Style

Rembert Explains: His Style

style in real life, my pal Rembert Browne of Grantland

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Aug 26 2019

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 with killer style ­­ in this series, Style in Real Life.

I first met my friend Rembert on Twitter.

After reading yet another of his ridiculously clever, endlessly amusing articles on Grantland, Bill “the Sports Guy” Simmons’ new (at the time) website, I opined in a tweet that we should probably be friends. Thanks to a quick search, I included his handle (though I suppose I probably could have made an educated guess there’d only be one @rembert on Twitter). A few minutes later, he responded that anyone with a Starter jacket in their past – as called out in SG’s “About Me” section back then – was okay by him. We’ve been friends ever since.

From his amazing (but sadly now defunct) recaps of ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars that had me double over laughing – without ever watching PLL, mind you – to poignant and personal reflections like his eulogy of James Avery (Uncle Phil on The Fresh Prince), he’s one of the most talented writers I know.

Plus, Rem has such a pronounced sense of personal style; I’m always excited to see what he shows up wearing when we get together. With a roster of both vintage and new finds hanging in his closet, I know – at the very least – he won’t look like anyone else in the room. Which is just the way he likes it.

All that to say, I knew I wanted to include him in the SG “Style in Real Life” series. Back in February (yeah, I’ve been sitting on these photos for awhiiile), I crashed his new Brooklyn pad, where we took photos on his backdrop-ready rooftop, then got down to business, talking clothes, confidence, and curly hair over Peter Pan doughnuts.

Tell me a little about your personal style:

More than anything, it’s relaxed. I like the clothes that I wear a lot, and I’m very specific in the sense that I get most of my clothes from thrift stores. with the exception of dress clothes.

I have two speeds. I like unique clothes. That’s probably the best way to describe it – like, I don’t wearing anything anyone else has – apart from black jeans and grey t-shirts. It doesn’t always have to be something super crazy – I tend to go for things I have some kind of connection with, whether it’s music or sports, or where I’m from.

But dress clothes are the exact opposite. I know that you get what you pay for, and I like suits that are tailored. And splurging there, I don’t feel so bad because 90%of the time, I’m wearing something that didn’t cost that much.

I understand why it costs that much, because it fits me better, and it will last me longer.

Do you still have that sticker shock, though? When you go into a J.Crew and drop a couple hundred on a Ludlow suit, say, when you’re used to paying $2 for a t-shirt at a thrift store?

I don’t like spending money on myself. That’s across the board. I don’t like spending money if I don’t need to, especially because I am someone who accumulates things. I have five suits, but in my head I think I still need more suits.

So yeah, there’s that sticker shock, but usually I’ll just suck it up and get it anyway. Or if it’s individual items, I’ll see if I can’t find it somewhere else for less. I’ve done a fair amount of window shopping at stores out of my price range for the pure reason of getting ideas about what I want. And I’m not an online shopper – I don’t buy things ’til I try them on.

 I’m not an online shopper – I don’t buy things til I try them on.

Obviously, you’re a writer – you’re not going into an office every day… 

I have a closet full of clothes that could be worn appropriately for the office, though. I wear a lot of those clothes after a day of work. I think I have a good gauge on what it means to be presentable. So even , for instance a shirt I enjoy and wear a lot is a denim button down. It’s not a white oxford button down, but I like that denim shirt, and it’s not ratty. So I would wear that to an office.

So is that the difference between acceptable and presentable versus clothes you should only wear around the house? How beat up it is?

If I worked in an office where people wore suits, I would wear suits. I wouldn’t feel like my personal style was being stifled in any way. And I’d still find ways to be myself – in the tie, or the socks, or the shoes. Not necessarily loud, bright, in your face, but just something that feels like me.

When I first moved here, I felt more of a need to dress to impress, to wear my coolest shit. ‘Oh this is a party, there’ll be this type of people here.’ I definitely dressed that way in my first couple of years in the city. As I’ve felt the need to do that less, I’ve found myself dressed down more. People may wear their expensive, name brand stuff to a party. I think it’s a slow cycle of reverting back to my truest me. And my truest me isn’t thinking about what someone else thinks of what I’m wearing. I know something like this [Ole Miss sweatshirt] that I’m wearing isn’t fashionable, but I know I can pull it off, and that’s what matters.

When you’re moving in new circles, it’s on your mind a lot – what are these people going to think of me? The same thing happened over the course of college. I like wearing mostly what’s not in your face…and then a cool pair of shoes. Or a great hat.

What did you dress like in high school?

(laughs)

I used to wear sweatpants, dress shirts and some fly Nikes. Like, everyday. That was my junior and senior year, when I was like, “I’m old, I can do whatever I want.” But in the beginning of high school, when I was trying to fit in, I would ask for a lot, so I could go to the mall and buy a lot of stuff.

Was your mom indulgent of that?

Sometimes. But I think she was also banking on it being a phase. That was probably the last time I’ve really been that so brand-focused – outside of things I’m really loyal to, like Nikes. There are some brands I’ve really liked – I’ve always liked Nike, I’ve always liked Polo…those are things that will always be a part of my wardrobe. But I’ve always known I didn’t want to look like everyone else. I definitely own that.

It seems like, to some extent – you just changed what you did with your hands like, six times. Am I making you nervous?

So nervous.

Good. As I was saying, it seems like you do it on purpose, looking different. 

There was a point I had to check in with myself – I dress differently up to the point of it being a liability. I’m not going to go to a black tie function with a sweatshirt on. I know the boundaries.

For me, it’s not about not dressing like everyone else to get noticed – for better or for worse – it’s just that I don’t want to have the same clothes you have. I’m very into every single piece of clothing I buy, because I don’t impulse buy. So if I buy it I really love it. Because of that, I have a closet of clothes that I really, really love. I really love all my clothes.

That’s something I talk to my readers about all the time – only buy stuff you really love, because it’s going to find that much more use in your wardrobe. It doesn’t matter if it’s super cheap, or super expensive..if you love it, you’re going to wear it, and you’re going to feel better in it.

I mean, how confident do you feel when you walk out of the house wearing something you love, head to toe?

That. That is very high on the priority list. If I feel comfortable in it, I like it, I don’t feel like a clown or a robot in it. It’s fluid. It’s not necessarily to make a public point of being different. In social settings, in some ways I like blending in because I’m not trying to draw attention to myself.

But I’m not trying to blend in in the way that, you see a flood of bankers coming out of a building and they’re all wearing the same blue shirt. That, for me, would butt heads with my personality.

How do you maintain your stylish coif?

My coif? Ha, well…I get semi-regular haircuts. Maybe once a month.

But I like letting my hair grow long, and my mustache and beard grow long, but then I hit a point where I need to get it all cut off. But I do not shave on a daily basis at all. That’s something I care about in my actions a lot less than everything else. I know once I get a haircut, I have a month before I’m getting to the point where I have to cover it up with a hat.

Right now, we’re about a week away from that point. Because what happens is, my hair grows faster out than it does up. A week after a haircut is when it looks its best.

…My hair grows faster out than it does up.

Do you go to a barber or a full-on hair stylist?

Barber. I use some pomade my barber gives me for curly hair. Some Paul Mitchell shit. I don’t condition regularly, but I shampoo my hair every day. And I don’t trust shampoo/conditioner combos.

Oh no, you can’t be both. So what do you use?

I’m really not picky. I think I would be if things were changing about my hair. If it were falling out, or if it were thinning, or if the things that happen with men’s hair that men worry about, maybe I’d worry. The only thing that’s happening is it’s starting to grey. And I’m into that.

{our star-making turn in an online Visa Super Bowl campaign. He still wears that hat.}

 
REMBERT’S STYLE PROFILE

My style in three words (or less!)

Summer Camp; Weddings

My first “fashion” memory (a favorite outfit from childhood, your mom taking you back-to-school shopping, etc)

Not necessarily my “first,” but I came up in the jersey era. Such an important era. And important in learning all the different ways you can plan an outfit around a jersey. Even the idea of dressing up a jersey for a more formal event (trust, it’s possible. especially when you’re in 5th grade).

Party outfit go-to

Layers. Typically the same long denim shirt (or chambray as someone told me) that i leave unbuttoned b/c i like it when it flows because it makes me feel like i’m wearing a cape and also like i’m in junior high. And then a t-shirt that i care about. Like one with ’97 Puff Daddy on it. Or the Atlanta Olympics. Or something like that. And then a tank top under that. Because if it’s a #partay at the #clurb, things get removed over the course of the night. It’s just how things go.

Favorite “splurge” clothing brand

This is hard, b/c I’ve pretty much only shopped in thrift stores since I was in 11th grade, with the occasional eBay splurge here and there. But suits are different. And J. Crew occasionally is a splurge. But a necessary one.

Favorite “steal” clothing brand

Black and/or Gray Dickies Wool Socks, because if you’re wearing white cotton socks in 2014, what are you doing with your life the end.

A man’s personal style is important because…

if done well, you’ll only 98 percent be a fool on a daily basis, instead of the default 100%.