Beards, Braces & Bowties feat. Steven Santander

September 30th, 2013

We met Steven Santander during fashion week in NYC, at the after party of the FallClassic.

He told me he was a big fan of the site and, frankly, he looked so cool that we had to feature him. Turns out he’s an aspiring menswear designer with exceptional taste, particularly his eye for color. In fact, the title of this post was almost: A Lesson in Color Subtlety featuring Steven Santander.

“Fine art has always been a big part of my life. I was enrolled in advanced art courses from grammar school to high school, but decided to do something different in college, so I majored in architecture instead. Studying architecture was an inspiring experience that opened my mind to many other fields of design: photography, film, food…and primarily fashion.

In my final semester of senior year I stumbled upon an opportunity to apprentice with a bespoke suit maker. I set up an appointment with the master tailor and we spoke for a long period of time, mostly about art and architecture since I had no experience in bespoke clothing other than a few bow ties I made for myself.  He took a chance on me, I picked up a thimble, and I’ve been studying ever since.”

Here Steven gives us a taste of his personal style: beards, braces, bowties, bespoke tailoring, and beautiful colors.

1. Rethink Your Blues, Brother


As you may already know, we’re big fans of monochromatic looks. Steven happens to be an expert in blending interesting shades of the same color.

“A man can never have too much blue in his wardrobe…”


“My menswear inspirations come from years of studying art and design. An understanding of color, composition, and history has been engrained in me… I try to carry it over into everything that I design.”


“My personal touch to an outfit often includes a custom bow tie that I’ve handmade for a specific outfit or season.

The denim on denim is a cool look that works as long as it’s not a Canadian tuxedo, sorry Dan.  Here I wore a fringed denim bow tie several shades darker than my spread collar denim shirt…

The scruffy texture of this bow tie also works well with my beard, in my opinion.”


The most interesting part about Steven’s style (other than his incredible color palettes and impeccable fit) is that many of his pieces are one-of-one. He develops a very specific idea for a piece and either makes it himself, or commissions it and works very closely with the craftsman.

That way, he truly is wearing pieces that are one-of-a-kind, and true to his specific aesthetic.

  • Brown Wool Hat made in Ecuador ·
  • Light Blue Denim Shirt by Truzzi ·
  • Navy Braces by Coach ·
  • Blue Trousers Designed and Made by Steven ·
  • Blue Leather Double Monks designed and Made by Steven ·
  • Denim Bow Tie Designed and Made by Steven ·
  • Brown Leather Bag Designed and Made by Steven

2. An Artist’s Palette


“I have always loved color. Being an artist, I respect the value of a limited palette… Subtlety in texture, color and pattern is what makes an outfit for me.

This is a transitional early-fall look. The light cream shirt is actually a super-soft corduroy that feels awesome inside and out.”


“I matched my yellow braces with half of my bow tie, which can be tied in a number of different ways since it’s reversible.

When alterations are needed, I do them myself. That has helped me turn good pieces into great ones – from clothing that I owned but hardly wore to unique vintage finds.”


“The minty grey pants and grey suede monks almost blend in together, which makes the outfit more uniform and neutral.

It’s a fairly simple outfit where bright yellow pops first but each piece has its own unique qualities that are noticeable when you take a closer look.”

  • Green Wool Hat handmade in Ecuador ·
  • White Corduroy Shirt by Polo Ralph Lauren ·
  • Gold Braces by Brooks Brothers ·
  • Mint Trousers custom designed and made ·
  • Grey Suede Double Monks custom Designed and made ·
  • Navy and Gold Silk and Linen Bow Tie Custom Made

3. Pattern Architecture


“I can’t say that I’m a master tailor or craftsman but I try to be as hands-on as possible (and learn as much as I can) when I have something custom made. As an artist and designer, I like to be a major part of the creation process in order to make things as personal as possible.

Nothing says Fall like grey wool windowpane pants, matched here with a pink micro-check shirt… The burgundy braces match the dark red buttons, sewn on the outside of the pants in this case.”


Since we’re definitely going to get comments and questions about her:

“My friend Nicole is a fellow style enthusiast, blogger, and my partner in crime (crashing fashion week parties, etc).”


“The polka dots on the linen bow tie match the more subtle pindots of the braces, and happen to be the same size as the buttons sewn on the pants… Square-on-square and circle-on-circle.

As long as you focus on scale and proportion when you’re mixing patterns, then you can come up with a variety of different combinations that all work.  I guess that’s the architect in me again…”


“This vintage leather bag was designed by my dad when he was my age. It’s one of my all time favorite pieces.”

In closing, I hope you looked closely at the details in this post… As one example: dub monks in oily navy blue, minty grey suede, and orangy-tan!

  • Yellow Custom Made Panama Hat with Peacock Feather made in Ecuador ·
  • Pink Check Shirt by Agho ·
  • Navy polka Dotted Braces by Brooks Brothers ·
  • Grey Windowpane Pants Designed and Made by Steven ·
  • Light Brown Leather Double Monks Designed and Made by Steven ·
  • Navy Polka Dotted Bow Tie Designed and Made by Steven ·
  • Brown Leather Vintage Bag Designed and Made by Steven’s Father

Thanks, as always, for reading and special thanks to Steven and Nicole for participating!

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier


Photography by Alex Crawford