Functionally Fly feat. Jason Andrew
As much as I love a story about an emerging menswear designer, style editor, or custom clothier, I find this one even more inspiring.
Jason Andrew doesn’t work in fashion, although people often assume he does based on his impeccable style and taste in menswear. Instead, he works in hospitals and the homes of sick people who need his help. He’s a speech pathologist with two degrees currently working on his doctorate who works with autistic children, cerebral palsy patients, and stroke victims who have difficulty speaking.
We first met Andrew at the Liberty Fairs show, where he stood out from the style crowd with one of the best outfits in the joint (check out #7). After the show we linked up on a cold and windy NYC day to share a little more about his style and story, and how the two interact.
ON LEARNING FROM LONDON
“I was raised in London. Early on I learned the foundations of menswear and the value of dressing well.
The first thing I learned was the importance of using clothes as a uniform to be taken seriously in a professional setting. After showing up to work in a ‘casual cool’ blazer-over- t-shirt, my first boss asked me: ‘Did you come to work today?’. He taught me that if you’re not carrying yourself a certain way (in this case, dressing in a proper shirt and tie) then you weren’t going to be ready for success or taken seriously by your patients/clients/peers.
When I came to NYC it seemed that everyone was more into sneakers, logos, and brands. There was little focus on fit or longevity of design – things that I learned were most important in London… Also in London the idea of mixing high-end with low-end is right there in your face. You have Asos and Topman right next to Selfridges and Savile Row. I found that the best-dressed men usually mixed and matched from both.”
Another classic London move: protecting fine leather shoes with rubber galoshes in the rain or snow.
“As a result of my athletic 6’4″ 240 lb frame I have difficulty finding the right fit off-the-rack. Mainly, the length of shirt sleeves (longest available is usually 35″, while I’m closer to 40″) and the fullness in the trousers in the thighs. For these reasons I have an affinity for brands like Club Monaco and other diffusions of Ralph Lauren, because they usually give enough allowance to let-out their garments at the tailor.
Once you find the right fit, in my opinion, style all comes back to function. It doesn’t make sense to have a necktie getting in the way when I’m feeding an old man who recently had a stroke, for example. And I might intimidate some of my south-side Jamaica Queens patients if I show up in a suit looking like a government agent… Knowing your audience and choosing clothing that is functional for your environment are the first keys to dressing for success.”
“Dressing well is about being a man and taking care of responsibilities. It’s about consistency and continuity in everything you do. Your style can make people trust you and believe in your ability as a professional…
Interestingly, though, it can also have the reverse effect. Going too hard, or being too flashy, can be off-putting in a professional setting (especially a medical setting). In some cases people might think that you take dressing too seriously, or that you care more about looking good than being a professional and performing at the highest level.
I see many different perspectives, because I work with young children as well as older patients and medical professionals. With children, style can convey authority and keep attention. Kids often think my style is “cool”, so they want to listen to me because they want to be like me. It’s an effective tool. However, I find that some of the more seasoned medical professionals in the hospital can be skeptical of an overly stylized outfit, as it if takes away from my focus or ability to do my job… It’s like the first-year Wall Street banker who shows up in the full Gordon Gekko kit, and gets sent home. In the workplace, some things have to be earned with age and experience.
In the end, what’s most important about dressing is knowing your audience, and your perception within that audience. Style is a very effective tool, but it’s up to you to use it to your advantage.”