Casually Tailored feat. Mike Paul

June 17th, 2014

We met Mike Paul while in Toronto for the Articles of Style Gentleman’s Evening.

His style stood out to me right away because he has this knack for wearing sharp tailoring in a laidback, casual, and hip kind of way. Alex and I got to know him during our three days in the Tdot and it turns out, like a lot of us, he fell ass-backwards into this menswear game too.

“Like many of the guys featured on Articles of Style, my life in the fashion world started in a rather unorthodox manner. Six years ago I was working at a mechanic shop in Jacksonville Florida, regularly covered in grease from head to toe. My days were spent at the auto shop, and my nights were spent mostly at Thee Imperial, the local hardcore/metal music venue. I was a music junkie who strongly identified with the punk and heavy metal culture. I attended Art School from the age of nine to about nineteen – I learned to play the piano, trumpet, guitar, and wrote my own music. I even toured the United States with a number of different bands before moving over to the men’s fashion world.

Suddenly my grandmother near Toronto had been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), which is a very tough form of cancer to battle. I immediately jumped on the first flight to Stouffville, Ontario to be by her side. That decision changed my life drastically. It gave me a chance to step back and focus on what I really wanted. At that point, I was a partially certified mechanic, chronically signing up for and dropping out of college classes, and partying excessively with not much of a plan.

My first job in “fashion” was as a box boy at Harry Rosen in Toronto during the Holiday season. It was during my time unpacking boxes and boxes of high-end designer merchandise that I started to really notice the details and intricacies of luxury goods. I gradually immersed myself in the details and started to enjoy comparing garments from one luxury brand to another; design, fabric, construction, price point…I found everything about the garment trade fascinating… One day, while on the job, one of the store’s computers crashed. I volunteered to help troubleshoot it and, with my limited IT knowledge, I managed to solve the problem. One of the higher-ups remarked that they didn’t realize I was tech savvy and offered me a more administrative role, which I happily accepted. I went from Box Boy to Customer Service and then from Customer Service to the Made-to-Measure department, where I developed more of an eye for measuring, fitting, and the nuances of tailoring.

Today I work as an image consultant and bespoke suit designer for Garrison Bespoke with fellow Articles of Style stars Michael Nguyen and J.S. Vann. I have some incredible clients… Despite the outcome of the Toronto Maple Leafs last season I joke with left winger James vanReimsdyk about our pre-game routine, which consisted of me going over to his place and setting up what he would wear for the on camera walk-in to every home game. I like to think I played a pretty significant in his performance. It’s a far cry from my days as a shop mechanic or skinny-jean-wearing punk rocker, but I’ll never forget those memories.”

Here Mr. Paul shows us three of his “Casually Tailored” looks in downtown Toronto.

1. DB x Canadian Tux

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Here’s the advantage of a textured suit fabric. A cloth with a little depth, like the light nap of this burgundy flannel, makes it much easier to wear the suit jacket as a blazer. Even if it’s double breasted. Even with a Canadian tuxedo.

“I think true style is someone who understands which rules to follow (like fit and tailoring) and which to disregard (like denim on denim or the ‘air tie’).”

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The “air tie” is a trend that is growing on me. I think it looks really great here, staying casual but showcasing that awesome denim cutaway collar.

What do you think of the “air tie”?

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  • Denim Shirt by Garrison Bespoke ·
  • Burgundy Double Breasted blazer by Garrison Bespoke ·
  • Light Wash Jeans by Nudie Jeans ·
  • Oxblood Single-Monks by Carmina

2. T-Shirt & Jeans Tailored

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“Growing up in Jacksonville, I’ve always had an understanding of personal style, but I had this fixation on just being like everyone else; being as discreet as possible so I could just float under the radar.

When I moved to Toronto and got introduced to the bespoke world, I started to understand the true value of custom clothing. There is such a power in having full autonomy and control over the way you present yourself.

The jeans are by Faded Lifestyle, which is John Shimoni’s company. He’s been like a mentor to me. He was the one who gave me the push I needed to enter the Toronto fashion scene and I’ve been wearing his stuff ever since. Actually, the bracelet is also designed and handmade by John himself… I never take it off.”

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  • Grey Blazer by Garrison ·
  • Black T-shirt by Strata clothing ·
  • Black Jeans by Faded Lifestyle ·
  • Black Suede Wingtips by Ferragamo ·
  • Black Cuff by Faded Lifestyle

3. Sartorially Street

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Here’s an example of how a sharply tailored blazer in a textured fabric, like this sick donegal tweed, can completely transform an outfit. A fitted hat, black tee, and camo pants never looked so sartorial and grown up.

In a climate like Toronto, you can use your winter suit jackets (like flannels and tweeds) as lightweight spring outerwear. Therefore, they can actually be worn for three seasons out of the year. Hopefully that justifies your next heavyweight tailored purchase.

“The hat I’m wearing is my hometown football team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. I wear it often and I wear it proudly, but the truth is that they’re the worst team in the league. People are always stopping me on the street, asking me why I’m wearing it.

The canvas briefcase by Filson was my first memento from Garrison Bespoke. I’d just started working there a couple of days before my birthday. I decided the bag would be the first item I’d buy with my first paycheck. Somehow Mike found out and he insisted that the bag be a birthday gift. I humbly accepted and have used it almost every day since.”

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Any advice for our readers who are looking to upgrade their style?

“Start slow, and think about your natural comfort zone. Straying just far enough from that comfort zone, where you feel that you could safely go back, will allow you to feel more and more comfortable as you experiment with new looks and styles. The worst sin a man can make when it comes to style is going too fast and feeling insecure about his own look.”

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  • Jacksonville Jaguar Hat by New Era ·
  • Blue Tweed Blazer by Garrison ·
  • Black T-Shirt by Nomad x Been Trill ·
  • Camo Pants by Club Monaco ·
  • Grey Boots by Seabago ·
  • Khaki Canvas Bag by Filson

Thanks for reading and special thanks to Mike for participating.

Yours in style,

Articles of Style

Photography by Alex Crawford