I recently got the opportunity to interview with Jonathan Ly of StoryLeather.com. Story Leather makes custom made to order leather cell phone cases, wallets, and totes. All of their products are handmade and constructed with genuine leather. On the story leather blog they have style stories where they interview bloggers, and I was fortunate enough to be this week’s feature. So please check out my interview below and be sure to shop Story Leather for all of your custom leather needs.
Story Leather: On your blog you had mentioned that you had made the conscious decision to dress for the role that you were aspiring for, “How did you know what to wear?”
Akil: I learned what to wear by modeling my wardrobe after the respected veterans in my field. In higher education professors, deans, and presidents tend to dress relatively conservative and business oriented. Analyzing what key players in my professional industry wore provided me with a realistic vision of what my wardrobe should consist of. However, because I started my career at a young age I decided to construct my wardrobe based around classic menswear pieces, but with a modern fit. By doing so, I gained the respect from my peers and supervisors, all while gaining the respect and trust from my advisees.
Story Leather: You’ve also mentioned that thrift stores we’re your best option, “With thrift stores being so random in their selection how did you go about finding what works?”
Akil: Thrift stores are extremely random in their selection, especially the ones that I regularly visit. However, the keys to success for shopping at a thrift store lie in having the patience to sift through cluttered clothing racks, as well as having the knowledge to decipher quality brands and fabrics. Although most items found in thrift stores are vintage and outdated, menswear has remained relatively the same over the years. Therefore, visiting a tailor and making minor alterations can help eliminate the fear of wearing something that clearly looks like you found it in a thrift store.
Story Leather: When did you make the decision to become the Dapper Advisor? Was it influenced during your time as a student or afterward?
Akil: I decided to become the Dapper Advisor while I was a student in graduate school. During that time, I became very interested in style and dressing well for my career. So I started the platform as a way to monitor my style evolution. It eventually became a platform to share my style and menswear knowledge with others as well. As I was finding my own personal style, I found that many of my peers wanted to improve their style, but did not know where to begin.
Story Leather: As the Dapper Adviser, what are a few simple rules that every young professional can follow when trying to dress the part?
Akil: When I first started doing my research on style and menswear in particular, I tried to follow all of the “menswear rules” that I found on the Internet. However, as I began to learn more and created my own style, I found myself breaking a lot of those said rules. Now, the only rules that I “abide” by is never leaving home without a watch (even though I rarely check it for the time), keeping my shoes clean and polished, and staying well groomed. I have learned that a nice outfit can be ruined if it is not accompanied with a fresh haircut.
Story Leather: Lastly, “How do you adapt your own style to the ever evolving fashion world?”
Akil: Although the fashion world is ever evolving, it does not have much of an effect on my style. I do not view myself as a trendy individual. I appreciate diverse styles but I believe in keeping things simple and only wearing clothes that look good on me and flatter my body. I think a key component in finding an authentic personal style is staying true to the things that you enjoy wearing, not “adapting” to emerging fashion trends. Not everything is a style fit for me and I’m okay with that.
Story Leather: Did you have any final thought’s you’d like to mention to any young professionals out there?
Akil: Being a young professional can be tough, especially if you start your career at a young age like I did. Therefore, it is important to remain confident in your abilities as a professional. I enjoy wearing a good suit and tie to work, because I am able to leave lasting impressions with a lot of people. However, I believe that there is no substitute for hard work. In other words, a nice suit and a smile will definitely open doors for a young professional, but having a relentless work ethic as well as being knowledgeable in your field are the things that will really help you gain the respect and admiration of others.