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Charting the style of daily life...with the mouth of a sailor.

Fashionable Ft. Waynian...Andy Welfle!

FashFW, Indiana, fun and games, inspiration, styleNavigate with StyleComment
I am so excited for this new feature I'm calling "Fashionable Ft. Waynian" and I'm thrilled to present Sir Andy Welfle as the first of the series.  An individual for sure, Andy is passionate about pencils, spectacular spectacles and vivacious vests (I adore alliteration).  Andy is always smartly dressed in hipster business casual (yes, that's a thing...sort of) and has a great sense of his unique personal style.  I first met Andy at a Social Media Breakfast Fort Wayne event and we were both wearing Warby Parker glasses...I knew then I wanted to keep my eye on him!
Behold my interview with the gentleman behind

NWS: What do you feel your personal style is?
AW: Y'know, I've never really been cognizant of having a personal style! If I had to give it a name, I'd say it'd be Mid-Century Catholic School Chic.  It's a little bit hipster, a little bit beat generation, a little bit English Professor, a little bit newspaper journalist. As with the way I try to live my life, I like to let my varied interests meld together organically and hope that what emerges isn't totally off-kilter.

NWS: How long have you been interested in style/design/fashion?
AW: Honestly, I don't know! I've never been particularly fashion-driven! I love great design, and started really thinking about it when I was the editor of my college newspaper and helped lead up a major redesign. We spent our entire summer break collecting, dissecting and brainstorming layouts, typography, color, and all sorts of fun, geeky newspapery things. That started me thinking critically about type and layout. Everything else really fell into place.

I also feel that my glasses are an important part of me. Part of it is that I am incapable of touching my finger to my eyeball, so contacts are out. But I've really embraced the dark plastic-framed glasses that gaining popularity. People automatically assume you're smart.

NWS: What is your no fail, go to outfit? 
AW: Ever since I was in Sister Gertrude's first grade class at St. Jude Elementary, I favored long-sleeved blue pinpoint Oxford-cloth shirts. They're easy to maintain, look equally great tucked-in and untucked, and keep you warm, yet has breathable fabric. I'll usually wear that with some dark straight-legged jeans, and some dress shoes or Chucks, depending on the situation.

NWS: Why sweater vests?
AW: Why not? Sweatervests get a bad rap. Long hailed as the staple of a color-blind golfer and suburban business-casual, I think it's high time to take it to the Gen-X and -Y yuppie. We're already adopting the mid-century aesthetics you'll see in tweed, university stripes, glen plaid, and rich, earth tones. Sweatervests are versatile — they can fancy-up a simple jeans-and-dress-shirt combo, or tone down a suit. They'll also keep your core warm but leave your arms free to move as necessary, so they're perfect for spring and autumn — which we have a lot of in Indiana.

NWS: How long has been around?
AW: Actually, it's — I love the trend of incorporating the extension into the name, and I can do my patriotic duty to support my country's top-level domain! And it's only been around for a few weeks, after realizing that my eleven Tumblr blog's wasn't enough. The word Vestivus first came about in a hash-tag circulation among me, @ajuliano, @kmullett, @scloho, @b_gardiner, and some others, after finding that we were all wearing sweatervests to a social media event.

NWS: And what made you start it?
AW: The rise of really, really good fashion blogs on the Tumblsphere, like Jessie Thorn's Put This On (Jessie, of course, from The Sound of Young America fame), Die, Workwear, and some great online eyeglasses boutiques like Warby ParkerSpexclub, and the like (I proudly sport Warby Parker's Japhy frames in a classic tortoiseshell, by the way).

NWS: Tell me about pencils and how style relates to that hobby/passion.
AW: For as long as I can remember, I've loved writing equipment. Rollerball pens, fountain pens, typewriters, paper, word processors, paperclips, etc. Anything to do with scribomechanica (Look it up! It's a real word!) And being a pack rat like my mother, I've always been a collector. Soon I realized that collecting fountain pens was too expensive, and collecting typewriters took up too much room. Wooden pencils, however, are super-inexpensive and take up very little room.

One day while I was messing around on the internet, I found a website selling sampler packs of a really high-quality wooden pencil. Although I've always used wood pencils, I've never really thought about how some might perform better than others. A pencil is a pencil is a pencil, right? I ordered it to try it out, and was struck by how vastly superior these pencils were to the Office Depot specials I was used to using. Sure, they cost 10 times more than those generic pencils, but that was still only a buck or two.

I wrote a review on my personal blog, emailed the shop owner, and he liked it so much, he hired me to review products on his blog. Between the two of us, we amassed quite a following. Until the blog went defunct. I started my own, and soon was hired by, maker of those amazing pencils. I was the Online Community Manager there for the better part of a year. I still maintain my personal pencil blog, Woodclinched.

Nowadays, my collection includes upwards of 1500 pencils that I keep in several cigar boxes.

I think pencils fit with the same zeitgeist as my style tastes run — they're old, classic, but still relevant and functional. They come in different colors and shapes, but all fit together perfectly. And look at this beauty — the Palomino Blackwing, the prettiest pencil currently made, and a take on this wonderful classic.

NWS: Where do you shop and where do you find sartorial inspiration? 
AW: I don't really have one place I shop. I'm usually a budget shopper, so I'll find Old Navy or Gap classics, though only maybe 5% of their stock appeals to me. I shop at Macy's often (I worked at a department store in college and feel at home there).

Mad Men provides loads of inspiration, and I love Banana Republic's new collection inspired by that era. I love old British television shows they run on PBS —Are You Being Served?Last of the Summer Wine, and old Doctor Who reruns. There's a lot of great tweed to be found there.

NWS: Is there an "ultimate" sweater vest (brand, style, material) you hope to one day own?  If money was no object or if you could design your own what would it look like and what "features" would it have?
AW: I used to have a beautiful blackwatch-plaid sweater vest by Ralph Lauren. I bought it off the mannequin when I worked at Marshall Fields for a fraction of retail, and it being two sizes too big for me, I had quite literally tailored to me. Of course, that was almost ten years and 30 pounds ago, so it couldn't even begin to fit me anymore. I'd love to find something like that again.

NWS: Anything you'd like to say about style in general? How do you feel Ft. Wayne reacts to trends or reacts to your style?
AW: Middle school and high school was hard — kids can be cruel, especially in a world being introduced to some crazy-ass fashion like parachute pants and color-changing t-shirts. But when I hit college age, that mostly went away. Fort Wayne is pretty middle of the road, and if I was touting a fashion a little less subtle, I might get a few stares. But I mostly dress like I just came from work at a web development firm or something. No biggie.

To learn more about Andy and his keen personal style follow him on Twitter @awelfle

BIG thanks to Andy for sharing his style sensibilities with NWS!