Along with working at our Streets of Georgetown store, Grant Harris is Owner and Chief Style Consultant at Image Granted, LLC, a Washington DC based image consulting company. He paid us a visit to the Hickey Freeman headquarters in NYC last week, where we learned about the unique challenges of dressing the men of Capitol Hill.
I graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 2006 and I got a corporate military job in recruiting. I got into government contracting, and while I was in the corporate world, I stumbled into fashion.
In my first business, I was selling activewear online, because I was a football player. I went onto the next opportunity and owned a chain of vending machines in the DC and Maryland area. I did that for two years, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do long term. I knew I had the entrepreneurial spirit, but I wanted to do something I loved and was passionate about.
I did an internship with a custom clothier—it was a virtual internship at a place called A Tailored Suit in the Midwest. That’s where I got my indoctrination into classic men’s style, body shapes and body types, and social media and blogging. I always like to write, so blogging actually came rather naturally.
In the fall of 2009 I launched the blog and it quickly gained some notoriety. Time magazine came knocking on the door, and I did an interview with CNN magazine and Black Enterprise. Now, three to four years down the road, I’ve upgraded my presence. Serving the individual customer will always be a part of my job as an image consultant, but I want to be able to reach a more global market than that. I’ve evolved from just serving an individual man to being a voice, a resource.
People ask me, “who do you dress?” Well, you wouldn’t know them because they’re just regular guys. They go to work every day. I would rather be the resource for the regular guy who has to go to work every day and date and live a regular life. Fortunately, through this collaboration and being in the store [Streets of Georgetown at 1254 Wisconsin Ave NW], I have the best of both worlds. This is the first time in my professional career that my “9 to 5” and my entrepreneurship have meshed.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Being able to educate, being able to enlighten. I don’t like being in a position where you just a machine, I need a suit or I need a shirt just so I can have it on my back. I need a suit and I need a shirt, why? How? What’s the event, what’s the occasion, what is this part in your life, why are you looking to go this way? It’s the interactive process for me.
That’s why I write and I blog the way that I do. I prefer to say look at this, I’m going to give you my opinion, you can form your opinion, then we can discuss both opinions
How do you choose what you’re going to wear in the morning?
I tell guys this in consultations; don’t wait the morning of to get dressed. You’re rushed and you’re on a tight schedule. That’s how you end up wearing one black sock and one navy sock. I pick out my clothes the evening before.
I don’t have a set routine, I’ll stand in my closet and stare at it. When I’m standing there, something will pop out: a shirt, a tie. Sometime it’s very short, a few minutes, and I’m good to go. But I won’t leave until I have something.
What does your closet look like?
I have several closets. In the main closet, I have a shelf with many sweaters. It is organized—I could get dressed in the dark. That is no exaggeration because I literally got dressed in the dark being in a military environment.
I have tie racks and tie hangers, my pants on trouser hangers, shirts, ties, belts. Then suits and jackets. On the bottom, shoes. I keep all my shoes in the box I purchased them in or in shoe bags. They all have shoe trees.
The other closet has more jackets, vests, layering pieces, scarves, hats, gloves. My third closet which is in my foyer is my outerwear closet, with all my outerwear, top coats, overcoats, rain gear, my workout sneakers, galoshes. My drawers are set up very similar to my closet. My sock drawer takes up the majority of my space. I’m a sock guy.
Everything is color coordinated and then everything is seasonally coordinated. Shirts are white, blue and then colors from there. Even within the colors its solid, striped, check, I try to keep it that way. Then the sweaters are the same. They’re by color: whites, blues, reds, oranges, all the way across. I keep it symmetrical and organized that way. Then when I’m standing in it, it helps me out.
How would you say DC style is unique?
DC is one of the last suit-wearing towns in the country. In DC you’re expected to wear a suit. That suit falls into one of three ranges: some type of blue, some type of gray, then black for formal. Overall, the thinking is different in DC, it’s very utilitarian. “I need a suit because I work on the Hill.” In New York, it’s, “I want a suit because I want to wear one and I would wear one even if my job didn’t require it.”
DC is different from New York in a good way in that they are not concerned with the trend, the show, who did what, what collaboration—they’re not concerned with consumption. That’s good to an extent, but they don’t change their style. They just want to stay with what they were wearing when they were 25. Even though they’re different men when they’re 45, they don’t want to change.
What is your favorite place to shop?
I am a vintage guy. I like buying stuff that other people have worn and beaten in, it’s like buying a used car. In DC, GoodWood is great for furniture, old Woolrich buffalo plaid jackets, Levi’s trucker jackets, Bean boots. Dr. K’s has every kind of leather jacket you want.
What inspires you to dress?
I’ve always been brought up to look clean and put-together. I grew up tucking my shirt in and tying my shoes. It was instilled in me from an early age. Being in the military environment, being around officers and cadets that was the way you looked, things were lined up, things were straight. I’m not big into celebrities. I take my inspiration from real people.