Joe Ottaway is a gentleman in every sense of the word. With a decade of experience in the menswear industry, he’s truly a force to be reckoned with, the man that gentlemen like David Gandy call on for style advice at every turn. With London Collections Men a matter of days away, we decided to pick Joe’s brains on what, exactly, it takes to be London’s most stylish gentleman.
Who is the most stylish gentleman, dead or alive, and why?
“The most stylish man in the world has to be Steve McQueen. Alongside his masculine, timeless style he had a enviable lifestyle: the girls, the fame, the money, the cars, the bikes, and of course the clothing. He’s the most stylish man to have lived because he’s still such an inspirational style icon in the 21st century as he was during his hay day in the 60s and 70s. His style is truly timeless and plays an influential part in the mens fashion industry today. He was truly the king of cool, and one of my favourite quotes of his is: ‘I’m not sure whether I’m an actor who races or a racer that who acts.'”
What, for you, constitutes a well-dressed gentleman?
“A well-dressed gentlemen is not dictated by current trends. He has a style that is timeless but equally distinctive and stylish allowing him to make his mark as a well-dressed gentlemen in an effortless way. A well-dressed gentlemen is inspired and appreciates style from yesteryear and invests in good quality staples that will stand the test of time.”
What are the underlying style tips every gentleman should know?
“Keep it simple! Invest in timeless style staples and always pay attention to getting the fit right. Minor adjustments can make a world of difference to the fit of a blazer or suit, so make sure you get things tailored.”
What’s the one bit of style advice you wish you’d known when you were younger?
“I think growing up is all about making style mistakes and finding out your own identity, and my God did I make some style mistakes! The one piece of advice I wish I had been given when I was younger would be not to have a different haircut and style every other month. Looking back, the bleached blonde mullet and cargo pant years were a real low point.”
If every gentleman was to only wear one outfit for the rest of his life, what would it be?
“It would have to be the classic navy two piece suit. Make sure to choose one that works for your body shape and proportions. One of the most versatile pieces in any gentleman’s wardrobe, the navy suit looks dapper with a shirt and tie, works with a contrasting waistcoat, and looks equally sharp worn simply with a crew neck t-shirt or a piece of light knitwear. My favourite version of this all time classic is a double breasted suit with a grey roll neck underneath.”
What are the five most simple ways to update your wardrobe?
“First and foremost, cull anything you haven’t worn in the past 6 months, and get rid of any pieces that are damaged or ill-fitting immediately. Once the cull and edit is complete, review what’s left and work out which key pieces you’re missing. Then invest in some timeless classics to create a more cohesive and workable wardrobe relevant to your life now. For a bespoke wardrobe update based upon your lifestyle check out my 30 Day Style Plan online.”
What are the three things every gentleman should think about everyday when he gets dressed?
“Always use accessories, and make sure these are properly considered. A textured handkerchief or knitted tie give an outfit an element of distinction. Think about the day ahead. Where are you going, who are you meeting, and what impression do you need to give? Let this lead your decision making when putting together a look for the day. Look at your outfit overall just before you head out the front door and make sure it has contrast and tone, that you’re wearing the right shoe, and double check those all important accessories.”
What, for you, is the difference between fashion and style?
“There’s a great quote by Ralph Lauren that sums this up for me: “Style is very personal. It has nothing to do with fashion. Fashion is over quickly. Style is forever.” Style is about being a leader and not a follower. Trends will come and go but you need to have an innate sense of your own style, and confidence in that, to be truly stylish.”
What are three accessories that every gentleman should have in his wardrobe?
“A polka dot knitted tie, a silk/linen mix handkerchief and a herringbone flat cap.”
What’s the most timeless item a gentleman can own?
“Do not underestimate the classic brogue! Having a go-to pair of brogues can help tie any outfit together, from a three piece suit to a pair of jeans.”
So, what can gentlemen come to you for?
“I’ve just re-launched my website with a host of new style services, created for every gentlemen. As well as my new style services, I offer a range of personal shopping experiences designed to make the world of menswear much more accessible. With well over a decade of experience working in menswear, I offer tools, tips and down to earth advice to the style-conscious men of today.”
Are there any other projects in the pipeline?
“I’ve just launched a new membership service called The Style Club which aims to revolutionise the way men shop by delivering bespoke wardrobe updates to their doorstep. Club members receive a monthly ‘Style Box’, which I curate exclusively for them. The Style Club provides a personal styling service which aims to make dressing well easy and accessible for the modern gent. I tailor each membership package to the gentlemen’s budget, lifestyle, calendar events and wardrobe.
“Along with The Style Club and my website re-launched, I’m working on an exciting new project called the 30 Day Style Plan. I get asked for styling tips all the time on social media, so I’ve designed this plan to enable any gentleman to give himself a full wardrobe and style overhaul in four easy steps over 30 days, with my help and direction. What could be simpler? Dressing well doesn’t have to be difficult, and I’m a firm believer that anyone can do it, given the right tools. I’m on a mission to start a style revolution, one gent at a time.”
For more information on Joe’s styling services, visit here.