Phoenix native Andrew Wesson -- or as he's known in fashion, Andrew Michael -- says he didn't come into his own style until he left the city.
Now that he's back, the 26-year-old stylist is ready to make a big impact.
Wesson's moved around a lot. During his undergrad in Boston, Wesson interned with designer Zac Posen, an experience he calls "a dream come true." The opportunity to be behind the scenes during New York Fashion Week taught him that while fashion is glamorous, it's also a lot of work.
Another internship with designer Ronald Shamask put Wesson on the production side of things. "I helped create the color story for one of his lines. I'd go to the fabric store and help with picking swatches. At first I was really nervous, but he actually liked what I picked out. He told me I had a great eye and was going to go far."
Shamask was right. More recently, Wesson has worked with brands like Thriftqueened and has taken his expertise to L.A. Fashion Week. Now, with his image-consulting company, The Look by Andrew Michael, in its beginning stages, he hopes to make an impact here in Phoenix.
"In order to be successful, you have to brand yourself," he says. "Surviving on your résumé alone is not enough. You need to build your empire, and imaging is part of that.
"Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the country, and for us to only be three cities behind L.A. and four behind New York in size and for our fashion scene to be what it is now is sort of embarrassing. We're so close! We should have no excuse."
For styling inspiration, Wesson turns to old Janet Jackson, Cameo, or Chaka Khan videos. He is also a big believer of mixing high-end and low-end pieces to create a great look.
"Growing up, people used to think I had money cause of how I dressed," Wesson says, "But it's all about how you carry yourself."
That, he says, is the main thing he wants to teach people through The Look.
"Money doesn't make you fabulous! It's not about the money. It's about the look. That's people's first impression, so you have to come correct!"
What are you wearing? Levi's, Zara shoes, a shirt from H&M, thrifted blazer, and a pocket square from Topman
What was the last item of clothing you bought? I got these Zara shoes last week.
Where do you usually shop? I'm a big online shopper. Zara is one of my favorite stores. It's sort of hard to shop in Arizona, but no matter what city I'm in, I love thrift stores.
Name 5 items every man should have in his closet. 1) Dark dress socks 2) Blazers as a staple dress-up piece 3) Bow ties (but not pre-tied) 4) Good denim without any white stitching 5) Loafers or a nice pair of dress shoes
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What's one fashion trend you can't stand? I'm not a fan of the Ed Hardy look. The print Ts with bedazzling . . . I can't stand it. I thought that went out of style, but I was mistaken. Basic is the best. Keep it simple and you'll always look great.
Give us a childhood memory of you and clothes. Every school year, I always had new outfits for my first five days. I was a little spoiled. I always knew that first week of school would be fun. For that first week, I was going to look my best.
What is your one piece of fashion advice for Phoenix? Keep it simple and keep it stylish. The idea of "simple" out here seems to be a struggle. People think it means jeans, a T-shirt, and flip-flops, and I'd like to help turn that around. What I mean is to keep it tasteful.