I WAS WALKING down the stairs at a Near North Side Starbucks when I saw Keenan. Keenan had the adorable idea that he was going to be walking upstairs with his cup of coffee. Of course, with a look as well-styled as his, I had other ideas.
You wouldn't be too far off if Keenan reminds you a bit of Max. In a cosmic style coincidence, they happen to be coworkers at a swanky suit store here in town. Which goes a long way to explaining why Keenan knows how to put together A Look™. Why does it work? Grab your cup of coffee and let's talk about it.
LIKE MAX'S LOOK, this ensemble is all about layering. More specifically, it involves layering colors, textures, and lengths. Trust me, it's not as complicated as it sounds. The base of the look is a simple, white button up shirt with a spread collar. When your base layer is white, it makes sense to add contrast with the next layers. You can add contrast in all categories: colors, textures, and lengths. Keenan chose blue and brown as his contrasting colors. Blue is the eye-catching pop of color while brown serves as a dark, grounding neutral. Here, Keenan's knit tie carries the brown while his cardigan brings in the blue. It's a simple mix that would look good without any other layers (though I might darken the shade of blue in the vest if I'm being picky).
But fall is all about layering, so let's keep piling them on! The basic layering strategy is to alternate colors with each layer. So if the blue cardigan was the dominant base color, a brown/plaid blazer becomes the next logical layer. It frames the blue nicely when it's unbuttoned, and the material is heftier than the layer underneath, so it's a double contrast.
By our rule of alternating layer colors, the next layer should be blue. And technically, it is...with Keenan's gorgeous navy blue peacoat. But there's a faux layer in between the blazer and the coat that's very important. Surprise, it's a scarf! An off-white scarf, to be more specific, and it's the magic sauce. Had Keenan left the scarf at work, the chunks of blue and brown (both darker colors) would have started to feel overwhelming. By separating the two most outer layers with his light scarf, Keenan keeps the look fresh and light despite all of the fabric wrapping his (I'm sure very warm) body.
Keenan applies our lesson in color chunking with his pants and shoes. The wool pants are light, drawing on the white of both the collared shirt and the scarf. With so many heavy colors on top, light-colored pants are essential to keep the look balanced. Balance is the essence of color chunking, and the more layers you pile on, the more essential the principle becomes.
Finally, Keenan's kicks had me wanting to distract him so I could steal them off his feet and run the other direction. This style of shoe is called a double-monk strap, and it's my favorite. I also love that they're made from brown (color chunking again!) suede instead of leather. With so many variations on knit textures on top, it's a subtle way to keep a type of harmony from head to toe.
I wish I felt bad for making Keenan walk up and down those Starbuck's stairs twice. But I don't. Instead, I'm happy that he was kind enough to let me pose him in an array of awkward positions just so that we could all have a chance to learn from his sense of personal style.
STYLE TIP CHALLENGE: Okok, I know it's been 70+ degrees here in Chicago, but it's fall and Starbucks is about to release its infamous red cups and we all deserve to layer and sweat a bit. So this week, let's give layering a try. Keep the base simple, choose your dominant color and a contrasting neutral, and go to town! And if you give it a try, be sure to have your bestie take a quick snap of you and throw it up on your Instagram with tag #mynkstreetview. I can't wait to see how good you look!