Style Counsel: Michael Altman

Digital Producer

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After a three-month stint as a midtown Manhattan project manager working on a restaurant re-branding, Michael Altman reflects on how NYC inspired a post-grunge college kid to tighten his fashion game.

Where’d you get that style? When I was in high school at Purcell Marian, I’d wear my five-foot-10-inch father’s 38-inch-waisted suits from the 1960s. I was this long-haired kid running around, moving this mass of clothing—no tailoring, just belted. In my mind, I looked great.

Who else did you look to? Noel Gallagher and Jack Kennedy. What I wear is sort of like reporting what I see as flattering on them and narrowing it to what works on me. Jack Kennedy didn’t wear a hat, and he didn’t wear a topcoat (except at his inauguration). He was the first person I saw a picture of wearing a fitted suit. When you see Kennedy, you learn how to wear things.

So Kennedy and…Noel Gallagher? With the band Oasis it was the same thing: a turning point. Post-grunge. I didn’t care about it at the time, but by college I did. Their style meant something expressive. And then they all started getting outfitted by Burberry.

How would you describe your style now? Style’s more about how you wear things than what you wear, but I guess one comes with the other. If I can have basic stuff and get the right size, then it’s about accessories, like a good tie.

You definitely take fashion risks. Plaid-on-plaid, for example. I might wear a taupe or khaki suit, big plaid windowpane shirt, and a skinny plaid tie. It works. But I am red/green colorblind.

Tell me about these shoes. I don’t know the brand. I wore them while I was a journalism intern at The Examiner. I walked three miles in them beside former Mayor Adrian Fenty in D.C. They’ve been resoled four times. They mean something to me.

Photograph by Jonathan Willis
Originally published in the November 2012 issue

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