Q: Hey Paul! Quick question: Is it always brown belt–brown shoes, black belt–black shoes? Is there any room here for some creativity and personal expression?
A: Of course there is! I am so glad you asked that question. Men’s fashion has moved on from the stuffy and stultifying rules of the past. I remember a few years ago when I was working as a consultant for Foreign Dictator Number Four. He and I would travel through Country One together as he pretended to campaign for votes (he had arranged the final tally months before), and as we dragged the lifeless body of a political opponent to a nearby ditch, I couldn’t help but notice that the murdered rival was wearing a pair of deep azure snakeskin slip-on loafers. When I pointed them out to Foreign Dictator Number Four, he shrugged and said, “It is a shame, yes, that he had such style. It made him weak.” But months later, I received those very shoes in a box, with a note: “To a man with great style. Beware, my friend. Beware. Your friend, Serhiy Lyovochkin.” So, to conclude, the answer is yes! Mix it up and enjoy! Fashion is supposed to be fun!
Q: Hey Paul, I have a question about my upcoming wedding. We’re going a pretty traditional route, but I’d like my groomsmen to wear something a little special. What do you suggest?
A: As a way to jazz up the traditional black-tie ensemble (yawn!), maybe your groomsmen could wear penguin-skin waistcoats, as a subtle and witty nod to the black-and-white “penguin” quality of most dinner suits. (Note: These are technically illegal.)
Q: When is a cowboy hat an acceptable accessory?
A: When isn’t it? Seriously! A wonderful cowboy hat can really finish a look. I suggest thinking of them as investment pieces. Look into a cowboy-style hat from Bijan for Men. Some of the crazier ones are expensive — around $62,000 for the brushed and felted skin of a Spanish-speaking miniature colt — but some are more affordable, around $5,000 and made entirely out of human hair gathered exclusively from sad Romanian orphans. The key is to dress the look up with a pop of color!
Q: I am a recent college grad who is about to start his first real job in a large financial institution on Wall Street. I don’t have that much money to spend on a business wardrobe, but I want to look good — professional, dependable, with the kind of outfit that sends the message that I’m on my way up. What do you suggest for a young man in my position?
A: You really only need three or four basic pieces — along with several shirts in white or blue — to send the right message at work. A charcoal gray suit, a good navy suit, and a blue blazer for weekends and off-site events. If you shop shrewdly and keep an eye out for sales, an entire wardrobe shouldn’t set you back more than $97,000. Also, would love to know more about the specifics of the financial institution you’re working at and its internal financial-control system, wire-transfer protocols, etc. I’d also like to introduce you to Oleg Deripaska. But yes: Three or four basic pieces and you’re set.
Q: For the past couple of years, work has been very stressful, and as a result, I’ve gained a fair amount of weight. I’m trying to get back to a normal weight, but in the meantime I’m concerned about how I look. Should I spend the money on a new wardrobe that fits my current body, or should I use the fact that I often look and feel uncomfortable in my old clothes as motivation to lose the weight?
A: I get this question all the time! Guys are always trapped into this kind of thinking: “To look good, I need to get into shape.” This is total nonsense! To look good, you just need to wear something luxurious and expensive — a cashmere hoodie with leather and chrome accents ($48,000), or maybe an eagle-skin pair of gloves with the original talons ($104,000). Don’t let people sell you into believing the myth that there’s something weird about a man spending $43,000 on a suede-and-titanium car coat with matching shoes to distract the eye from the extra 30 pounds around the belly! I’m here to say it works! I was No. 1 or No. 2 on the Ukrainian Best-Dressed List for four years running!