Well-Groomed Engagement: Build on the Basics

This groom talks lumberjacks, pompadours, and American Gothic as he shares how he created two distinct looks from a foundation of black jeans, a black shirt, and white belt.
Well-Groomed | W-G Engagement: Build on the Basics (images: Blest Photography)

Well-Groomed: How would you describe your style?

Justin: Ah, my styleI guess it would be something along the lines of an “edgy distinguished classy hipster”. Clothing that is comfortable is a must. Besides checking out the men’s fashion section on Pinterest from time to time, I don’t pay much attention to trends. If I find something that I do like, an example being TOMS shoes, I snag multiple pairs. 
Well-Groomed | W-G Engagement: Build on the Basics (images: Blest Photography)

Well-Groomed | W-G Engagement: Build on the Basics (images: Blest Photography)
W-G: You created two distinct looks by layering tops over a black shirt, black jeans, and white belt. That alone is a great graphic starting point. What pieces did you add to the first look to transform the basics?

J: The first shoot we did was at an upscale bar in Chapel Hill called the Crunkelton. Lauren went with a ritzier look with her dress, leaving me with the choice to go a bit dapper. Now I don’t know if I’m going through a Johnny Cash phase or what, but black is and will always be cool. And like I stated earlier I’m a burly guy, so the black gives me a slimming look. I liked the grey plaid [the vest] had, which I felt complemented the purple and light blue bow tie. I suppose my one flashy wardrobe choice was the red TOMS, but I think shoes are the one accessory that you can take a bit of a risk with. Obviously it worked here.

W-G: Your second look was a bold choice. Red and black can be hard enough to manage tastefully, but you also added in a pattern. Do you typically go for intense colors, or did you choose this for the occasion?

J: The outdoor shoot was at an eclectic place called the Last Unicorn in Chapel Hill. For the longest time I stayed away from [red] because I had the feeling that it clashed with my hair, but things changed when I found this badass shirt. Haha. I decided to ditch the tie and opted for black suspenders instead, while sticking with TOMS as my shoe choice. I think the shirt worked well with the location and with what Lauren had on. The Last Unicorn is a place where you have metal sculptures out in the middle of the woods. Two things that clearly don’t seem to fit together. I really dug that vibe. It also had the feeling of seclusion which put me in the mind of a frontier type setting. It’s not hard to see me in this shoot as a” new age type lumberjack”. Put me alongside my “skull and tutu” soon-to-be wife and I believe we captured a hodgepodge of themes. We’re the new American Gothic minus the hayfork. 



W-G: Lots of grooms get pressure to axe the beard when wedding time rolls around, but yours looks great. What grooming products do you use?

J: This might sound a little vain, but I do take pride in my hair and beard. Growing up a ginger, I hated the constant Andy Griffith “Opie” references. But now the hair is truly part of my identity. I’ve even recently started going to beard and mustache competitions in the last few months. It’s my new lazy man hobby. When I did this shoot I just had my hair cut into a pompadour like style. I went with a pretty classic look where I really wanted to show lines and symmetry. Here I was using Murray’s Hair Pomade, and let me tell you this stuff is serious. It’s meant more for ethnic hair, but a lot of white guys swear by it. It makes your hair pretty much stay in whatever position you want it to. However it is a pain to get out. Plan on washing your hair multiple times before the petroleum rinses completely out. The beard and 'stache get a lot of attention. I won’t go through my entire process for you, but I’ll name the product that I use. Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap for washing. Some jojoba oil for a healthy shine, and Clubman mustache wax for the curls. All that and just combing and primping. It’s sad to say, but I probably spend more time in front of the mirror than my wife.

W-G: Your two looks are very different, yet work together well. What tips do you have for grooms to easily incorporate several looks into their e-shoot?

J: Advice for grooms? Talk to your woman. Whatever she has in mind it’s a good idea to play off her ideas. Lauren understands that I have my own certain style and preferences, so she knows that I would have never been down for an ultra-conservative look. Thank God neither would she! But communication between the two of you is key to knowing what you’re both trying to achieve in your pics. I can’t overstate the fact that if you’re in something that makes you feel comfortable and sophisticated it’s going to show on film. This is why it’s so important to listen to your photographer. Now all the clothing was mine, but our photographers encouraged us to bring a couple different outfits to each shoot just to try different things. I had no idea what was expected at an e-shoot, but Cole and Ashley definitely helped me in this area. Most importantly, though is to enjoy this time with your partner. Time will fly by and the next thing you know you’re walking down the aisle getting hitched. What I’m trying to drive home is to just enjoy the entire process.

Thanks for sharing your style with us, Justin! And thanks for the great pics, Cole and Ashley!

images: Blest Photography

look 1: Gap shirt, John Varvatos vest, H&M pants, Nordstrom Rack belt, Tommy Hilfiger bow tie, TOMS shoes 

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