New Fall Essentials feat. Dan Rookwood
November 15th, 2014
Dan Rookwood is living proof that dressing with style can open doors and create opportunity.
“It was really by chance that I ended up in fashion. A previous editor of mine offered me a job at Men’s Health UK, but the only vacancy at the time was as Style Director. I didn’t feel qualified, not having much prior experience with fashion, but he said: ‘You dress well and you write well. Just explain to the man on the street how he can look smarter. That’s the job’. So I did.”
As an avid soccer (football) fan growing up in England, Dan initially set out for a career as a sports reporter at The Guardian UK. He then transitioned to become a lifestyle and culture reporter for a few different publications (including a stint as Editor at TimeOut Sydney) before landing the job as Style Director at Men’s Health UK. Today Dan is the US editor of The Journal at Mr. Porter, one of the premier e-commerce-meets-content websites for men. We caught up with him at the Mr. Porter offices in NYC to share a little about his story and style – versatile classics with a modern twist.
On Family Traditions
Although he never expected to work in the menswear industry, dressing well has always been a tradition with the men in Dan’s family. He first learned the “rules” of classic dress by observing his grandfathers, then he learned to put his own spin on them by borrowing his brother’s trendy clothes and wearing them on the streets of London. Eventually he landed on a style that was slightly modern, but rooted in English tradition.
“I enjoy dressing well. The men in my family have always been smartly turned out. When I picture my grandfathers, they are in shirt and tie. I’ve inherited my appreciation of good quality and fine craftsmanship from them… I grew up in England in the 90s, when it wasn’t considered cool to be into fashion. But I picked up a sense of style by cultural osmosis from the music and films and the general scene I was into.
I also hero-worshipped my older brother and would borrow his designer clothes when he was out. That taught me to look after things so that he didn’t notice anything had been taken… At university I blew my student loan every year on clothes. I barely had enough money to make rent but at least I had all the latest gear. I moved to London at 21 and all of sudden had all the best stores on my doorstep. A lot of men apparently hate shopping. Not me.”
“Here I’m wearing an unstructured grey flannel suit with a plain white shirt and classic horsebit loafers by Gucci. The suit is lovely and warm for Fall/Winter and super versatile as it can be worn as separates. Not to mention grey flannel goes with just about anything. I quite enjoy wearing a shirt buttoned up without a tie, it gives a formal look a contemporary twist… I’ve been watching a show on Netflix recently called Peaky Blinders which has a cool aesthetic. It’s set in 1920s Birmingham and they all wear collars without ties.”
On Defining Self
“My sense of style helps to define who I am. It has had an impact at every important stage in my life: from attending my interview to get into university, to wearing a fairly outré suit for my interview at The Guardian, to attracting to the attention of the woman who would become my wife. It’s taken a while for my style to develop and settle down. I’d like to think it keeps evolving…it’s not quite as overtly trend-driven as it was when I was in my 20s.
In general I think dressing well instills confidence – it helps me stand that bit taller, feel that bit smarter, and perhaps gives me an unspoken advantage over the average guy. But style goes beyond the superficial, of course. It’s also about how you carry yourself, how you behave, your moral code, etc.”
“This is a more casual look. I’m wearing a tan suede bomber jacket from Oliver Spencer. It’s quite a lustrous suede, it’s got some real depth to it. And I’m wearing that with a collarless granddad shirt (the Peaky Blinders influence again, possibly) and a pair of Valentino sneakers (which I’m kind of obsessed with), accessorized with a leather-strapped Shinola watch and a chocolate brown Mulberry briefcase. I like how all the browns work together in shades of Fall without being too matchy-matchy.”
On Smart Shopping
“I think it’s important for men to prioritize the items that have the most impact and those from which you will derive the most value over time. For most of us: an overcoat, a pair of good quality leather shoes, a leather bag and perhaps a fine watch. Those are the items which, if you buy wisely, could last you 10 years or more.
Also, go through what you own and edit out whatever is doing you no favors: that tent-like dress shirt, the boxy suit, the off-white t-shirts, the threadbare socks. Get rid. If you no longer own those paint-spattered trackpants, you can no longer wear them. Make sure everything in your closet fits you properly and have it professionally altered if it doesn’t. Fit is the number one fundamental. You can blow $4,000 on an off-the-peg suit but if it’s ill-fitting it’ll look worse than the $400 suit that has been tailored to you.”
“My third look is a fairly typical everyday look for me. I’m a big fan of a button-down shirt with a knitted tie and a chunky cardigan. But I’m trying out some cuffed sweatpants worn with a pair of derbies. Cuffed sweatpants are a big trend. I think this is the next evolutionary stage from the rolled chino. Look for a tapered silhouette, cuffed at the ankle, in smart grey, navy or black like these from Acne. You might scoff now but you’ll probably be wearing them within six months.”
So what’s next at Mr. Porter?
“The main project that we’re working on at the moment is the wardrobe for a very stylish upcoming movie called Kingsman: The Secret Service starring Colin Firth and Michael Caine, released in February next year. It’s about gentleman spies who have their headquarters in a tailor shop on Savile Row in London. They all wear the most incredible suits, coats, shoes and watches. Mr Porter co-designed the wardrobe alongside the director Matthew Vaughan and costume director Arianne Phillips. And we’re selling it. So you can order the exact outfits the cast are wearing even from your seat in the movie theatre. This “costume to collection” idea has never been done before on this scale, so we’re very excited about it.”
Thanks, as always, for reading and special thanks to Dan for participating!
Yours in style,
Photography by Alex Crawford.