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How I Got My UPS (Unique Personal Style)

On the eve of the publication of his new book “Men and Style: Essays, Interviews and Considerations,” writer David Coggins shares how he (and anybody) can achieve a signature look.

Dressing is about self-knowledge. When I see a well-dressed man, I respond to his clothes, of course, but also to the fact that he has a sense of his place in the world. There are as many good dressers as there are good personalities, and they’re just as varied. That’s why a well-dressed man always looks like himself. Here are three things I’ve learned that have helped me express myself.

Inside David’s bachelor pad in the West Village.

Most people look better dressed up. I first realized this when I packed a suit for a New Year’s trip when I was 25. I wore it for the festivities on New Year’s Eve and then found myself wearing it the next day (for a variety of drinking-related reasons not worth entering into here). I was self-conscious at first. But then I thought about how good George Harrison looked in a suit when he was the same age. Since then, formality has been my friend: I’ve worn a blazer with an oxford shirt and a knit tie and paid homage to George Plimpton and Jack Lemmon. Other times, I’ve thrown a blazer over a Western shirt, then ripped an old bandana in half and jammed that into my lapel pocket for effect. And I still wear a suit when I’m having lunch at 21 Club. 

  1. 01.Inside David’s bachelor pad in the West Village.

  2. 02.David wears our Ludlow blazer in herringbone English tweed, Ludlow shirt in Japanese chambray, Crosby suit pant in heathered Italian wool flannel Italian silk knit tie and naval-striped socks. Shop all blazers, dress shirtssuitsties and socks



When I used to wear something outré, I worried that people might be shocked. Then I realized that this sort of shock lasts about five seconds. Then they get used to it. My dad has always been
a bold dresser. He wears purple velvet slippers on Christmas Eve when he takes control of the kitchen and makes a cheese soufflé (with my mother serving as a very reassuring sous chef). The slippers seemed a little too much, like a Venetian doge at first, but now I love them. He also wears more madras than you’d see at a Bermuda country club during high season—yes, he has a madras bathrobe. But now those eccentricities are just a welcome part of the scenery.

The first time you gamble, it’s daring. The second time, it’s familiar. The third time, it’s your signature. Before you know it, you’re the dashing man in the orange scarf reading the Financial Times who’s clearly not a banker. Your mystique is growing already.

David’s father—an artist—made a painting of his purple velvet slippers.

A couple of summers back, I accidentally acquired a white blazer. But I got into the mood and wore it all summer without spilling any Negronis on it. I came to think of the jacket, along with a straw hat, as my “bankrupt plantation owner ejected from speakeasy” look (a role I enjoyed so much, I replayed it this summer). A similar thing happened with my white bucks. These were proper: Alden’s, bench-made, the real deal (I bought them at the Liquor Store, as it happens). The first time I wore them, they were on the pristine side. After a week, I couldn’t imagine my life without them. I liked them so much that now they’re on the cover of my book Men and Style.

“I’ve thrown a blazer over a Western shirt, then ripped an old bandana in half and jammed that into my lapel pocket for effect.”

Gravitate toward clothes that serve you, both physically (your build and coloration), but also temperamentally (your sensibility and worldview). I have a brown beard (though the grey is arriving in force). It took me a while before accepting that brown clothes made sense for me. It began as a knit tie, then a jacket; now I own a brown corduroy suit. Is a brown velvet jacket next?

I’m more at ease dressing up—at home in tweed jackets, knit ties, grey flannels, suede shoes.

Find clothes that makes sense
for you. When they look like they belong on you, you’re telling the world how you hope to fit into it. We all respond to men who dress like the best version of themselves.

David will be at our 1040 Madison Avenue Men’s Shop in New York City for a book signing. He may also be willing to dispense some unsolicited sartorial advice. Stop by.

Photographs by Clément Pascal. 

Shop our men’s collection here.

Shop David’s book here.
TAGS: how-to, how it's done, mens, personal style