DC is a fickle town when it comes to men’s fashion. In New York and Los Angeles, fashion-forward clothing is a mark of success. Here, it’s all about striking the right balance – if an outfit seems too young or flashy, coworkers (and bosses) will question the dedication and seriousness of the wearer. This is a working town, after all, dominated by two industries: politics and tourism.
Ean Williams is an expert in navigating the subtleties of getting dressed. A former non-commissioned Air Force intelligence officer and NASA engineer, Williams is perhaps best known locally for launching DC Fashion Week more than 20 years ago. From September 21-25, the District will be the place to see the work of some of the best designers in the industry. What started as a way to promote Williams’ menswear line, Corjor International, DC Fashion Week has become a sensation in the city and overseas.
“People were thirsty for this platform,” he says, noting that last year’s menswear show sold out.
It’s an opportunity for designers from around the world to present their work, while fashionistas who may not get the best seats at fashion weeks in New York, Milan or Paris can get up close and personal with the latest looks.
Williams partially credits his parents with his interest in fashion.
“My mom was always stylish, and my dad was flashy,” he says, clearly proud of his family.
He spent most of his youth in Memphis by way of St. Louis and Chicago.
“I would describe myself as having Southern style. I always liked to be trendy and stand out.”
Even while in the military, where clothing options were limited, Williams paid attention to his look through grooming. He’s happy that more men are comfortable getting manicures and pedicures these days.
He adds, “Men in DC have more choices than they did, say, 12 years ago.”
A beautifully tailored suit is standard, but guys can add a pop of color and whimsy with printed socks and vibrant pocket squares. The designer has a few words of advice: coordinate the width of the tie to the width of the lapel, stick to flat-front trousers and never wear sandals with socks (no matter what the runway tells you).
“It’s okay to study the trends, but it doesn’t always work.”
Fit and comfort are the golden rules – and by comfort, he means what makes the wearer feel good.
So what are some of the trends Williams does embrace? Rich colors like emerald green and coral, Cuban collars, and bold accessories like jewelry are all on his list. Above all, when dressing for work, he says to “take your cues from management.” If management dresses conservatively, save the trendy stuff for leisure time.