How to Be Stylish: Nautica VP Talks American Sportswear

Having good taste and impeccable style doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes, it takes learning from the best in the industry to truly perfect dressing like a fashion-forward, modern man. Welcome to our series, How to Be Stylish, where we pick the brains of some of the most respected figures in fashion for their ultimate style tips.

There are very few American brands that can withstand the test of time while remaining completely covetable. However, with over three decades under its stylish belt, Nautica has managed to be forever water-inspired, preppy, and culturally relevant. And at the helm of the brand’s menswear department is Steve McSween, Nautica’s vice president of global men’s design. No stranger to American sportswear, McSween has had design gigs at big brands such as Gap and Club Monaco before moving to Nautica in 2014. Here, we pick McSween’s brain about pieces every fashion-forward guy should own and how he keeps the brand modern.

Steve McSween

Steve McSween | Source: Nautica

The Cheat Sheet: How would you describe the Nautica man?

Steve McSween: The Nautica man cares deeply about style and likes to dress appropriately for all occasions. He is driven, self-confident, action-oriented, and likes to take charge of his days, goals, and aspirations.

CS: Whether getting dressed yourself or leading the Nautica team, what’s the one style rule you always follow?

SM: Be comfortable in your style, but find one that is pulled together.

CS: What is the one thing that every stylish man should invest in?

SM: I’m old school with the idea of a handsome timepiece. A story usually accompanies a man’s wrist choice providing an heirloom element worthy of handing down.

CS: What are five things every modern man needs in his closet?

SM: [First], raw denim jean – broken-in and sculpted by your body, it goes with everything and anything. [Next is a] high quality cashmere sweater: the yarn will provide you with warmth, [plus the] finish works for any occasion when you want the comfort of a sweatshirt. [Third,] a technical parka. Every man should have a stylish answer to braving the standard elements of the city. Paired with a suit or a cardigan, the parka continues to find adaptability for the style conscious. A chambray button front [is] easy to pair with a tie for higher stakes or rolled up and easy for a quintessential laid-back look. [Last], a navy and white striped knit. Take your pick: crew neck, shoulder-buttoned, short sleeved, knit collar, etc. Any will do to bring a classic pattern to any outfit.

Nautica apparel

A Nautica jacket | Source: Nautica

CS: After over 30 years, how do you keep the brand and its designs modern and fashion-forward while remaining true to its nautical aesthetic?

SM: With every style, we are continually thinking how a savvy guy needs his garments to perform for him. This is not only from a technical position, but also a style driven aesthetic. He needs more from a nautical brand than a sailing jacket. We are striving to outfit him for his nine to five, but also have him convert that outfit to going out after work.

CS: Where do you see Nautica five years from now?

SM: I believe that Nautica will continue to evolve with an ever-changing market, and will continue to gain more consumers by bringing an urgency to our brand messaging and covetable product.

Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs