Behind every great man is a great … wardrobe. Yes, it’s true — at least when it comes to the handsomely clad, professionally accomplished chaps in our series, Dress for the Job You Want, which profiles more than a few good men who have proven that success is an equation of both substance and style.
They’ve cut their teeth in the fashion industry, climbed the corporate ladder, created their own companies, and conjured plenty of new ideas — and have looked damn good doing it. For these guys, dressing for the occasion is simply part of the gig.
But you don’t have to be a fully suited, buttoned-up show-off to stake your claim in the game, as suave subtlety often wins in the end. And, with our apologies to Mark Twain, it takes a lot more than just clothes to make the man. However, a good sartorial statement can go a long way when it comes to charting your career course.
Carlos Alvarado, lead grooming merchant of Birchbox Man, says he can “talk your ear off” about the differences between 10 different types of moisturizers or the “millions of benefits” of using a night cream before bed. But he also has quite the fashion vocabulary. So when he’s not testing out an endless supply of grooming and lifestyle brands from around the world, you may just find him experimenting with new sartorial essentials and accessories — and having plenty of fun while he’s at it.
For Alvarado, good style is simply an extension of success. While he jokingly admits that you can be super successful and wear sweatpants all day, why in the world would you want to? Here’s what he had to say.
The Cheat Sheet: What is your background and what led you to your current profession?
Carlos Alvarado: My background was originally in advertising. I worked at several big, global agencies with some incredible clients. But when the opportunity arose to become a buyer for men’s grooming at Birchbox, it was something I couldn’t turn down.
CS: How do you define your personal style?
CA: My personal style is based on aspiration. I dress for how I want to feel, depending on the day of the week. I always want to start my week off strong and do whatever I can to elevate what I wear. So, for example, I would choose chinos over jeans or nice dress boots over casual sneakers.
CS: Why should all guys care about their personal style?
CA: Guys should care about their personal style because it does wonders for your mood and self-esteem. Whether you’re dressing up or dressing down, there’s nothing like the incredible feeling of selecting the perfect outfit and feeling absolutely comfortable in what you’re wearing.
CS: Any workday fashion essentials?
CA: The beauty of working at Birchbox is that we are given full control of what we wear. Dress codes are non-existent here. This gives me the opportunity to try out new looks. Some new essentials for me include add-on pieces that tweak my outfit a bit, such as a scarf, a tailored coat, or a colorful blazer.
CS: How do you view the relationship between your clothes and your career?
CA: As I’ve progressed in my career, I can now invest more in my clothes, which is a huge bonus. It’s so true what is said about spending more on higher quality, timeless clothes. They do last much longer and you really do get the most bang for your buck.
CS: Why do you think it’s important to dress nicely?
CA: Dressing nicely frames how people — friends, co-workers, whoever — perceive you. People who dress well exude a sense of confidence and know-how. Because they are willing to invest time in their appearance, the perception follows that they would do the same in other areas.
CS: Where do you like to spend your off-duty hours?
CA: Outside of shopping, I have been spending more time at the gym [Equinox] than I have before. It’s incredible to see how much effort people are putting into their workout clothes to create a better training experience — both physically and emotionally. I’m so glad to see brands placing an emphasis on performance when it comes to athletic apparel.
CS: Best career advice you’ve received?
CA: Be nice to everyone you meet because you never know when that person will come back in your life. It’s insane, especially in New York City, how many people from the early part of my career have reappeared in my life. I can’t imagine how it would have worked out if we didn’t leave on good terms the last time around.
CS: Best style advice you’ve received?
CA: Fit is key. You can have the most amazing pattern or design for a piece of clothing, but if it doesn’t fit well, you completely lose out on looking and feeling great.
CS: What are your “style cheats”?
CA: Stock up on basics like T-shirts in different colors, jeans and chinos. Then you can mix and match all of these pieces with different button downs, sweaters, and jackets. Think of the basics as the foundation of your style and then use other pieces to provide some sort of variety every week.