This exclusive interview with noted author and style journalist Bernhard Roetzel by Nicola Linza of Manner of Man and Cristoffer Neljesjö of Welldressed was conducted in Germany April 2010.
Q: How often do you follow the different rules in classic style?
A: Today I've followed 23 rules 75 times while yesterday I broke eight rules seven times. I'm only joking. In think the rules of classic are important but I never follow rules if they don't make sense. Most rules make sense or have made sense at a certain time. I don't like the rule about leaving the last button of the waistcoat unbuttoned because 1. It doesn't look good and 2. I wouldn't leave a button of my fly unbuttoned either. It's good to update some rules or adapt them to one's personal circumstances. I don't think that the world stops turning if you wear brown shoes after six in Germany.
Q: What is the biggest mistake you see men making today as regards clothing and/or grooming?
A: It has always been seen as a mistake if a 40-year-old man tries to dress like a twenty something. I notice today that many men of 40 dress like 8 or 12 year olds. When I bring my seven-year-old daughter to school, I'm the only man who doesn't wear sneakers, baseball cap and sweat shirt. I never wear suit and tie at that time of the day but even in a v-neck, corduroy, brogues and a raincoat I look like an alien. I think it is not good for children if their parents and all other grown ups dress like themselves. The worst mistake in grooming is to shave one's eyebrows in the shape of a fine line.
Q: What do you think men should think about when buying a suit?
A: The occasion that they need the suit for. The amount of time that they will spend in it. The way they want to be perceived by others in that suit.
Q: If you could go back to any era, which would it be? Moreover, why would you prefer that particular era?
A: I wouldn't prefer any other era. I am very happy to live today although some people would say that I don't live today but rather in the past. I don't believe in romantic ideas about the 18th century or the 19th century or the 1920s being so much more elegant than today etc. I think it's a waste of time to wish yourself to another time.
Q: What is are your primary concerns when approaching the concept for a new book for men?
A: The more I learn about style and fashion and the more I learn about life and what really counts in this world the more difficult I find it write about style and fashion in a way that respects the reader and my own views. Apart from that, I always try to give a light tone to the subject. This is especially difficult as we Germans are usually rather heavy on every subject.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: Conservative in the true sense of the word. I like to stick to things that I like without being one-dimensional (hopefully). Others would probably call me old fashioned or even anachronistic and if they think so that's okay. Not because I'm arrogant but because the older I get the more I realize how relative a certain way of dressing is if you look at it from a distance. In other cultures, I would wear something completely different and I would laugh at these guys in their suits and ties. Moreover, one must never forget that we enter this world naked and we will leave it the same way.
The above interview with Bernhard Roetzel 2010 © Manner of Man Magazine/Welldressed. All rights reserved. Reproduction is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.