How is dressing your body similar to designing or decorating your home?
Dressing well is about two critical aesthetics: colors and proportions. Choosing the right colors that enhance one’s natural complexion—and specific shapes that show the advantages of the body and hide the disadvantages of the body at the same time—are of the utmost importance. Building a home to live in is similar. Colors of the walls and furniture should complement the shape of the space and the configuration of every single item in it. Neither professional decoration nor expensive furniture will make a difference if the floors or walls rest on a shaky foundation and the coloring is not right. Everybody is born with their own unique body shape, skin color, face, hair, nose, eyes, torso, etc. I call it our “Natural Gift.” Dressing well is celebrating the natural gift that we all have. How do you celebrate that? By choosing outfits that have the right colors and correct shapes.
What distinguishes an “okay” suit from a great one (design, details, etc.)?
These four main elements: the design, the fabric used, the making of the suit, and finally, the cut. We only use top-notch fabrics from England, Italy, and Turkey—the best you can source—with high-thread-count wools, Egyptian and Turkish cottons, and luxury cashmeres. The highest-quality materials, from the interlining canvas to the buttons and threads, are essential to the makings of a great suit. I have a philosophy I have been using ever since I started designing my first clothing: The elegance is hidden in the details. My signature design details, such as the buttons on the back vents, special pockets and buttonholes on suits, and the notches and side-buttons on shirt collars, make our garments unique and make our clients feel special.
TIP: A great suit has to have the following: a perfect fit, the correct proportions, and the right fabric color and pattern.
After our three-step appointment with wardrobe assessment, consultation with a Q&A session, and measurements, we create a detailed profile of the client. I design every suit and shirt myself according to the client’s profile, with his actual photos right in front of me. I choose design details on the garment that would enhance the client’s body and color complexion. The shape of the head, the height of the neck, the torso height, the shoulder width, along with his face features, etc., are very important technical inputs in my design process as I draw the lapels, shoulders, and the pockets accordingly. We can actually make someone look slightly elongated by specific design details, particularly with the support of the proper fabric pattern. It all comes down to the perfect combination of creative skills with tailored elements. We invested in a one-of-a-kind visualizer program that can show the whole suit, jacket, or shirt with the actual fabric you pick from our swatches, on the spot.
How do details help make or break a look?
Simplifying the subject is the most common mistake that is made. The pattern of the shirt and the pattern of the jacket should complement each other. If you wear a jacket with a check pattern or stripes, you need to make sure the shirt does not have patterns on it. A plaid jacket or a windowpane jacket should be worn with a solid-color shirt, and vice-versa, a solid-color jacket can have shirts with patterns or stripes in it. Avoid a clash of colors and patterns; otherwise, you might make yourself look too busy and funny at times. The choice of shoe color can also make or break a look. Suits with navy, brown, or beige colors should be completed with brown-tone shoes, not black. Solid-white socks with a suit are also a big NO. The color of the socks should match the color of the shoes, despite the fact that very colorful socks are all over nowadays, which is totally fine, as long as you are okay with drawing attention to your feet.
Is it possible to keep your wardrobe up-to-date without being a slave to trends?
I believe the concepts “trend” and “fashion” are actual illusions. If you see a fabric pattern or a color in more than one well-known brand’s store window, you think it’s trendy, and you feel you should buy it. That’s how trends happen: by creating the demand for an item. Although trend, by definition, means “popularity of an item at a particular time period,” which does not mean it will look good on you. For instance, the skinny ties were very popular—every man owned skinny ties in the past five to ten years. But a skinny tie looks ridiculous if a big man with broad shoulders and a pronounced face wears one, and what’s worse is that he wouldn’t even realize that, because he thinks he is actually following the trend and is well-dressed. The tie width has nothing to do with trend or fashion but is directly correlated to one’s body proportions and facial shape. In our design house, we educate our clients about what is right and wrong with certain trends by showing them photos of outfits on actual people.
Why do your clients come to you? They’re looking for a suit, of course, but do you think they’re also looking for confidence, youth, edge, a new lease on life, etc.?
We promise the “power look” to our clients. The only part of your skin that can be seen by the rest of the world is your face, a little bit of your neck, and your hands. The rest of what you wear actually tells who you are and what you represent. When you enter a room, it’s all about your energy—which stems from how you stand, how you move, all the way to what you wear. No matter what you do for a living, it’s very important that you look good. Statistically speaking, you have four seconds for the first impression you leave once you start talking to somebody, which is hard to break, regardless if it is positive or negative. We design outfits that enhance who you are, what you do, how you want to look. Clients come to us because they want to step up their game personally and professionally. We design outfits for our clients that maximize the use of their existing wardrobe and add unique pieces to attain an edgy look.
It’s very simple. If you want to sell a multi-million-dollar home, you need to dress like a multi-million-dollar person. All you need is to establish the trust between you and the client, an invisible bridge that makes the client believe that it is the ultimate home they want, you are the only person they should buy it from, and no other broker in the industry can offer anything better. You need to impress them with the confidence you have within yourself, in what you have to offer and how it would change their life. Your energy should be at an optimum level so they can feel it and share it with you. They need to feel so special by buying that home from you. This is the exact philosophy I follow at my design house.
Should a real estate agent always dress according to their own tastes, or should they consider the culture and aesthetic of their clients? Namely, how important is the “other” when picking out the right thing to wear?
It’s all about the client’s comfort zone, and it’s all in the details. It would be a very smart move for an agent to add some details to his outfit that are related to clients’ authenticity or culture. Again, it’s about the invisible bridge between you and the client. It’s about them at that moment, not you. For example, if you are dealing with a Japanese client, wearing a pocket square or a tie with meaningful Japanese writing or cufflinks with Japanese letters would work for your benefit. Or, depending on how much you want to sell the apartment and how confident you are, wearing a kilt to a showing with a Scottish client would definitely make you start out with positive energy. If you can’t do that, at least combine your outfit with pants with red-green kilt patterns.
What’s it like dressing celebrities like Ryan Serhant? Do you tailor each design to the personality of the client?
Dressing Ryan is very fun, because his personality allows me to design the suits and shirts the way I want, from the pocket shapes to the colorful linings. He trusts me and is always happy with the results. He likes a certain fit in his suits and is very particular with his shirt collars. In fact, I designed a special collar for his shirts that nobody actually has; we named it the “RS collar,” which is only used for his shirt orders. We have so many special designs like this that are only used for that particular client. Ryan is in great shape, which makes my life easier, and we enhance his well-built body with particular features. He is a great example to our clientele—a confident man who knows what he wants and enjoys dressing very well. He is the most successful and the best-dressed million-dollar broker in the industry, and I am proud to be a part of that and have him as a client. Needless to say, he is an amazing person, and his friendship is priceless.