Smart casual looks right at home in NYC: Part of our “Young Professionals in the Workplace” Series
Photo: Courtesy of Sho Matsuzaki.
Over the years, Epic Mens has devoted a considerable amount of editorial space to bringing you the latest news from our premium menswear brands. Now, we’re turning the tables. We want to hear how you and your fashion-forward brethren across the country are styling both classic and trendier pieces to suit your workday needs. This month, we caught up with Sho Matsuzaki, an art director at a NYC advertising agency, whose wardrobe has to be versatile enough to handle a wide-ranging set of workplace situations and responsibilities.
How would you describe the nature of your work and your workplace?
I’m in charge of all the visual components of any ad I conceptualize and produce, ranging from retouching a print ad to overseeing a TV shoot. My workplace is quiet enough that you can focus, but not so stiff that you can’t mess around with coworkers. We have an open desk layout, with a communal cafeteria where people meet to eat together or discuss work.
Is there a written (or unwritten) dress code?
The unwritten dress code at a creative agency is interesting, since both business- and creative-oriented roles share the same space. Business teams that interact daily with clients typically wear business casual, while behind-the-scene creative types wear whatever they want. In fact, for those on the creative side, wearing something unique or unexpected often increases the value others place on their opinions. I, myself, tend to wear more neutral clothing, swapping shoes for slippers when I’m at my desk so I can be more comfortable while working.
What’s your typical workday outfit look like?
My typical outfit can vary from an untucked button-down shirt and leather shoes to borderline gym clothes. I try to look more put together when I present to clients, but most often my priorities are comfort and creativity. I tend to wear muted colors in general, which is more just a reflection of my own personality than anything else.
How do you handle cold weather challenges?
I’m a strong proponent of layering. My company resides in the same building as a major bank, so most people wear heavy suits. As a result, the building’s thermostat is always set very low. I often wear a sweater indoors and even have a blanket at my desk for when things get particularly chilly.
If you accessorize, do you choose your extras based on function or fashion?
My look is quite minimal. I almost never accessorize. However, I do enjoy wearing socks with interesting and/or funny designs. There’s something about wearing an outfit with at least one loud aspect to it that I find appealing, even if that aspect is not readily visible to others.
What do you carry all your stuff in?
I have a minimalist black backpack that can carry my laptop, charger, and gym clothes. That’s pretty much all I need. When I don’t have to bring my work home, I often don’t carry anything at all.
When you leave work for the day to head out for dinner or drinks with friends, does what you wore during the day suffice or do you change things up?
What I wear at work almost always suffices for whatever I’m doing after work. If anything, my evening plans – whether it’s going out with friends or exercising – dictate what I wear to work.
If you had to name two items in your closet that you couldn’t do without, what would they be?
Skinny black khakis and a pair of white sneakers.
Conversely, what is the one item of clothing you wouldn’t be caught dead wearing?
Anything bright red.
On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is fashion in your life? Do you have a particular style?
Fashion is probably about a 7 in my life. I care, but not enough to spend a ton of money on it. In one word, my style is minimal.
Lastly, who or what influences you the most when it comes to your choice of clothing?
If I had to pick a single influence, it would probably be Hiroki Nakamura, the founder of Visvim. His use of muted colors, relaxed-fit silhouettes, and subtle Japanese influence really appeals to me. But I’ll never have enough money to buy his clothes.