The life of the elegant gentleman is one that has caused quite the stir over recent years. With the hit book ‘I Am Dandy’ coming out, men around the world have been inspired by the selection of gentlemen who not only dress well, but have seemingly managed to transport back through time to cultivate a sense of class and refinement seen in the 1920s through 50s. On the arm of these dandies rest their significant others. Wives, girlfriends, husbands, boyfriends. Unlike most couples in a relationship, it’s these spouses that are often being compared side-by-side to what can arguably be described as some of the best-dressed men in the world.
Recently, I sat down with three strong, independent women who are married and engaged to sartorially-savvy gentlemen that were featured in I Am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman by Nathaniel Adams, Sven Ehmann and photographer Rose Callahan. I wanted to find out what it was like being the partner of a dandy and the truth behind the curtain – are they really as elegant and refined as they portray themselves or are they just like other men behind closed doors?
These are their stories…
Jenny Gage (wife of Andrew Yamato)
Jenny Gage, a private investigator from the heart of New York City, has been married for almost ten years to one of the trendsetters of New York’s vintage scene. Andrew Yamato is arguably one of the world’s best-dressed men. A filmmaker and writer from New York, he has graced the pages of fashion magazines, books and blogs with his elegant and classic style. As I begin my conversation with Gage, I inadvertently use the term ‘lifestyle’ when referring to Yamato’s dandyism. Gage, however, jumps right in saying “He’s not about a character or a costume or role. It’s a consistent aesthetic and a deep love and passion for clothing and occasion.”
“I’m somebody who’s always really liked clothes, liked to get dressed up, but my own style is a bit more eclectic and less consistent,” says Gage. “I’m with someone who’s consistently well-dressed and pulled together.”
Having a self-described ‘lifelong passion for overdressing’, Yamato’s style is a contrast to Gage’s sense of style making her feel the need to be more conscious of her look for a given day. “I have to be a bit more deliberate about it,” she says.
“I don’t want to be that family where we look matchy-matchy. That’s just not me,” she says.
I ask if she ever feels like she can’t dress the way she wants to when they go out or if Yamato is easy going.
If you wanted to wear a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, would he (Yamato), be okay with that? I ask Gage.
“Closet space is an issue when you’re living with someone who has five tuxedos”
“If we’re going to the farmer’s market, I’m going to wear jeans and a sweater”. While Yamato might consider it a “missed opportunity” as Gage puts it, she’s such an overtly strong and independent woman it doesn’t seem to faze her. “That’s him, and I’m me,” she states.
Despite being happy wearing casual clothes, Gage has always loved dressing up. “I wouldn’t wear pants as a little kid,” Gage explains, telling me she’s always been a “little princessy”. She’s always preferred wearing dresses and skirts. “Closet space is an issue when you’re living with someone who has five tuxedos,” she jokes. “I go to sleep at night with the sound of his pants press going”. While her wardrobe may be more limited and eclectic, she’s confident knowing that despite being with a style icon, she still looks good as well.
Yamato has a collector’s mentality and spends a great deal of his time taking care of his garments. “He does a lot of his own ironing and maintenance,” Gage says. Even in the comfort of home, Yamato maintains a formality in his appearance.
“The man has a whole array of robes and jammies,” Gage tells me. “It’s really across the board. It’s not an external costume. This is who he is all the time,” explains Gage.”
While Yamato and Gage may have differing opinions, they are a prime example of opposites that attract, finding common ground for both Yamato’s iconic sense of style and Gage’s eclectic fashion tastes. It works for them and while they may have differences, by all accounts it seems as though it makes them stronger as a couple. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Gage also loves to dress up.
You can read all about Yamato at his new website by clicking here.
Michelle Coursey (engaged to Matthew Karl Gale)
The world renowned celebrity makeup artist, Michelle Coursey has been a collector of fine vintage clothing since she was a young girl. Always interested in dressing up for parties, unlike most women we hear about, she didn’t play second-string to Matthew’s dandyism. In fact, it was her who inspired him to dress better. Called “vintage aficionados” by the Huffington Post, Michelle and Matthew are a direct reflection of each other’s formality and style. Meeting through a New York vintage collectors circle, Michelle first laid eyes on Matthew at the Bathing Beauties Promenade where men and women dress in vintage bathing suits and enjoy a warm day as onlookers are treated to some New York nostalgia for the afternoon.
“Wow, who’s that guy! I wonder if he’s straight”
“Fifteen of us are getting dressed at this old house off the main area, and I look over and saw Matthew doing pushups to get himself pumped up and I thought “Wow, who’s that guy! I wonder if he’s straight”, says Coursey. Over the next six months, they continued to bump into each other at various vintage inspired events around the five boroughs. While Gale certainly fit into the prep 1940s style, his wardrobe was nowhere near completion until after he and Coursey began dating. An award-winning designer, Gale took his experience in fashion and accessories and used it to expand his wardrobe of period pieces. Today, his closet mirrors that of Coursey’s and despite still following in her footsteps, he’s managed to acquire a reputation of his own for being one of New York’s most iconic dressers.
Fortunately, for Coursey she doesn’t suffer from the overwhelming feeling of being underdressed compared to Gale. They spend much of their time ensuring that when attending an event they match color schemes and accessories so that even if they’re wearing clothing from different periods (Coursey is a big fan of the 1950s), Gale’s pocket square might directly reflect that of the pattern on Coursey’s dress. What becomes evident when looking at the couple is that even if you saw them separately at opposite ends of the room you would be able to tell they arrived together thanks to the harmony of their attire.
One difference is that unlike Gale, Coursey doesn’t mind leaving the house in casual wear. “He’s quite good at dressing up on a daily basis and sometimes I just want to put on jeans and run out the door”, Coursey says. However, she clarifies by saying “When we are there together we look like we’re together”.
For Coursey, having a partner who is interested and passionate about the same things has been a great source of pride and happiness. Having a “partner in crime”, as Coursey puts it, makes their relationship that much stronger.
For all things vintage and make-up make sure to bookmark Michelle’s Blog My Vintage Love.
Teresa Schneider (wife of Sven Raphael Schneider)
Arguably considered one of the foremost authorities on classic men’s style, Sven Raphael Schneider has been the Editor in Chief of Gentleman’s Gazette since its inception, growing it from a small blog into an internationally renowned, award-winning online magazine. When dandies are looking for a knowledge base on dressing better, they turn to Schneider for advice and inspiration.
Recently, I interviewed Teresa Schneider, the wife behind our founder. I was so curious to find out what it was like being married to one of the world’s most elegant gentlemen. Now, bear in mind that I’ve worked with Raphael now for a few years and have even had the opportunity to travel with him, so I know from personal experience, that Raphael embodies his teachings. He’s not one of those men who wears a bespoke suit outside but dons sweatpants and a stained hoody as he eats Cheetos while watching the game in the confines of his home. Here’s Teresa’s story of what it’s like to live with someone who is a sartorial inspiration:
“For me, it’s completely normal”, she says. “Raphael has been passionate about classic men’s style for as long as I’ve known him (8 ½ years) and so it’s always been a part of our relationship.” Describing her husband’s enthusiasm for style as “infectious”, Teresa wasn’t at all concerned when he announced he no longer wanted to practice law, but instead help others dress more elegantly. That’s how the Gentleman’s Gazette was born. After moving to America from Germany and awaiting immigration, Raphael was unable to draw an income so to pass the time, he began blogging about his passion. Soon, he developed a small following which grew by word of mouth and by the time he was able to generate an income, the Gentleman’s Gazette was so popular he made the decision to turn it from a blog into a business and leave his law degree on the wall rather than in his briefcase.
When Teresa first met him, they were guests at a Halloween party. Understandably, Raphael wasn’t dressed the way most of our readers would be used to seeing him. Since he was an exchange student in the US, most of his wardrobe was still back home in Germany, but the few pieces he did have showed Teresa just how different his taste in clothing was from other men his age.
“Raphael is such an open and honest person, that even with far more formal clothes his intimidation factor disappears almost immediately once you get know him.”
While I personally can’t remember what I wore just the other day, Teresa recalls his wardrobe from almost ten years ago with ease. “He had a deep navy chalk stripe overcoat”, she tells me, “(with) ankle-strap boots and a pair of light brown goodyear welted oxfords”. No matter how limited his wardrobe was, all of the items were much more sophisticated than she would have expected for a 22 year old.
Many women, including my own wife, would be intimidated to stand next to such a well dressed man. In fact, when Raphael and I first traveled to Detroit for our in-depth exposé on Shinola, I had hesitations as I knew I simply couldn’t compete with his style. However, as Teresa puts it, “Raphael is such an open and honest person, that even with far more formal clothes his intimidation factor disappears almost immediately once you get know him.” The fact is I couldn’t agree more.
One question I had for Teresa was if she ever feels like she can’t dress the way she wants to if they’re going out. Her response was short but poignant – “All the time!” She explains that since she works in an office, but he works from home, whenever they do go out he always wants to dress up whereas she enjoys a more casual wardrobe on the weekends. Despite this, she really does enjoy being able to dress for an occasion so it’s not often a problem. Despite feeling like they need to match in terms of formality, Teresa tells me they both dress in their own personal style regardless of where they go. One thing is certain though, no matter where they visit, Raphael is usually the most formally attired person.
Although Teresa enjoys a more casual wardrobe, she does dress in what she describes as a “classic, ladylike fashion that tends to be more formal”. Often prone to wearing pearls, dresses and red lipstick, she feels like her classic prep style compliments the formality of Raphael’s collection.
One thing she did note was that while she orients her fashion choices around the event wearing jeans and a t-shirt to a barbecue for example, Raphael will try and create a casual odd combination that stands out using loafers, for example. While Teresa would certainly like a larger wardrobe like Raphael’s to select from, she makes the valid point that women don’t have the same luxury of investing in classic pieces that will endure the way men do. Since women’s fashion moves much quicker and she does enjoy keeping up with the trends, it makes it difficult to maintain a larger wardrobe without having to invest a significantly larger amount of money.
Growing up in a self-described formal household by American standards, Teresa was comfortable from the start with being in a relationship with a very cultured and formal gentleman. Her parents were sticklers for dress codes and etiquette that she credits for helping to ease her into the transition of being with a dandy. As she puts it, “We definitely weren’t a sweatpants kind of family!”
When the doors are closed, and the curtains are pulled, often we wonder what people are like in the comfort of their home when no one is watching. For that fly-on-the-wall experience, I asked Teresa what Raphael typically wears around the house. In other words, does he wear sweatpants and a hoodie?
Well, you won’t be surprised to learn that Raphael doesn’t even own a hoodie or a pair of sweats. While he does own gym clothes, they’re reserved exclusively for the gym and never worn elsewhere. On his most casual days, he’ll wear a pair of tailored trousers around the house with a collared shirt. In the winter, he can often be found in a dressing gown and velvet house shoes. On the other hand, Teresa is more than happy to wear sweats while watching her favorite movie at home. After all “I’m American,” she says. Even when they go out, Raphael isn’t adverse to casual clothing. “He’ll wear a polo with shorts and boat shoes for a trip to the beach – not a three-piece linen summer suit,” she jokes. It just might be more brightly colored than the rest of Teresa’s American friends.
So what kinds of activities do they have in common and does Raphael’s taste in music, movies and television mirror his appreciation for classic attire?
“We differ a lot in this area,” Teresa explains. “Raphael is not interested in pop culture, comedies, science fiction, much modern music, or typical Americana.” They both, however, enjoy the theater and classical music and as Teresa puts it, “Thankfully TV is so prolific these days we can find something to watch together. Recently, we’ve been watching The Americans, Peaky Blinders, and TURN: Washington’s Spies”.
For me, working with Raphael introduces me to new learning experiences every time I talk to him. So, I wanted to find out what things she’s learned from Raphael.
“You have to accept that it’s part of who they are, and not just a quirk or hobby”
So far, her favorites have been about his German heritage and the culture and food from his native homeland. When it comes to clothing and style, she’s developed a real appreciation for eBay and the concept that often the best way to get great quality at an affordable price is to go vintage. In fact, he’s even encouraged her to add menswear touches to her wardrobe including a pair of Chelsea boots and oxfords. She even has her own tailcoat for costume parties.
I asked her if she had any advice for other women or men starting a relationship with a dandy. “You have to accept that it’s part of who they are, and not just a quirk or hobby,” says Teresa. “For Raphael it’s second nature to be confident,” she says, “but I had to learn how to love our style and not worry about what other people think. We inevitably stand out, but I would never describe it as difficult – it’s just who we are (and) I’m always proud to be on his arm.”
The fact remains that in this world, we are all different with various tastes in style, culture, and formality. It doesn’t make anyone right or wrong but is what makes each of us unique and beautiful in our own way. Many people who develop feelings for a dandy find that relationship short lived due to an overwhelming feeling that they need to try and impress others by dressing in a way they find uncomfortable. Hopefully, the experiences of these three women will help inspire you to realize that regardless of whether you share a passion for vintage clothing like Michelle Coursey or are happy wearing sweats on the couch, dating or marrying a dandy doesn’t mean having to become one yourself.
Are you married to or dating a dandy? What advice do you have for other people in your shoes?