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Men's Spring Fashion Issue | Metropolis / Chat Room

Well-Suited to His Profession

An Image Consultant Takes on the Fashion Faux Pas

April 07, 2002|MICHAEL T. JARVIS

Martin Kedzior became a men's style consultant by accident. Seven years ago, the former ad industry employee offered fashion input to "someone who needed it badly." Word got around, and he's been an independent image consultant since. Kedzior, 30, specializes in corporate executive wear, and a number of Southern California hotels refer their sartorially impaired guests to him. A frugal classicist about fashion choices, Kedzior's emphasis can be summed up in one word: simplicity--and plenty of it.

Are your skills really that needed in L.A.?

I come from Chicago, where people wear suits. They're not used to it out here. Most people don't know how to buy a sport coat. Some guys want to wear suspenders with belts. There's a whole '80s thing going on with agents with coats that look like they have shoulder pads.

Why would a man pay someone to pick his clothes?

Confidence is directly linked to the way one feels. I have a client who's an attorney, and his strong suit is law, not Levi's. If someone recognizes they're making the wrong choices, I'm a good investment. I do the legwork and make it easy.

But can't a guy just wear the corporate "uniform"?

Relaxed work environments [are] forcing individuality to become more apparent. The past uniform--white shirt, a red-striped tie and a blue suit--is becoming uncommon, unless you're a flight attendant.

How do you choose a client's wardrobe?

It depends on the lifestyle and income bracket. An executive who flies in a corporate jet will need clothing for multiple events and traveling. The writer might need clothing for knocking around town and dinner parties in Hollywood.

What are men's biggest fashion faux pas?

A non-vented suit or sport coat with pleated pants. Also, ill-fitted clothes and bad shoes. Good shoes and well-fitting clothing go a lot further than a designer label. Most men wear button-down shirts with too much fabric in the body. Or they're wearing a shirt where their stomach is busting through the buttons. Lots of L.A. people don't dress their age.

Other appalling bloopers?

Thin ties with wimpy knots. Ties should only graze the top portion of the pants--it's not meant to cover the zipper. The label on the back of the tie is not intended to hold the thin part of the tie, and 99% of Americans are not aware of this. A chunky heel or too thick of a rubber on any part of a shoe combined with hints of Naugahyde are immediate red flags. Or an overload of synthetic fibers on any item. A lot of Prada's stuff is synthetic and looks like a plastic bag.

What are today's ultimate "power" accessories?

To me, the perceived status power watch is an antique Rolex, the Cartier Pasha with leather strap, or any Franck Muller model other than the entry-level "Casablanca." But I'm equally impressed with the $55 L.L. Bean classic, which I bought my first year in college. The power shoe is the John Lobb Delano Havana Calf, single buckle.

Should anyone want to impress me with a gift, a 101/2 will do just fine.

What would you like to see back in vogue?

Pocket watches. They're cool conversation pieces and can add a sense of history.

Where do you stand on the "corporate casual" question?

The problem is, most people don't know what "business casual" means. "Casual" is not another word for clothes you wear around the house. It means relaxed clothing that you would wear at a stylish bistro. It means if you're fat, no jeans for you. An AC-DC T-shirt from Fred Segal studded with rhinestones is not corporate casual.

Can a man care about fashion and still be a guy's guy?

A guy's guy is usually interpreted as a dude. But I know just as many dudes who are as concerned about their image as the Botox-beaten has-beens from the '80s are.

Martin Kedzior's Best-Dressed List

Hugh Grant * Tony Blair * Dennis Quaid * Lenny Kravitz * Matt Lauer

Worst-Dressed

Jay Leno * Jerry Seinfeld * Bobby Brown * Russell Crowe (a tie with Don Knotts' character in "Three's Company") * Mr. Blackwell

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