Editor’s note: Head this way to see more Style Q&A entries.
As I’ve spent more and more time reading about the menswear world, there have been certain sites that have shaped the way I view style, fashion and getting dressed daily along the way. My friend Barron’s site, Effortless Gent, is one such outfit (pun intended). Dappered and what Joe has done over there also comes to mind. And of course, no discourse on the digital menswear and lifestyle community would be complete without mentioning Megan Collins of Style Girlfriend. The site is well-designed, easy to navigate, fun to read and packed full of useful menswear tips and tricks (and much, much more), from how to wear a turtleneck to a full rundown of some of the best gear for fall. Anything lifestyle-related you might need to know, rest assured that’s Megan and the team are on it. Her Fall Style Guide in its entirety is also great, and the site’s Twitter churns out excellent content, too. Toss in handy and informative lifestyle articles and even relationship advice and you’ve got a winning combination.
That it’s all told from a female point of view, yet geared toward guys, is especially helpful (particularly that relationship bit, ehh?). I’ve had the chance to meet Megan on a few occasions here in NYC and have always appreciated her insight and new way of looking at a holistic lifestyle for guys — starting with clothing but branching into much, much more. The adage that the details make the difference is definitely clear via her site. So without further ado, I’m very excited to present the latest entry in this series — I promise, I’ll just ask the questions.
TSG: For those who aren’t familiar with your site, tell us how you got it started and where that inspiration came from?
MC: I always say, I wish I could tell you I did this sweeping competitive analysis of the menswear landscape and found a female voice was missing from menswear, but actually I just fell into it. I had left a career in advertising to write and was taking on any project I could. At the same time, a friend was starting a custom suiting business and asked me to write a weekly column for his site. I said yes, because I was saying yes to everything, “But I don’t know anything about guys’ style…is that okay?” I asked.
“Sure, just write about what girls like to see guys wearing,” he said.
It ended up kicking off this amazing journey that’s culminated in a really satisfying career for me, connecting with guys who may have GQ at home on their coffee table, but they’re shopping at the mall and need help bridging that divide between aspirational and accessible.
I believe Style Girlfriend has gained such a following because, 1) I shop like a guy – I want it to be easy, I want it to be quick, so our advice is all about tips, tricks, and shortcuts to great style and 2) I’m honestly not that interested in fashion.
Style matters to me, because having great style is like having the best wing man ever – its only concern is making you look good. Fashion, though, is fleeting, based on trends, and honestly, can seem kind of silly sometimes. I’m much more interested in helping guys on their personal style evolution than I am in talking about the latest sneaker drop or runway show.
TSG: Running a style with as large a following as yours seems like a lot of work – what’s a typical day like at SG HQ?
MC: I wake up early – 5:15 or 5:30 a.m. – and take some time to read, write, and get centered for the day. Then I work out. If I don’t break a sweat every day, I go completely insane. I signed up for Classpass earlier this year, and it totally rocked my world. I get bored easily, so I can do spin on a Monday, bootcamp on Tuesday, Pure Barre on Wednesday, and on and on. It’s great.
By 9:30am, I’m in the office in the Flatiron District. My editor gets in at 10, we talk through what’s going on for the day – -what’s on her plate, what’s on mine. Then I usually pop in some earbuds and churn through whatever’s on my to-do list. Relationships are so important, so at some point during the day I might meet up with someone from a brand, an agency, or someone running a site like mine. Most nights there’s some event to hit, then I come home and crash pretty early, so I can get up and do it all again tomorrow.
TSG: What have been some of the challenges involved with getting Style Girlfriend up and running that people might not know about?
MC: Style Girlfriend winds up getting lumped in with a lot of men’s personal style blogs, but it’s really not, so sometimes brands don’t know the best way to work with us. It’s not as simple as, “I wear your brand and tag you on Instagram.” It’s not a personal style blog; I’m not on there with pictures of what I wore today, and yesterday, and the day before that. Don’t get me wrong; those blogs are great, and I get a ton of inspiration from what others out there are doing and their amazing style, but we really see ourselves as a media company, or a digital magazine. We’re talking about menswear the way an Esquire or Details would – in articles and editorials and videos. So we’re a bit of an anomaly in the digital menswear space in that way.
It just means it can be a bit more leg work to help brainstorm those partnerships so that we can create really amazing branded content for our readers. So we’re different – but that’s also what makes us special, so I’m glad for the distinction.
TSG: What’s one style essential (or an essential outfit) that every guy should own?
MC: Every man needs a suit that fits him just right. Whether it’s grey or navy is a personal preference, so long as it’s tailored and doesn’t jut out at the shoulders or pool at the ankles. I tell guys to make friends with their tailor. You can take clothes you buy off the rack and make them look made-to-measure for a pretty small amount of money.
TSG: What’s one style mistake you see too many guys make?
MC: Wearing clothes that don’t fit them properly. I tell guys to make friends with their tailor. Everything you own (nearly all of it, anyway) would look 10x as good with just a few inexpensive alterations. An inch at the ankles, a nip in at the waist – there’s so many small things you can do to make your clothes look like they were made just for you.
TSG: What’s been the most rewarding part of helping guys improve their style?
MC: Hearing about the positive impact that dressing better has had in every area of their lives.
I really believe that when you look good, you feel good, and that confidence ends up spreading to every area of your life. And this is borne out in the emails I get from readers telling me crazy inspiring stories about how reading Style Girlfriend helped them bounce back from a divorce or being laid off. How they decided to go after a raise or a promotion, or ask out that girl they’d been in love with forever.
Taking control of your personal style is truly the first step to totally changing your life for a lot of these guys. I have definitely been brought to tears more than once hearing from readers about their transformations.
TSG: You’re based in NYC — for those new to the city or visiting, what are some of your must-visit spots — a restaurant, bar, gallery or the like?
MC: I just moved from the Lower East Side to the Lower Lower East Side (yes, it’s a thing), and I love it. So many good restaurants and bars – a few of my favorites: Mission Chinese, Bacaro, Dimes, Clandestino, 169 Bar and Kiki’s.
TSG: Lastly, as it’s the fall season – what’s one trend that guys should jump on to look their best in the coming months?
MC: Take advantage of the layering season – I love a nice textured sportcoat over a patterned button-up with a tie that contrasts while complementing. Top it all off with a mac coat or field jacket and you are ready to take over the world.