Christopher Bastin: My Style Rules

The creative director of Gant on dressing well, ignoring trends and the things all men should have in their wardrobe

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My style is one of ‘tumbled elegance’. Someone once asked me how the hell I managed to create such a scruffy look, and I didn’t know what they meant. I spend so much time thinking about what other people are wearing that I try to keep it very simple. Jeans, sneakers or well made shoes, shirt or T-shirt. I didn’t ever iron my shirts until two weeks ago.

Right now, it feels OK for men to be vain again, and they’re getting their own style together. In the 80s it was fine and then in the 90s you had everyone looking all dirty and scruffy, so I really like that guys are paying attention to details. There’s not so much “peacocking” anymore. It’s more composed and thought out.

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I don’t think one should say “no” to certain trends. But with the way things are evolving so fast, movements are almost over before they’ve even started. Look at ‘Normcore’ for instance, by the time it had a name, it was gone. That’s why I love working with Gant, because it’s much more about the perception of how you wear your clothes, rather than a trend.

Every man needs a good tuxedo – the rental ones are awful.

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A man should have the following in his wardrobe: 10 white shirts, 10 blue shirts, 10 white t-shirts, 10 black t-shirts, two pairs of jeans – a pair of worn-out ones that you love and a rinse-washed pair. Then a grey hopsack blazer, a navy hopsack blazer, a nice umbrella, a red striped tie, and tons of shoes. With that, you’re pretty much set for any occasion. You’re not going to a Nobel prize dinner… but you can get a long way.

Accessories are important. When I meet someone, the first thing I do is look at his shoes and watch – a nice example of either can rescue any outfit. Pocket squares are something I really love too. 

Very few things get better with age. But I love old watches. For me, it’s about the hunt. I wear a 1967 Rolex Submariner It’s all banged up and discoloured, but I’ll never get it restored.

I know men don’t mean to buy ill-fitting clothes, but sometimes you just want to tell them that their pants are too wide, or that their jacket could be two sizes smaller. Getting clothes altered. Fixing the sleeves or getting the hems sorted make a huge difference.

My style heroes are Alain Delon and Serge Gainsbourg. Speaking of ‘tumbled elegance’, the latter always looked like he’d slept under a bridge. He could put on a brand new tuxedo, and within 15 minutes be looking like a homeless person, but still fantastic.

Apart from dressing well, every man should be able to cook. Even if you’re not that interested in food, it’s probably going to help you out a lot.

Autumn is the best time of year for clothes. You don’t have to wear huge down jackets yet, and you can start layering and wearing cashmere. I love big chunky cable knit scarves, roll necks, flannel shirts; anything that you can crawl into at night. And I love big heavy pea coats; they tend to keep your posture up because you have to stretch yourself to support them.

Try to make your work feel like your hobby. I’ve been at Gant for 10 years now, so I’m starting to feel like part of the inventory. But thank god they had patience and gave me the opportunity to do what I do. It’s taken time, but Autumn/Winter 2014 is in stores now, and the look is a little more clean, contemporary and relevant. People will be very happily surprised.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I live by that advice, whether it’s the clothes I wear or the cars I drive. If you feel comfortable, don’t force it.

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