We’ve only just sat down on a bench in front of the Crosby Street Hotel, and Dandy Wellington has already received a handful of comments from passersby.
“Love your look, man,” says one very well-dressed guy, while seconds later two women ogle the vintage hat he’s sporting. Surrounded by folks swathed in black or living in Stan Smith sneakers, Wellington, with his print-heavy dapper ensemble, looks a bit like a time capsule that’s landed in the middle of SoHo. (There’s even a bow tie!)
The professional jazz musician, born and raised in Harlem, is a truly rare vision in this day and age of high-tech fashion and athleisure. For the record, he doesn’t own a single pair of sweatpants (“I have one pair of jeans, and they’re Viktor & Rolf”). Here, he explains how it all came together.
Tell me about your look.
My day-to-day is a mix of modern things and old things. I love 1930s silhouettes, lots of broad shoulders—and I never leave the house without a tie and a jacket. I grew up dressing like this, a little wild and crazy. It just evolved over the years to be more specific.
How did you hone your look? Is someone in your family really into fashion?
My mom is really into fashion, and my grandmother was a seamstress to the British royalty that would come down to Jamaica. They would show her something in the latest Vogue and ask her to create it for them. I was always taught that you dress for who you want to be.
Who or what inspires your style?
Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Sammy Davis Jr., and lots of brands I respect, like Ralph Lauren and Vivienne Westwood. I love brands making menswear interesting, like Paul Stuart.
You were born and raised in New York City. How has that affected your fashion choices?
From style and attitude to the way we talk, New York has a huge affect on people who grew up here. We find inspiration as New Yorkers from a young age, and that continues throughout our older years. It’s just that kind of a city. It’s just in us; it’s just the way this city is.