One of the nicest gents I’ve met in my many recent menswear sojourns out and about, from our MensWearNetwork gatherings to AskMen Academy evenings, Mike Crooks is the real dapper deal. Hailing from Atlanta – yes, he’s got that Southern Charm, alright – Mike is as sweet as he is fashionable. FashionWhirled was able to nail him down for his astute and educated take on stylish dressing, his haberdashery choices and, naturally, his unique way of rocking a bow tie and no socks.
FashionWhirled: What role does fashion and style play in your everyday personal life? You are one sharply dressed dude; what is your creative process for dressing everyday? For dressing for a special occasion?
Michael Crooks: This answer has probably been recycled more than once, but for me, style is more important than fashion. Fashion denotes a current trend regardless of its appropriateness for an individual’s sensibilities or body type. Style is understanding 4 things – fit, proportion, nuance, and restraint – and how that all relates to you personally. Fashion is a moving target; style never changes. In my day-to-day life, I try to leverage style to convey something significant about myself to another person in a split second without having to explain it verbally. Because visually, if I can convey that I understand nuance, restraint, and proportion, perhaps it’ll be more likely that the other person will assume I understand those principles about other things in life – humor, manners, timing, and so forth. It’s also about dressing appropriately for the occasion and for the company that you’re going to keep, because that’s ultimately a sign of respect. There are times that call for a V-neck tee and jeans, and times that call for a velvet bowtie. Just make sure the V-neck is plain white and fits well, and that the velvet bowtie is a solid dark color to compensate for the luxe fabric. fit, proportion, nuance, and restraint.
MC: I never had an “Aha!” moment actually. Professionally, one thing led to another – Lord & Taylor buyers recruiting on my college campus, running into various designers in New York, deciding to give digital marketing a try when the opportunity came up – it was about being open to new ideas and avenues that I didn’t consider before. At first I wanted the quintessential dream, which was to be a menswear designer, but after giving that a shot and comparing it to digital marketing, I realized I liked the latter a lot more. There are a lot of roles in the fashion industry, and oftentimes you’ll end up somewhere you never imagined – but that flexibility will likely result in being more happy and satisfied with your path.My favorite piece of clothing will have to be what I’m wearing right now – a navy and tan windowpane linen check blazer from Gant Rugger. The shoulder is completely natural, but that’s balanced out my a mean peak lapel and decently suppressed waist. Either that or my English tan leather motorcyle jacket from Coach. Totally simple, but completely mean.
I need a pair of double monkstraps, because during my gig with Sid I forgot to pick up a pair of his. They’re perfect – English bench-made, with the last tightened up just so in order to make it a little more current. Also I need a leather jacket with a shearling collar. The rest of the details would stay really simple because the shearling would be a statement in and of itself. And definitely in English tan. Finally, a Rolex Submariner with a green bezel. It’s a shame that such a quintessential and foundational watch has been given a bad name by New York investment bankers and startup fiends; hopefully it can reclaim its rightful social status one day as the classic gentleman’s watch.
My answer to this has somewhat been baked into my other prior answers – understand what works for you. Be comfortable in your own skin. Respect nuance, proportion, fit, and restraint all within the lines of individuality. A grounded appreciation for clothing is a masculine endeavor, as it seeks to portray what’s best in a man in every scenario. But at the end of the day, they’re just clothes it’s more important to get out there and live.