‘Don’t just dress to not get arrested’ and other words of wardrobe wisdom from director Paul Feig

Tailor Mario Gonzales, left, marks director Paul Feig's Purple Label suit for alterations at the Ralph Lauren boutique in Beverly Hills recently. A self-described "wrinkle chaser," Feig says multiple fittings are key to getting a well-fitted suit.
Tailor Mario Gonzales, left, marks director Paul Feig’s Purple Label suit for alterations at the Ralph Lauren boutique in Beverly Hills recently. A self-described “wrinkle chaser,” Feig says multiple fittings are key to getting a well-fitted suit.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

It only took a few minutes with “Bridesmaids” and “A Simple Favor” director Paul Feig to realize how much of a serious stylephile he is. Maybe it’s because he showed up to a suit fitting at 1:30 p.m. on a Wednesday in August already dressed to the nines in a bespoke, pin-striped, double-breasted, peak-lapel suit from Anderson & Sheppard (which he was quick to point out is “basically the same cut that Prince Charles wears”), a custom-made French cuff dress shirt from Anto of Beverly Hills, a Tom Ford necktie, a floral Charvet boutonnière and a silk pocket square (also from Anderson & Sheppard).

Or maybe it’s because as he multi-tasked his way through a fitting, photo shoot and interview in the VIP room of the Beverly Hills Ralph Lauren boutique, where two of the brand’s Purple Label suits were being impeccably altered for the director, he whispered the words, “I’m in heaven!”

Below are some (non-whispered) words of wardrobe wisdom that the director lives by — and a few pointers for fashion neophytes looking to get their Feig on.

On fashion vs. style

“I like fashion but I don’t love fashion. I love style [and] I’m obsessed with style because style is timeless. Fashion is a very specific moment that can be chased away by the next moment, and style is just about your personal take on the world. … [And] it doesn’t matter what your style is. Just have a style. Don’t just dress to not get arrested.”

His advice for men

“Make it fun. Even though I love British tailoring, what I love more than anything is the Italian idea of sprezzatura — of looking good but having something amiss, something playful that says, ‘I’m not taking this seriously. I’m just trying to look my best.’”

Baby steps for beginners

“The ultra baby step would be to get a good sports jacket because you can wear it with jeans. But you should really push through and get a suit, something neutral like navy or gray. That way you can have a bunch of different ties and pocket silks, and even though you’re wearing the same suit every time, people will see it like it’s a different suit.”

About his penchant for purple

“I wear a lot of purple. I get all of my custom-made suits lined in purple, and when I was a kid, it was my favorite color. I think that’s because I had a bike — sort of like the [Schwinn] Orange Krate — that was purple. … That was way before I knew it was a color associated with royalty. I like rich colors.”

On what bothers him about bathrooms

“Do you know what there aren’t in [bathrooms]? ... coat hooks. I’ll go to the nicest restroom and will be like, ‘Are you kidding me? I have to hang my jacket on the back of the [stall] door and have it fall down?’ I’ll always go up to the management and say, ‘Your place is great, but until you get a hook in here …’ ”

On his menswear obsessions

“I’ve got 70 walking sticks that are all antique. I’m just obsessed with the old affectations. I always say that the next thing I’ll be wearing is a cape. One of my dreams in life is to go to [the Royal] Ascot [horse race] — to get a full morning suit tailored and go with the top hat and all that.”

On drinking out of proper glassware

“I’ve always loved the look of martinis — the [martini] glass is classic. … Most of my movies have a scene in a bar, and I’m always up-lighting the bottles and the glasses. Don’t drink if you’re going to drink out of plastic.”

On the importance of multiple suit fittings

“I’m what you’d call a ‘wrinkle chaser.’ I’ll go through three or four fittings on any suit. … I’ve got a few suits that I’ve been getting fitted for two years because they’re from Savile Row, and you have to actually be there — or wait for them to come here.”

On what he wouldn’t be caught dead in

“Most casual clothes to be quite honest. I like jeans but I just don’t look good in jeans. I wouldn’t wear sweatpants unless I was going to work out. And if I’m working out, I’ll put on a baseball cap. But the idea of wearing a baseball cap at any other time …” [Feig shuddered visibly.]

On overdressing

“Always overdress. I used to have this great guilt that if I showed up [somewhere] dressed nicely I’d make other people feel bad [about the way they were dressed]. But it’s not my job to police their feelings, and who knows? Maybe next time they’ll go, ‘You know what? I’m going to dress up too.’ ”

On his tailor, Mario Gonzales

“It took me years to find Mario. My tailor before him was actually Flora, who worked [at the Beverly Hills Ralph Lauren store], but you can’t really bring in your suits from someplace else. So I just sort of walked around without a tailor for years. And then my agent Bryan Lourd told me about Mario. Mario is Tom Ford’s tailor. When I found him, I felt like I found the missing piece of my puzzle.”

On one of the most memorable men’s runway shows he has seen

“I went to a bunch of shows once with [Esquire fashion director] Nick Sullivan, and the Thom Browne show was insane. There were these giant codpieces and stuff like that, and I remember thinking, ‘This is so cool!’ I was in awe. I bow down to that.”

For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me at @ARTschorn