At the heart of great style is a kind of timelessness. Maybe that’s why I was so charmed by the sartorial approach of Perry Quinn, a Niagara-on-the-Lake realtor I met at a garden party in Chester, Nova Scotia, last week. Quinn, 58, who originally hails from Baie Comeau, Quebec, cut a dashing figure that conjured up visions of the Great Gatsby era, while exuding notions of elegant, modern-day ease. He describes his personal style as modern, expressive, and classic. But at the heart of it all is an unmistakable passion for great clothes, and what they can do for the spirit. That, coupled with Quinn’s unbridled enthusiasm for the seasonless sport of shopping, makes him an ideal subject for this column, and hopefully, a solid source of inspiration for any man interested in stepping up the style ante.
One thing that always delights me whenever I start questioning stylish people about their fabulous finds is how eager they all seem to share their “insider” information about where they got their pieces and often, how much of a great deal they got. That was certainly the case with Quinn. Of course, it was his chic cream linen suit that first struck me. He was proud to convey that it was made in Canada—a Coppley jacket and pants that he got at a suit sale. The jacket was $60 and the pants were $40. “But they weren’t together on the rack,” explains Quinn. “The pants were in the pants aisle, and the jacket was in the sports jacket aisle. I brought the jacket over to the pants and guess what? Same fabric, same warp and weft, and probably same bolt of cloth because there’s absolutely no difference in the colour or the fabric. What a find!” Quinn enthuses. He did have the good sense to take the pants to a local dressmaker to have them lined though, since they were, according to Quinn, “quite sheer”.
A relationship with a good tailor is also imperative for the well-dressed man. Quinn’s is a talented Italian fellow named Joey Minniti on Welland Ave. in St. Catherines, “Joe will take your old suits with wide lapels and multiple pleats and make them “au courant” for around $350.00 per suit. If need be, he’ll take the whole suit apart. It’s great having a bespoke tailor who can breath life into a 10 year old Zegna suit,” says Quinn.
Personal fashion philosophies can get rather heady, but for Quinn it’s as simple as merely considering what will flatter his colouring and build. And while he’s obviously a man who know his own mind, there’s no question his lovely wife of 25 years, Mary Jane, has proved to be a great sounding board for his style quandaries, and a true afficiando when it comes to hunting down those fashion bargains. The two travel a lot, and Quinn delights in the deals that they manage to find. “The outlet stores outside of Palm Springs, for instance, have wonderful selections. I also have somewhat of an “in” with Coppley. I’m very fortunate to be invited to their warehouse sale twice a year. We all stand in line for two hours, and race in when the doors open,” he shares.
Citing George Clooney, Cary Grant, and Daniel Craig among his top style icons, Quinn claims he prefers to be over-dressed, rather than under-dressed. “You can always take off socks and remove a tie if you’ve overestimated the attire for an occasion,” he says. “You cannot, however, go the other way.” His most treasured pieces of clothing include a navy cashmere single-breasted ¾ winter overcoat, and a yellow silk patterned scarf that his grandfather bought at Abercrombie’s in New York in the ‘40s. “It has an ink stain on it from his fountain pen,” Quinn romantically reflects. His best fashion find ever was a pair of black and oxblood D&G penny loafers that he got for a hundred bucks. And if there’s anything that impresses me more than knowing quality, timeless items, it’s knowing how to get them at reasonable prices! Besides the stellar cream linen suit that Quinn was wearing when I met him, he was also sporting a pale lavender Emmett shirt from the King’s Road in London, brown suede Allan Edmunds loafers from Finsbury Shoes in Paris, a signature aqua Hermes pocket scarf, and a cool pair of Eyebobs glasses he bought online for about $70. (www.eyebobs.com).
What are your top 3 favourite accessories?
Hermes pocket squares, 2 scarves found in the Marais district in Paris (the kind you can wind around your neck a couple of times with enough left over to tie loosely), and cashmere knee socks.
What’s your idea of a fashion faux pas?
Dark socks being too short resulting in white pasty flesh showing when a man crosses his leg over top the other. (Agreed!!!)
Which do you prefer? Vintage or contemporary?
Contemporary. Although I went through a time in the late 80’s where I would scour the stores in Kensington Market (Courage My Love etc.) for vintage wide ties to pair with contemporary suits and/or sports jackets.
Describe your “dressed down” look.
Summer: loafers, no socks…. maybe…depending on the crowd, lighter linen or khakis or narrow blue coloured jeans somewhat faded, navy blazer or an off white unlined sports jacket, white or pink or powder blue solid shirt from Emmett shirts with a mildly spread collar, cotton Brooks Brothers pocket square. Winter: A cashmere solid sports jacket, an Emmett shirt, (http://www.emmettlondon.com), an Hermes silk pocket square, maybe cords or light wool pants, and brown or tan Allen Edmonds lace ups.
Best style advice?
One should consider eye colour, hair colour, complexion and body shape when contemplating a purchase. Consult “Dressing the Man” by Alan Flusser. Every answer to any style question you may have will be in this book. It’s an invaluable tool in helping you look your best.