James with sports coat and rubber boots

James Andrew – Interior Designer, Blogger & Gentleman of Style

During my last few trips to New York, I met with  James Andrew, the man behind What is James Wearing and James Andrew Interior Design who is not only  a gentleman, traveler and fine spirit but also educated, amusing and most entertaining. A few months ago, he showed me the 1stdibs gallery and afterwards I had the chance to visit his apartment. His space has been featured in Elle Décor magazine and other interior design publications. I wanted to portray him in his home because he has a unique style that is influenced by many classical elements, yet he interprets them in his very own way. I thought it was very important to cover him in our Gentlemen of Style series for several reasons: James stands out from the crowd due to his use of color and pattern in both in his interior designs and his wardrobe, and he is a great example to learn from.

James Andrew

James Andrew

His Philosophy

In one of our early conversations, James explained that he approaches dressing and designing like a cinematographer who wants to create something beautiful that is more than just the sum of the individual objects.  Personally, I like this approach very much because it interprets style and elegance as an symphony between your clothes, accessories, your haircut, language and your fingernails rather than focusing too much on any one element. True style is mastery of  all of these components. Moreover, James is someone who wears what he likes and makes him feel good – it’s a form of self expressions. Of course, not everybody likes his sometimes flamboyant outfits, though at the same time, he is true to himself and confident about it. I think when people see him that’s part of what they admire about his personality and so it doesn’t really come as a surprise when his readers of his blog across the globe throw parties for him when he is in town. Overall, his philosophy is to be stylish as a whole, colorful and sometimes bold but always true to himself.

The living Room

The living room

How it all started… The Career of James Andrew

Born to a Cuban mother and an English father, James had an anglophile influence from the very beginning, and that has clearly carried to the present in a very positive way. Growing up in Providence, Rhode Island he had a sense for fashion early on. At the age of 5, he as enamored with bell sleeve shirts by Tom Jones that had pink and mint green cuffs. As a teenager he neared obsession with the wasp / prep style and learned to appreciate the beauty of architecture and design. One day in 1977, he stumbled upon his mother’s Vogue in which interior designers Albert Hadley and his partner “Sister” Parish had decorated Ann & Gordon Getty‘s house. Right then and there he knew that he wanted to be in interior design one day.I find that quite interesting because unlike architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van der Rohe orLe Corbusier,few know famous interior designers by name, although we spend more time inside the house or building than admiring its architectural glory from the outside.

In the following years, his sister outed him and subsequently his mother, who had become  a Jehovah’s witness, disinherited him because he was gay. Like so many people before him, James chose a secure career and went into banking and commodities trading rather than following his passion for interiors. Fortunately, he was unhappy with his decision and brave enough to quit. Subsequently, he started working for Ralph Lauren’s Home Collection and not only did he enjoy it, but he performed well. As fate would have it, in 1998, James was invited by his childhood idol Albert Hadley to join the legendary Parish-Hadley firm in New York. Just a year later the company dissolved and Hadley started a new venture aged almost 80. Not long after, James decided to start his own business and incorporated James Andrew Interior Design. Of course, he remained friends with Hadley until his death in 2012.

Rolex, Aquamarin cufflinks & mother of pearl buttons with lavendar herringbone pants

Rolex, Aquamarine cufflinks & mother of pearl buttons with lavender herringbone pants

What is James Wearing?

Although James had always been interested in clothing, the idea for his aptly-named blog came to him through the observations of others about what he made a point to do daily – choosing to dress stylishly, even at the gym! Other men in his classes as well as his trainers would ask “Jimmy, what are you wearing today?” One day, James was wearing a black and white leather motorcycle jacket and his boxing trainer told him ” James, you have such great style you must start a blog!” Initially, he didn’t think too much of it, but it did seem like a fun idea. When the domain www.whatisjameswearing.com was available, he decided to start his very own blog on July 31, 2008, which is exactly 5 years ago. After just a short while, Elle Décor magazine in Britain picked it up and called James possibly their favorite blogger of all time. Subsequently, The Telegraph would compare him to English designer David Hicks and the Italian Corriere della Sera would follow with a feature titled Il Grande James.

His coverage is a mix of colorful outfits, interior design and travel reports, always with an eye for beauty and aesthetics. When on the road, his partner and artist Scott McBee composes the shots of James and sometimes people like Rose Callahan and magazine photographers snap shots of him as well.

Fantastic green windowpane suit

Fantastic green windowpane suit

James Andrew’s Outfits

Inspired by the likes of Lapo Elkann, Gianni Agnelli, Steve McQueen, Cary Grant, Yves Saint Laurent, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor as well as Tom Ford, the outfits James wears are usually not shy in color, go beyond preppy chic and are utterly unique. After he started out as a prep teenager, he wore a lot of Ralph Lauren when he worked for the company. Afterwards, his style evolved towards a stylized Gucci look with influences from the 60’s mod look, but he soon realized it was too fashion forward. With Tom Ford being one of his favorite designers, he enjoys mixing color with patterns and textures, creating a classically inspired, sexy-young hip look. As you can imagine, some of his outfits are a bit outside of the realm of what we usually cover here at the Gentleman’s Gazette. While it is not my personal style either, I have great respect for his style and how he created it for himself. The underlying important message of his outfits is that you should dress the way you want and create your own look rather than just following the crowd.

When I met him last time, he wore a mid grey panama weave coat from Tom Ford with smoky gray mother of pearl buttons, a white shirt with double cuffs, aquamarine & diamond cufflinks, a Liberty of London printed silk tie, a pastel green pocket square, cuffed lavender herringbone trousers and black & white loafers. If this outfit would have been worn with dark blue trousers and black shoe it would be rather traditional, but with the addition of the lavender pants, the outfit gains its own character that is underlined by the harmonizing pocket square and tie combination.

In the park

In the park

James Andrew with green gloves & purple belt

James Andrew with green gloves & purple belt

During the colder months of the year, James chooses more subdued colors in grey, blue or brown, yet he never loses his interest in colors as evidenced by the green gloves and purple belt.

During the summer, his attention to style is not diminished by the heat; he likes to wear espadrilles and lightweight garments, and often expresses his positive mood through vivid color choices. Often, James is inspired by his surroundings and he doesn’t shy away from mixing traditional garments and patterns with his unique style.

The apartment of James Andrew

Once you enter James’ apartment, you know it was designed by someone who knows what he is talking about. Similarly to clothing, all the fine details influence the bigger picture. In order to create a more classic setup, James carved out a separate dining room area which has some white loop chairs by Frances Adler Elkins, accompanied by a steel wire table by Platner Knoll. One dining room wall has built-in bookshelves from floor to ceiling filled with heavy books about design, clothes, architecture… The other wall features aubergine lacquer by Timothy Brown, with the centerpiece being a 1970s mirror from Daniel Barney surrounded by landscape paintings. The floor is made of vintage looking, square wood panels while the living room floor is adorned with French accent rugs and tapestries. The living room walls are light blue with white trimmings, two white busts on pedestals and white Serge Roche plaster shell sconces from 1stdibs. The oatmeal colored couch has pillows in bottle green and brown velvet, above which hangs a hunting scene with two dogs by William Skilling. It’s hard to believe that James found it in a  ‘junk store’ – evidence that you may still find treasures on the cheap.

James Andrew at home with hunting scene by Will

James Andrew at home with hunting scene by Will

The custom gilt-silver parsons coffee table features some neatly arranged silver boxes and is faced by an zebra-upholstered ottoman by A. Schneller & Sons. Underneath it stands a table from Wilkes Bashford.  On top, you find all kinds of decorative elements such as a mercury ball, which belonged to Albert Hadley.

In his bedroom, you can find his closet with some of his jackets and suits. James wears orange, pink, green, and purple but also light blue, grey, brown and navy in classic patterns such as glencheck, stripes or velvet. If you take a close look you will see a lot of jackets with 5 cuff buttons from Tom Ford. When it comes to shoes, James obviously likes loafers in all shapes and forms, ranging from tasseled boxcalf leather to spectators and suede to brogues and sneakers. Overall, his choices are definitely more fashion forward than mine, but it suits the rest of his wardrobe very well.

Personally, I found his decorations rather inspirational and I will certainly look more closely for a few key pieces, such as alabaster busts. I will definitely get a floor-to-ceiling custom bookshelf for my men’s fashion archive.

What do you think of James Andrew’s style in clothes and interior design? Do you find him inspirational? I think he would have been a perfect addition to the book I am Dandy.

22 replies
  1. Stephen Thompson says:

    Hi Raphael,
    I hope you are well. Great article about a very interesting man and a true gentleman of style. As an avid follower of yours and other style blogs i can’t believe i have never come across this gentleman before. I will be sure to follow his blog in the future. Best wishes to you both.


  2. Daniel Gerson says:

    I find his style very fascinating.

    Though for me, both clothes and interiors, suffer from a rather strong eclectic nature. It is like you screen it and it is like: “Good, nice, interesting, wait a minute.. what is that doing there?”

    Take that last picture of him on the couch. It is obvious he started out with symetry in mind – painting, wall lamps, couch, but then the side tables start to be of different height, the lamps are of different sizes and styles ( just switching those would already help a great deal) and all of a sudden we have an animal print cushion, lose cables and a telephone facing the window. Apart from that, I know why he picked the velvet cushions, to match the colours of the painting, but their rich texture doesn’t work for the otherwise soft and pastel atmosphere created by the enclosing light blue walls and white stucco elements.

    Same applies for the “shocking” dining room and other elements of the living room, though the master bedroom actually works well for me, apart from the bedspread.

    His outfits are rather similar, the one form the last picture for example is all great, just up to the moment you reach socks and shoes.

    In the end it comes down to the common denominator with eclectic styling (whether clothes or interiors/exteriros). If it has sufficient strength built up within the tension field of the objects in question, allowing them to elevate eachother to a new united object, it is a job well dowm. Though should it fail, either by overdoing it in terms of the sheer number of “objects” or the lack or insufficiency of their common denominator, the result will bear an aching resemblance to a run over rabbit – a sight to behold, but not in a good way.

    Nontheless, I like artists like him, who are taking a risk now and then, because they are the ones who push the outside of the envelope and that is how styles does progress.

  3. Mitchell Davey says:

    Have followed his blog for a few years. Way too many buttons undone on his shirts. Should be max two. I guess he likes to show the hair on his chest but because it doesn’t grow that high up he as to lower the unbuttoning for the required expose he wants. A bit Guido-ish for my taste. Tom Ford (He’s a big fan of.) does the same thing but pulls it off a tiny bit better but he’s still Guido-ish in that respect in my opinion. Too much information for my taste and they are both missing the big gold chain.

    Anyone have a comment on how far a shirt should be unbottened regardless of hair or no hair?
    This is also about style and taste.

    • Geo. Winters says:

      How many buttons to unbutton? One during the day, (up to) two at night, and (up to) three if you can see the Mediterranean.

      I would expand the lattermost to include “or you are in the tropics.”

      For me, though, it’s one and only one. Personal preference and modesty.

  4. Izzie Gonzalez says:

    I feel that he chooses too much style over substance. The pieces are there but the net effect is the appearance of someone who is trying too hard. The detail that strikes me is that with the obvious resources at his disposal there is not a single shoe tree in sight of all the obviously well made footwear in his closet. I do like the pairing of the green gloves with the light brown suit. As far as the décor is concerned I am no expert but I don’t find it warm or inviting. Though I don’t agree with this gentlemen’s taste I respect his desire to develop a style of his own in a world that sorely lacks good taste in dress and manners. This is not to say that this is a fine article as I am a huge fan of this blog and consider it the best of it’s kind. Please keep the great articles coming.

      • Izzie Gonzalez says:

        I will agree with you on that note. He definitely has his own style and it’s obvious he’s given it some serious consideration across the board. I certainly cannot disparage his attention to detail. As we all know the details are everything.

  5. Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnerbalken says:

    Three of the outfits presented here please my eye. About the first one, with Mr. Andrew in rubber boots, there can be no discussions; a classic and balanced combination. In spite of it being bolder, the second one is still great and absolutely great to look at. The combination of grey and violet ist one of the best I could possibly imagine, so the lavender pants don’t seem flashy. I consider it the best and most balanced of all. His winter outfit is still great, only the violet belt does not quite fit in.

    Overall, alas, having looked at the other outfits and others shown on his blog, I can’t help but consider Mr. Andrew’s style too foppish for my taste.

    However, thanks a lot for another article of this fine gazette and greetings across the Atlantic.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Thanks Gernot, the idea was to feature James because his style is outside of what one would generally call classic men’s style. I am fully aware that he does not dress like a classic gentleman and for that very reason I thought it was important to add him to the list.

  6. Hal says:

    I’m afraid this guy’s look feels like a definition of trying too hard – and the results are pretty awful.

  7. Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnerbalken says:

    @Sven Raphael Schneider

    In spite of my objections I would never doubt that James is a gentleman of style. Maybe his style is not corresponding to my ideas in all aspects, but there is no denying that he has style and fully deserves to be presented here.

  8. Eric Kipp says:

    I applaud Mr. Andrew for his daring to put himself out there… quite literally …for the world to see and should serve as inspiration for us!

    Mr Schneider put it quite well when he said, “James stands out from the crowd due to his use of color and pattern in both in his interior designs and his wardrobe, and he is a great example to LEARN from.”

    Just as one can appreciate art, should be the lens by which we examine style. Style, like art, is such an intimate and individual topic to discuss. It is almost impossible to define without taking the individual whom had created it into consideration. Is it the clothes? Or is it the man? I certainly can appreciate others opinions but perhaps the harder question to ask is why something is agreeable/disagreeable to one’s self in the first place. I think once that question is answered, it would be imperative to remind oneself that perhaps this individual does not subscribe to that same belief. I would also like to take a moment to point out that it is becoming increasingly rare to have someone invite another into their home to discuss aesthetics, style, and one’s life. If that is not gentlemanly behavior I don’t know what is!

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.” –Teddy Roosevelt

    I thoroughly enjoyed the article!
    Best Regards,

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Eric,
      Thank you very much for your comment – was it your first one? In any case, it was to the point. Also, thank you for the Roosevelt quote, I think I expressed the essence of it before I even read your comment. Doing something and talking about it are two very different things. So at this point, my wife and I are talking about creating a design for out bedroom, maybe Art Deco – we’ll see but we will do it. While talking with James my interest in interior design increased tremendously, so even if his style would have had no impact on me, that alone is worth a lot.

  9. Randolph says:

    I had some good hearty laughs over the comments. I remember several years ago being in an art museum and standing in the Impressionists room I was admiring at a large Monet from a reasonable distance and this mother in front of me was holding hands of her two little boys on both sides of her. They were calmly studying taking in the painting. I thought how admirable for mother to introduce her sons so young to world of art. So one of the boys had to be maybe age 4, mimicking his mother looking at the painting. Looking up at his mother’s intentness and back to the painting and after about a minute of quietly contemplating, he looks at mother and says, “He’s not very good is he momma?”…I laughed and realized everyone is a Critic, even a 4 year old can craft an opinion. We all see things differently.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Randolph, that’s a great story indeed. In my experience, it is always easy to point out “mistakes”, but at the same time when you ask the critique to show you a picture of their outfits, homes etc. you won’t receive an answer in more than 99% of the cases. So, everybody who actually shows how they live or what they wear is a big step ahead. At the same time, if I expose myself online I have to accept that some people are going to like it and some won’t.
      Fortunately, the readers here almost never leave just negative comments and if so, then in a proper tone. This makes me quite happy. Maybe the kind of content attracts commenters with who have manners.

  10. Fabrice says:

    From an A-Gent of Style to a gentleman of style…i’ve been following James Andew’s blog since more or less its inception and have found him a great source of inspiration for fashion and decoration. He certainly was quite instrumental in creating my blog. I have found so many similarities between us. Thank you for a fascinating article. It was great to ‘get to know him’ a bit more. He is indeed a modern Dandy
    A-Gent of Style

  11. James Philip Albert Cox says:

    Dear Schneider,
    Another outstanding article. Well, sir what are your views on double-breasted waistcoats with double-breasted jackets? And there are different styles available out there. What’s your favourite?

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