Highlight: Q&A with Dan Rookwood

Dan Rookwood is fast becoming one of Londons most stylish men, so we though we'd ask him some questions and find out what his secret was whilst we learn more about him.

Q: Please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?

I’m the Style Director at Men’s Health, the UK’s best-selling men’s magazine. I write columns for the London Evening Standard’s ES magazine, GQ Australia and Women’s Health UK, and I review hotels for Mr and Mrs Smith. I’m 35 and live in Richmond with my wife Sam and our dog Millie. I play football increasingly badly. 

Q: How did you get into journalism? 

From the age of four I knew I wanted to be a writer. At 14 I decided I would become a football journalist and was very single-minded about that. I was the sports editor of the student newspaper at Cambridge, did work placements every holiday at newspapers and magazines and then completed a postgraduate course in newspaper journalism at City University in London. My first job was as a football writer for The Guardian website, writing minute-by-minute match reports and cult email The Fiver. I then had three years at Men’s Health before moving to Australia where I ended up as editor of Time Out Sydney. I rather fell into fashion to be honest. When we came home to London, I returned to Men’s Health. I’ve always been into clothes but didn’t have loads of fashion experience. The editor said he wanted someone who could present men’s fashion in a way that would appeal to the everyman. As style director of Men’s Health, my brief is very simple: to help the man on the street dress better. 

Q: What has been your most memorable moment/best experience you've had in your career?

I’ve been on the cover of Men’s Health twice – once in 2006 and once in 2010. In January I modelled for Oliver Spencer who is one of my favourite designers, and I also did the SS13 campaign for Reiss which went in all their shop windows earlier this year. My wife and I were recently on the cover of ES magazine for a story in which she explained what it is like to live with ‘Mr Vain’. It was just a bit of fun.

Q: You seem to have become a style icon in your own right and are photographed by everyone at all the big events, we'd love to know what your secret is to getting your outfit perfect every time?

Well I wouldn’t say I was anywhere near being a style icon but I guess I have developed a signature look over the last few years which is to dress in a very dapper way. The UK has some of the best tailors and shoemakers in the world and it is a great pleasure and a privilege to support the best of British. A lot of it is down to detail: knowing how to sculpt a tie-knot so that it is the perfect size and shape for the collar and has a little dimple just below the knot; knowing how and when to accessorise without overdoing it or being too matchy-matchy; placing real emphasis on the fit and cut of what I wear. You can wear a £2000 suit but if it doesn't fit you it will look awful. Or you can wear a cheap high street suit and if it’s been altered to fit you it can look much more expensive. 

Q: Do you have style icons that you look to for inspiration?

David Beckham always looks brilliant. He’s come a long way from the days of corn rows and sarongs. Ryan Gosling, obviously. I like Tinie Tempah’s style: the way that he can combine contemporary and tailoring – sometimes in the same look. And I envy Prince Charles’s wardrobe. But I think when you look at style icons – the usual suspects like Steve McQueen or Michael Caine or Alain Delon – they all tend to be people whose photographs have not dated because what they wore was really classic and timeless. So I tend to favour long lasting style over transitory, trend-driven fashion. 

Q: What 3 key items should every man own? 

A big coat – something like a double-breasted camel coat or a Prince of Wales check; a lovely leather bag liked a soft-sided briefcase that is going to take on a characterful patina over time; and a pair of brown polishable leather Goodyear welted shoes. You’ll always get more wear out of brown than black shoes. These are all items that people see first and they’re all items that could last 10 years or more if you buy wisely. For that reason I would always buy the best I can afford and buy from real specialists. Item four would be a proper mechanical watch. 

Q: What is the most treasured item you own and why? 

The most obvious and truthful answer is my wedding ring because my wife means everything to me. My laptop is the one thing I could not do without and I live in near-constant fear of losing it. But from a style point of view, it would have to be my bespoke wardrobe. I designed it last year myself and had it built to my exact specifications with specialist compartments, drawers for accessories and shelves for shoes. 

Q: Where do you go for inspiration? 

I like to lose myself in the menswear department of Liberty at lunchtime. I follow a lot of street style photographers on Instagram like GarconJon and Guerrisms. I subscribe to the new Esquire Weekly and keep all the US Esquire Big Black Books. I will often check in on sites like FashionBeans, A Continuous Lean and Selectism. And I think Mr Porter is brilliant – it really filled a void for good online menswear.