My Style: Richard Haines

Portrait of fashion illustrator Richard Haines by Martin Adolfsson

Photo: Martin Adolfsson — Courtesy of Richard Haines

Do you believe in role models?

Of course. Everyone has to get ideas, inspiration from someone else. I have a 14-year-old daughter, and whether I like it or not, I'm a role model for her. Kids pick up what they see from their parents—the good and the bad. We absorb what we see…

Please describe your style in three words.

Simple, crisp, classic.

Which city has the best-dressed men?

Haha, that's a tricky question — it's impossible to say. It's like asking a parent who their favourite child is. I love the way men in Milan dress — they always get the jacket to fit perfectly. It's the land of the perfect armhole and shoulder. And of course i love the swagger and attitude of men in New York — and there's certainly not one look here. And no one can wear a scarf or sweater like a Parisian, so I'd say everyone has something good going for it.

What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?

Not having a full length mirror!

What are your favourite fabrics?

I love cotton. Cotton twill, poplin, denim. When I was designing menswear, the best thing was to go to an Italian mill and see what amazing new treatments they developed for cotton fabric. They took something so humble and simple and make it so sensual and luxurious.

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

Well, I could give you a running narrative if we were walking down the street, but since we're not… I really don't like those man-pris or capris or whatever they are that men wear in the summer. Then they're combined with this combination sneaker and bowling shoe — that's a big NO.

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?

Either conservatively bold, or boldly conservative. Depends on the day.

What are the rules, if any, in the way you dress?

I keep it really simple. My wardrobe hasn't changed much in twenty five years, just the cut and the fabric. 25 years ago I wore straight leg 501's in dark denim. Now i wear the same thing by APC. The cut is much better — so it's the same look, only developed.

One garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?

Crisp, white cotton shirts.

Who taught you what you know about style?

Well, my father, who I mention here, but I pick up ideas from people I see on the streets. That's what got me to start my blog. So many amazing people I see daily here. The way a guy will wear a scarf, roll his jeans…

How do you select your clothing every morning?

Whatever is closest to the bed. If I like the way something looks, I'll wear it for a few days. It's not like i see the same people every day in an office, so no one cares. When I say I keep it simple, I'm not exaggerating.

Your biggest regret is...

I don't believe in regrets. Every step led me to where I am now, which is a damn good place. So I'm more grateful than anything else. I wish someone would fall in love with me and give me a signet ring, but that's more of a wish…

The three essential things a man should know about style are...

1) Get your clothes to fit. I can't stand seeing a man in a suit with sleeves or pants that are too long, or the shoulder pad sliding off the shoulder. Ugh. 2) Invest in good, classic shoes — J.M. Weston, Church's, Prada. Good shoes last longer and can make inexpensive clothes look better. 3) Dress your age — and that means not too young, or not too old.

Do you have any shopping rituals?

I have to know exactly what I need when I walk into a store, then I am laser sharp and focused. And I need lots of coffee.

The one image that defined your approach to style...

A picture of the artist Jean Cocteau in a plaid suit and striped shirt with the jacket sleeve turned up.

What is the first thing you notice on a man?

A nanosecond scan: eyes, smile, shoes.

We will never see you wearing...

Funny-length pants, tank tops, fur.

The most stylish person you have ever seen...

So many, actually. I was thinking about this over the weekend. I've worked with or known so many stylish men. Bill Blass in his natty glen plaid suits, Calvin Klein in his bespoke jackets and jeans, Tom Ford and his modern chic. All amazing men, but i think my father was the most stylish man I've met. He was an officer in the navy, and every morning when other kids’ dads went to work in suits, he was in his uniform of crisp summer 'whites', or deep navy wool with brass buttons… and the ribbons, and bars of colour. That influence was huge.

The only article of clothing that a man needs to pay close attention to is...

Shoes. Keep them simple, think of them as investments, and keep them in good shape. I have some shoes from Church's and Brooks Brothers that are 30 years old and I still wear them, and they're amazing.

Is comfort an enemy of style?

I believe in comfort, but I also believe in discipline, neatness, and pride in one's appearance. I do think it's gotten to the point where people look like they're in their pyjamas, and that's just not contributing anything to the world. It's kind of hostile and arrogant. I won't even begin on the way people look when they travel.

A man should always look like...

He's not aware of what he's wearing.

The best word of advice you have ever heard?

Ask if they have it in navy blue.

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