This feature may have come a little late, but Michael Bastian’s trademark candor is always welcome. MB’s words of wisdom to follow.
Michael Bastian knows a thing or two about putting a look together. The designer’s own line is heralded by editors and well-dressed guys alike, and his namesake collection for Gant is, well… heralded by editors and well-dressed guys alike. So, because he’s something of an expert, and because Gant happens to have a very stylish outpost in DC, we decided to pick Bastian’s brain about how to dress for the biggest thing happening in our nation’s capitol today: the inauguration. The impending inauguration parties, to be specific. Here, he gives us some insight on how to get outfit yourself for a celebration of presidential proportions — whether you’re turning it out for a gala, or just taking it easy at the local bar.
E: OK, to start, let’s run down how you’d recommend dressing for the inauguration in a few different scenarios. First up: formal, from a classy dinner to a black tie ball.
MB: I guess the answer to this depends on if you’re a Democrat (really celebrating) or a Republican (just showing your face). But either way, Washington is a conservative town and it’s always best to stick closely to the established dress codes for these types of things. Nice dark suit for a dinner, traditional black tie when the invitation says black tie. It’s not the town to bust overly creative style moves in — save that for the LA and the Oscars.
E: Now, what about something kind of dressy, but not full-on formal-wear required, like an evening at your well-to-do friend’s house? The one with great taste and impeccable interior decoration.
MB: This is where you pull out that nice dinner jacket you couldn’t resist buying but never quite know when to wear. Try it with a cashmere turtleneck and jeans or gray flannels, and a pair of cordovan or formal shoes.
E: And finally, how about if you’re just meeting friends to celebrate the occasion at the bar?
MB: Depends on the bar — but I think the worst thing you could possibly wear to a bar is the ubiquitous “bootcut jean, stripey untucked shirt, too much cologne” look that has plagued every bar in every city for the last 10 years. Try dressing up a bit instead — you’ll stand out a little more.
E: Is there anything that you can wear for inauguration parties that wouldn’t work elsewhere?
MB: Maybe your “I donated 10 Million Dollars to Mitt’s Super PAC and all I’ve got is this lousy T-shirt” T-shirt.
E: Wearing red, white, and blue: Is it ever acceptable? How do you do it the right way, and avoid looking cartoonish?
MB: This only really works if one of the colors is not the expected shade — say the blue is light blue, or the red is actually more burgundy.
E: For a lot of guys in DC, things are OK with most of their get-up, but something goes wrong when you get to the shoes. Any footwear advice for guys getting ready to attend an inauguration party?
MB: Don’t be afraid of black patent formal shoes. They may look creepy in the store, but with the full look, they work better than anything else.
E: And finally, considering your longstanding relationship with Stubbs & Wootton, I’ve got to ask: Can a regular guy wear Prince Albert slippers to an inauguration party? What’s the right way to do it?
MB: I’m not sure what Prince Albert slippers are? Are they pierced? But I’ve yet to find myself in a situation where a pair of Stubbs & Wootton’s wouldn’t work somehow — they have a lot of personality and a lot of humor and are perfectly made. How many things, or people, can you say that about?