Alan: Eclectic aesthetics with a street-wear addition

11/26/2018

My Name is Alan Foley, I'm a 48 year old interior designer from Johannesburg, South Africa. I also own a small fashion business manufacturing ties and bow ties. 

I have a very petite frame and am only 1,63 m tall so it is often very difficult for me find clothes that fit perfectly. Here in South Africa even the men's size small is too big for me. A few years back when I visited London I was at the Ralph Lauren store when one of the shop assistants (seeing my difficulty) suggested I pop to the Ralph Lauren Childrens' Store, which I did and I was able to find many classic pieces that fit perfectly. 

Subsequently I often shop in the children's section and even the womens-wear which I feel adds to my style as men don't shop where I do which gives me an edge over them. Thus my favourite brands are Ralph Lauren for more formal wear but I add in elements from local South African outlets such as Mr Price, Markham and often find very interesting pieces at vintage and charity stores.

My style was always described as classic but quirky. Now I think with the addition of a few street-wear items to my wardrobe maybe my style has moved more towards a more eclectic aesthetic.

The story of my style

My love of colour has always influenced my wardrobe. Only as I approached my mid-30's did my style become cohesive. And, at the time, wearing many colours together was not a big thing. Colour-blocking had yet to become a fashion statement in South Africa. As a result there were very few stores stocking colourful trousers or socks if at all. I would rely on overseas shopping trips to build my wardrobe. Subsequently colour became a big trend and it became much easier. Also, I was always self-conscious of my slim frame, so I would hardly ever wear clothes that were too revealing. I had been forced to take care of both my ailing parents over the past few years and, after they both died, I think the sudden realisation of just how short life is, made me come out of my style-shell and gain better confidence in myself and my body. So I began to add more informal pieces, embrace wearing shorts and t-shirts and make my style more informal.

My interior design style was very classic (lots of antique pieces and fine art) and, as a result I used to dress in a very formal way - it was once said in one of our South African publications that I'd wear a bow tie to the beach. My classic (yet colourful) look made me well-known in local fashion circles but mid 2017 I was beginning to feel like I was stuck in a style rut and I made a conscious decision to attempt a more informal style. This coincided with a slight change in my interior design style where I was moving towards a more modern look fused with my beloved classic style.

My ultimate favourite piece at the moment is my fitted navy blazer. I find this to be the most versatile piece of clothing in my wardrobe. I can either wear it in a very formal way with tie or bow-tie or make it less formal mixing it with shorts and a printed t-shirt or even just wear it on its own with nothing underneath. My other favourite items at the moment are my metallic pieces. I currently like a touch of bling so I'm in love with my gold sneakers, my silver high-tops and I have this gorgeous Chinese-style reversible jacket in gold and red that I picked up at a vintage store.

10 wardrobe pieces that characterize my style: 

  • Plain T-shirts
  • Informal floral shirts
  • Colourful socks
  • Colourful jackets
  • Slides
  • Skinny jeans
  • Loafers (with or without socks)
  • Denim jackets
  • Polo 
  • Neck sweaters (in winter)
  • Patterned shorts or long trousers

Best stylish regards,

Alan @alanfoley6

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