Ethan Wong, also known as the Teenage Gentleman, is a vintage menswear enthusiasts and creator of the style blog Street x Sprezza.
He also happens to be a man of modest height, so I’m thrilled to hear his thoughts on men’s style and dressing well as a shorter man.
Height: 5’7″ (and a half)
Body Type: Average
Jacket Size: 36s, 36r or 38s (depending on the brand)
Pant Size: 32×30 (before hemming)
Brock: How would you describe your style in three words?
Ethan: Classic with (an) edge.
How’d you get into classic menswear, and why do you love vintage tailoring?
This is a tough question! I feel like the more people ask me, the more the story changes.
When Articles of Style asked, I mentioned that old Looney Tunes Cartoons helped me get into the vintage mood. Daffy Duck would fight gangsters and Little Red Riding Hood would run away from a slick DB tuxedo’ed Wolf.
There’s also Dapper Day, an event where people dress up at Disneyland, where I would see people dressed up like the 20s-50s.
Then there’s Tintin, my favorite graphic novel about an intrepid reporter’s adventures in the 1930s-1960s. The style illustrated in that book is amazing!
All of these things got me thinking about suit, but it wasn’t until I met people in the vintage scene (in person and on Facebook groups) that I was able to learn more about the importance of fit and styling.
The 1930’s was the stand out period to me because it involved the most modern styles: fitted jackets, striped shirts, collar bars, and conservative ties.
I actually wrote a guide to vintage style to explain the vintage style eras.
Vintage style became a huge hobby for me. During my first year of college, I bought up as much as I could afford (ties, suits and blazers).
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But even though I was very into vintage, my every day dress was still normal (tees and jeans). It evolved to OCBDs and chinos, but I still felt like something was lacking.
It wasn’t until very recently that I decided to mix my love of vintage and my everyday wear.
I’m still nervous to “overwear” my vintage clothing, so I find ways to emulate this style with modern clothes.
Eventually, I settled on a mix of Italian and classic tailoring. I like to think of it as the 1930s meets the 2010s.
There are days when I feel a bit more trendy (especially in my casual style) but when it comes to suits and other sartorial pieces, I try to stay classic.
I find that this style fits my body type the best, as it emphasizes clean lines and a nice fit.
I’ll utilize pattern mixing to keep things fun and interesting.
Fit is so crucial for formalwear, and you “dress up” a lot. Do you struggle with finding clothes that fit?
I do struggle a bit to find clothes that fit. Pants are just a bit too long for me off the rack.
Jackets are fine, but I’m a stickler for proportion. I’ll choose between size 36 and 38 depending on how long the jacket is or how big the shoulders are.
Of the two, I worry more about jacket length.
Where do you shop?
Other than eBay and thrift stores, I mainly shop at Banana Republic, Uniqlo, and J. Crew. I love the fit of Uniqlo’s shirts.
Almost all my pants are from Banana Republic. I wear their chinos and their flannel modern slim fit pants almost every day!
How often do you go to the tailor, and what’s your most common alteration?
I’m at the tailor almost every week because I buy something almost every week! I always get my pants hemmed with no break.
I also add 1.5″ cuffs (sometimes) and suspender buttons.
Brock: Has your height ever been a source of insecurity?
Ethan: It was when I was growing up. However, I realized that height really shouldn’t have a bearing on how others perceive you.
It shouldn’t be something to stand in your way or hold you back!
Does being a man of modest height make it hard to dress well?
Not really! A great tailor is an investment, but it allows you to have complete control over your wardrobe – to look exactly how you want to look like.
Any style tips for shorter gents who want to look sharp?
Yes! Always check out eBay to find small sizes of vintage suits.
Go to your tailor every time you buy pants and get them hemmed to where you need them to be.
Buy suspenders and wear them as high as they can go without discomfort. A higher rise pant will help you look slimmer and elongate your legs.
Do you have any shorter style role models?
Mark Cho of the Armoury is around my height and dresses extremely well. Arnold Wong of the Armoury HK also dresses well and is into vintage clothing.
Alex Crawford from Articles of style has an impeccable workwear inspired style. I also gotta mention my friend Rajesh:
I wore OCBDs and chinos and never got anything tailored until I met him in college. He wore a blazer to class before I did!
Brock: Why did you start Street x Sprezza?
Ethan: Street x Sprezza was started by my friend Tim and I during a car ride. He always wanted to work for a GQ Style type environment, and I wanted an outlet to talk about clothes.
Tim left the blog, which put me in charge, and I continued it as sort of a way to share my personal ideas about fashion and document my outfits.
I also wanted to educate people who ask me questions and feature people who have great style.
I think I’ve succeeded in those goals. If you look through my blog’s archives, you can see the evolution of my style and the content.
It takes a while to find your voice and learn how to take professional photos (I don’t have a photographer, so I either take my own photos or train my friends to use my camera).
Some articles are meant simply to educate or show off outfits, but I always seem to find a way to incorporate my thoughts and opinions. Writers bias I guess!
What are your goals for the brand?
If I had an overall theme to Street x Sprezza, it’s that you can you use your style to challenge the rest of the world.
Many of the ideas or outfits aren’t acceptable in many circles. Lots of people say that dressing up isn’t comfortable or “natural”.
Not many people wear vintage clothing or polos with a suit or “sprezza” ties.
I want my blog to challenge those notions, and I hope that people reading will look at me and the people that I feature and be inspired to try something.
That may mean picking some aspects of vintage that they like or even wearing a suit more often. If someone does that, then I know I have succeeded.
What are you currently ‘up to’ in life?
I’m pursuing my MBA in marketing while working on campus. My undergrad was in accounting, which I hated.
I found that marketing was more in line with what I want to do, which is to work in buying or branding (or become the creative director of a company).
I’m still young, but I hope that I’m able to eventually work in something creative related to fashion.
I’ve also started a pocket square company for my friends called Mercer & Arrow. It’s still very new, but it’s fun to be able to share our hobbies with the world.
What’s next for you?
After I finish my MBA, I hope to find work in marketing. I hope that my blog and its humble success will lead me in the direction that I want to go in fashion.
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I’d love to be a shop manager/buyer for a high-end retailer. If I got picked up by the Armoury, that would be a dream come true!
However, I’m mainly looking for a marketing job that can give me the necessary experience and the financial freedom to maintain work on my blog.
If you won the lottery and never had to worry about money, how would you spend your time?
Oh man, where to begin! If you watched my interview on the Gentleman’s Gazette you’ll know that I love film scores. To be able to write and compose music would be great.
I’d also love to keep blogging and showcasing people who I’ve come to know in the vintage scene. They have some pieces that the world needs to see!
Ethan is an interesting young gent, and I fully expect to see great things from him in the coming years.
Remember three important takeaways from this interview:
- No matter your age, build or profession, it’s okay to “dress up” by wearing formal clothing on a regular basis.
- Fit is subject to trend, and it’s okay to experiment with different silhouettes.
- Certain garments, like a tailored navy two piece suit, will look great for decades (or longer).
If you want to learn more about Ethan Wong, check out Street x Sprezza.
What do you think about Ethan’s style? Leave a comment below!
Amos Nance says
At 65 I’m finding it very inspiring to see young men start to dress well again. I do wear jeans and casual wear but when a society thinks it OK to go “out” in some of the things that we see today tells us why that society has so many social issues. We, men, I believe can help turn this around by simply presenting ourselves in a more” Civilized” way. The interview was great and Mr. Wong also did a great interview with the Gentleman’s Gazette. Mr. Wong is a true Young Gentleman.
Great post Brock. I really like the direction your blog has taken recently!
I noticed you are doing stuff with Peter Manning too. (PMNYC just sent me your video on color)
Congrats on your success!
Richard Leonard says
I like his style,especially that Classic Italian 30’s with the 2010’s . We are exactly the same size,i find traditional men’s shirts are too big,come on America a small is not 33 and a half inch sleeve. Nice article.
Amen to that!
DL Renollet says
Another inspiring article. Part of the fun of adopting style, is….when you learn the rules, you are then free to break them. And I’m sure this axiom could be parsed further, but if 1930s is your thing, how cool is it to have a thing that is you?
Way to go Brock Great interview… great kid!
Ed from My Dapper Self says
Great interview, Brock!
I’m a big fan of this young (and fellow short) gentleman. I particularly liked his classic with an edge approach to style.
Just to reinforce your takeaways, it is absolutely fine to “dress up” everyday. I wonder why that would even be an issue? But it is to a lot people, so the question that lingers is… why?
Keep it up, Brock!
Thanks Ed! Not sure why it’s such an awkward thing to be dressed up these days, but I’m glad to see people challenging the norm.
Great interview! I just started following him on Insta a few weeks ago. Stylish dude!
Thanks! Yeah he’s looking damn sharp, especially for a young guy. I’m surprised he doesn’t have tons of IG followers…