Beards, Braces & Bowties feat. Steven Santander

September 30th, 2013

We met Steven Santander during fashion week in NYC, at the after party of the FallClassic.

He told me he was a big fan of the site and, frankly, he looked so cool that we had to feature him. Turns out he’s an aspiring menswear designer with exceptional taste, particularly his eye for color. In fact, the title of this post was almost: A Lesson in Color Subtlety featuring Steven Santander.

“Fine art has always been a big part of my life. I was enrolled in advanced art courses from grammar school to high school, but decided to do something different in college, so I majored in architecture instead. Studying architecture was an inspiring experience that opened my mind to many other fields of design: photography, film, food…and primarily fashion.

In my final semester of senior year I stumbled upon an opportunity to apprentice with a bespoke suit maker. I set up an appointment with the master tailor and we spoke for a long period of time, mostly about art and architecture since I had no experience in bespoke clothing other than a few bow ties I made for myself.  He took a chance on me, I picked up a thimble, and I’ve been studying ever since.”

Here Steven gives us a taste of his personal style: beards, braces, bowties, bespoke tailoring, and beautiful colors.

    1. Rethink Your Blues, Brother


    As you may already know, we’re big fans of monochromatic looks. Steven happens to be an expert in blending interesting shades of the same color.

    “A man can never have too much blue in his wardrobe…”


    “My menswear inspirations come from years of studying art and design. An understanding of color, composition, and history has been engrained in me… I try to carry it over into everything that I design.”


    “My personal touch to an outfit often includes a custom bow tie that I’ve handmade for a specific outfit or season.

    The denim on denim is a cool look that works as long as it’s not a Canadian tuxedo, sorry Dan.  Here I wore a fringed denim bow tie several shades darker than my spread collar denim shirt…

    The scruffy texture of this bow tie also works well with my beard, in my opinion.”


    The most interesting part about Steven’s style (other than his incredible color palettes and impeccable fit) is that many of his pieces are one-of-one. He develops a very specific idea for a piece and either makes it himself, or commissions it and works very closely with the craftsman.

    That way, he truly is wearing pieces that are one-of-a-kind, and true to his specific aesthetic.


    • Brown Wool Hat made in Ecuador
    • Light Blue Denim Shirt by Truzzi
    • Navy Braces by Coach
    • Blue Trousers Designed and Made by Steven
    • Blue Leather Double Monks designed and Made by Steven
    • Denim Bow Tie Designed and Made by Steven
    • Brown Leather Bag Designed and Made by Steven

    2. An Artist’s Palette


    “I have always loved color. Being an artist, I respect the value of a limited palette… Subtlety in texture, color and pattern is what makes an outfit for me.

    This is a transitional early-fall look. The light cream shirt is actually a super-soft corduroy that feels awesome inside and out.”


    “I matched my yellow braces with half of my bow tie, which can be tied in a number of different ways since it’s reversible.

    When alterations are needed, I do them myself. That has helped me turn good pieces into great ones – from clothing that I owned but hardly wore to unique vintage finds.”


    “The minty grey pants and grey suede monks almost blend in together, which makes the outfit more uniform and neutral.

    It’s a fairly simple outfit where bright yellow pops first but each piece has its own unique qualities that are noticeable when you take a closer look.”


    • Green Wool Hat handmade in Ecuador
    • White Corduroy Shirt by Polo Ralph Lauren
    • Gold Braces by Brooks Brothers
    • Mint Trousers custom designed and made
    • Grey Suede Double Monks custom Designed and made
    • Navy and Gold Silk and Linen Bow Tie Custom Made

    3. Pattern Architecture


    “I can’t say that I’m a master tailor or craftsman but I try to be as hands-on as possible (and learn as much as I can) when I have something custom made. As an artist and designer, I like to be a major part of the creation process in order to make things as personal as possible.

    Nothing says Fall like grey wool windowpane pants, matched here with a pink micro-check shirt… The burgundy braces match the dark red buttons, sewn on the outside of the pants in this case.”


    Since we’re definitely going to get comments and questions about her:

    “My friend Nicole is a fellow style enthusiast, blogger, and my partner in crime (crashing fashion week parties, etc).”


    “The polka dots on the linen bow tie match the more subtle pindots of the braces, and happen to be the same size as the buttons sewn on the pants… Square-on-square and circle-on-circle.

    As long as you focus on scale and proportion when you’re mixing patterns, then you can come up with a variety of different combinations that all work.  I guess that’s the architect in me again…”


    “This vintage leather bag was designed by my dad when he was my age. It’s one of my all time favorite pieces.”

    In closing, I hope you looked closely at the details in this post… As one example: dub monks in oily navy blue, minty grey suede, and orangy-tan!


    • Yellow Custom Made Panama Hat with Peacock Feather made in Ecuador
    • Pink Check Shirt by Agho
    • Navy polka Dotted Braces by Brooks Brothers
    • Grey Windowpane Pants Designed and Made by Steven
    • Light Brown Leather Double Monks Designed and Made by Steven
    • Navy Polka Dotted Bow Tie Designed and Made by Steven
    • Brown Leather Vintage Bag Designed and Made by Steven’s Father

    Thanks, as always, for reading and special thanks to Steven and Nicole for participating!

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier


    Photography by Alex Crawford

    • http://undefined Gordon from Scotland

      I keep watching TSBMEN for shoots with braces and then this pops up, Epic Pictures. Braces are never worn enough these days. I wear them most of the time to work etc. and always get great comments about the style. This photo shoot just goes to show how stylish they can be. Just wish more guys would wear them

    • Stephen J. Black

      This by far is one of thee BEST features TSB has done. I found myself trying to zoom in just admire all the minute details caught by the camera’s lens hoping for more pictures to appear. Sir Santander’s style is pure & simple. Uniquely his but easily adaptable for every man. I’d wear every bit of this every day, even the 2in cuffs on the pants and I can’t stand cuffed pants. Steven Santander, dear good sir, your style is simply amazing. I almost never comment but I had to today. Sir Trepanier this is a great feature. I’d love to see the outtake pictures by Sir Crawford not used. I need every bow tie, brace & the pants in group 3 in my closet now. Great job gentleman. Great Job.
      p.s. Love the Beard. Respect the Beard. Fear the Beard.

    • Nick

      I love the slightly flared look around your wrists in look 1. Can’t think of a better detail for braces than buttons on the outside and this is a testament that matching leathers is for the birds. The bag and monks in look three complement each other swimmingly. And I don’t get what all the fuss is about I don’t think he’d look weird in most big city offices (doesn’t strike me as a finance cube monkey). Do you Stevie, do you.

      P.S. Gillette sign off on this one?

      • Dan Trepanier


        I agree, matching leathers is novice for a guy with this kind of eye for color.

        And for the record, nobody signs off on TSB but me, player ;)

    • Brent Kuz

      The girl is a smoke show. She stole the feature. I’m completely not into the beards or bow tie look at all. I do love the pants and braces. Also big fan of the shoes. Little too hipster for me but I still like aspects.

    • Jerico

      This is the whole point of this blog!! To show what kind of styles are out there. Maybe the overall look is not your cup of tea, because it’s not mine, but this is how we express ourselves. So on that not “These are not the droids you are looking for, move along, move along”

    • Sosa

      I have critiqued other features when some people go way, way outside the box.. but I feel for Steven it really works.. I think its because he keeps the foundation intact which is fit.. and then uses colors and accessories to go outside the box which is cool..I love how he actually adheres to Sartorial tradition with the pants not having any belt loops but having a brace for the suspenders.. I feel it looks silly when you have belt loops and you are using suspenders..its like you dont know what you are doing but he sure does..I love that the pants fit him well.. no creasing or lines that indicate tightness (and Im willing to bet the back drape of all the pants are perfect as well)..I love the dub monks in all of the pictures and dont mind that he has the belt unstrapped.. it comes across as nonchalantly whimsical..Im not a fan of bow ties but I feel in this situation it really short Im a fan because even though he blurs the line a little he is still paying homage to traditional Sartorial cues while taking his style to a place thats comfortable to him and original.. kudos..

    • Vic

      Man, this guy really kows how to pull of a braces and bowties combo! Been loving the articles you’ve been posting here on TSB lately. Keep up the good work!

    • Steven S.

      Thank you all for your criticism and comments. I’m just an average guy who likes quality menswear and appreciates all styles, I wouldn’t wear these outfits 7 days a week. Style, like everything, is an art form and I enjoyed putting these outfits together to stay true to the post. I think they’re fun looks and I had a great time during the photo shoot. Thanks again to the whole TSB crew!

    • Zach W

      I don’t post comments often, but this guy’s style is awesome. I feel like I had to contribute to offset the haters bashing. This guy is an artist and has great expression in color, pattern, texture, and proportion.

      • Dan Trepanier

        Amen. Thanks Zach

    • Mathieu Lavoie

      Superb use of colors and pattern, combine with a very strong craftsmanship (did he really made the double monk himself?) but the combo bowtie & braces feels redondant the third time….

    • Professor Black

      Oh, and I love the tailoring on these pants. Low-rise, tight and high-break pants do have their place, but the heavy no-break cuff and more traditional waistband in these looks is “game.”

    • Professor Black

      Don’t feed the trolls Dan. I would like to see more in-depth discussion on the heels of objective well thought out critiques or compliments. It’s a shame that it seems the only time paragraphs are written in the comments section by the TSBmen team is when someone throws down some verbal burn.

      • Dan Trepanier

        Good point, but we can’t do it all Professor Black. Believe it or not, we’re not in front of our computers all day!

    • Zach!!!

      This is my favorite post in recent memory. This dude kills it. I think the naysayers here think of style as more of a competition than a creative outlet. If all you want is to score more chicks than your friends, that’s great, but I’d rather use my clothes to express myself.

      • Dan Trepanier

        Well said Zach!! Fashion is an artform, after all. And style is how people use it in everyday life.

    • Tyler

      The thing with these looks is that they are borderline costumy. This style will never be adopted by the majority of people because it looks like you pulled this guy out of the 1920s. If you guys really claim you are a men’s fashion blog maybe you should show more that this type of costumy gimmicky look and show what people really care for. You have offices in the West Coast (California) where a lot of urban brands are emerging with way more interesting stuff than the content of this article.

      Vintage will only be “hip” or “trendy” for a certain amount of time. And there’s a point where vintage becomes too much and turns into a clown show, just like walking through the streets of Williamsburg.

      • Dan Trepanier

        Thanks for your comment Tyler!

        I think you may be missing the point of what we’re trying to do with TSBmen. We by no means want the majority of people to adopt this style, or any style. That would defeat the purpose of this story, which is to share Steven’s unique perspective.

        We’re not a fashion blog, meaning we’re not here to tell you which brands to wear (or not wear). We’re a style blog. We’re here to share what other people are wearing, in order to inspire our readers to think outside the box and develop their own point of view.

        Nevertheless, style is subjective and I appreciate you sharing your opinion.


      • Philip

        “a lot of urban brands are emerging with way more interesting stuff”

        We all aren’t in our teens and twenties. kid.

        • Tyler

          Public School is a fashion forward very trendy brand and young brand but nothing of what they make looks costumy, featured on and other big business magazines. Urban brands aren’t for men in their teens and twenties anymore, you need to keep up with the wave and ride it. Or you can skip the wave and look my grandfather until bell bottoms are back in trend for men (even though my grandpa had amazing style in the 30-40s).

          You say that you share other people’s style. But from what i have browsed from this website seems to be the same type of style is recurring.

          I completely understand how this could give ideas to people, but its been the same ideas for a while now. I’ve been waiting for something really outside the box. New takes on suits, pants, fits, dress shirts, etc.

          There’s a difference between being hip and unique, and looking like you don’t belong.

          Interesting story nonetheless.

    • BF

      Not down personally with the neo-amish vibe, but I appreciate his style(pants in the 3rd pic are sick)
      I like that girl == Her look is ON POINT@
      well done..

    • Elkin

      Simply amazing, looks were even more on point in person.

      • Steven S.

        Thanks Elkin, means a lot! It was a fun shoot with everyone.

    • Sergio

      The fit on each outfit is on point, the colors are on point! As I’ve said before a beautiful woman makes a great outfit look even better.

      • Steven S.

        I couldn’t agree more! Thanks Sergio.

    • PS

      One of the best posts in a while.

      Love Nicole’s unique sense of style, any link to her blog?

      • Dan Trepanier

        I’m not sure…Steven?

    • Changingman

      I noticed the top buckle is undone on all the shoes, the OCD in me wants to reach thru the screen and buckle them ;)

      I’ve been searching for tailoring classes in NYC area. Most sewing classes I find are geared towards making women’s clothes and accessories. Are there any classes out there specifically for learning alterations? Im sure FIT has, but out of state tuition is out of my budget.

    • Raymond M.

      All very strong looks. I really enjoyed look 3, the subtle details and different patterns come together very well. Also the shoes in each look make me want to wear straight dub monks from now on. Good stuff.

    • Tom S.

      That girl cannot be this guy’s girlfriend.

      • Dan Trepanier

        haha why you mad? Your comment says more about you than it does Steven…

        • Steven S.

          Thanks Tom S. means a lot!
          And thanks Dan!

          • Rob –

            Tom S — was that really necessary? If you’re going to post an insecure, mean comment, at least post your full name. Really tho?

            First, who CARES if its his girlfriend. Second, when you post something like that, we know whose girlfriend it’s NOT. Third, did you even post anything even REMOTELY related to the article? Last — you mad.

            Nice looks, Steven. The beard fits you well and so do the braces.

          • Aaron

            Prolly feels bad for da chick

            • Pete

              Tom S., internet knocking due to insecurity

          • Pete

            Tom S., internet knocking due to insecurity

    • Charles

      No one cares about this gimmicky neo-dandy shit

      • Dan Trepanier

        I do. And this is my blog. Thanks for reading.

        • Rob –

          Jesus Christ, the trolls are really running free today. Let’s count the number of people who DO care about this “gimmicky neo-dandy shit,” as you so eloquently put it, Charles… How about the five guys who are regularly featured in the looks on this site? How about all of the guests who also are featured? Maybe Dan, the guy who makes MONEY from this style blog, and his articles… Or perhaps his readership, hundreds of which enter his style contests. And then there’s you and your army of one — who doesn’t care.

          Get over yourself, ya Git.

    • Jesse

      Any way to find out what her blog is?

    • http://undefined Jeanscuffed

      No one added that he has a country dandy vibe. His style is nice as hell. The braces n bowties are a sick touch….and don’t even get me started on his Dub Monks (specifically the blue one’s).

    • MS

      That so few now dare to be eccentric, marks the chief danger of the time.

      John Stuart Mill

      • Dan Trepanier


    • Alex

      Great, great post. Each look was a treat to see the close-up shots of the details. Makes one want to raise their own game. Well done, all!

      • Dan Trepanier

        That’s what we try to do!

        “TSBmen: making guys raise their own game.”

    • Brian

      Dope Post!! Thanks for Sharing TSBmen

      • Dan Trepanier

        Thanks for reading Brian.

    • John B

      Great looks and as cam pointed out, it’s a shame the beard hides the bowties! I’m also curious about the shoes.

      Nicole’s style is amazing. Wish I knew girls who dressed liked that.

      • Dan Trepanier

        hah might have to shop around for that one!

    • cam

      his trousers in all 3 looks are exceptional and I really like how he offset the button in look 2…i am curious, does he actually make the shoes? it says “designed and made by”…it’s somewhat unfortunate that these beautiful bow ties get lost under his beard…great feature though guys!

      • Steven S.

        Not 100% made by me but I’m a bit of a Renaissance man and have learned a little bit of various crafts, including shoe making. The designs are all mine and I put my hand in everything I get made. However, the bow ties are made entirely by me. Thanks for reading!

    • TW

      Any chance of learning which tailor Steve apprenticed for?

    • A fan

      Without doubt one of the most authentic (if not best) features on TSB. Thanks once again!

    • Akil M.

      This is hands down one of my favorite posts. I enjoyed every look and the fact that he designs and makes most of his clothes deserves a standing ovation.