Walé Soulade exudes the confidence of a man thoroughly comfortable in his skin as he walks into a room. “I feel more comfortable in a suit,” he explains. “When it fits well, it looks better, I look better and I’m more comfortable.” Whether heading to his job at the bank, going out with friends or simply running errands, Soulade knows how to dress for any occasion. He seems to be on to something that resonates with other men too. His “A Curated Man” Instagram account has over 18,000 followers, and he’s a five-time GQ Magazine “Best-Dressed Reader.”
Soulade attributes his blog’s initial success to friends who encouraged him to start sharing his perspective. “I’ve always been a fan of hand-tailored suits. Over the years, I built a wardrobe that includes core pieces with clean lines and a finished look that friends noticed,” he begins. “I was answering a friend’s fashion questions, and he stopped me and said, ‘You need to write this down; I don’t want to forget anything.’ It was the push I needed to start my blog,” which features classic men’s looks with an updated, urban sensibility and a focus on quality and fit.
During the interview, he’s dressed in a casual earth-tone suit with a camouflage shirt, olive pocket square and structured dark leather sandals. The look represents the relaxed but put-together style he sees popping up all over St. Louis. “We’re in a good position to re-establish the city in men’s fashion; we have a history of being an important city in the industry,” he says, adding that 5 percent of his followers are from St. Louis. “That’s actually a substantial number of men in this city who are ready to take their personal style up a notch.”
For Soulade, who was born in Nigeria and gleaned an interest in fashion while watching his father dress in the mornings, living in St. Louis is filled with possibility: It offers him a chance to explore his fashion sense and love of travel and still return to a hometown that is vibrant and culturally accessible. “Anyone who spends time in St. Louis needs to hang out on Cherokee Street and really get to know the neighborhood,” he explains with enthusiasm. “It’s the full spectrum — a perfect example of the way diversity and creativity can work together to create a vibrant, thriving community.” As the father of a 10-month-old daughter, he’s also enthusiastic about the number of free, low-cost and family-friendly attractions and cultural events in St. Louis. And while he mentions that Kansas City has made strides in the fashion industry recently, he believes St. Louis is poised for its own fashion renaissance. “We are seeing a lot of young professionals moving to St. Louis, and fashion is a big part of that picture,” he notes.
Though Soulade advocates spending money on quality tailored suits, clothing and shoes, he emphasizes that creating personal style and building your wardrobe is a long-term project that doesn’t require a substantial initial investment. The objective is to fill your closet with pieces that will last. You don’t need to start with a custom suit, but you should have your suits tailored to fit. “An off-the-rack suit may cost you a couple hundred dollars. Once it’s fitted, it can look like a thousand, and you’ll feel like a million.” Soulade specifically mentions local tailor Daniel Morgan: “He’s one of the best fit tailors anywhere,” then adds designers Mark and Marlon Austin as St. Louis ateliers to turn to for that first made-to-order suit.
“Your closet is the perfect starting point for developing your own style,” Soulade says. “What do you have? Does it fit? Most men don’t get their suits fitted — and most men aren’t sample size — so the difference is remarkable.” He also encourages guys to go into menswear stores and try things on to get a feel for different materials and how they wear. “Start simple; build smart. Don’t spend $800 on shoes, or thousands on a suit, for the label; spend your money on quality and fit. Seek out local craftsmen and designers that understand you and can help you express your personality through your choices.” St. Louis is a great place to build sartorial perfection. You can find examples and a good starting point at the “Reigning Men” exhibit currently at the Saint Louis Art Museum, and you can always follow hometown style guide “A Curated Man” for inspiration. M