Barron Cuadro: What’s up man?
Sven Raphael Schneider: Welcome!
BC: Oh yeah!
SRS: So Barron, you started the Effortless Gent in 2009 when the blogosphere was sort of infancy like, how did you come up with the concept of it?
BC: That’s funny, because back when I started I thought it wasn’t in its infancy at all. I thought there was already like a lot of sites out there and I was worried like “Oh is this site going to be like another one of those men style sites?” But, I guess when you stick around long enough and you kind of become one of the people who like originated, guess you could say, right?
SRS: Absolutely! I mean and also I think, just gents today is really only present. Back in the day, you were probably one of the first ones to come up with that name.
SRS: How did you come up with it?
BC: Effortless gent? It’s just sort of like my style. I think effortless was sort of the keyword for my own personal style and I want to connect and incorporate that in. Gent, of course, was not as we used as it is today which is sort of ubiquitous now, so I go back and forth on the name, but you know it’s stuck around long enough so I think it’s alright.
SRS: Alright, so if you were kind of in the classic realm of men’s wear, why would you come and read the effortless gent?
BC: So my readers are typically, I like calling it coastal casual or with a little bit of tailored clothing kind of in the wardrobe. So my guide, my typical reader doesn’t necessarily always dress fully classic, like the readers of Gentleman’s Gazette. They are more, they are a little bit younger, they like to do a little bit more casual clothing. They do like to throw on a sport coat once in a while, some tailored chinos, maybe some dress trousers once in a while, but not every day.
SRS: I mean you said you weren’t one of the first ones, but ultimately we’re still pretty early especially compared today. There were lots of men’s blogs around and how would you say has the men’s blogosphere changed over the years?
BC: I feel like now especially with the different types of social media out there, for example, Instagram, Snapchat. I think there are a lot of different avenues that like a guy who is interested in style and showing the world what he is into or what he likes, he can kind of take many different avenues. For me, back in the day was mostly Twitter and Facebook. But Twitter was like my main sort of traffic driver and then to the blog of course. And that’s sort of where that was it, that was all we did, really.
SRS: That’s interesting because if you look at today, I think like Donald Trump is basically keeping Twitter alive and apart from that, like without that, you know it’s like going downhill.
BC: Yeah. I mean I rarely use Twitter nowadays. I still have a big audience there so I try to kind of keep it up to date. But you know of course, today it’s much more visual. It’s easier to produce great visuals nowadays. So Instagram obviously, Youtube, of course, is getting big. It’s been big and these are some of the things I think Effortless Gent needs to go into.
SRS: So what’s the next big push for you?
BC: Well according to you guys it’s Youtube, right?
SRS: Absolutely, way to go!
SRS: So when people think about content creators, they have this romantic picture of someone sitting at their computer and writing and visiting nice stores. What is the actual life of an Effortless Gent blogger look like?
BC: I don’t think it’s glamorous as people tend to think. It’s a lot of hard work. It’s a lot of production behind the scenes to create an article, to you know source photographs, to take your own photographs. Sometimes you want to do interviews with other people or you want to bring opinions of other guys in, so you have to kind of do interviews. There’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes. And as you know too, it takes a lot for you to produce a video or even an article so, there’s a lot of work that goes into it.
SRS: Absolutely. What would you say is a regular day look like in the life of Barron Cuadro?
BC: I’m a late starter, so I do the gym thing in the morning, I eat lunch and then get to work like maybe around 12:30-1. But I work late so I go maybe until 8 o’clock. The wife is usually at home at that time. Then we have dinner and then if I’m lucky I can do a couple more hours before I go to bed or hang out with the wife.
SRS: That’s awesome! It’s the beauty of being your own boss.
BC: Yes, it’s great!
SRS: You call your own shots.
BC: Your own schedule.
SRS: So Barron, you have a very unique style I describe as a little more casual, you call it coastal casual. Tell us a little bit more about it and if you could pin it down.
BC: Well, when I look at tailored clothing I am really inspired by like the stuff that you do, Gentleman’s Gazette, I really love. But to me personally, my life it’s not completely congruent with how I live my life. So like you said, I work at home, I don’t have like a job to go to, so there’s not always a necessity to dress up, to like fully dress up.
SRS: With a 3-piece suit and tie.
BC: Exactly. It doesn’t make sense for my situation. And also growing up in California, I tended to be more casual in general. So I like to toe the line between if we’re looking at a spectrum from casual to formal, I like to be sort of like on the casual side in the middle, if that make sense.
SRS: Absolutely, absolutely.
SRS: So how would you say that your style evolved over time, from when you started Twitter to today.
BC: Well, I’ve been experimenting with my own personal style for years. I think the furthest back I can remember actually caring about what I wore was probably when I was like 12 years old, just like wanting specific t-shirts or like specific jeans.
BC: And then you know just like as you grow up, you’re a teenager, you’re doing all these crazy trends and you’re just kind of experimenting. But as you get older you kind of dial it back and then you start to realize what is actually classic, what looks good for my frame and what makes sense for my lifestyle. So, I think over the years, like I was able to sort of whittle it down to like my, what I call it is lean wardrobe. So what my core capsule wardrobe is that makes sense for me personally.
SRS: Awesome. So would you say what were some of the more embarrassing style mistakes that you made along the way?
BC: So, JNCO, anyone out there ever wore JNCOs? But that was pretty big back in the day. I wore some of those, just saying. You know like, I don’t know if you guys know, like these Tazmania Devil and like Looney Tunes t-shirts were pretty big back then.
SRS: I’m not familiar with them.
BC: This was like the 90s so you know I don’t want to talk too much about this. But there are some interesting style, questionable style things I did, so I’m kind of glad that I was able to do the spectrum of things when I was a kid and then just kind of grow up my own personal look.
SRS: You mentioned a lean wardrobe and all the men out there are struggling and they have a closet that’s full of clothes, yet they don’t know what to wear. So what does the lean wardrobe mean? What does it stand for?
BC: So I consider a lean wardrobe like the minimum amount, sorry the maximum amount of clothing that a guy would need in order to look great in his life every day, right? So, it’s going to depend on what the guy does for work or where he lives, just the kind of how he spends his time day to day, week to week. So when I’m working with clients one-on-one I would basically ask them these questions, I would kind of assess their situation. So I would find out where they live, I would be working with them online at what they do day to day, what they do for work or where they like to travel to, thing like that. And then when I know all these things I can sort of figure out what sort of wardrobe would work best for them, right? So if you live in Minnesota or Minneapolis or wherever you live versus like Miami, your clothing in your closets are going to be a lot different, right?
BC: So that’s kind of the path I go with when I work with people.
SRS: Okay, so how do you work with your readers and with people, in which you mentioned one-on-one consulting, what other avenues do you have?
BC: So, I work with people one-on-one either online or in person. Typically, it’s online nowadays and then also we have you know courses available to sort of teach people how to build a lean wardrobe of their own so they can kind of take it step by step, go through all the videos and then at the end of it, hopefully, they’ll have a really great starter lean wardrobe and from there, they can always add on if they need to.
SRS: Okay, so what, explain to me again. You said the maximum number of pieces a man could have, to me that means having a lot of clothing. Can you elaborate a little bit more on what, how that works together?
BC: I guess it would make more sense to say it’s the minimum amount of clothing that a guy needs, right? So he might want more, but his core wardrobe is like specific pieces that could sort of work with everything else that he has in his closet. So like for example a great pair of denim, I think is for my reader would be a great like piece that would be in his lean wardrobe. Tailored chinos always work well with anything from sweatshirts to you know, tie and dress shirts. So things like that that are very versatile and that common sort of neutral muted colors, I think work really well as like a base wardrobe for most of the guys.
SRS: So what makes a great pair of denim for you?
BC: For me, I’m not the best to ask about denim only because this, I am not like a denim… I’m an enthusiast, but I wouldn’t say I’m like a high-level, like I really love like the Japanese, like beautifully like selvedge denim. I’m not really, I’ll buy Levi’s so I’m loyal to Levi’s, I found my fit. I think for me what’s most important is finding the fit that looks the best on me.
SRS: Absolutely yeah!
BC: And I don’t have time to try these amazing pairs of denim which I’m sure they are great. But I found Levi’s I think they’re great and they work for me and so that’s typically the avenue I tell my guys, like “Look, I had these brands to suggest to you for your budget, for your lifestyle.” There are always other things that we can throw in there but you know, I think I try to stick to the basics for them.
SRS: I think the bigger edge for Levi’s is that they have so many different cuts, so most guys will find something that works for them.
SRS: Versus with smaller brands, you may get really get a premium fabric, make great detail, the workmanship, but the fit may not be ideal. So once you have your Levi’s fit, you can gravitate from there.
BC: I think what’s nice about that is once you do find your fit, let’s say in Levi’s, you can always explore other brands and see what’s most similar to the pair of Levi’s that you love.
BC: I kind of go with that for you know, with other pieces of clothing too, like shirts. Just find stuff that fits really well for you and you can always experiment later.
SRS: Okay. Can you walk us through a typical core piece outfit of the lean wardrobe?
BC: Sure. So like I said, it’s going to depend on who you are, where you live, your lifestyle. So I think for a typical reader, this is what I noticed the most, for a typical reader for Effortless Gent, what they need is something the is sort of toes the line between like a dressy casual and also have like a few formal pieces. So maybe for them, they would only have this ideal Effortless Gent reader, that the guy I typically work with usually has maybe one to two suits. So I would suggest for him obviously a navy and a gray like a medium gray wool suit, that kind of works well for every situation he might find himself in because he probably won’t dress up very often. He has a few sport coats, a great pair of jeans, tailored chinos, a couple of dress shirts, a couple of oxfords, usually a pair of brown and a pair of black leather shoes, things like that. Sort of the basics that we all understand and for my readers at least this is the kind of, sort of the middle of the road wardrobe that they would have.
SRS: I also think that it’s great for travel because it allows you a lot of outfit combinations. So I think that is definitely something that your program is built on.
BC: Yeah, I think the versatility of it is just what makes it, make the most sense for guys. I think like some of my readers are, they are a little bit more beginner level and so they don’t want like, they don’t want too much complexity in their wardrobe. They want to feel like they can just pull things from their closet and it makes sense for them, right?
SRS: Lean and simple.
SRS: Without being complicated.
BC: And when they are interested, they can always experiment later.
SRS: Absolutely, sounds good. It’s really an excellent concept that helps men get the most out of their wardrobe with a minimum amount of spend, that’s like smart. And over the last 8 years, you’ve put a lot of work into it and you put into a program, you offer consulting, if people want to learn more about it, where would they go?
BC: They can go to effortlessgent.com or they can sign up on our list and then we’ll take them through basically like the path that we take with our clients which is figuring out like I mentioned earlier, we call it SIS, so it’s situation, income, and surroundings. Those are three things we figure out for them. Once we pinpoint these things, then they can easily like, honestly, they can just build it on their own. Like, I give them all the information you need on the website, but they can sign up, they can get on the list and then we can help them, walk them through it.
SRS: That’s amazing! You can do it yourself. If you’re just interested in getting information or you can have Barron and use his experience and walk you through personally, set-by-step to get the lean wardrobe that helps you maximize the value you get out of your wardrobe.
SRS: So you live in San Francisco and now you’re based out of New York. Stylistically, they are very different towns.
SRS: How did that change your lean wardrobe?
BC: That’s a good question. So in San Francisco, the weather is typically the same year round. In New York obviously we have four seasons, so my wardrobe has had to sort of like add pieces I’d never had to consider before, for example, a big winter coat the I could actually like not freeze in. A few heavy-duty peacoat, flannels, things that are like a little more bit more weighty and warmer. If I were to wear those things in San Fransisco, I would have sweated, so you can’t even think about wearing that there. So definitely changes in the wardrobe but it also gives you a chance for experimentation when you have all these seasons to play with.
SRS: And it also means that you have the experience. Now you have the first-hand experience of living in a hot climate and in a four season climate so that just rounds up your guide very well. Because sometimes you read about it but you have to actually experience it.
BC: It’s totally different.
SRS: There’s a lot more credibility.
SRS: I always find having style is partly based on the basics, but then you add on something truly unique. And whenever I see you it’s usually warm outside and you always have a great selection of summer shirts that are casual. What other style hallmarks would you say do you have that make your style different and unique.
BC: I never know if I’m truly unique or not. Like I just wear the things that I love. If I see some guy that’s wearing something cool and if I’m inspired by him, I’m going to try that and give it a shot and if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. So over the years, I’ve learned to wear wider brim fedoras, for example, straw ones for the summer then wool felt ones for the winter. I really like, I really like watches a lot. I love shoes.
SRS: Like a Rolex right?
BC: Yeah, I love Rolexes. You know, the beautiful things. So we talked bout this too on the site, it’s like signature items right? What are the one or two things that you can sort of add to your wardrobe that are unique to you and people can almost identify you with them, right? Think about McQueen or James Dean even. You have images of them and how they work back then and what they wore. And I think if you use that as like as a template to not necessarily copy people, but if you find something that you want to try and experiment with, go for it! And maybe that becomes a part of your wardrobe.
SRS: Take one element and make it your own.
BC: Yeah and it becomes like your thing.
SRS: Absolutely, good!
SRS: Alright Barron, we always like to ask people a few quick questions, so just quick answers okay?
SRS: Oxford or Derby?
SRS: Alright, flannel or worsted?
SRS: Suspenders or belt?
BC: Yeah, wow okay.
SRS: Over the calf socks, short socks or no socks?
BC: Oh depends. I’m going to go with when it’s important, over the calf socks!
SRS: Hot weather this summer?
BC: Oh no socks!
SRS: Barrel cuff or french cuff?
BC: Usually barrel cuff.
BC: I’ve never done bespoke, made to measure, I would say made to measure.
SRS: Undershirt or no undershirt?
BC: Undershirt free!
SRS: Alright, I agree with you.
BC: I don’t like undershirts.
SRS: Man, thanks so much it was awesome!
BC: I love you, man!
SRS: Thank you, Barron!
And if you guys really want to learn about that lean wardrobe with a more casual concept, I think Barron has a really great job in using a very clean, aesthetic and a nice design and that makes them truly unique. And the guides are pretty well thought through and I think an amazing value for the money.
If you enjoyed the style of this interview and video, also have a look at this conversation about style archetypes and how you can tell a story with your style.