Marcus Hawley’s Durham-based Natty Neckware business grew from one of Hawley’s early efforts to assert his sense of personal style.
Hawley became interested in bow ties after college in 2010, but they were harder to find then, and the ones he did find were either a tad too formal or way too expensive. So he found some fabric he liked (cotton, with a fun print), picked out a pattern and asked his mom to help him make one. They worked together tweaking the pattern until he had it just the way he wanted it – a style that is cut a little larger than most.
That first tie was a hit. Whenever he wore it, people asked about it. Hawley made more ties, selling them at craft shows and later through his online site, nattyneckware.com. He took the business full-time in 2011.
“Personal style has always been really big for me and I notice it on other people,” Hawley says. “Even if it’s something I wouldn’t wear, I respect it. If a person has green hair – I respect it. I see you and your style before I know you or talk to you, so you tell me a little about yourself before I even know who you are.”
Hawley’s DIY commitment to fashion is just one reason we asked him to share his summer wish list with us – a list that reflects his own dapper style.
White short-sleeved shirt
Hawley loves white for its classic appeal and versatility. “It’s simple, it goes with absolutely everything and gives a crisp, clean look.” There was a time when fashionable men wouldn’t be caught dead in a short-sleeved button-up shirt, but that has changed, he says. “They are definitely back in style. A nice cut – a slimmer cut if your body can do that – looks nice.” If you prefer a T-shirt, Hawley says a nice white V-neck is a good casual look.
Chinos are a staple of most men’s closets, but Hawley likes to break out some color for summer. “Chinos go with everything and give you versatility across the board, and the pastels and muted colors give them a lighter feel for the summer. The colors are really fun.” Pair chinos with a T-shirt for a casual look or dress them up with a button-up shirt and maybe even a blazer. Speaking of a blazer ...
“You want to have that one blazer for when you need to be a little more dressy. It gives your outfit a more elevated look.” For summer, select a sports coat that is unlined, so you’ll be cooler. You can dress up with the chinos or dress pants, or dress down with jeans. And go for blue: “Blue is a classic color that goes with a bunch.”
Hawley loves a pocket square because it distinguishes you from every other guy walking around out there in a blazer. “If I see a guy and he has on his summer blazer, that’s cool. But if that guy also has a pocket square, even a white one, it adds extra detail or a pop of color. It says, ‘I care a little bit more about my look.’” The same can be achieved with a colorful lapel pin.
If you see Hawley in the summer, odds are he’ll be sporting a pair of Tom’s slip-ons. He especially loves (and owns and wears) the burlap style. “I have like five pairs of Toms. I think they have a great mission, and they’re very comfortable and versatile.” Wear them without socks or with no-show socks. They look great with everything – shorts, chinos or jeans. If you need a more formal summer option, Hawley likes a nice leather loafer, like Cole Haan’s Willet loafer in British tan. He says a nice leather sandal is also OK, just make sure your feet look good.
A big part of having a distinctive style is about having confidence, says Hawley. In that vein, he’s working himself up to a summer fedora. “Fedoras are a style statement. They say, ‘This is who I am.’ I’m going to get one – I’ve been looking ... I just have to get confident. But I’m definitely going to get one.” For summer, go for straw, of course. And in addition to making you stand out, it’ll protect your head and face from the sun. Make sure you have a stylish pair of UV sunglasses to complete the look.
Style philosophy: You want to step outside the box but feel comfortable and confident in what you wear. I like to pair classic, timeless pieces with trendy accessories.
More info: nattyneckware.com