Looks like you're using an older browser. For the best experience possible, please upgrade your browser or download a modern browser.
We recommend either of these free browsers: Firefox or Chrome
You must update your Flash version to view videos. http://www.adobe.com/go/getflashplayer

How I Got My UPS (Unique Personal Style): Michael Hainey

As executive director of editorial for “Esquire” magazine, Michael Hainey is almost as well known for his daily uniform of tweed blazers and denim as he is for his sharp, insightful content. That’s why we asked the “New York Times” best-selling author of “After Visiting Friends” to share the secret to his signature look (and to provide a few tips on creating one yourself).


I’m a pale guy. As in pasty white. As in I don’t tan. Most guys look good in a white shirt: Clean, crisp—it enhances their coloring and makes them look strong. Put me in a white shirt and I look gaunt, washed out. Ashen. Not exactly how I want to be known. Which is why I tend to wear a blue dress shirt as my foundation. I truly believe every guy looks great in blue. It warms up your skin tone. But blue doesn’t just look great on a guy; blue also looks great paired with any material you put against it. Think about the sky and the sea: Blue brings a warmth and richness and vividness to everything it touches. I especially love putting blue against grey and brown.

  1. 01.Michael wears our Ludlow suit jacket in herringbone windowpane English wool, Ludlow cotton oxford shirt, 770 raw selvedge jean, Italian silk knit tie and Alden® for J.Crew longwing bluchers in suede. Shop all blazers, dress shirts, denim, ties and shoes.


The summer before I moved to New York, I bought a madras blazer from J.Crew. It turned out to be the best purchase a starving writer-intern could buy. It gave me amazing
range—I could wear it from the office to the bars, on the weekend, and it looked great anywhere. It was supremely versatile, and I learned then that’s what I want in my style. Elegant but not trying too hard. That coat also taught me something important: I love pattern and texture. I can’t stand solids in coats or suits. A wall of monochrome might look chic on Marcello Mastroianni in 8 1/2, but that’s the only guy who can pull it off. The rest of us should learn
to bring texture—whether it is in pattern or fabric or ideally both—into our style. Texture is the smartest way to set yourself apart.
Michael takes a stroll near his home in the West Village with our London Undercover umbrella. Shop all accessories.

  1. 02.Michael takes a stroll near his home in the West Village with our London Undercover umbrella. Shop all accessories.

“Style is not about how much you have; it’s about what you create with what you have.”


I grew up without a lot of money.
As a result, I had very few options when it came to getting dressed each day. But I learned to take
care of my clothes so they would last. And I learned something else: Style is not about how much you have; it’s about what you create with what you have. Too many people think if they spend a lot of money, then they have style. Not so. Sometimes, when you give yourself a limited, tight palette—look at Picasso in his Blue Period—you end up creating something more powerful than if you have every option available to you. To this day, I know that true style is not about the money you spend; it is about the pieces you buy. Buying for value and only what I truly loved and knew I had to commit to taught me to educate my eye. Two great blazers that you love will serve you like a good friend—forever. I have coats, shirts and ties that I’ve owned for decades. They are worn in and beat up—and they have that quality we all seek that defines great style: They are unique to me; they’re individualized.


People see my beat-up, patched, hacked and faded jeans and ask, “Who made those?” Who? I did.
By wearing them—truly living in them. Why would you want to buy someone’s prefab, predistressed, prelived-in “heritage” when you can create your own? Something you can pass on. Something that is of you.

Photographs by Clément Pascal. 

Shop our men’s collection here.
TAGS: personal style, how it's done, mens, how to