Nate Gempesaw-Pangan changed his clothes four times before he sat down for an interview, trying to find the perfect outfit.
Gempesaw-Pangan, a productions coordinator for Rip Williams Photography, said dress slacks would be too formal, so he opted for earthy tones, rolled up his sleeves, added a cravat and called it good.
On average, depending on the occasion, the people and the season, Gempesaw-Pangan said he can spend as little as an hour working on a given outfit.
“I can pick my wardrobe as I choose, as I see fit, as I would like to define myself to the outside,” he said. “Be who you want to be.”
Although fashion seems to be dominated by women, Gempesaw-Pangan said that isn’t the case — men are equally involved in fashion.
Gempesaw-Pangan’s interest in fashion started in high school. First it was Oxford button-down shirts, then ties, bowties and eventually cravats. He also takes pride in his hat collection. He owns a 1920s bowler hat, among many other styles.
His “uniform,” as he called it, is an important part of who he is.
“Make sure you own whatever you wear,” Gempesaw-Pangan said.
As much as Gempesaw-Pangan said he encourages comfortability, he also wishes to see people, especially men, put more effort in dressing nice.
Albuquerque is lacking in that respect, he said. It has its own style, but as compared to other metro areas, it’s not the same.
Juan Carlos Holmes, a political consultant, said he also noticed this. Men try too hard to blend colors and oftentimes, their clothes are too big or too short in the sleeves.
Holmes dressed well even at a young age, he said. And it doesn’t help that he is a “pack rat.”
At any given time, Holmes said he carries at least 20 different items, including knife, wallet, eye drops, a tablet, ChapStick and a mirror. If he isn’t wearing a sports jacket, he doesn’t have enough room to carry everything.
Holmes owns several accessories, such as tie bars, ties and cufflinks, he said. Socks are also a vice of his. He has 42 ties on the rack — two to a peg, and 18 more in a drawer. The socks share the same dresser.
Similar to Holmes, Gempesaw-Pangan agrees that socks are a sort of secret way to indulge. Not everyone sees them, but the wearer does.
Holmes said actor Harrison Ford is a major influence in his approach to style. He wears conservative suits but daring socks in contrast. He also has a specific shirt for each suit depending on the occasion.
He doesn’t spend more than four to five minutes preparing an outfit.
“It’s not difficult to throw this stuff on. When you tie a tie every day, you don’t really screw it up anymore, even a bowtie,” Holmes said.
Many of his items, he didn’t pay full retail. He called himself a sort of bargain shopper, as did Gempesaw-Pangan.
They both know people in the trade, and are also able to spot a good deal — a garage sale, for example. Although price is somewhat of a hindrance at times, it is still important to have quality. Even at the end of the day, quality does come at a price.
Steven Keator, owner of Dress to Kill, said educating people on style is an important motive when helping a customer, but even more than that, Keator wants to work with the individual to find their specific style at a cost that benefits them.
Style isn’t just about the price, he said. Quality can come at a reasonable cost despite some common ideas.
“I like helping guys get to the next level of their success, and success doesn’t necessarily mean business, it could be personal,” Keator said. “Guys that dress better typically talk a little more eloquent, they treat people better.”
It is a sense of pride for men to dress well, he said. Even though he sees this difference over men who don’t feel comfortable with what they are wearing, some men are hesitant to dress too nice.
Keator said he thinks the reason for that may be hidden within a homophobic mentality.
“Guys are afraid to dress too well, it seems a lot of the time, because they are afraid of being gay or something, so they dress down,” he said.
Keator wants to break that and encourage men to dress up and not concern themselves with what others may think.
In contrast, women will dress nice for themselves or to impress others almost always, he said.
Keator wants to see men making a better attempt at dressing better, he said.
Moriah Carty is a culture editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MoriahCarty.