Classic with a Twist feat. Paul Kim

December 31st, 2011

As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently studying Menswear Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City

The program has been a valuable experience in many ways. With one semester remaining I have already benefited greatly from understanding the technicalities and nuances of pattern-making, fabric composition, clothing construction, etc.

For example, when I’m dealing with clothing manufacturers, both domestic and international, I am able to communicate using a technical vocabulary, give very specific instructions, hand-inspect the quality of their work, and revise samples for review and improvement.

Apart from the curriculum, another advantage of the program is simply being around other creative people with similar interests. I certainly have some stylish classmates. Paul Kim, featured here, has my favorite style of the bunch.

Like me, he loves tailored clothing and styles it with modern, youthful punches. He does “classic with a twist” (which just about every menswear designer is experimenting with these days) as good as anyone I know.

Paul was born and raised in South Korea. Prior to coming to the United States, Paul was a professional dancer who performed backup for a number of famous Korean singers and bands. This gave him the opportunity to meet professional stylists, which fueled his passion for clothing and eventually lead him to fashion design.

Here, he gave us a glimpse at the personal touches he puts into his wardrobe.

    1. Subtle Colors, Unique Details

    “I typically try to play within basic color combinations. This way I always have a simple backdrop to add subtle details.

    I almost always try to dress somewhere between dressy and casual.

    Here it’s dark denim with a blue shirt and navy pinstriped blazer under a classic tan trench…with a few different touches like the white & navy polka-dot socks, large safety pin on the chest pocket, and handmade studded patch that make the outfit a bit unique.”

    • Dark rinse jeans by H&M
    • Tan trench by Lago & Filo
    • Navy chalkstripe wool blazer by Rugby
    • Vintage tie (from Paul’s father when he participated in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games)
    • Brown leather tassel loafers by Lago & Filo
    • Brown leather belt by Zara

    2. American Prep

    A henley shirt can make a traditional preppy outfit a little more laid back and casual, and a little less predictable.

    Accessories can let you put your own spin on a classic look – like the hat, glasses, pocket square, belt, socks.

    Polka dot socks again, in a different proportion.

    • Brown loafers Vintage
    • Navy wool blazer by Maison Martin Margiela
    • White henley by Shipley & Halmos
    • Bracelet by Number Nine
    • Shantung fedora hat by Lago & Filo
    • Tortoise frames by Oliver Peoples

    3. Military Inspired Tailoring

    Fabric selection and pairing is crucial. A denim jacket and tailored trouser can look clean and modern in certain fabrics, but in rugged vintage cloth it can be a great throwback look as well.

    The denim jacket is a functional layer, but also adds a casual element.

    The blue in the argyle socks picks up on the blue in the shirt and pulls the look together.

    • Denim jacket Vintage
    • Brown tweed trousers by Topman
    • Olive wool military jacket by Lago & Filo
    • Light blue shirt by Uniqlo
    • Olive tie by Les Celliers du Prieure
    • Brown leather tassel loafers by Lago & Filo
    • Tortoise frames by Oliver Peoples

    4. Updated Vintage

    “This is a very dressy look, but the personal touches like the Rolling Stones patch, print bow tie and hand-studded pocket square make the outfit a bit humorous and less uptight.”

    Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to add a patch to a piece to give it a personal touch. The selection is endless, it can always be easily removed, and the cost is negligible. (Post on this coming soon)

    • Brown loafers Vintage
    • Beige camel hair blazer Vintage
    • Navy wool cardigan by Banana Republic
    • White cotton button-down shirt by Marc Jacobs
    • Blackwatch plaid wool trousers by Dolce & Gabbana
    • Tortoise frames by Oliver Peoples

    5. Laid Back Formal

    “Another simple color combination here… I like a casual outfit that hints at formal.

    Also, rubber soles and lighter socks make this overall outfit less dressy, but still sharp.”

    The shirt and jacket are actually both a very subtle hue of blue. The subtlety here makes this very tasteful (and still versatile), in my opinion.

    Bonus Tip: Keep in mind, a big part of pulling this off, and making it appear casual, is confidence and a laid back demeanor.

    Thanks for reading.

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier


    Photography by Alex Crawford.

    • Lucrecia Mahmood

      Nice analysis ! BTW , if your company has been looking for a NY DTF ST-330 , my assistant filled out a blank version here

    • Linkson Jack

      The regimental tie carries it – nice formal/ informal contrasts.
      Similar ones can be found here

    • Marcel

      Stylish just as almost every soutk korean young men. I was so stunned when living in south korea..

    • Anonymous

      He is so sharp!

    • Vladimir


      Happy new year and continued success in 2012. Mr. Kim’s got crazy style for sure and I really enjoyed the post. But could I suggest something. Since Christmas and new years just passed I thought it would’ve been great if you had done a post on what to wear for holiday dinner parties, work functions, I’d like to see a post on what you would wear on valentines day, thanksgiving, to the night club, first date, etc. Thanks for putting out a great product.

    • Wilacho

      This gent has obviously a very personal style. Very well put together! Congratulations!!!!
      Love the belt in look number 2. Who is the designer?

      • Anonymous

        maison martin margiela

    • EB

      Wow, that man got style! Big up!

    • mensfit

      I adore the deconstruction and reconstruction. It’s true, alot of hard work goes into making these things effortless

    • Ambyr

      He has great style. I really like the look with the polka dots peeking out. Very chic and still manly.

      Happy 2012

    • Dani

      Ha ha awesome post!

      Imagine that… Apparently some rumors are true (so YOU DO go to FIT!). I took a course with Paul Kim a couple semesters ago and noticed his style right away!

      American Prep and the Vintage look are definitely personal favorites…

      See you in class boys ;)

    • Ali

      Hi, in the 5th outfit, which pair of Uniqlo pants are those? That cut is exactly what I”m looking for, thanks in advance!

    • ben

      i can tell this man likes pokadots kkkkk

    • Cho

      Cool! I love that trench coat.
      He has similar silhouette to me :)-I’m Korean too. zz

    • Chris

      This guy has an almost indecent amount of swag.

    • Michael

      The guy’s on point. Especially love the henley and blazer (2nd outfit), the Rolling Stones patch (4th outfit), and the Dr. Martens (5th outfit).

    • sugarbaby

      lago&filo good!!!

    • Keaton

      Dan, I was wondering if bowties come in different sizes. I’ve seen some that you wear that are the perfect size and in proportion, but the people I see around the city are wearing ones that look huge and look wider than their face. Any help?

      • Joe

        Bow ties do come in different sizes, but they’re not always acknowledged. Most of them are adjustable to fit various neck sizes, but paying attention to the length and (especially) the height of the bow is important if you don’t want to look like Ronald McDonald. My experience is mostly with The Tie Bar ( Their regular butterfly ties don’t work well for me because they’re a little big for my face, but the diamond-tip ones are shorter and work great.

        So basically, there are different sizes, but it’s more like the width of a long tie than the size of a shirt–the fit is more about maintaining the proportions you want rather than about achieving some objective notion of “fit.”

    • Steven

      So Dan I must know where can I find a pair of those “Shoes Vintage”? They look just wonderful.

    • Evan

      Love the heirloom pieces such as the Olympic tie.

    • Jules

      The first three looks are incredible!

    • TO

      Exceptional. I tend to love Koreans’ style, but here it is also very personal.

      What did Paul’s dad participate in in the Seoul Olympics? Very curious to know, tie’s probably the coolest detail.

    • senior

      Excellent post Dan. Great work.
      When is your fall collection coming out?
      By the way great seeing you have advertising for Their suits are well done.

    • Joe

      Some cool looks, but I have to ask: Dan, what’s your take on clip-on bow ties? The difference from self-tied is just so obvious that I don’t think they’re ever a good choice.