Fashionable Life: Mens’ Suit Upgrade

by Editorial

The business suit is de rigueur for men in Washington, but that doesn’t mean your coat and tie have to be boring.
By Michael M Clements

It’s not easy standing out in a city where standing out is frowned upon. But fear not gentleman, there are ways around D.C.’s arcane fashion rules and requisite red power tie. Pepper Watkins, Frank Rudolph, Howard Lee and Eric Channing Brewer are four stylish Washingtonians who know how to express their individual sensibilities in a sophisticated and tasteful manner. In short, they turn heads without raising eyebrows. Their secret? Add individuality by mix and matching, using accessories and knowing where to shop. So, get your pencils out (not that you still use pencils, it’s just an expression, okay?) and take notes guys.


Use the power of prep like Accenture management consultant, Pepper Watkins. Try a bold navy blue suit over a dress shirt with stripes and add a textured tie. For something more original, try a wool tie with a tie clip.

Pepper Watkins. (Photo by Kyle Samperton from Washington Life magazine)

GET HIS LOOK: “I love separates from Ralph Lauren, Uniqlo and LL Bean Signature, but I also like digging around secondhand stores, of which there are several great examples in D.C. such as Meeps, Rock it Again and Dr. K’s Vintage.” – Pepper Watkins.
Pepper’s Fashion Doppelgänger….

Hugo Boss

Style Tip: The tie clip is traditionally placed between the fourth and fifth button of the shirt placket, midway between the pectoral and ab muscles.


Be the life of the party this holiday season and add color to your wardrobe like interior designer, Frank Rudolph. Also, try pairing neutral slacks with a bright blazer or sports coat.

Frank Rudolph. (Photo by Washington Life magazine)

GET HIS LOOK: “I spruce up a suit with color and a little snap. I get jackets at Lilly Pulitzer and buy items from resort collections like Ralph Lauren. They come in very limited guantities, so less people wear them. Sometimes I’ll wear a summer belt made on cloth with a blue suit. A snappy belt works, especially since many of us don’t walk around with our suit jackets buttoned.”
Frank’s Fashion Doppelgänger….

STYLE TIP: Want to go bolder? Try this Calvin Klein blazer sports coat.


Tired of the typical suit and tie? Take a page from the past and find a well-tailored vintage suit like Dandies and Quaintrelles founder Eric Channing Brewer. But don’t stop there – add vintage shoes and accessories too.

Eric Channing Brewer. (Photo by Kate Warren)

GET HIS LOOK: “I look for slim-cut suits at Benetton in Dupont Circle. The buyer for that store has a great eye. About a third of my sport coats are vintage YSL pieces from shops like Treasury, Rock it Again and Dr. K’s Vintage. I’ve scored some great seasonal items like vests and blazers at the Georgetown Rugby Store. If you don’t know what looks good on you, Kelly Muccio, owner of Lost Boys has an amazing eye.” – Eric Channing Brewer
Eric’s Fashion Doppelganger…

(Photo: Hackett London)

STYLE????TIP: Spruce up an ordinary suit with a hint of contrasting texture. Try a suit with a satin lapel for evening or a wool suit with a leather lapel for an edgier look.


Make a statement by mixing and matching your suit with neutral colors like Howard Lee, principal partner at epgPR, LLC; but don’t forget to add hints of color using a bowtie or handkerchief for contrast.

Howard Lee pictured with Erika Gutierrez. (Photo Alfredo Flores for Washington Life magazine)

GET HIS LOOK: “I’m wearing a bespoke suit from Paul Smith in London, a vintage YSL wool vest from Dr. K Vintage, a gold and tiger-eye tie clip from a small shop in London although I love bowties from Keith Lipert Gallery on M Street, shoes by John Varvatos and a watch by Michael Kors.” – Howard Lee.
Howard’s Fashion Doppelganger…

(Photo: Hackett London)

STYLE TIP: Anyone who knows Howard knows that he has a huge affinity for bowties, who says bowties “don't get enough recognition and appreciation, especially among younger men.” (Tie from Keith Lipert Gallery, M Street, Washington DC)

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