden shoes, TBD Eyewear glasses, Sozzi tie, Alice Made This bracelet, vintage Omega watch
Tone on Tone Equals Elegance
Mastering the art of pattern play is no easy feat. While we encourage you in your journey to achieving dandy-done-right, here’s a simpler (and in our book, chicer) approach to building a winning outfit: pick a color and pile it on. Most men’s wardrobes are dominated by neutrals that, worn individually, don’t say much of anything. But combine several pieces in the same chromatic palette—like Jamie’s five shades of gray—and the result is understated elegance. Don’t worry if the shades match; it’s actually better if they don’t. Clashing prints? As long as they’re tonally aligned, you’re fine. It’s an easy trick for refreshing what’s already hanging in your closet and a foolproof recipe for sophistication.
Stóffa jacket and trousers, Berg and Berg sweater, Begg & Co. scarf, Alden shoes
Never Look Like You’re Trying
Conspicuous effort is anathema to style. Yes, you should give a hoot about your appearance—that’s not vanity, it’s self-respect—but no one’s going to applaud you for being painstakingly manicured. It’s infinitely cooler to embrace imperfection. Tie a little wonky? Hair mussed? Collar askew? Who cares? It’s not so much about what you’re wearing as it is about how you carry it. That three-piece suit only really works when you make it look easy as pajamas. Worn with confidence, even the rattiest old tee can come across as debonair (of course, it helps if the rest of you isn’t quite so unkempt). So quit fussing—you look great.
Sartoria Caliendo jacket, Freeman’s Sporting Club shirt, Stóffa trousers, Drake’s espadrilles and scarf, Sublime hat