Rules of Style: Antonio Azzuolo on the Importance of Consistency and Why He Loves Wearing Birkenstocks with Socks

"At a certain age, shorts are no longer the best option."

Image courtesy of Antonio Azzuolo.

Antonio Azzuolo knows more than a little bit about getting dressed; he's been helping you do it while designing for brands like Hermès, Kenneth Cole, Gap, and Ralph Lauren, where he was design director of the Black and Purple labels.

"It's ironic," Azzuolo said of his recent nomination as a US finalist for the International Woolmark Prize for the eponymous label he launched in 2008. "When you think of wool you think of tailoring and menswear, yet this season is the first they've done the men's category."

Here the Montreal-born, New York-based designer talks about wearing wool in the summer, why the best brands don't chase fashion, and the surprising shoe he's into right now.

1. Fit is number one. Your clothes don't have to be a high-end, they just need to fit properly. Get a dry cleaner or a tailor to alter something and make it your own.

2. Consistency is more advantageous than following fashion. The brands that I've worked with don't try to change it up every six months, they just add a new twist. That kind of consistency is important.

3. Know what colors look good on you. The best way to find out is to try different colors and see what looks good next to your skin complexion. Also, get advice from others whose judgment you value.

4. Fabrication is really important; you want to look calm and cool when you get somewhere. You want to to think about Merino wool, tropical wools, and linens. You don't want to look too frumpy or wrinkled.

5. A blazer that fits really well is a necessity. It's a versatile item. It could be navy blue, khaki, cotton, or tropical wool; just one that fits well, preferably hand-tailored.

6. Layering is important in the summer because it's a good way to keep cool. You want to think of pieces like tank tops and shirts with vests, cardigans, or unstructured jackets.

7. The parka is the perfect item for spring/summer. Living in Montreal, you dress in a very practical way. It doesn't have to be a winter parka but a windbreaker is great for rainy days and early spring or summer nights.

8. I grew up in an environment where if you had guests over, you dressed for them as well as for yourself. When you get dressed to go to the office, you should look like you're going to the office. If you're going to a nice dinner, forget the cargo shorts.

9. Birkenstocks are cool. I wear Birkenstocks with socks; I'm on a sock kick right now.

10. At a certain age, shorts are no longer the best option for daywear or workwear.

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