Hello! Welcome to 51 Label Style Talk. In our exclusive series of Style Talk, we literally bring you menswear enthusiasts/experts/aficionados from around the world to share with us on their take on menswear and specifically outfit pairing with quality footwear.
In our first ever feature, we have Colin Holmstrom from Toronto, Canada. He's the owner and creator of the menswear blog - After The Suit.
1) Could you please give us a brief introduction of yourself?
My name is Colin, and I write for my blog After the Suit, exploring my journey through the world of menswear. We’ve all seen the “first X suits you should own” and “don’t make these X style mistakes” types of posts. What I wanted to explore was where you go beyond the basics. You research and buy your first couple of suits. You’ve got blue and white dress shirts, staple ties, and maybe a couple pairs of shoes. What’s next? What’s After the Suit?
2) What is your style philosophy?
My philosophical approach to style is to present a well put together version of myself where it is apparent that I dress well and care about my image, but where the average person wouldn’t be able to pinpoint exactly what about the outfit is compelling. I have learned a lot about textures, fit, colours, and formality, and hope to continue learning.
The aspect I enjoy most about putting a coherent look together is colour and textural interplay. Awareness of the historical and contextual formality of different fabrics and styling elements plays a part but doesn’t define what I wear as much as shapes it in broad strokes.
For the first few years, my requirements for a dress shoe were simple. Black or brown, and do they fit. I didn’t pay much attention to the details of the last, design elements or quality. Shoes were a consumable. Grab a pair of corrected grain department store shoes, wear them until they fell apart (often less than a year). It has only been recently that I’ve begun to apply what I’ve learned about tailoring to my footwear. Fortunately, this has led me to 51 Label and I’m happy to share that my pair of Haste double monkstraps is easily my best fitting pair. Stylish too!
3) What is your one menswear pet peeve?
Instagram. I see so many massive accounts that repost the same images of painted on suits and shirts with skinny lapels, 400 bead bracelets and a gaudy watch. Understanding what appeals about any of it is beyond me.
Through the whole idea of influencer marketing, it also creates space for cheap brands to feed off of this idea of constant consumption, and it crowds the space making it hard for people to separate the genuine from the fake. There are lots of accounts out there that just whore themselves out to anyone with a free product, and it cheapens the whole menswear niche.
4) With our chocolate Haste Double Monks, how would you pair them with 3 outfits of your choice?
Outfit #1: Flannels and Tweed
This outfit is high contrast. The saturated denim shirt and navy self-stripe tie paired with the light brown flannel trousers really bring out a warm rusty tone in the Donegal style fabric of the sport coat.
My 51 Label Haste double monks have a warmth in the shade of brown and continue the higher contrast theme in the bottom half of the outfit. In terms of formality, it might be a bit incongruous for some, but I enjoy the way the textures decrease moving from jacket to shirt to tie. The blues also pull out the colourful flecks in the sport coat.
A sleek double monkstrap shoe was good choice here, considering the playful approach applied to the rest of the outfit. This style of dress shoe is versatile, because to me it is centered on the formality spectrum and is stylishly elastic – meaning it can be stretched towards both the casual and formal ends.
Outfit #2: Bold Suit
My loudest suit by far, I love the shade of blue with the highly contrasting white windowpane pattern. Worn with a crisp white shirt and a bright orange pocket square, the rakish feel is completed with the Haste double monks.
In this context, I wouldn’t want a pair of formal captoes on my feet. The colour of the leather on these is great – darker than a mid-brown, but a nice warmth that adds just the right visual weight to the bottom half of the outfit.
Outfit #3: Tweed and Denim
I wanted to show the versatility of the Haste double monk, which I think is one of the few styles of dress shoe that doesn’t look out of place with denim. Another option would be suede, but in this case the supple, polished leather and silver buckles adds a nice textural contrast to the denim. The upper half is smart casual with a navy long sleeve polo worn under a mossy green tweed sport coat.
Cut with open quarters this tweed jacket adds to the sporty look and elevates the laid-back feel of denim and leather monkstraps. I’d happily wear this outfit to a pub for drinks with friends, or out on a date with my lovely wife.
5) Final thoughts about our Haste Double Monk Strap Shoes
My thoughts on double monk shoes has evolved over time. Initially, they seemed peacock-y and trendy as they were the style de rigour a few years ago. Having owned this pair for a few months, I can appreciate the details that made them so popular. The thing I like most about them is the plain toe. Most other manufacturers opt for a cap toe of some sort, but these 51 Label have a simple and clean appearance that allows the last shape to shine. The flap shape and buckle placement are great, specifically that the upper buckle is not set parallel to the bottom one.
I don’t think I’d recommend a pair of double monkstraps as a first pair of dress shoes, but having built a small but versatile collection I feel that this pair is a welcome addition to my rotation.