Fashion in Canada: How to build an incredible men’s wardrobe


Editor: Joshua Fumo

For John De Laurentiis, fashion isn’t simply an obsession – it’s his way of life. De Laurentiis has been in the fashion business for over 30 years, with 20 of those spent as owner of Le Firme in Richmond Hill, Ontario. As well as showcasing famed Italian brands like Ermenegildo Zegna,Alexander McQueenVersace and Prada, he also offers customers his own signature line of De Laurentiis menswear.
I recently met with John in Richmond Hill to find out what he believes every man should remember when building their wardrobe.

What’s the best way to learn about style and fashion?
The best thing to do is to do your research on the web. There a lot of excellent websites like“The Sartorialist”, as well as others. The other thing is buying men’s fashion magazines, which provide incredible information. There are so many magazines out there that can help out someone who really wants to learn the basics.
The main thing about the fashion and style you should know - it takes time. Time and practice. You can look at something for examples, or look at celebrities or something in a magazine and emulate it. But really, what you should be doing is developing your own sense of style. You might start like certain kind of trouser or jacket style, or shirt and colour style. You will be developing all the time. Cause you experiment, as a young person, and you start to feel like: “I like this more. I don’t like this is much”. Over time you will develop your own sense of style and fashion.

Don’t Buy More Than You Need
One thing you always should keep in mind: Your wardrobe is an investment. When you invest in something it should be for the long term. North America has a problem: We are full of walk-in closets. The rest of the world has an armoire or little closets that open up. There might be three, four or five pieces but it would be the best three or four or five pieces that a person can afford. In North America we acquire and acquire and acquire, and put it all into walk-in closets. The problem with that is, if you would invest your money in that, how aware are you of what’s in that closet? Maybe 1 or 2%, maybe a little bit more. If so, you are just wasting your money. So my advice is start with the basics. Invest in the basics. Look at the blue suit, look at the black suit, look at the grey suit or brown suit; those are basics. Those suits serve you as long as your body stays the same. When your body changes, then you change those suits. But you still concentrate on the basics.

The Best You Can Get
When you are looking for clothes, it should be the best you can afford. I’m not advocating that everybody should choose Italian clothing or something luxury and expensive. As your career develops you can change the average prices of your wardrobe. When you become confident. When you have enough to take care of your housing, food and everything else. Then you can start investing in your clothing and start getting something besides the basics: Let’s say, a linen stripe jacket you can have some fun with. You can wear it with a pair of jeans and moccasins without socks and stuff like that. But you would not do it at the beginning.

Men’s Wardrobes: The Essentials
From my prospective, everybody should have two shirts for every suit or jacket along with two to four ties per outfit. Belts, maybe one or two; and shoes, probably two to four (and that’s a very good wardrobe). Of course, a coat with that. Maybe a sweater that you can wear instead of or with a shirt.

Build Around The Suits
Basically, the best way to build a good looking wardrobe is to build around your suits. Your nucleus - let’s think about it as a nucleus - would be those blue, grey, black or brown suits we were talking about. And you build around them. That is the best way to build a fantastic wardrobe.

Do’s And Don’ts At Work
If you work in an environment where everybody wears suits that cost around $1000, don’t buy a suit for $3000. All you’re going to do is intimidate people. The same rule applies for accessories like watches. There is no point in spending $10000 on a watch if everybody in your office wears $1000 watches or $500 watches. Keep yourself on the same level as your environment and you will be successful.
Of course, there could be some touches. Some little things. Maybe a really nice tie or belt, or a beautiful pair of shoes. But don’t do it all at once. Build it. Look at those as building blocks, one after the other.
Also, you should be aware that if you’re buying something that’s more expensive than the rest of your wardrobe is, you have to be able to keep it in good shape. For example, if you buy a watch that’s quite expensive to you, then you should be able to pay for the servicing for this watch. The same thing goes with your car.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive
Your individuality is what’s going to shine through your clothes. If you’re going to be pretentious about brands what you wear, like: “Oh man I have to wear Gucci shirt”, and Gucci does not fit you properly or does not look right, why are you doing that? It’s because you’re trying to show off the label. That does not make you any more sophisticated. If you choose clothing that suits your image, your hair, your body you are going to look great. It does not have to be expensive. It could be the cheapest of cheap but if it looks good on you, if it fits your lifestyle, then it’s great.

Clothes Don’t Make The Man
There are some cultures in this world that buy only popular labels because they think it gives them the right to be in a wealthy society. All I can say is: “I’m sorry”. We have an expression in Italian which actually means “clothing does not make you a king”. If you are a king you are a king, even without the clothes.
Try to find what fits you properly, something that fits your style. Something that you put on and it looks effortless. But if it looks like you have to think about what you wear everyday, then is something wrong. It doesn’t flow.
If I have, for example, a young man who is just finishing high school and he’s wearing a custom made bespoke suit, I am going to say: “Why is he wearing this?” Is he part of a very wealthy family? If he is, then it fits. But if he spends all of his money and he comes from a normal middle class family, what’s he trying to project? Is he trying to over-qualify himself? These are sort of things that people can tell (snaps his fingers) like that.

Be Confident
The way you look in your clothes, the way you act in your clothes tells people a lot about you. When you hear people say: “Wow. You are a pretty good dresser” that means you doing it the effortless way. But if you have to over-think it and you’re uncomfortable, people notice: “You know, something’s wrong with this guy. He is trying to project something that he isn’t”. You should understand that clothes are your skin that the world can see.

Dressing Under Pressure
You should wear what makes you feel comfortable, not what your peers are pressuring you to wear. Everybody thinks their peers are going to pressure them to wear designer’s clothing. But usually people that pressure you want you to wear a non-descript, cheap-looking style because they say: “Why should you look better than me? Let me bring you down”. Everybody think there is a pressure is coming from above. But there is a lot of pressure from the below, also. It works in both ways.  


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