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 new 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 — looking damn good while 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.
You could say that cars have always been a part of Volkswagen Group head of exterior design JC Pavone’s life — he was even drawing them for fun at the ripe age of 5 years old. Born and raised in Sao Paolo, Brazil, he read a newspaper article about the career of an automobile designer, featuring the then-chief designer of the Volkswagen Design Studio in Brazil, when he was 12.
Inspired by what he read, he put together a few of his sketches with the help of his father and sent them to the designer who was all too willing to provide the precocious Pavone with more tips and advice. Call it kismet, but 10 years later, Pavone had his own job on the Volkswagen design team.
All that to say, Pavone now lives a turbocharged life in the fast lane, and his fashion follows suit. Flexing his versatile style cred, he dresses for every twist and turn in the road. Here’s what he had to say about designing the latest sets of shiny wheels and his own personal wardrobe.
The Cheat Sheet: What do you love most about your job?
JC Pavone: I love the process of designing cars — from the simplest task of grabbing a pencil and putting down some ideas, to the moment we finish a full-size clay model that’s fully painted and finished. But, ultimately, I love the fact that we have to improve ourselves every day and find new ideas, new concepts, and look much further forward in order to find the right answers. Every day is different for a car designer.
CS: Favorite part of your 9-to-5 day?
JP: I actually like driving from home to work early in the morning. Going to the design studio makes me feel like my son going to a playground. I am more productive before 9, when there are not so many people around me, and I can fully concentrate on individual tasks. During the day I am more involved with my team, some meetings, and also design reviews.
CS: How do you define your personal style?
JP: I think my style is very simple and fits the work I do and the responsibilities I have. I believe each outfit has a message; it might be a sporty, smart, or sharp message — or something else entirely — but it has to make sense for the wearer and the situation. I like super-fitted blazers, skinny jeans, and light color shirts. I also like dress shoes, but I really love sneakers that have some history or that are meaningful to me — a few Air Max 90s I used to wear when I was 13 were just re-launched. Ultimately, proportion is everything for me. I am a shorter guy (I’m 5’6”), so I have to be extra careful when it comes to finding clothes that won’t make me look any smaller, but instead make me feel smart and confident. The day I learned that, everything became easier for me.
CS: How do you view the relationship between your clothes and your career?
JP: I see a very strong relationship between clothing and car design. For example: Cars have different niches, sizes, purposes, and proportions — just like the human body. You don’t find only slim and tall people on the road as you would see on a catwalk. In the same way, car designers don’t get to only design sports cars such as Porsches and Lamborghinis. We have challenges; we have to find the best dress (i.e., silhouette, shapes, lines, and colors) for a car that sometimes doesn’t have the most attractive proportions, but is a more functional vehicle instead. However, it still has to look good. I personally have my own challenges dealing with my style, but I put some effort on paying attention to proportions to find the best result.
CS: Do you believe that success and good style go hand-in-hand?
JP: When there is a combination of success and good style, the whole picture looks really good — most of the time. However, I have seen many successful people who are completely without interest or care for their own style. Unfortunately, it’s just a missed opportunity for them to express their personality.
CS: Best career advice you’ve received?
JP: Design is 90 percent hard work, and 10 percent inspiration. Never stop sketching.
CS: Best style advice you’ve received?
JP: It’s all about harmony and proportions.