Classic with a Twist feat. Paul Kim

December 31st, 2011

As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently studying Menswear Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City

The program has been a valuable experience in many ways. With one semester remaining I have already benefited greatly from understanding the technicalities and nuances of pattern-making, fabric composition, clothing construction, etc.

For example, when I’m dealing with clothing manufacturers, both domestic and international, I am able to communicate using a technical vocabulary, give very specific instructions, hand-inspect the quality of their work, and revise samples for review and improvement.

Apart from the curriculum, another advantage of the program is simply being around other creative people with similar interests. I certainly have some stylish classmates. Paul Kim, featured here, has my favorite style of the bunch.

Like me, he loves tailored clothing and styles it with modern, youthful punches. He does “classic with a twist” (which just about every menswear designer is experimenting with these days) as good as anyone I know.

Paul was born and raised in South Korea. Prior to coming to the United States, Paul was a professional dancer who performed backup for a number of famous Korean singers and bands. This gave him the opportunity to meet professional stylists, which fueled his passion for clothing and eventually lead him to fashion design.

Here, he gave us a glimpse at the personal touches he puts into his wardrobe.

1. Subtle Colors, Unique Details

“I typically try to play within basic color combinations. This way I always have a simple backdrop to add subtle details.

I almost always try to dress somewhere between dressy and casual.

Here it’s dark denim with a blue shirt and navy pinstriped blazer under a classic tan trench…with a few different touches like the white & navy polka-dot socks, large safety pin on the chest pocket, and handmade studded patch that make the outfit a bit unique.”

  • Dark rinse jeans by H&M ·
  • Tan trench by Lago & Filo ·
  • Navy chalkstripe wool blazer by Rugby ·
  • Vintage tie (from Paul’s father when he participated in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games) ·
  • Brown leather tassel loafers by Lago & Filo ·
  • Brown leather belt by Zara

2. American Prep

A henley shirt can make a traditional preppy outfit a little more laid back and casual, and a little less predictable.

Accessories can let you put your own spin on a classic look – like the hat, glasses, pocket square, belt, socks.

Polka dot socks again, in a different proportion.

  • Brown loafers Vintage ·
  • Navy wool blazer by Maison Martin Margiela ·
  • White henley by Shipley & Halmos ·
  • Bracelet by Number Nine ·
  • Shantung fedora hat by Lago & Filo ·
  • Tortoise frames by Oliver Peoples

3. Military Inspired Tailoring

Fabric selection and pairing is crucial. A denim jacket and tailored trouser can look clean and modern in certain fabrics, but in rugged vintage cloth it can be a great throwback look as well.

The denim jacket is a functional layer, but also adds a casual element.

The blue in the argyle socks picks up on the blue in the shirt and pulls the look together.

  • Denim jacket Vintage ·
  • Brown tweed trousers by Topman ·
  • Olive wool military jacket by Lago & Filo ·
  • Olive tie by Les Celliers du Prieure ·
  • Brown leather tassel loafers by Lago & Filo ·
  • Tortoise frames by Oliver Peoples
  • · Light blue shirt by Uniqlo

Sky Blue Broadcloth Shirt

4. Updated Vintage

“This is a very dressy look, but the personal touches like the Rolling Stones patch, print bow tie and hand-studded pocket square make the outfit a bit humorous and less uptight.”

Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to add a patch to a piece to give it a personal touch. The selection is endless, it can always be easily removed, and the cost is negligible. (Post on this coming soon)

  • Brown loafers Vintage ·
  • Beige camel hair blazer Vintage ·
  • Navy wool cardigan by Banana Republic ·
  • White cotton button-down shirt by Marc Jacobs ·
  • Blackwatch plaid wool trousers by Dolce & Gabbana ·
  • Tortoise frames by Oliver Peoples

5. Laid Back Formal

“Another simple color combination here… I like a casual outfit that hints at formal.

Also, rubber soles and lighter socks make this overall outfit less dressy, but still sharp.”

The shirt and jacket are actually both a very subtle hue of blue. The subtlety here makes this very tasteful (and still versatile), in my opinion.

Bonus Tip: Keep in mind, a big part of pulling this off, and making it appear casual, is confidence and a laid back demeanor.

Essential Light Gray Trouser

Sky Blue Broadcloth Shirt

Thanks for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier


Photography by Alex Crawford.