Style in Real Life: The Dapper Tech Founder
why he dresses up in a suit every day (even though he doesn't have to)
With holiday season (and parties!) underway, SG readers know you don’t have to be in the spotlight to care about your personal style. While it’s fun looking to celebs for sartorial inspiration, it can be more helpful to simply look around you. Seeing what friends, coworkers, even strangers on the street are wearing may give you new ideas for your own winter wardrobe.
That’s why I decided to document the personal style of a few of my well-dressed friends - real guys I know in NYC with killer style in this series, Style in Real Life.
James Nord is always in a suit. Nearly always, anyway. The tech entrepreneur and photographer may be spied in a cycling kit at 6am when riding with British cycling brand Rapha’s NYC team, but otherwise, it’s suits (or tailored separates) seven days a week.
On the way to a holiday party, I snapped a few pictures of his festive attire with my Nikon COOLPIX A, in front of an equally festive background. I loved the way the lights strung on the shrubbery were glowing, not to mention how they provided some much-needed color to a New Yorker’s winter-induced pallor. The Nikon camera’s ability to capture James in focus and create a dream-like blur of lights in the background was perfect. Obviously I’m still learning, but it’s fun seeing images come together the way you envision them in your head when you tell someone, “Stand over there and smile.” I am loving how the camera is capturing the details of his suit separates, especially the vibrancy of his shirt/tie prints.
Below, we talk personal style, outfit inspiration, and rebuffing doubters.
You like to stand out….that’s not really a question, is it?
My style is actually pretty traditional in composition, but there’s pieces I put into play that make what I wear look eccentric, or maybe just a little different. I like to wear clothes that feel unique. I definitely never worry about showing up dressed the same as someone else in the room.
Right now you’re wearing a floral tie with a floral shirt. How did you pick that out?
I always like mixing patterns. If you stop worrying about matching and just act like you did it on purpose, it generally works.
What’s the difference between mismatching and looking like you did it on purpose?
First, confidence. Second, having nice things that fit well. If your clothes look nice, even expensive – which they don’t need to be, so long as they’re tailored to you – then whatever might be strange about the outfit will look like it’s on purpose. But you really have to own it. If you look uncomfortable, or insecure about what you’re wearing, that will show.
Do you think some of that is conditioning? The fact that you dress like this every day? I know some of my readers tell me, “I’d like to dress up more, but whenever I do, friends, co-workers, whoever..give me a hard time, asking where I’m interviewing that day, etc etc.”
Totally. You also have to dress for your personality. My style has always been a little more out there – I like mixing patterns and textures. I like things that are cut slimmer. So everyone I know is used to that. And anyone I meet, for business or elsewhere, I think, appreciates that I dressed up for them. It shows respect, for them, for the situation. At this point, my friends and family would be more surprised if I showed up in a t-shirt and jeans.
What would you say to the guy who is starting to take more care with his personal style, and maybe feeling some frustration over it?
I think you just have to remember your personal style is always a journey. If you take a guy who doesn’t know two things about style – even if he wants to – and you put him in a slim-cut suit, patterned shirt and tie, and wingtips, of course he’s going to feel really uncomfortable. And that’s going to show. And he might end up abandoning the whole endeavor.
But if he starts with khakis that don’t have pleats. And then moves on to the “slim” cut dress shirt from the classic pouf-y ones. Then a sportcoat over that dress shirt. After a while, he has that confidence and it’s gradual. But yeah, it’s a process.
How do you make that process fun? To a lot of guys, that might sound intimidating.
I would say, have you ever tried to improve yourself in any way? It’s hard. Sometimes it’s not fun. Getting in shape. Losing weight. Become a better partner in a relationship. Get a promotion at your job. It’s not always easy. It’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s frustrating. But the end result is worth it.
And also a process to get over people noticing. The “are you interviewing?” reaction.
Yeah but that’s kind of the point too. My dad was always really put together, and had his “thing” – he always wore white shoes. Everywhere. He taught me and my brothers the importance of having people identify you with something positive. I like that people notice the way I dress. I think it says more about them and their unhappiness with their own look if they’re trying to make fun of you for yours.
Like James’ tie? Get it here: Topman, $20
JAMES’ ‘REAL STYLE’ PROFILE
My style in three words (or less!)
Playing with classics.
My first “fashion” memory (a favorite outfit from childhood, your mom taking you back-to-school shopping, etc)
I was intent on wearing silk shirts to elementary and middle school. I really loved silk shirts.
Ugly sweater parties: Suit up, or skip ’em?
Skip. But if you go, remember the lamest guy in the room is the one who shows up but skips the theme.
Holiday party outfit go-to
Suit, extra points if I can get some use out of my Stubbs and Wooten velvet slippers
Favorite “splurge” clothing brand
Favorite “steal” clothing brand
Zara shoes, Uniqlo shirts, Topman ties.
A man’s personal style is important because…
Oftentimes it’s the first thing they see and the last thing they remember.
How do you respond to those who question your style?
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