The ultimate back-to-work style guide, with Mathias Le Fèvre
From office-ready shirts to comfortable commuting shoes, the creative director, model & entrepreneur reveals his cardinal back-to-work rules…
Asking Mathias Le Fèvre to give us his ‘back-to-work’ style tips is a little like asking Spencer Matthews how he tackles Dry January, or quizzing James Yates on how he prepares his body for the beach every summer. Because, just as Matthews never drinks, and Yates is unfailingly in tip-top shape, Le Fèvre is always, always working.
Which makes him the perfect person to help kickstart our back-to-work wardrobes. Because, during his work as an ambassador for brands including Vacheron Constantin, Rémy Martin, Gieves & Hawkes and New & Lingwood, Le Fèvre is always infallibly, impeccably well-dressed. Even during the last year’s many lockdowns, he remained trimly-tailored and magnificently turned-out almost every single day.
So what can Le Fèvre tell us about the future of fashion? As we return to our offices, continue our commutes and establish new normals, what elements of fully-suited style look set to survive in this brave new working world? Should we still be buying ties? Has tailoring fallen out of favour? And how straight-laced should our shoes be after we’ve spent the last year in slippers? Mathias Le Fèvre, thankfully, has some answers.
“Every day, Mark Zuckerberg wears a grey T-shirt to work,” says the model and entrepreneur. “He does this because he believes deciding what to wear isn’t worth the brain capacity. But there is nothing trivial about wanting to look and feel the best that you can. Because your best is made to inspire, to empower; to make you feel like you can conquer the world…”
Nothing feels more comfortable than a well-tailored suit
First up; the fate of the suit. With the introduction of increasingly relaxed dress codes, wearing a suit is no longer compulsory in many workplaces. “But,” as Le Fèvre points out, “just because you may be allowed to rock up at work in jogging clothes, this does not mean that you have to”.
“But, at the heart of this ‘society change’, there is something very important to note,” adds the model. “And that’s the encouraged individualism and self-expression. From a style perspective, it’s a massive win. Dressing up will now be an active choice and, for tailoring aficionados, there is more room than ever to experiment with personal style, new cuts and textures — both on and off the clock”.
“From a style perspective, it’s a massive win…”
Le Fèvre says that, during the months of lockdown, he experimented with ‘pyjama style’. But, after a while, “spending the whole day in a robe, doing business calls like Gordon Gekko in Wall Street” simply had him pining for the precision and decorum of daily tailoring.
“Putting on a suit and putting effort into how you present yourself makes a major difference to the way you look at the world,” Le Fèvre explains. “The way the world looks at you; the way you walk and think; your confidence. And the great irony is that nothing feels more comfortable than a well-tailored suit, and especially one cut just for you by a great Savile Row tailor.”
Drake’s Mid-Wale Corduroy Jacket + Trousers
Joshua Kane Grey Flannel Suit
Brunello Cucinelli Deconstructed Blazer + Trousers
The effect of a great shirt is often underestimated
Next; shirts. “My shirt choices during lockdown were not too far from what I would normally wear,” reveals Le Fèvre. “However, I did find myself picking out more informal styles such as Oxfords, denims and even silk pyjama shirts to dress down my tailoring while working from home”.
Now offices are reopening, how will the model approach this workwear basic? “This season, you will find me wearing a lot of shirts cut from soft flannels, baby corduroy and heavy cotton fabrics,” he says. “A pro tip? The effect of great shirt is often underestimated. With a great range of textured, coloured and patterned options you can easily enhance the versatility of your wardrobe — and get a lot more looks out of each suit.”
“You can easily enhance the versatility of your wardrobe…”
The first recommendation from the model is a classic Oxford Button-Down Shirt. Perhaps one of single most important item in a man’s wardrobe, if you ask him. He suggests opting for an elegant striped design from Any Ivy Copenhagen to get you started. There’s also a multitude of options from Maximillian Mogg. “A sartorial genius,” says Le Fèvre. “With past work experience at Edward Sexton, the head cutter of the legendary 70s designer, Tommy Nutter, he is now running his eponymous label from Berlin. For a touch of playful colour, try this rich butter-yellow shirt with a white contrast collar.”
And finally, a formalwear classic. No gentleman’s wardrobe is complete without at least one Turnbull & Asser shirt — and Le Fèvre is a staunch supporter of the Jermyn Street brand. “You can’t go wrong with classics,” he says. “Pink shirts are here to stay. Wear this one under a plain, pinstriped or checked suit.”
An Ivy 'The Narrow Striped Oxford'
Maximilian Mogg Solid Colour Shirt
Turnbull & Asser Royal Oxford Cotton Shirt
Your shoes should be elegant, classic and incredibly comfortable
Perhaps the most confusing part of our back-to-work wardrobes? Shoes. During summer, Le Fèvre has been moving house — and took with him three pairs of dress code-spanning ‘Sagan Stride’ loafers from London-based shoemaker Baudoin & Lange. “It’s their most recently launched loafer,” he adds, “with a versatile rubber sole that makes it suitable for the office, a night out — and outdoor adventures.”
It sounds like the perfect pair of shoes for returning to our slightly more informal workplaces. And, along with a pair of black Oxfords, a pair of brown Oxfords and “a solid pair of whole-cut Goodyear-welted tassel loafers”, they make up the core of Le Fèvre’s extensive footwear collection.
“I own more pairs of shoes than my girlfriend…"
So what other boots and brogues would the model recommend? “First, a few tips,” he advises. “Never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row, as they need to breathe. When not on your feet, always use shoe-trees to maintain your shoes’ original shape. And always go for shoes with Goodyear-welting.”
“A pair of whole-cut brogue Oxfords by the Mallorca-based shoemaker Carmina is a solid base to any formal shoe wardrobe. I’m also fanatical about the irresistible ‘Bader’ by Gaziano & Girling; hand-crafted from cognac calfskin and as stylish as it is understated. And, from Santoni, these loafers with a double side-buckle are a recent favourite of mine. They are elegant, classic and incredibly comfortable.”
Carmina Whole-Cut Brogue Oxfords
Gaziano & Girling ‘Bader’ in Cognac Marble
Santoni Leather Loafers
Remember to continue making an effort with accessories
Ties, according to Mathias Le Fèvre, will never die. “And there’s quite the tale behind my favourite tie,” he reveals. “When first getting into tailoring in my teenage years, I treated myself to a preppy club tie from Eton. It was my first tie and I loved it so much that I had my nan embroider my initials on the back of it. It was my number one tie for years — until I lost it on a boozy night out in a Mayfair nightclub. I contacted the venue, but it was nowhere to be found.
“However,” he continues, “as it was of such high sentimental value to me, I did not give up tracking it down. I set up an eBay alert of ‘Eton club ties’ and — I kid you not — after hundreds of notifications, I received an email three years later with the tie in question, still carrying my initials on the back. It is now stored in my home safe, and only comes out on very special occasions”.
The moral of the story? Buy a tie. You never know when you’ll need one — and the accessory’s daily duty as a workwear essential is far from finished.
“I treated myself to a preppy club tie…”
So what else? Le Fèvre also recommends a briefcase — one that means business. “A man’s ‘one briefcase’ has to be as versatile as it is functional,” he says, “but scream ‘personality’ at the same time. Have a look at Ettinger, Serapian and Made by Nichols custom or bespoke offerings. You won’t regret it.”
And, finally, those finishing touches. Although tie-pins and cufflinks may seem like a world away to those of us still working-from-home, Le Fèvre is convinced they’ll make a comeback.
“The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail,” says the model. “Those are the wise words of esteemed preacher Charles R. Swindoll — and they couldn’t be more true. If you’ve made the effort to get your suit perfectly tailored, and picked out a pair of handmade shoes, then why not go all the way with a pair of mother-of-pearl cufflinks, a tie that tells a story and a wristwatch with a bespoke alligator strap?”
Eton Striped Wool-Cotton Tie
Ettinger Heritage ‘Burlington’ Briefcase
Vacheron Constantin Fiftysix Self-Winding
Images courtesy of London based photographer, Nick Tydeman.
Want more expert tips? Kristian Haagen shares his most stylish timepieces of 2021…
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