Burning questions on modern Asian style and dressing dilemmas of the day

BY STEVEN LAM

 

Dear Steven,

Since it’s almost 2021, I finally thought I should experiment with my style a little and begin wearing jewellery. I have a few questions: i) Are bracelets okay for men? ii) Can both bracelets and a watch be worn and, if so, on the same or separate wrists? and iii) How do I get started?

Wrist Taker

Steven-Lam - THE EDGE SINGAPORE

 

Of course. Bracelets, friendship bands, leather cuffs ... The more unique in design and materials, the better! Bracelets should carry meaning — friendship bands from surfing in Canggu, an Incan leather cord from your hike to Machu Pic- chu. I see bracelets as the story of your life, a snapshot of what you have been through and your travels/experiences. I look at someone’s wrist, hoping to get a clue of the wearer: Is he is a surfer, race car driver, Navy Seal, boardroom raider or fashion editor? Jewellery is meant to be conversation pieces. To answer the second part of your question, I like wearing both bracelet and watch on the same hand. Just make sure the bracelet is of the same metal or material as your watch; otherwise, you are going to incur a lot of expensive scratches. If you want to get started, a watch is definitely a must — and it doesn’t have to be only a Rolex or Patek. No one tells the time with just a watch anymore. I also respect those whose tastes are more experimental: Bulgari, Grand Seiko and Undone make some really nice, interesting watches.

Bracelets are the easiest accessories but, as mentioned, must tell a story. Their provenance shouldn’t be the hotel gift shop. I love seeing men appreciating and wearing unique gems. I love the colour blue and I think the cornflower blue of Kashmiri sapphires are the most stunning. I don’t wear bracelets all that much, but I have been wearing a 500-year-old blue-white carving from Kashmir that was a gift when I was in Mumbai 15 years ago. The carving had apparently come off an important statue (maybe it was a cheap rock that broke off a crystal ornament, but I like my story better!).

Back then, I was working for my dad in his jewellery business and there was an important lot of Kashmir sapphires from a prominent family of jewellery traders being auctioned off, with all proceeds go- ing to the community. My dad sent me, though I was young. There were jewelers from around the world, including the big houses. We managed to acquire roughly half that lot — 14 out of 29 pieces. It was a crazy auction, as the owner, the last surviving scion of the family, didn’t just sell to the highest bidder but instead decided who he wanted to sell each piece to.

He was intrigued by my family business, asked about my father and said he enjoyed the story of real owners of a multi-generational family business much like his, and not some buyer, merchandiser or designer of a big company. He called for a meeting before I left, took the pendant off his neck and gave it to me. He said it was fate that we met, that the pendant would bring me luck and to send his regards to my father. This pendant will be passed down to one of my sons, along with my Indi- ana Jones story and how it was once part of a 500-year-old statue too! Travel memories are indeed some of the best accessories.

Dear boss of Boss,

Is it true that you need to match your shoes with your belt on formal occasions?

Waist Not, Want Not

No, I think those days are over. Sneakers are very popular, especially good-quality leather ones or even crossover sneakers between two completely unrelated brands — the crazier the better. It is also hard to match crossover Jordans with belts. In fact,

I think matching shoes with belts works only for formal wear. Rope leather belts are quite easy to match and better if they are tone on tone with your trousers. That way, your sneakers stand out more. It’s all about the sneakers these days.

Dear Mr Lam,

The economy is predicted to contract by 30% but I still need to attend lots of board meetings and general catch-ups with clients and investors. Work From Home doesn’t really exist in my line. I would like to update my wardrobe with just five key items and not overspend. How would you recommend I do this?

Sartorially Perplexed

Easy. Boss has everything from the boardroom to the golf course. The real bosses are now on the golf courses more than in the board room. I can’t imagine some of them wearing a suit and tie! There are, of course, some CEOs who wear the same outfit all the time, so they don’t have to think. Thank God, we don’t have too many of those around; otherwise, I will be out of a job. I am against sweat pants in the office, though — you have to draw the line somewhere. I think sweaters and sweat pants are best in a nice cold air-conditioned room with hot chocolate or on a long-haul flight, especially with our newly launched BOSS x AJBXNG capsule collection and Boss Travel Line, which are super comfortable. I think jersey drawstring trousers are just a bit too comfy to be running around in a board room or the office. Having good style means be- ing creative, and thoughtfulness in your dressing shows respect to the company around you. A nice made-to-measure jacket, a nice pair of leather kicks, a nice watch, a nice tone on tone belt and lots of shirts — whether t-shirts or long- sleeve shirts — with quality details and fabrics. Can’t go wrong with these five items for the office, wherever it may be.

See also: BOSS x Wild Rocket gives back

Dear Steven,

I love wearing suits. Is it okay or a complete fashion faux pas to wear them with a T-shirt or even sneakers? What’s a good way to wear a sharp suit without looking too ‘boardroom’?

Suits You

A high-quality, silk-blend cotton T-shirt fitted to your body at the right length, matched with a nice unlined made-to-measure jacket with soft shoulder, shows that you have a good sense of taste, you look after your- self and you are understated. This is the new style. Try a green or even a light-grey suit. Customise how your buttonholes look in your jackets, make sure they are fitted and do bring them back to your suit guru at Boss for a refit every few months so that they will always look sharp. The devil’s in the details.

Hey, Steven,

Denim and the workplace. Your thoughts?

Le Lotus Bleu

Sure, as long as you keep it to high-quality jeans with a denim/silk blend or denim with a cashmere touch. We have BOSS at Takashimaya Shopping Centre, Paragon and Mandarin Gallery, HUGO at ION and Jewel, and both BOSS and HUGO at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands — take your pick. Denim is a fabric made of cotton twill and jeans are trousers made of denim. No holes, no fades, high waists and definitely no denim shirts or jackets. You can save those for a rode!

Steven Lam is managing director
of Hugo Boss South East Asia. He started his career as a fund manager in technology but has since ratcheted up more than 20 years’ experience in the retail business industry, including at LVMH, Ermenegildo Zegna and The Canary Diamond.