Sweater Layering feat. Marcus Allen

October 11th, 2012

Marcus Allen has a small rack of clothes in the middle of his East village bedroom. Sitting on that rack is one of the most well-edited personal wardrobes I’ve ever seen. All menswear staples, all well made, and all beautifully broken-in.

As a graduate of the Massachusetts college of art and design, Marcus has worked with Ralph Lauren, Hermes, Ford Models and is currently part of the creative team behind  Brunello Cucinelli. Needless to say with a background like that, understanding style is a big part of what he does and who he is.

“I’m in this industry because I value visual communication. That is, communication through dress. It’s always fascinated me that a person can decide who they want to be, or which character they want to portray, based solely on the clothing and styling decisions they make.”

We caught up with Marcus last week to see how he puts it all together. His strategy for this time of year: “early Fall is all about knitwear”. We couldn’t agree more.

    1. Knit on Knit

    “Any designer that works with linen/silk/cotton blend…get at me.”

    Linen-based knits, like this crewneck, are perfect for this time of the year. They stay warm and comfortable without getting hot or sticky.

    They also have an awesome texture that gives them a little life of their own.

    A chunky shawl cardigan is a must-have for Fall. This one, hand-knit with a heavy yarn and immaculate attention to detail, will only get better with age.

    A toggle closure makes it feel more like outerwear – wear it like a coat and throw it over just about anything.

    On jewelry: “Anything having to do with American Indians (like this beaded necklace) that will somehow connect me to living in a tee pee and making art…I’m for it. Melet mercantile (in Soho NYC) is a great source for pieces like this.”

    • Navy knit crewneck sweater by The Row
    • Navy shawl knit toggle sweater by Polo Ralph Lauren
    • Squash blossom necklace Vintage by Melet Mercantile
    • Turqoise native american trade beads by Melet Mercantile
    • Faded blue denim jeans by RRL
    • Blue sk8HI sneakers by Vans

    2. Loosely Layered

    Some sweaters, especially linen blends, are meant to be worn on the skin.

    This flowy textured number, for example, is not meant to be worn at the office with a shirt and tie, it’s meant for a relaxed weekend with broken-in denim and vintage suede loafers.

    “I collect vintage Levis 501s in any and every size… I sometimes wear them with a tuxedo blazer and a t-shirt.”

    Not everything has to fit super slim.

    When it’s time to kick back on the weekend, learn the art of relaxed and flowy layering.

    • Brown felt hat by Stetson (Vintage)
    • Cream knit v-neck sweater by Ralph Lauren
    • Green field jacket by Ralph Lauren
    • Faded 501 jeans by Levi’s Vintage
    • Tan suede cap-toe loafers by A. Testoni
    • Canvas knapsack Vintage from Interwoven Showroom

    3. Juxtapose

    It takes a lot of balls, and style, to rock a tuxedo casually.

    “I’m big into creating a juxtaposition. Nice and clean with old and tattered, evening with street, classic with unorthodox, etc.

    Mixing formal wear with casual pieces that have a rough sensibility is one of my favorite ways to do it.”

    It might not be a look that everyone can appreciate, but the girls checking him out on the walk to the Bowery that day certainly “get it”.

    At the end of the day, once you find your taste and aesthetic (which takes time and practice), it’s all about confidence and attitude. (Sure, it helps to be really good looking too)

    4. Cashmere & Leather

    Another example of using juxtaposition to create a visually interesting look: tough rebel leather jacket, soft preppy cashmere sweater.

    “The cashmere cable knit sweater is a prep classic, which is why I like to pair it with something more edgy like a vintage biker jacket and worn leather belt.”

    Black and brown together?

    Like wearing white after labor day, once you understand and respect the “rules” you can break them gracefully.

    Hint – it’s easier with a lighter richer brown, and heather grey can help pull them together nicely.

    • Vintage leather moto jacket from Quality Mending Co
    • Cashmere cable knit sweater by Ralph Lauren
    • Black jeans by Levi’s 511
    • Vintage belt from Melet Mercantile
    • Chelsea boots by APC

    5. Double Duty

    “I got this Baja hoodie for traveling to California and Montauk. It reminds me of the song Dreadlock Holiday by 10cc

    In the city I find myself wearing it more as a scarf.”

    Here’s a simple look, brought to another level by the details.

    Not just a denim shirt, a vintage tattered Wrangler (which Marcus also collects). Not just cargos, tough-as-nails leather riding pants. Not just boots, beat-up leather harness Frye’s. Etc.

    • Wrangler shirt from Melet Mercantile
    • Navajo baja sweater by RRL
    • Vintage silver bracelet from Melet Mercantile
    • Olive leather cargos by RRL
    • Vintage belt from Melet Mercantile
    • Brown leather boots by Frye

    Thanks for reading – and special thanks to Marcus for participating!

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier


    Photography by Alex Crawford.

    • pete

      Who knew vintage could look so new

    • Veejay

      Love the boots in pic# 5. I have the same pair!

    • http://www.chapmanbags.com Chapman Bags

      Really enjoying the use of the sneakers in the first look- the mixing and matching is what sets a confident man apart from the rest of those just going with the flow.

    • Paul

      What a great look!

    • Peej

      Love look 4, the use of blacks and browns is freaking perfect. Balance, flow, rhythm — it’s all there.

    • PETER

      Why do you have “shop this look” for items that are definitely not the same. i.e. the cable cashmere sweater is by RL, not J Crew…

      • http://thestyleblogger.com Dan Trepanier

        We are shooting real people in their real wardrobes. A lot of the pieces in the shoot are several years old or unique vintage finds.

        The concept is shopping the “look” not necessarily buying the featured items in the photos.


        • John Barrow

          All the same – while I appreciate the “shop this look” section, I’d like to see a footnote of where the person ACTUALLY got those items.

          • http://thestyleblogger.com Dan Trepanier

            John look in the left column. The FEATURED section.


    • Denise Harvey

      Hello Marcus,
      I am Katie Blais’s grandmother, have met you when you came to Maine, Katie speaks so highly of you….I just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed the complete site of yours and congratulations for a job well done……Take care, continue your good work…….Mem Harvey

    • http://areyoubob.com Johnny

      I’m really digging the sweater/leather jacket look! It’s a look from the best of both worlds really. I wish I could pull off layering like that, it’s hotter than ever in Florida! Last time I wore layers like this gentlemen, I was sweating bullets. No bueno.

    • http://MensStylePro.com Sabir M. Peele

      Hey Dan & TSBmen Crew,

      What I really like about Marcus’ style is that he really owns it. I know the way he styles these look are going to rub some people the wrong way because they’re not “traditional”, but, I dig what he’s doing. The casual tuxedo look really knocks it out the park. Great feature.



      • http://www.thestyleblogger.com Townsend

        Thanks for the feedback Sabir! Hope all is well.

    • TO

      Mr. Allen just destroys it here. Inspiring knitwear piece. I’m not conviced some (if not most) would be able to pull off the ‘loose and flowey’ though, but it obviously works for him.

    • cam

      very nice personal style marcus. ive been heading toward that rugged luxury Billy Reid/RRL look myself lately. very american and how men should look in a casual atmosphere.

    • Brian

      Content on the blog is great as ever, but restoring an option to view all looks on one page would be nice. Having to click through multiple pages to read a whole article is one of my pet peeves.

      • http://thestyleblogger.com Dan Trepanier

        Hey Brian. Splitting up the posts is the the only way we can offer our Style Guide and Shop This Look functionalities.

        Thanks for reading.


    • Matt

      Marcus is just straight killing it. The looks are great for fall in New England. Dan, do you know where Marcus picked up that shawl cardigan in look 1? I’ve been looking for a navy one like that with the toggle loops, but the JCrew link doesn’t compare. I’ve seen some good ones from LLBean Signature, but the one his wearing is smooth.

      Keep up the great work! The site is really starting to come together.

    • Keaton

      I’ve been wanting a nice “barn” or “field” type jacket. Have you had any experience with Barbour’s? I am wondering if they are worth the investment as far as quality longevity, from style and durability standpoint. Very cool shoot, I love the quick turnaround between new posts!

      • http://www.thestyleblogger.com Townsend

        Hey Keaton,

        Barbour’s are DEFINITELY worth the investment. I have 3 myself. A great place to start would be with a classic waxed cotton Barbour, say the Beaufort or Bedale. So long as you “reproof” (read: re-wax) your jacket every other year or so, your coat will last you decades. Sure, spending 400+ on a jacket seems a little absurd right now, but for something that will potentially last you 20+ years, it really is a great investment.
        Best of luck,

        • Keaton

          Thanks for the info, Townsend! I’m glad I asked because I would never have known to reproof every year. I noticed the ones ones you have in previous posts and they seem like a jacket that only gets better looking with age and wear. Thanks again for the inspiration TSB team.

    • Gazman

      He’s worked with some heavy hitters but they need to pay him more. His shirts and pants have holes in them and he needs new shoes. And how about the just a wee-bit-tucked-in look – twee and contrived.