Rules of Style from Marc Jacobs

The Designer Reflects on the Joys of Sweaters With Heels, Why Suits are Scary, and the Healing Power of Needlepoint.

Photograph by Lisa Kereski
  1. When I was young I used to customize my jeans—with embroidery and needlepoint. I don’t know what men should do to relieve stress, but I find that reading, watching DVDs, and doing needlepoint almost always calms me down.

    1. It seems that men are more like women now—“Aww, I don’t want a wool sweater, it’s itchy!“ I love coarse fabrics. In fact, I’m a big fan of old Shetland sweaters. Anything with a hole or two in it, I feel that it’s worn and loved.

    2. I find “working a look“ a bit silly for grown men. I’m 41 years old. I’m not saying you can’t have fun, but at my age I don’t want to look like one of those guys who dress in costume. I want trousers that feel comfortable. I want a V-neck sweater or a crewneck. I want a shirt that’s not too big or too small.

    3. There is something sleazily sexy about men wearing too much cologne—but it depends who, it depends what. Everything is related to context.

    4. I don’t have a burning curiosity to see straight men made over by homosexuals. I heard somebody say they were cuter when they left them alone, and I think that would probably be my attitude.

    5. I had long hair for most of my life. Lately I’ve been cutting it, because I have this fear of starting to bald and having very little hair on the ponytail. But I’m not into big, muscular guys with really long hair, like the cover of romance novels. That’s never turned me on.

    6. I see guys who look in a suit the way I feel in a T-shirt. I just had a bespoke dinner suit made at Huntsman on Savile Row, the first one I’ve ever had made. I just feel I don’t look good in a suit. I’ve always been self-conscious of my height, so if I put a suit on I feel like I’m standing in a hole.

    7. While I was at Parsons School of Design I really loved to get dressed up. I remember buying this Gaultier skirt for men. I tried it on in the shop and thought, “This is so fabulous, I’m going to look amazing, I can’t believe I have this Gaultier skirt.“ I don’t think the price tag ever came off of it.

    8. Try to respect the dress code. To black-tie events I’ve always worn just a black V-neck sweater with a white shirt, a black tie, black trousers, and white Stan Smiths. I’m not trying to be different—it’s just how I feel comfortable. I don’t like when people adamantly go against the grain to make a statement.

    9. My list of stylish men—there are so many. I think Jarvis Cocker [the lead singer of Pulp] has amazing style, and the artist John Currin. Ed Norton is great-looking; so is Tobey Maguire. Josh Hartnett. Jack White is fantastic. Keith Richards is one of the most stylish men ever. I had dinner at Il Cantinori the other night and I met Clint Eastwood—one of the most amazing-looking men. I was so impressed.

    10. After seeing Kurt Cobain in a dress, I think there’s absolutely nothing that on the right guy can’t look fantastic.

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