You know when a job posting reads, “Those with experience in a similar or related field will be considered”? Well, you could say that Robert Spangle’s background — first, serving in Force Recon with the United States Marine Corps in Afghanistan, and subsequently apprenticing at Savile Row tailor Maurice Sedwell — provided a pretty solid grounding for his current line of employment.
Having swapped scissors and assault rifles for an SLR, today, as an eagle-eyed street style photographer, Robert can be found deployed on the world’s fashion frontlines, ducking and weaving, expertly sizing up the sartorial firepower of his targets — and taking their dandy asses down.
These are the 10 key menswear lessons this American snapper (who operates under the moniker Thousand Yard Style) has gleaned during his various tours of duty shooting dapper dudes and beauties.
10. “Tell a story. Men’s style almost entirely comprises heroic archetypes — the industrialist, the war hero, the athlete, the rebel… Taking inspiration from these is effusing values to the outside world, communicating beyond language or the visual. Whether it’s fiction or a biography, the narrative power of style is also one of its most enjoyable aspects. Style is never without substance. A life well lived is a wardrobe worn well.”
9. “Know your body. Your build, proportions, hair colour, skintone — these are your palette. Characteristics can become character with understanding, and disaster if ignored.”
8. “Never stop learning. Often times, proponents of style will say ‘style is forever’, a constant in a world of constant change. Style evolves just at we do, don’t be afraid to take influence, explore and experiment.”
7. “Lose your biases. The world is getting smaller every day. Avoid sticking strictly to your own national dress, or anyone else’s.”
6. “Dress for the room. If in doubt, consider the people you’re going to meet in the day ahead, and dress with them in mind.”
5. “Invest in what you wear the most, first. I frequently get guys asking me about how to start dressing better. I’ve written small novels in response, with diagrams and pictures. But all the writing in the world pales in comparison tor giving someone the experience of their first really well-made piece of clothing, so I’ve narrowed down my advice to this: Determine the two things you wear the most, and find the best fitting, best made example you can, buy it no questions asked. Quality is a great teaching tool, this initial investment raises most men’s bars and there is no way forward, except no way back. For most, this is a pair a shoes, and jeans. While these might not be the most refined pieces in an ideal wardrobe, their daily use will reaffirm their value, and force you to upgrade your wardrobe.”
4. “Get a real tailor. Not internet made-to-measure, not eBay, no discounts. When you pay full price and understand the incredible service and relationship that comes from tailoring, you will truly understand its value, and that all other derivatives of tailoring are compromises.”
3. “Make a list. Stick to it. Dressing better means budgeting wisely, regardless of your means. Plan out your budget biannually, index what you have and decide what you really, truly need, write it on a list. Figure out which colours you should stick to — blue and grey are great for your first three years starting out, or those travelling regular; after that, add some personal colours. Take the list with you when shopping — if it’s not on the list, don’t buy it, simple as that.”
2. “Feet first. Nothing redeems the wrong shoes, and it is the first thing the opposite sex notices.”
1. “From Shakespeare: ‘To thine own self be true.’ The most stylish men I have ever known and photographed have always been those with a very firm understanding and faithfulness to self. A million dollars won’t paint over insecurity, but style will shine through a simple white T-shirt if you have a unshakable understanding of who you are.”
Robert’s photography appears in British GQ, The Rake, Vogue.com and Esquire UK, amongst others. Choice shots are compiled on the blog ThousandYardStyle.com