When Macklemore sang “I wear your granddad’s clothes, I look incredible,” in his hit song Thrift Shop, he was likely channeling the energy of Marc-André, a French Canadian menswear blogger based out of Toronto.
A pro at seamlessly incorporating vintage and thrift items into his daily look, his blog, André de la Mode, is full of style inspiration and secrets for dressing well, without sacrificing comfort. A full time blogger, Marc-André is also working on my his own line of men’s bow ties, ties, pocket squares and lapel flowers, made out of vintage fabrics.
Today, Marc-André tells us how he began thrifting, what he really thinks of Montreal and Toronto, and his most important styling tip for men.
Tell us about yourself.
I am currently a full time blogger working on a number of projects and collaborations.
I started my blog 3 months ago after everyone told me that I should. After a few months of sitting on the idea, I gave in to peer pressure. With the help from a few friends, I decided to build and launch André de la Mode. From my own working experience and simply exploring the city, I found that a lot of men need a helping hand when it comes to making decisions on how to dress, how to shop, where to shop, etc. I believe everyone has their own style and personality, so my goal is not to make others adapt to my style, because obviously it’s personal to me, but by showcasing my style, I hope to influence and guide men into molding their own.
Other than that, I’m just a regular guy with a love for shopping and menswear. Aside than blogging, my life consists of physical fitness, basketball, hip hop, crafts, shopping… the list goes on and on.
You were born in Montreal and raised in Toronto. Has these two cities influenced your personal style?
To be honest, these two cities have had very little influence on my style. I lived in Montreal until the ripe age of 5. Montreal is considered the fashion capital of Canada, so I really enjoy visiting the city and shopping. People in Montreal are stylish and make the effort to dress that way when leaving the house, and I love that.
I was raised in Toronto. Personally, I find that while there is a good fashion scene in Toronto, it’s still very fashion backwards compared to cities like Montreal, New York, Paris, etc. People in Toronto are more reserved when it comes to fashion and you see a lot of cliques rather than mixed styles, like hipsters hanging out with hipsters, punks with punks, or suits with suits.
Where my personal style really came together was during my last year of university In Ottawa. I’ve always been a bargain hunter and I began thrifting 3-4 times a week. I built much of my closet on inexpensive thrift items. Since then, it’s been somewhat of an addiction to shop thrift and I love being creative with the items I find. I believe that’s what makes my style somewhat unique and personal.
What’s your secret to mixing the vintage with the new, yet still looking modern and trendy?
It’s always all about the fit. There is no doubt that vintage items from 10-20 years ago don’t have that modern slim cut we all look for these days. It would make no sense to have a vintage shirt that balloons over a pair of new slim trousers, so you need to get creative. I’m lucky enough to have a Mom who loves me enough to alter my clothes, and she can easily slim down shirts that are too wide. Sometimes I take more difficult items to a tailor to get alterations done, but very rarely. I’ve accumulated so many clothes now that if it doesn’t fit, I leave it for someone else.
What I really love is finding great vintage accessories from thrift stores. I’ve found sunglasses, pins, scarves, pocket squares, ties, and watches. I love gold accessories and they always have cool unique pieces that I will usually incorporate into my outfits. I use many women’s scarfs as pocket squares for my suits and women’s accessories for my lapel pins… but that’s a secret. Shhhhhh.
What is your personal motto or mantra?
“Experience is the mother of wisdom” is a quote that I have tattooed on me. Everything we see and live everyday is all part of a personal learning experience, whether it be good or bad, or whether we realize it or not. It’s all part of life - the wise will learn from past experiences and move forward; it’s important not to be foolish and make those mistakes again.
Who are your style icons?
If I had to pick only one I would probably say Pharrell Williams. He’s always dressed so sharp, in suits or street wear, and he just looks like he would be cool to just chill with and talk to for a day. Not to mention, anything he touches musically is amazing. He’s someone I’ve always looked up to fashion wise.
Amongst other style icons I admire, there’s Nick Wooster - he’s the definition of dapper and most definitely fashion forward in the suit game. Joshua Kissi of Street Etiquette – he’s got an amazing street wear style and also loves photography, thrifting and travelling. Sam Lambert & Shaka Maidoh – two British gents that have great vintage, British style. These two are amazingly creative when it comes to fashion and probably the most stylish guys on earth. Last but not least, I’ve always admired Mos Def for his poetry and his sense of style. He’s always had a unique style of mixing in street wear with dressier items.
What’s your secret to staying cool in the summer without sacrificing style?
‘Dapper in shorts’ is definitely my motto this summer. Obviously it’s not possible for everyone to wear shorts all the time, but there’s no reason to not look dapper all the time. Don’t be afraid to wear a nice dress shirt tucked into a nice fitted pair of shorts with a pair of loafers. Secondly, fabric is very important when dressing for hot weather. It’s important for one to be able to differentiate fabrics found in their closets - A wool suit is not for spring/summer weather, a linen suit is not for fall/winter weather.
Fast forward 10 years. Where will Andre and Andre de la mode be?
I’m hoping to travel with my blog, so have photo shoots and do street style photography of dapper gents from cities all around the world. More importantly, in traveling the world, I want to learn about fashion from the eyes of people in completely different cultures with different lifestyles. Besides that, there’s not much I can say about André de la Mode in 10 years, it will evolve as my style and lifestyle evolves and all I can really wish for is that people find interest in what I do and follow me through my journey.
What’s your coolest fashion experience so far?
I think just having people tell me they follow the blog and that they love my posts, especially when it comes from strangers, is by far the coolest. I would be happy and grateful if only a handful of people followed the blog so the fact that people are interested, appreciate and support what I do is all I can really ask for. Sometimes I meet new people who already know who I am because they’ve seen my website before, and it’s crazy! It never fails to amaze me.
You believe in dressing your best when leaving the house. What’s the most important styling tip you would give to all men who try to accomplish this?
Dressing my best begins with comfort. I would never wear something I would question or feel uncomfortable wearing. Second, always remember that once you step out the door there are endless amounts of business opportunities. It’s happened plenty of times where people have approached me to compliment my outfit and I’ve met potential business partners in the process or get to hand out my blogs card to menswear enthusiasts. Your outfit should always look sharp, dressed up or down, so before you leave the house, admire your outfit in the mirror and if something feels off, it probably is.
If you could give one piece of advice to your 14 year-old self, what would it be?
When I was 14 I thought I would dress in baggy clothes and only listen to Hip Hop for the rest of my life – it was a lifestyle. I remember when I was 14, an older friend of mine who dressed in fitted clothes told me that one day, I would also dress fitted and my style would change. I laughed at him and swore I would dress like that forever… Well, he was right.
If I had to give my 14 year old self a piece of advice, I would hand him a GQ magazine from the future, point him towards a thrift store, and tell him to get to work and get creative.
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