Sweater Layering feat. Marcus Allen

October 11th, 2012

Marcus Allen has a small rack of clothes in the middle of his East village bedroom. Sitting on that rack is one of the most well-edited personal wardrobes I’ve ever seen. All menswear staples, all well made, and all beautifully broken-in.

As a graduate of the Massachusetts college of art and design, Marcus has worked with Ralph Lauren, Hermes, Ford Models and is currently part of the creative team behind  Brunello Cucinelli. Needless to say with a background like that, understanding style is a big part of what he does and who he is.

“I’m in this industry because I value visual communication. That is, communication through dress. It’s always fascinated me that a person can decide who they want to be, or which character they want to portray, based solely on the clothing and styling decisions they make.”

We caught up with Marcus last week to see how he puts it all together. His strategy for this time of year: “early Fall is all about knitwear”. We couldn’t agree more.

1. Knit on Knit

“Any designer that works with linen/silk/cotton blend…get at me.”

Linen-based knits, like this crewneck, are perfect for this time of the year. They stay warm and comfortable without getting hot or sticky.

They also have an awesome texture that gives them a little life of their own.

A chunky shawl cardigan is a must-have for Fall. This one, hand-knit with a heavy yarn and immaculate attention to detail, will only get better with age.

A toggle closure makes it feel more like outerwear – wear it like a coat and throw it over just about anything.

On jewelry: “Anything having to do with American Indians (like this beaded necklace) that will somehow connect me to living in a tee pee and making art…I’m for it. Melet mercantile (in Soho NYC) is a great source for pieces like this.”

  • Navy knit crewneck sweater by The Row ·
  • Navy shawl knit toggle sweater by Polo Ralph Lauren ·
  • Squash blossom necklace Vintage by Melet Mercantile ·
  • Turqoise native american trade beads by Melet Mercantile ·
  • Faded blue denim jeans by RRL ·
  • Blue sk8HI sneakers by Vans

2. Loosely Layered

Some sweaters, especially linen blends, are meant to be worn on the skin.

This flowy textured number, for example, is not meant to be worn at the office with a shirt and tie, it’s meant for a relaxed weekend with broken-in denim and vintage suede loafers.

“I collect vintage Levis 501s in any and every size… I sometimes wear them with a tuxedo blazer and a t-shirt.”

Not everything has to fit super slim.

When it’s time to kick back on the weekend, learn the art of relaxed and flowy layering.

  • Brown felt hat by Stetson (Vintage) ·
  • Cream knit v-neck sweater by Ralph Lauren ·
  • Green field jacket by Ralph Lauren ·
  • Faded 501 jeans by Levi’s Vintage ·
  • Tan suede cap-toe loafers by A. Testoni ·
  • Canvas knapsack Vintage from Interwoven Showroom

3. Juxtapose

It takes a lot of balls, and style, to rock a tuxedo casually.

“I’m big into creating a juxtaposition. Nice and clean with old and tattered, evening with street, classic with unorthodox, etc.

Mixing formal wear with casual pieces that have a rough sensibility is one of my favorite ways to do it.”

It might not be a look that everyone can appreciate, but the girls checking him out on the walk to the Bowery that day certainly “get it”.

At the end of the day, once you find your taste and aesthetic (which takes time and practice), it’s all about confidence and attitude. (Sure, it helps to be really good looking too)


Midnight Essential Tuxedo

4. Cashmere & Leather

Another example of using juxtaposition to create a visually interesting look: tough rebel leather jacket, soft preppy cashmere sweater.

“The cashmere cable knit sweater is a prep classic, which is why I like to pair it with something more edgy like a vintage biker jacket and worn leather belt.”

Black and brown together?

Like wearing white after labor day, once you understand and respect the “rules” you can break them gracefully.

Hint – it’s easier with a lighter richer brown, and heather grey can help pull them together nicely.

  • Vintage leather moto jacket from Quality Mending Co ·
  • Cashmere cable knit sweater by Ralph Lauren ·
  • Black jeans by Levi’s 511 ·
  • Vintage belt from Melet Mercantile ·
  • Chelsea boots by APC

5. Double Duty

“I got this Baja hoodie for traveling to California and Montauk. It reminds me of the song Dreadlock Holiday by 10cc

In the city I find myself wearing it more as a scarf.”

Here’s a simple look, brought to another level by the details.

Not just a denim shirt, a vintage tattered Wrangler (which Marcus also collects). Not just cargos, tough-as-nails leather riding pants. Not just boots, beat-up leather harness Frye’s. Etc.

  • Wrangler shirt from Melet Mercantile ·
  • Navajo baja sweater by RRL ·
  • Vintage silver bracelet from Melet Mercantile ·
  • Olive leather cargos by RRL ·
  • Vintage belt from Melet Mercantile ·
  • Brown leather boots by Frye

Thanks for reading – and special thanks to Marcus for participating!

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier


Photography by Alex Crawford.