As regular readers will know, I love clothes (well, obviously). But I have a particular appreciation for stylish men, and it’s great to see that the Platinum Club has its fair share. They say clothes maketh the man, and that’s certainly true with these two. Kevin Duala, Relations Manager at Overline, adds a unique personal twist to his look. And Mark Tulley, Director at Gemini Press, loves to mix formal and casual to great effect.
I sat down with them both to hear more about their individual style and what inspires them.
KEVIN DUALA: professional with a twist
Kevin takes dressing very seriously – it’s important to him and supports his multifaceted role at Overline, which involves meeting clients, generating business and training staff . But his passion for looking good started years ago. He says, ‘My Dad always said you never get a second chance to make a first impression. He instilled in me that no matter where you go or what you’re doing, make sure you look presentable.’
Kevin likes to look sharp at the office. He told me that in previous jobs he wore what he wanted, but didn’t feel ‘ready to work’. So he took his casual look of dark jeans and a jacket, and elevated it. His style has evolved, and now at Overline, he’s much sharper – he knows it helps him to be taken more seriously.
But Kevin also likes to add a twist to professional look. His signature item has become his knitted ties. The Overline team often tease him, saying ‘Kevin’s got a sock on again today’ but people notice, and they remember him as a result.
You may find it surprising that Kevin often buys from secondhand shops, picking up vintage ties, pocket squares and waistcoats. His suits are from M&S or Debenhams, but he always gets them altered to fit exactly the way he likes – he never settles for a poor fit. Jackets must be tapered at the waist, trousers must be slim-fitting and resting on the front of his shoe, and his tailor (Buddy’s) helps him achieve this. In doing so, Kevin personalises his look without spending a fortune.
Kevin says, ‘I love being original. None of my clothes are designer or flashy, but they are unique to me. And I’m good at finding classic pieces. I recently bought a camel cashmere overcoat from Rokit vintage clothing in Covent Garden. It was absolutely huge on me, but my tailor altered it to fit perfectly at the fraction of the cost of a brand new coat.’
MARK TULLEY: mixing formal with casual
Dressing well is also important to Mark. He understands the effect of his clothing on clients, which includes corporates and charities. If he is underdressed with corporate clients, he risks not being taken seriously. If he is too formal with charitable clients, that can be intimidating. So he pitches his clothes to his audience to make them feel at ease.
Whether dressing for work or at the weekend, Mark enjoys mixing formal and casual, although he errs on the formal side. You’ll never see him without a jacket (unless he’s on holiday), and he often wears a waistcoat too; these tend to be textured versions for casual wear. His favourite colours are vibrant blues and purples (which show off his white hair) and he introduces these through a pocket square, tie or shirt.
Speaking of shirts, Mark confessed to me that he spends most of his clothing budget on these, and is a loyal Ted Baker fan: ‘I have more than sixty’. He also owns a dozen suits, explaining ‘I think you need at least ten’. His really casual look? Classic straight leg dark denim jeans. He only wears trainers in the summer, and they have to be white Lacoste. You may think this approach is too rigid, but I applaud Mark’s understanding of what works for him and his commitment to dressing with care and attention.
Mark meticulously plans his clothing each week. He checks his diary for the week ahead, irons his shirts and plans the accompanying ties and suits. Why? He explains, ‘Business is stressful enough. Planning my clothing removes unnecessary stress and ensures I look right for the clients I’m meeting.’
These two have different styles, but dressing well is important to both, and to their business. They’ve found their personal approach that works well. Have you found yours?