Style Profile

The Look: Adam Olenn

Moses Brown's dapper Director of Communications on branding yourself and the value of a bowtie


My style education is courtesy of my wife, Jennifer, who worked in fashion publishing in New York City. She taught me that style is another kind of composing – a visual composition, like taking a picture. I do a lot of photography as Director of Communications and Community Engagement for Moses Brown, and fashion is making a sort of living image.

Humans are massively visual creatures, and we make snap decisions. So putting a little attention into the artistry of ‘What do I want your first thought to be when encountering me?’ is not misplaced. As a branding and marketing guy, I know that everyone will find a hook for you; if you don’t choose it, they’ll choose for you. Put some thought into it: does it fit the environment? Does it say what you’d like to say? And it can’t be fake.

I actually started wearing bow ties in high school here, and when I was preparing for this job, I thought: ‘Bow tie guy’ will be the easy way for people to identify me. I started wearing one every day to work. I probably own about 50. I got to where my hands can tie them automatically, without a mirror.

I hear the word ‘dapper’ a lot. A bit of Southern charm in the North? Definitely. A light or seersucker suit and a mint julep? Absolutely. I loved my undergraduate years at UVA; there is so much about the South to love. In some ways I’m shooting for the Garden and Gun magazine aesthetic: refined, but a little down-home. Not snooty. Skating the seam between civilized and rustic.

One last piece of advice from Jen: get a tailor. Whether you’re built like a wedge of pie, a pear, a stick or a block, if the clothes fit well, they make you look great and feel great. Take anything off the rack from Target or Old Navy, and if it fits right, your happiness and confidence are the things people notice more than anything else.