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When it comes to sartorial matters, New York-based style expert and author David Coggins knows a thing or two. His written contributions on the art of men’s style and all that comes with it—tailoring, cologne, cars, sports, mustaches, drinking, fly fishing, among other topics—have appeared in a variety of publications including Esquire, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and Condé Nast Travel. In 2016, Coggins released his New York Times best-selling book, Men and Style—an exploration of masculine identity in the form of essays, artwork, and interviews with a variety of accomplished and irrefutably stylish subjects. More recently, the subject of manners has been top of mind, as can be seen in his latest book, Men and Manners: Essays, Advice and Considerations. “Gentlemen: It starts with each of us,” Coggins writes in the opening pages. “Let’s ask more of ourselves as men. Let’s live our lives fully; let’s show respect; let’s drink a martini, possibly at lunch. Let’s keep our perspective, take the long view and remember that how we treat others ultimately defines ourselves. Above all, act with dignity and smile.”

In the lead-up to his book signing event at the Todd Snyder store in Manhattan’s Flatiron district on Tuesday, July 24, we caught up with Coggins to discuss the essentials of summer dressing in NYC, the benefits of going sockless, and why Italians know best.   

Do New Yorkers have a uniform or way of dressing that is unique to the city? What to you defines NYC style?

David Coggins: New Yorkers, of course, are very diverse, and their sense of style is just as diverse. I think it’s defined by a certain attitude and individuality—and a sense of fearlessness that can be daring in an avant-garde sense or in a traditional sense. I think that range of style is what makes New York great.

Do you have a summer uniform? If so, what are your go-to items and what makes each one essential for summer dressing?  

DC: New York is seriously warm in the summer, so you need a strategy. I like soft, unstructured clothes. So, a white sportcoat is a good, easy way be seasonal.  Definitely advocate for socklessness from May to September, so a pair of low-key loafers is a good idea. And definitely a straw hat that you wear everyday—doesn’t have to be fancy, just wear it until it falls apart.

What packing advice would you give to a friend visiting NYC in the height of summer?

DC: One good sportcoat that’s cotton or linen and looks good with a wrinkle or two. A couple of Lacoste shirts are a good idea. Maybe some white bucks. You want to make an effort here! I always try to imagine what an older Italian man would wear to an easygoing lunch. They know how to relax in the heat.

In your opinion, what are the must-visit stores in downtown New York and what makes each one special?

DC: Drake’s is my favorite store. It’s on Crosby Street and it’s a terrific mix of tailored clothing, wonderful ties, and really good linen chore jackets. If you’re more of an avant-garde mindset then try Noah, one of the most relentlessly creative lines. The Armoury is for serious lovers of tailored clothing, they also carry a nice selection of Ring Jackets.

Which New York designer has really blown your mind recently? 

DC: I think Todd Snyder is doing really good work. His runway shows are always interesting and he’s smart enough to connect it to how men actually want to dress.

Can you tell us about your book Men and Style? What did you set out to achieve? What was the most valuable lesson learned along the way?

DC: Men and Style is about how interesting men arrived at their sense of who they are. What did they learn from their fathers, what mistakes did they make, and how did that all come together as they got older and hopefully wiser. It examines clothes, of course, but it’s really about sensibility. I interviewed more than 50 very accomplished men, so I learned a lot. One thing was that these men didn’t arrive in the world fully formed. It always takes time. I think too often we try to have all the answers all at once. But that’s not how most people are. If we always knew what was what then we wouldn’t be embarrassed about what we wore to prom.

What are you currently working on? Any exciting new projects that you can tell us about?

DC: I’ve got a new book out called Men and Manners. It’s not telling you which fork to use at a dinner party. Rather, it makes the case for trying to bring more dignity to the public realm and to try to be a more generous man. It’s lighthearted and hopefully funny. There are amazing illustrations by Christopher DeLorenzo, a wonderful illustrator and artist. I think the book speaks to our moment in time, where we’re trying to decide what customs are still worth following and which ones are outdated and need to evolve.

Can you tell us some of your favorite spots to…

Buy a classic shirt?

DC: I would try Drake’s, which I mentioned before. They’re famous for their ties and accessories. But the secret is that they make terrific oxford shirts. If you want to step into the deep end then head to the Charvet shop in Bergdorf Goodman. The Armoury has terrific shirts as well.

Pick up a gift for a friend?

DC: John Derian’s little empire on 2nd Street is very good for men and women. Three Lives bookstore in the West Village, right near where I live, is terrific.

Dine al fresco on a balmy summer night?   

DC: I would head to Via Carota, if you can get a table. They have terrific Italian food and a wonderful approach to wine and cocktails.

Take an out-of-town guest visiting for the day?

DC: I love going to see jazz at the Village Vanguard—it’s always a pleasure to be there. The Morgan Library is also a favorite. They have terrific shows there that are always more interesting than you expect.

Escape the heat without leaving New York?

DC: I like to go to matinees—the renovation of Quad Cinema was really great. And they’re adding a screen to Film Forum, which is re-opening on August 1. I’m very excited for that. They have always had terrific film series in the summer. Then I like to go to the Rusty Knot, the dive bar on the West Side Highway, and drink Campari and watch the sun go down.

Words Edwina Hagon

Photography Kat Irlin

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