Today on Style, we are fortunate to interview Wale Soluade, founder of A Curated Man.
He’s well-dressed, well-spoken and gives our readers a lot of great pragmatic advice for developing their own personal style.
Check out the full interview below:
Tell us about yourself and your website, ACuratedMan.com. How did you get started as a blogger? Is it your full-time job or do you have another career?
I was born and spent the first half of my life in Nigeria.
I moved to the United States when I was 16 for college and one thing led to another and I eventually settled in St. Louis.
I really got my love for style from my father and have some great memories of watching him get dressed, shopping for clothes, etc.
After college and as I got into my career, I made a conscious decision to figure out what my personal style identity was and learn as much as I could about what I wore as a man, which included everything from fabric origins to how things were made.
Frankly, I got into blogging as a result of peer pressure.
Over time, I would have friends call to ask style and fashion related questions and after hearing over and over again how much easier it would be if I would just put stuff on a blog so they didn’t have to call, I decided to start A Curated Man.
The blog is a hobby I’m passionate about, but I do have a full-time career running a Human Resource function at a large financial services institution.
I’m grateful to be one of those people who enjoys what I do for a living and allows me to afford a hobby I enjoy with just as much passion.
We love this line on the home page of your website: “…it’s not always true that ‘it ain’t the brother that’s in the suit, it’s the suit that’s on the brother.‘ Quite the opposite in many regards. Three-piece suit or jumpsuit, our outward appearance as men speaks solidly to our brand, to what kind of man we are.” Tell us a little bit on how this philosophy was derived.
For me this philosophy emphasizes digging beyond what a person is wearing at the time to the core of their humanity.
There are tons of terrible people out there in beautiful suits and shoes and as many great folks in oil stained overalls.
Ultimately, how we represent ourselves in our outward appearance is the kind of man we are; polite and charming in oil stained overalls indicate hard work versus rude and condescending in a hand-made Italian suit.
ESM is all about style. If you could describe your personal style in one sentence, what would it be?
Taking the classics and making them my own.
What advice would you give readers who are also trying to develop their style? What about those who are developing their style on a budget?
I think the most important piece of advice I would give is to get to know yourself and what reflects who you are versus letting social media or style magazines tell you what you should be wearing.
For example, some guys can pull off a pocket square, lapel pin, tie bar simultaneously without looking ridiculous on the pages of Esquire or GQ but that doesn’t mean you should go out and try it if it’s not who you are.
Based on personal experience, it’ll save you money and regret in the long run.
This is especially important if you are building a wardrobe on a budget. Knowing what your style aesthetic is helps you hone in on what the foundational pieces you need are.
I’ve talked with a number of guys who are getting into tailored clothing who ask my opinion on buying something like a purple windowpane suit but don’t own a staple navy jacket or a grey suit.
My advice in those situations is to master the basics first.
Has your style developed as your social media presence (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) has developed? If so, how has it changed?
I would say yes – Social media has been valuable in building relationships with people that I once admired from afar.
With these relationships have come a wealth of knowledge – I now have people I can tap with far more experience when it comes to matters of style.
I have been able to refine my personal style even further because of the understanding I’ve gotten from these relationships.
What are some of the benefits and challenges you have experienced as a fashion blogger?
A benefit that comes with its own challenges is the opportunity to review products from different brands.
It’s a great way to get hands on with items that may not have been on the radar due to lack of awareness, budget, etc.
However the related challenge is the need to provide an honest review because to me reviews are more about my readers and followers than the brand.
When a brand reaches out to a blogger, it’s with the hope that they will get a positive review to drive awareness and sales – but frankly speaking, that’s not always the case.
One of the most terrible things I’ve seen is a blogger asking brands to send him products in exchange for a positive review.
I want my followers to trust me when I recommend something, so I don’t do a lot of reviews and have yet to publish a negative one.
I’m also pretty clear on my blog about my philosophy, so I suppose brands know what they’re getting when they reach out.
I also enjoy hanging out at Fashion Week events because I get to meet some immensely creative people.
What are some of your favorite looks right now?
Even though lately I’ve been branching out into what I consider more casual and separate looks, I’m still very much a suit guy.
I’m a big fan of soft shoulders because I have naturally sloping shoulders and two-inch cuffs on trousers.
As simple as it is, I love the navy suit and find myself wearing them quite frequently lately because they provide a great foundation for experimentation with color when it comes to shirts and ties.
Do you have brands or designers you favor? For our readers who are developing their style on a budget, do you have affordable brands you can recommend?
Part of the evolution of my personal style is I find myself leaning more toward Italian tailoring with brands such as Borelli and Finamore who are starting to make their way into my shirting rotation.
I’m also a big fan of Ring Jacket sport coats and suits and neckwear by Berg & Berg and Viola Milano.
Suit Supply has also become a great resource lately as they straddle the line between affordable and quality very well.
Along with the brands I mentioned, my wardrobe also includes items from the Tie Bar which offers ties starting at 15 bucks, hopsack jackets from J.C Penny during the Nick Wooster era, J.Crew and Banana Republic.
I pretty much shop a little bit of everywhere with an eye on balancing quality, affordability and function.
What is your philosophy on men’s accessories? What are your favorite accessories to wear?
Men’s shouldn’t shy away from accessories.
The word that comes to mind here is balance – accessories should be balanced and situationally appropriate.
For example, I work in a bank which in itself is a traditionally conservative environment. I wear a small bracelet or two with my watch because it’s part of my personal style but also because I’m aware that its not the right environment to stack 6 bracelets together.
Even though some consider pocket squares accessories, I consider them a staple and my favorite to wear because they give my an opportunity to show off an eye for detail.
It always makes me smile when someone notices how a very subtle color in a pocket square ties together an outfit.
Do you have any style icons? Who are they and why?
Alan See, one of the founders of The Armoury elevates classic style to another level in my opinion. He’s taken a passion for Italian influenced style and built a successful brand around it.
The late Gianni Agnelli is also another person I consider a style icon of mine. When I think about all things sartorial, I think about him as the originator.
At ESM, we have a list of “Style Essentials” or pieces that every man should have in his wardrobe. Do you have your own list of style essentials? What are they?
Definitely. My list ranges from a navy suit to a pair of brown wingtips but the two that come to top of mind for me are a nice umbrella and a classic watch.
How often have you seen a well put together individual in the rain with a flimsy umbrella in some sort of overly bright color or with some brands logo on it?
I think every gentleman should invest in a very nice umbrella such as the ones made by Fox Umbrellas or Fulton Umbrellas.
It’s no surprise the best umbrellas are made by British companies who back them with lifetime warranties.
Also, in today’s day and age where watches seem to be able to do everything but just tell the time, a classic watch adds some serious class to any look.
A vintage watch is even better if you can get your hands on one.
What is your definition of “style”? Is there a difference between “style” vs. “fashion”? If so what differentiates each?
To me, style is the ability to take something as inherently boring as getting dressed and make it interesting.
The difference between style and fashion?
Fashion is what gets pumped out every season by designers and labels while style is being able to sort through these offerings over time and decide what (if anything) makes its way into your wardrobe.
Fashion should never be confused with style.
What does the future hold for Wale Soluade and A Curated Man?
That’s a great question and one I’ve actually been giving a lot of thought to.
Lately I haven’t been able to blog as much as I want to but I’ve also been considering what direction I would like to take the blog in next.
I’ve really enjoyed the relationships that I’ve established as a result of the blog and plan on heading to Florence in June for Pitti Uomo to connect in person with some of the folks that I’ve met via social media and hopefully meet some new folks as well.
I plan on continuing to blog and maintaining my focus on striking a balance between affordability and some higher-end stuff.
To keep up with Wale Soluade and A Curated Man, you can check out their Instagram page at https://instagram.com/acuratedman, their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Curated-Man/502061066478252 and finally, their Twitter account at https://twitter.com/acuratedman.