On my style radar today is urban gent Grant Caswell, a cultured Capetonian with an eye for clean lines and quality tailoring. I asked this stylish young man to tell me more about the art of putting a good look together and what inspires his love for fashion…
Taking inspiration from the streetwear bloggers he follows on Instagram, Grant favours a look that is sleek and sophisticated yet fun, fresh and exciting. ‘I’m shameless about stealing ideas from them but I try to stay true to my own style which is really simple – my go-to weekend “uniform” is blue jeans and a good-quality plain white t-shirt,’ he says. I must say though that he makes a modest combo like this look very fashion-forward. It’s all in the subtle details really and Grant is pretty skilled at creating ensembles that are sophisticated in their simplicity but contain intriguing little details.
Grant effortlessly transitions between weekday work smart and minimalist sporty chic on weekends, so it’s not surprising he chose both Calvin Klein and Burberry when asked which design house he would hire as his personal tailor. ‘For my everyday casual wear, I’d have to go with Calvin Klein. I think the brand’s simple “all-American” style and clean fits really suit how I try to dress. If money wasn’t an option, I’d also have every suit I own tailored by Burberry. In my opinion, few design houses come close to matching a classic tailored Burberry suit.’
And speaking of suits, given his work in the legal field Grant will often find himself suited up at the office. So I asked him what it is that distinguishes a good suit from a great suit. He stresses that it’s all about: ‘[t]he fit! The fit! The fit! I can’t say that enough. Firstly, know your correct size and secondly, I promise you, even the cheapest suit can look really expensive if it’s tailored to fit you correctly.’
So many men make the mistake of buying suits that are way too tight or way too loose for them, selecting ones that are made from poor quality fabrics or opting out of getting them tailored. They also assume that you have to fork out truckloads of money to buy a decent suit but as Grant demonstrates, a high price tag doesn’t always guarantee a winner. He explains further, ‘I generally wear suits to work and while I don’t always spend too much money on them, I do make sure I have my suits tailored where necessary. My preference is for slim-fitted suits over looser-fitting traditional cuts. But, regardless of which cut you may prefer, get it tailored so that it looks like it was made just for you.’
Further words I would use to describe Grant’s style include polished and unpretentious. I like the fact that he can appreciate a label for the quality of the clothing behind it rather than how expensive it is. He says that a black long-sleeved T-shirt by Dolce & Gabbana is currently his favourite item of clothing in his wardrobe. ‘My aunt lives in the US and gave [the shirt] to me as a gift when she visited a few years ago. To be honest I probably wear it to death and my friends and family must be so sick of seeing me in it but it’s so comfortable. It still looks just as good as the day I got it – the black cotton hasn’t faded, the small leather and gold insignia badge on the chest hasn’t lost its shine – it’s a great testament to how good quality clothing tends to last.’ Classic pieces like a long-sleeved black T-shirt are necessary wardrobe staples that never go out of style so I honestly don’t blame Grant for wearing his D&G number over and over and over again. Many of us don’t have the luxury of wearing expensive clothing just once and what else do we buy great fashion for if not to wear it repeatedly?
He tells me that the thing he enjoys most about fashion is the freedom it gives him to make a statement about his mood or convey a certain message without uttering a word. He also admits that fashion allows him to be a little bit cheeky without stepping on anyone’s toes…‘Going into an important meeting at work where I want to convey dominance and power? I’ll wear a black suit with a bright red tie. Heading somewhere where I want to be noticed? I’ll slightly over-dress. There are even times when I’ve strategically dressed a bit more street/urban in a formal setting just to come off as a bit rebellious. It’s honestly a game and hey, maybe other people don’t even notice but if my clothes make me feel a bit more confident when I walk out the door then I’m all for it.’
Grant is a men’s fashion maestro who is thoughtful about maximising his clothing budget. He illustrates that while you should invest in certain staples – especially suits – so as not to compromise on quality, you don’t need to spend an enormous amount of money to come up with an overall look that is refined, elegant and á la mode. He remarks, ‘[a]s long as you remember to always make an effort – I’m not sure who said it but I’m a firm believer in the quote “Dressing well is a form of respect”.’