My Style: Gabe Alonso

Portrait of Gabe Alonso by Justin Chung

Photo: Justin Chung — Courtesy of Gabe Alonso

Which new designers do you follow and why?

Ian Velardi, Ovadia & Sons, Umit Benan… I think they’re bringing men’s fashion back to the forefront. Ian is creating incredible American casual and tailored menswear. His latest collection was one of the more solid ones from Fashion Week (and it was his first presentation!). The Ovadia brothers are bringing back that old-school tailored aesthetic our grandfathers used to take such pride in (except of course with a modern twist). And Umit Benan’s edgy menswear-meets-streetwear designs are, in my opinion, the future of men’s fashion.

Please describe your style in three words.

Chameleon meets classic.

What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?

Doing it in the “dark.” You should never leave your apartment feeling less than 100 per cent confident in your clothes. That’s equally applicable to your off-duty garb as it is to your office wardrobe.

Do you believe in role models?

Absolutely. There may be men who are self-made, but I bet if you ask them, each had someone that inspired their drive and ambition. I feel like role models are great when you’re growing up — they give you something to aspire to. Once you’ve achieved a certain level of success, a mentor becomes hugely important. My parents will forever be role models in my life and are responsible for how I comport myself. My mentors change as I go through various stages of my life.

What are your favourite fabrics?

I love tweed in the fall, a nice herringbone or glen plaid number. Blackwatch plaid has been a favourite pattern of mine for some time now as well.

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

I’m a big proponent of breaking the rules as long as you know why or how you’re breaking them. There are certain combinations (like black and brown) that I haven’t ever tried to pull off, but I have plenty of friends who have. I’m actually looking forward to trying more black and blue combinations come the fall.

Which city has the best-dressed men?

I’m biased because I live in New York City. So… New York City.

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?

Not to skirt the question, but I honestly think I’m more middle of the way. I don’t mind taking chances, but they’re a bit more calculated than someone who may just go for it. Let’s put it this way — I’m slightly conservative with a bold touch to stand out.

What are the rules in the way you dress?

While for me, fit has become more important over the years, comfort with how I look and feel is king. I never leave the house feeling less than 100% confident in what I’m wearing. I try not to go crazy with pattern mixing; a little bit goes a long way. Never feel like you have to prove your style to someone; as soon as you start dressing for someone else, you lose your individuality (unless it’s your significant other, in which case… carry on). When all else fails, jeans and a t-shirt will never fail to look good in the summer. Don’t try too hard, as everyone will notice — and not in a good way. I’m never afraid to change my style on any given day. It’s very much inspired by how I feel that morning when I wake up. I don’t like uniforms.

Celebrities and style...

Rarely go together in the same sentence.

Name one garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?

A good hat. Whether it’s a fitted New Era Yankee hat (my team of choice since I was a kid) or a Borsalino, a hat will always be my go-to accessory.

A man should always look like...

He didn’t think about what he has on (but obviously did).

Who taught you what you know about style?

My mother. She wouldn’t let me leave the house if my clothes had a single wrinkle in them. I wish I were kidding, but it taught me the importance of always looking your best, no matter the occasion. I was also lucky to have a grandmother who had been one of Oscar de la Renta’s seamstresses when she arrived from Cuba. Needless to say, I grew up with custom-made, impeccably tailored clothes for most of my childhood. As for my grandfather, he was a master with an iron, cleanest lines I’ve ever seen. Guess where my mom (and later yours truly) learned how to press clothes so well?

How do you select your clothing every morning?

It depends on the weather and then how I feel. A lot of times, I’ll dress opposite the weather. If it’s dreary out, I’m dressed in bright colours or patterns. If I’m hung-over? Well, usually those are my best dressed days (but shh! Don’t tell my boss).

What is your biggest regret?

In terms of style? Wasting energy fighting over the merits of wide-leg denim with my mom. It was 1997, sh*t happens. Jnco was cool. In terms of life? Never studying abroad in college, it was a huge missed opportunity that I try to make up for whenever possible.

The three essential things a man should know about style are...

Don’t dress according to trends. They’re fickle. You can almost always go down a size. If a shirt or jacket feels comfortable, it’s likely too big. The tailor is your best friend. Use him well and often.

Do you have any shopping rituals?

Not really — now that I’m at GILT, my shopping habits have turned into trolling the website for stuff guys missed out on.

We will never see you wearing...

Birkenstocks. Just no. I can’t.

The most stylish person you have ever seen...

Honestly, all my friends. Being in NYC and having the opportunity to be close with the younger guys in the men’s fashion game, I’m constantly inspired by their style choices and tastes.

What is the first thing you notice on a man?

His handshake.

The one image that defined your approach to style...

The effortless elegance of Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain.”

The only article of clothing that a man needs to pay close attention to is...

I mean, I’d say all of them but if I had to choose… his suit. That way, you know that when you need to look like a million bucks, you’ve got the right weapon in your arsenal.

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

My grandfather’s Pierre Balmain guayabera. My whole wardrobe could go up in flames and as long as that shirt survives, I’d be ok.

Is comfort an enemy of style?

I think it used to be. Thankfully, guys are starting to learn more about and appreciate fit. The fact that designers have been crafting slim, tapered luxe sweatpants says a lot about how comfort and style are coming together.

Which designer never fails to impress you?

The guys out in Stockholm from Rose & Born always put out incredible imagery. I’m always inspired by their aesthetic. Michael Bastian is another guy whose collections always leave me envious.

Who would you like to recommend for My Style€?

Lawrence Schlossman or Marisa Zupan.

The best words of advice you have ever heard?

“Life is a game.” — My father.

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