The Blogger Beat: Off the Cuff

This week, we dive into prepster men’s fashion with Off the Cuff blogger Chris Hogan.

By: Emily Leaman

Chris Hogan started his fashion blog, Off the Cuff, in 2006, but his love affair with personal style goes back to 1992, when he landed his first retail job at a Ralph Lauren store. “Ralph is the master of lifestyle branding,” he says. “I learned a great deal about the psychology of branding and brand identification.”

Hogan takes those lessons to the entries of his blog, where he helps men discover a style that works with their lifestyles and reflects their interests. He writes to an international audience—Hogan counts approximately 16,000 readers a month in more than 40 countries—so he focuses less on labels and more on pinpointing classic trends. Because he hails from New Haven, it makes sense that Hogan identifies his own style as “Ivy League”—think East Coast preppy—but that doesn’t mean he recommends his look for everyone. “I try to help my readers navigate all of the options and understand that real style is very personal and starts with the individual,” he says.

We caught up with Hogan to chat about men’s fashion in Washington. Wardrobe basics? Fashionable politicos? Skinny suit or classic fit? Read on for his picks.

Five words to describe your style:
“Ivy League-ish, comfortable, individual, classic but creative.”

Five words to describe men’s style in Washington:

“(Mostly) dumpy, boxy, and generic, but (occasionally) creative, refreshing, and personal. I know, that’s six words, but work with me here.”
 
Number of items in your closet:
“Total? Including shoes it’s about 135. Add in another 30 if you’re counting ties. And about 25 T-shirts—maybe 30. Let’s just say 200 and call it a day.”
 
Three basics every guy should have in his wardrobe:
“(1) A blue blazer. It goes with everything and makes pretty much any guy look great; (2) Oxford-cloth button-down shirts—that’s OCBD for the in-crowd—in solid blue and white plus a couple striped options. These shirts look great with shorts or jeans and yet are classy with suit; and (3) a nice pair of dark, well-fitting blue jeans—not too tight and not too baggy.”

Trend you’re most excited about for fall:
“I think we’ll finally see a maturing of the preppy trends that have been with us for the last couple years. It’s a great style that looks good on almost anyone, and it has been adopted in a surprisingly modern and refreshing way by designers such as Michael Bastain. I think J. Crew’s men’s-store concept has really done the most to bring the idea of modern Ivy League to the fore.”

Biggest fashion pet peeve:
“Suits that don’t fit properly. Actually, any article of dress clothing that doesn’t fit well drives me nuts. This isn’t something that you have to overthink; look in a mirror and be honest with yourself. I have, and wound up donating of some favorite clothes that were simply too big on me. I looked bad and needed to move on.”

Best advice for the fashionably inept:
“Before you do anything, figure out what you like—movies, books, magazines, ads that catch your eye, restaurants you frequent, people you admire, and stores you like. All of these things are clues to your personal style. Take a little time to document all this stuff and then look in your closet to see how you can translate that look and feel into your wardrobe. It’s not always an easy process, but my goal is to find someone’s personal style, not impose something they ‘should’ be doing.”

Best accessory for a guy:
“A great watch. A watch purchased as a long-term personal-style investment is one of the best things a guy can do.”

Most fashionable Washington neighborhood:

“Bethesda is still a favorite of mine—a great combination of fashion and food, neighborhoods and redevelopment. It’s a place that’s alive and trying to keep current without losing what makes it special.”

Most fashionable politico:

“Actually, two people come to mind. I think the Vice President is a pretty sharp guy. It’s hard to be creative and distinct when you’re a high-profile politician, but what’s nice about Joe Biden is that he’s the same guy he’s always been—love him or hate him. He has always been a dapper guy—he actually uses pocket squares—but infuses his look with real personality. Tucker Carlson, currently of Fox News, is my other pick; he’s a genuine prep. He is the embodiment of The Official Preppy Handbook and makes no apologies for it. It works for him because, again, it’s genuine—he’s not out to impress anyone, because he’s always dressed this way. He’s also a nice guy.”

Favorite spot for a splurge:
“Ralph Lauren in Georgetown. It’s a fun shop to visit, and there’s always something interesting tucked in a corner. Of course, I can never fully forget that I used to get a killer discount back in the day, but I still pony up full price on occasion. Rugby is just down the street, and I like to wander though that store, too. Someday I want my study to look just like that place.”

Favorite place to online shop:
“For everyday clothes, I love J. Crew’s men’s shop. They really do a great job of blending classic style with modern sensibilities. J. Crew also has all the staples you need for a dressy or casual workday or a weekend hanging out at home. When it comes to the fancy stuff, I’m a big fan of Gilt.com. Great—sometimes outrageous—deals on truly unique and exclusive merchandise.”

The most money you’ve ever spent on an article of clothing:
“When my wife and I were in Venice a few years ago, I shelled out almost $400 for a pair of Incotex gray flannel trousers. I didn’t even blink when I saw the price tag—traveling in Europe for a while can distort your perceptions like that. At the time, the euro was strong, so part of me probably just saw the number €250 and ignored the conversion. But the thing is, I’ve never regretted that purchase; those pants are my favorite single article of clothing. Classic and modern at the same time, they’re a great representation of the brand’s design philosophy. Slowear—Incotex’s parent company—designs clothing to be in style for decades, not seasons.”

Type of tie: bow or straight?

“Almost always a straight tie, but I love my bow ties and have a nice little collection.”

Skinny suit or classic fit?

“Classic.”

Favorite local fashion blog besides your own:
“Although there a couple of great Washington blogs, Maxminimus stands out from the crowd. He has a great natural sense of style (preppy with a capital P), and his stories are a pleasure to read. More than anything, he’s an interesting guy who writes about interesting things. Please, do check him out.”

Earlier:
Why I Hate DC
Vox Populi
All Blogger Beat interviews

Have a favorite local blogger you’d like to hear from? Send suggestions to eleaman@washingtonian.com.

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