The anatomy of Andy Spade's style
A few thoughts on accessibility of clothes, good taste, and having a uniform.
Good enough for Ethan Hawke. And for you.
We’re kicking off 2023 with an appreciation piece about Andy Spade, a man of personal taste, timelessness, and simplicity. Shout out to Sprezza contributor Christian Galindo, from The Seasonless, who wrote this.
Trends < Style
The world runs on trends. It's ad nauseam, fueled by the endless hype cycles of modern-day consumerism. Each week there's a new brand.
We're all at risk of going out of style as fast as we enter, and the only way to keep up is by developing a personal style independent of trends. Few people on this earth have that level of taste. I can point to a few that I admire: Pharrell, Brad Pitt, Dev Hynes, Jacob Elordi, and, of course, Andy Spade.
Who is Andy?
Andy was born in Michigan in the early 1960s, brother to the famous David Spade. Andy is also a widower to the late Kate Spade. Together they built a fashion empire (Kate Spade hit $1.4B in revenue this year alone).
Andy started Partners and Spade in 2008, a brand consultancy and marketing firm servicing clients like Harry's, Warby Parker, J. Crew, and Sonos.
He also founded successful brands like Jack Spade and Sleepy Jones.
In addition to his work in fashion, Spade has produced several short films for Red Bucket Films and is writing a book, though we know little about the project. Andy is the definition of a free agent, a title we all aspire to have.
While Spade's creative output is impressive, it’s his classic style that keeps us Googling his name. But what is it about Spade’s style that keeps us coming back for inspo?
Stuck in the menswear moodboard
The more I browse Fuck Yeah Andy Spade on Tumblr and read his interviews, I’ve uncovered his deceptively simple secret:
He knows what he likes and sticks to it, whether or not it’s on trend.
Spade’s style is wedged between a tenured liberal arts school professor, a southern suburban dad, and a Brooks Brothers model. And still classic.
Spade has a uniform would be:
White Brooks Brothers shirt
Clarks Desert Boots
And the details on each garment…
His shirts are rumpled with their sleeves rolled. His jeans are beaten up; he has a handful of 501s and refuses to buy new pairs, opting to repair them with wear and tear. The Clarks might be clean, but they’re usually not; similar to his jeans, Andy’s not afraid for his shoes to show a little character.
On days when he needs to be a bit more formal, it’s a grey wool suit—usually from Thom Browne.
I’ve never been interested in having a daily uniform. I prefer to have fun with clothes by experimenting with print, pattern, silhouette, and color. I admire the idea of having a signature look of items synonymous with you.
When I think of Clarks Desert Boots, I think of Spade, who wears them clean or dirty, with or without socks.
Spade's uniform has some nuance to it. He has an affinity for vintage military watches, having several in his collections. He also wears monogrammed belt buckles, his favorite displaying the word “LOSER.” If there’s a lesson here, it’s this: classic clothing will never go out of style, and you can look to accessories to reflect your personality and create your own style.
Good taste and price points
Note: none of the staple items in his wardrobe are necessarily luxury, either. At the time of writing this, Clarks Desert Boots cost $150, and Levi's 501's are anywhere between $60-200. Brooks Brothers white shirts are $108 but can often be found for less (they're currently on a promo for $75).
You don’t have to spend a lot to look good; good taste isn’t bound by price. Spade is a testiment to this, while he’s a successful businessman. He sticks to his affordable, all-American classics.
Verstality with your fits
Another reason Spade’s style is so appealing is that it is versatile for most occasions. Many of us don’t work jobs where we have to throw on a three-piece suit daily, but we may work in an office where we want to look presentable.
You can wear the Spade capsule (a long sleeve button-down, modest denim, and Chukka boots) to the office and easily fit in at most after-work events. Throw on a blazer, as he often does, and you can go literally anywhere. Tickets to a show or headed to a gallery opening? Romantic dinner with a hot date? You'll never look out of place.
Andy’s been seen wearing the same, if slightly modified, outfit on holiday. When it’s hot, you can switch the jeans for chino shorts. If you’re feeling cavalier, you can grab a pair of New Balance 990s and leave the chukkas at home.
An overlooked aspect of modern fashion culture is the value of wearing our clothes.
And I mean really wearing our clothes—Andy Spade claims to wear the same jeans that he wore in high school. Not only is it impressive that a sixty-year-old can fit into the jeans he wore when he was 18, but wearing the same clothes for that long gives clothing character.
Every scratch on your watch, rip in your jeans, and smudge on your boots gives them more personality--clothing looks better when it’s broken in. A friend of mine told me that clothing should be fun, it should be used and worn. If your items don’t have any wear to them, they lack soul. If your clothes are blemish-less, it tells the world you live a life void of adventure.
The right stuff, not more stuff
We don’t need so much new clothing. It might be tempting to buy the hit new fleece from ALD or Drakes, but maybe rock the fleece you bought three years ago that doesn’t get much wear.
Wear your clothes liberally.
Dance in them, climb mountains in them.
Live your life and have fun with them.
They’ll reward you with many years of wearability and character.
To have great personal style like Andy, you need to find what works for you—and that takes time. A few timeless pieces to make your own, preferably versatile enough to take you anywhere you need.
While I don’t necessarily co-sign having a “uniform,” I think having a capsule of clothing that you can reach for whenever you’re unsure what to wear is a great backup. Having pieces that make people think of you is the goal.
Andy Spade’s great style is built on a bedrock of high-quality, affordable basics. He still finds his way to have fun with clothing, adding his own flair and showing us all that clothing should be accessible at the end of the day.
We have too much to worry about, so why add one more thing, you know?