As Fashion Adviser to Gilt Man (he was Men’s Fashion Director for Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus),Nickelson Wooster is the men’s style icon for sartorially inclined young men. His style and attention to detail are almost unparalleled in the men’s style world, and every time I see a new picture of I’m stunned at his creativity. Growing up in Kansas and working in a clothing boutique before stints at various fashion houses and Barneys New York, Wooster developed a style that marched to a different drum. The best part is that younever see this kind of style on the street. The style that Wooster has is interesting, sexy, daring, rugged and polished all at the same time and it seriously blows me away.
It’s pretty safe to say that Nick has instantly become an overnight style icon and has developed quite the following on the blogosphere. From his trademark handlebar ‘stache to his rugged take on prep, Wooster’s badass individual style commands attention.
Fashion Adviser Nickelson Wooster tells how he turned his dream into reality
How did you first get involved in fashion?
At 16, I worked at a family store in my hometown of Salina, Kan., (Joseph P. Roth & Sons; they closed seven years ago). The owners recognized my taste level and took me with them on buying trips to New York and Dallas. I graduated from University of Kansas with a degree in journalism and took an advertising job in NYC. (I must have watched too many episodes of Bewitched and thought I could be Darrin Stephens), but I knew in my heart I really wanted to be a buyer. So I found a job as assistant department manager at Saks, then became Peter Rizzo’s assistant at Barneys.
What did you learn from Rizzo? Any other mentors along the way?
From Peter I learned about menswear, that the suit is the backbone of the wardrobe and how to demand the best quality. From Barneys, I went to Bergdorfs where my mentors were Dawn Mello and Burt Tansky. Ms. Mello taught me the importance or relationships with designers; she was truly the master. From Mr. Tansky I learned to manage a business, and the art of editing assortments and standing behind trends.
What do you do as men’s fashion director of Neiman Marcus Group?
My job is to lead the merchant organization from a fashion perspective, to set trends and communicate them across all channels: visual, planning, advertising, marketing, online… In other words, to help create a menswear voice for each store, to drive home the message of what we’re going to stand for each season.
Is the message the same in Neimans as in Bergdorfs?
In both stores, our customers want the newest and most interesting fashion, the best of the best. The differences are mostly regional.
What’s selling best at the moment and what will you stand for in 2011?
For summer 2010, bright color sold well in both stores, especially at Neimans. We’ve also had amazing sales on early fall product, especially outerwear, tailored clothing and woven shirts. In outerwear, it’s been leather and wools (even in this heat!), especially three quarter length models and peacoats. In tailored clothing, the action is in soft unstructured sportcoats.
For spring 2011, I feel very strongly about DBs as a key must-have item, whether in shrunken crumpled versions or more tailored classics. We haven’t had a huge DB business in either store for a long time and I think it’s time.
In general, I’m very encouraged by what I’ve seen for spring ’11. There are lots of beautiful blues that men can relate to, great tailoring, wonderful accessories and fresh sportswear. I also love all the non-silk neckwear (cottons, linens, madras) including bowties, a great way to make a wardrobe feel new.
You used the phrase “that men can relate to”—do you think runway styles are too “out there” for most men?
No. Runway fashion for us is the blueprint for the season. There has to be fantasy to get people’s attention. It’s our job to distill the fantasy into distinctive but salable assortments.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I love art galleries, shopping and people-watching, everywhere from airports to parks. That’s where all style comes from…
How would you describe your personal style?
I guess I’d say classic with a twist. Or classically unclassic. I’m known for wearing very cropped pants.
Before or after Thom Browne?
Before and because of Thom Browne…
What are you wearing now?
I’m at the beach: I’m wearing an Olebar Brown swimsuit.
What do you wear at home when you don’t have to look appropriate?
I always look appropriate.
Nick Wooster on Whether You Should Get a Tattoo
It started for me in 1993 or 1994. I was in Miami — and this is a bad, clichéd story: I had a pair of white Dries Van Noten sailor pants. So I thought I had to have a sailor tattoo: a heart with a dagger through it that said MOM on my left bicep.
My mom was not impressed, by the way.
What people say is true: The first one is a gateway drug. It will lead to another: “Oh, shit, I want something else.”
I was 39 when I did, essentially, a three-quarter sleeve on my left arm. It was very late in life, which is good: I can’t think of any decision I made at 19 that I’d be happy with at 39 or even now, at 51.
What will they look like at 80? You can’t think about it. Look, if I’m still standing at 80, that in and of itself will be a miracle. However I look will be just fine.
You can’t worry about it. My face doesn’t look the same way it did at 39. My body doesn’t look the same way it did at 39.
The reason there are so many sleeves on guys is because nobody can have just one.
Yes, there are probably too many tattoos. But there are too many bad haircuts, too many bad shoe choices, too many bad jeans.
Because it’s so permanent, that’s a filter.
That’s so scary to me. You can tell when someone has them removed. It’s like plastic surgery. You’re not fooling anyone.
I love the idea of being covered-up in a suit and nobody can tell. That’s a conscious choice you have to make, though. I really like neck tattoos and hand tattoos. They’re just not for me.
After my left arm, I started my entire right sleeve, which took how many times? I’m such a pussy. I’ll get back to that point, though.
I was going to have sleeves and then socks — from my knees to my ankles — but nobody told me when I signed up that the leg is exponentially more painful than the arm. I’ll never finish that leg, short of having an anesthesiologist present. Total pussy.
Thinking about the leg is making the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
It is a function of age, too. The older you get, the more painful it gets. Your skin loses it’s elasticity. You lose your youth juice.
People torture themselves about getting the right thing. It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s about coverage. My opinion is leave it to the professionals. Because I’m not an artist. That’s the other thing that always make me laugh — people who try to art-direct themselves.
If I had to do it over again, I would not do color. My body doesn’t keep the red and orange ink as well as the black and gray. I’ve had to get it touched-up more frequently — my body’s poison, I guess. Every three or four years I go back in, which is more of an inconvenience than anything.
You really need to put sunscreen on.
I give myself a B+.
I always say don’t do it when people ask me if they should. I never want to be responsible.
And whatever your profession, it could be potentially embarrassing. It may not be appropriate. And once you get one, as I said, you’ll have to get another.
These things are expensive.