The Habits of Successful Men: David Evans (aka Grey Fox), style blogger and model
Author: Nick Carvell
What makes a man successful? We asked a few of our friends at the top of their game exactly that. Read on to find out how they got to where they are and the life lessons you can learn from them.
For David Evans, being a style blogger wasn’t the plan. Having originally trained as a lawyer before switching to teaching at a primary school in his fifties, Evans started greyfoxblog.com in 2011 as a space for him to hone his writing skills. And yet, now in his mid-60s, he is not only responsible for running, one of the most successful menswear blogs in the UK, but is also one of the few more mature voices (and faces) in a scene dominated by young people.
However, while his foray into the fashion industry might have come later in life, it’s clear the man’s always been interested in clothes. Having grown up travelling the world due to his father’s career in medicine (he’s lived in London, Northern Ireland, New York, Oxford and Cheshire), his first real memory of style was when he was buying his uniform for his Shropshire prep school aged eight:
“I remember we had to have black shoes to wear on Sundays with a suit and brown shoes for other times,” says David. “I've never quite been able to shake off the association of black shoes with formal wear and brown with more casual.”
Today, he showcases his quintessentially British style not just by collaborating with brands such as Barbour, Harris Tweed and Norman Walsh (the only homegrown trainer brand still making here in the UK), but also by posting bookmark-able looks regularly on his much-followed Instagram account @greyfoxblog. All of these demonstrate his various menswear loves, whether it’s brands committed to sustainability, the suit makers behind some of Savile Row’s most famous tailoring houses or superbly rugged labels that he can rep while out in the country walking his dog, Harry, or bombing around in his Defender.
Here, we speak to David about success in the blogosphere, whether the suit is futureproof and how to shake-up your personal style in 2021.
Why did you start greyfoxblog.com?
I wanted to write and thought a blog would give me an outlet. I didn't know what to write about and it was only when someone suggested writing about something that concerned me as an older man that I decided to write about the angst of not knowing what to wear in middle age – can I wear T-shirts and jeans? I intended it to be light-hearted and had no background in menswear or style, but that ignorance didn't seem to hold me back too much!
Since you started your blog, what has been a real highlight experience?
Getting to know people I'd never have met in my previous professions, especially as a lawyer. The law isn't a creative profession and it's been a privilege to meet people who make things and run businesses fuelled by their creative passion.
Who are your favourite tailors and what pieces have they made for you?
I'm lucky to have two bespoke suits from Dege & Skinner, one of the last family-owned Savile Row tailors. They were cut by Tristan Thorne; one in linen and the other from a cashmere/wool mix cloth that I designed in collaboration with Johnstons of Elgin. Seeing the process of cloth design and manufacture, and visiting the label’s mill in Scotland, was such a fantastic experience. Going through the bespoke process made me appreciate that a bespoke suit is worth every penny of its cost. Both suits fit like a glove and are comfortable and stylish - even the best made-to-measure suit doesn't come close in terms of perfection of fit and appearance.
What's one piece you own that feels like it has a real transformative effect when you slip it on?
The Dege & Skinner x Johnstons of Elgin suit I've mentioned above. Wearing it makes me stand tall and feel superbly stylish.
You're famously a fan of a suit. As we move into a brave new world of ‘work from home’, fewer formal events and even-more-relaxed dress codes, how can the suit adapt to stay a part of men's wardrobes?
I was writing about the future of the suit some months before we were affected by covid. Men were already turning away from the more formal, structured suit and the growth in working from home. Covid has only served to accelerate that. However, in my opinion, it won't be long before men get fed up with athleisure and will be looking for ways of feeling dapper and stylish again. Tailored clothing meets this need.
However, we will still be looking for comfort and unlined, unstructured styles will provide this. Forgiving cloths such as flannel, cotton, linen and corduroy can be made into suits that are soft and relaxed enough to enable you to lounge around in them - a perfect balance providing a laid-back style that meets the need for a smart alternative to sloppy casualwear.
Sustainability is a big part of The Other Saint. What are some sustainable labels you'd recommend - and why? What products do you like from them?
Sustainability is a bit of a minefield at present, with many brands claiming a sustainable approach while marketing cheap clothes and overlooking the unethical practices of the factories that make their products and the environmental damage caused by mass production and shipping of clothing around the world. I look for local production where possible, organically produced cottons and upcycled and recycled materials. Of course, it's not possible yet to be sure that you're buying sustainably, but looking out for genuinely ethical businesses and buying vintage means that you can begin to tackle the environmental costs of fashion. Brands like Reworked 348 and Christoher Raeburn are making genuine efforts in this direction.
As we move into a new year, there are many men out there who will want to shake up their personal style. What tips would you give them?
Buy less and buy better. Clothes that are well-made look better, fit better and last longer than cheaper products. Look around and decide what styles you like and take your time to build a wardrobe made up of pieces that work together and that you feel great wearing.
When it comes to your grooming regime, is there something you practise on a daily basis that you'd recommend to others?
My grooming regime is fairly haphazard. I do moisturise after shaving and – because I'm out in all weathers for a couple of hours every day walking the dog or cycling – I like to use products with a reasonably high sun protection factor (SPF). I wash my hair every day in plain water and only use shampoo every fortnight or so. I tend to use a small amount of fragrance in place of antiperspirants as this seems to give a more subtle and cleaner scent, and is just as effective other than in the hottest weather. I try to minimise buying products in non-recyclable containers.
What is the definition of success to you?
Feeling that I've used my best efforts at the end of every day and every project.
Do you have any habits as a part of your morning routine that help you get ready for the day ahead?
Two cups of tea before I get up.
What’s one habit that helps you relax in the evening?
Cooking and catching up with family over a good meal.
What’s a habit you can’t give up?
Updating Instagram. I love the contacts I make through social media, but I try hard to control the time I spend on it.
What’s a (bad) habit you’re proud to have given up?
Feeling that everything has to be totally perfect.
What (good) habit would you like to cultivate?
Cultivating contacts and keeping up with friends. One of the pleasures of Instagram has been making friends all over the world. This takes effort to maintain but is well worth the time spent on it.