Welcome to What I Wear to Work, where the most stylish people we know show you how they dress for the office—and how wildly the 9-to-5 style pendulum swings right now.
When Bruce Pask was named men’s fashion director at the storied New York store Bergdorf Goodman in 2014, it was a coming home, of sorts. Years before he landed the gig, before he made his name as men’s fashion director at T Magazine (and before that, as an editor at this very publication) or collaborated closely with a who’s who of photographers and creative types (paging Annie Leibowitz), Pask worked at the Gap and ESPRIT on summer breaks during college. So a position that requires the know-how of someone who’s spent years making sense of the best men’s clothing and accessories on planet Earth and requires a chunk of time among the iconic men’s store’s three floors is one Pask is uniquely qualified for.
“I work in the store and my office is a block away,” he says on the big name designer-heavy third floor of the landmark store one day this fall. “I’m here every day, I interact with customers every day. We have the most direct line to the customer by being here and being available.”
While Pask helps discerning customers navigate the luxury wares in Bergdorf’s impressive Manhattan shop day by day, he’s also a man known on the global stage for his own personal style—especially during the biannual men’s fashion show circuit. Pask is a long-standing street style fixture, appreciated for his ability to twist classic pieces just enough to make them worthy of a second look (and worthy of ripping off). Whereas the fashion world’s peacocks are happy to flex in a given season’s flashiest, most over-the-top designer pieces, Pask can make the familiar—a trim denim jacket or a subtly plaid suit jacket worn on the shoulders—look entirely unexpected.
Recently, British designer Craig Green has caught Pask’s eye.”I like his elegant take on the utilitarian,” he says. “His aesthetic is so clear, and it suits me well.” His other current obsession is big pants. A few months ago, he says, he woke up and felt the urge to wear what he calls “fashion pants”. “I woke up and was like, I need big pants,” he says with a slight laugh. “I’m felt like that was what’s going to make me feel more jazzed about what I’m wearing.” They’re the ideal alternative for a style-inclined man who wants to standout, but isn’t in the market for wallpaper florals or embroidered track suits (and certainly not an embroidered wallpaper floral track suit). They’re also very right now. As Pask points out, silhouettes and proportions are moving from lean and strict to something easier and with more volume.
“It’s really broad in its interpretation,” he points out about the bolder trouser cut. “They can be denim, worsted wool, they can be flat-front, they can be pleated, they can be cropped, they can be long. I don’t care, I just want them big.” A current favorite just happens to be the pair made by the Japanese label United Arrows in collaboration with the Gap and GQ.
And while big pants may be a daunting proposition for most men, Pask makes it convincing by fitting it into his uniform, one that leans on a dark palette of navy, black, and charcoal gray, and is anchored by menswear staples like turtleneck sweaters, striped button-up shirting and beautifully detailed outerwear. He knows how to get the biggest impact from a tightly-edited mix of must-haves. “The idea of wearing a uniform for me, I’m out the door in half an hour.” he says. “I don’t spend a ton of time thinking about it, that’s what the point of a uniform should be. It’s iterations. I’d rather spend time thinking about the store and our work than what I look like that day.”
In his role Pask has to be of two minds: shopping for himself, and shopping for his customer. Pask, unsurprisingly, makes quick work out of racks when shopping for himself.”I’m very clear about what I like and what works for me. There’s a balance of a tailored piece with something casual so there’s this mixture of like slightly dressy in a casual presentation. There are a lot of things in the market that I see and that I love, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to buy it for myself.”
“It’s really easy to divorce yourself from the process,” he explains of the divide between himself and the BG customer. “Keeping your finger on the pulse of what the customer is interested in, what’s driving people to buy something that’s compelling to them, what designers are they interested in,” is an integral part of his job. “For me it’s intuitive, its this sense that a certain newness is going to build traction and momentum. You can’t be too far in front of your customer. You have to be a fashion leader and enrolling them in the process but also listening to them what they want, what they’re interested in.”
Because the men’s fashion director job requires a good bit of time on the road to track down the best of the best or shoot it for the store’s catalog, Pask has packing down to a science, too. He often travels only with a carry-on, though if he does check a bag for longer trips, like the month-long stretches during the men’s shows, he always makes sure to pack the VIP pieces from his wardrobe (like the vintage Helmut Lang denim jacket) on-board with him.
While the retail sector is grappling with its own growing pains, Pask is invigorated by the menswear scene. Bergdorf has embraced the new guard of streetwear with open arms, placing brands like Off-White and Fear of God next to mainstays like Gucci and Prada. “I think social media has had a huge influence on menswear, in that it has exposed the general population, certainly men who may not have had a big interest in fashion, has made this information so readily available. It’s sort of easy to look at and absorb it, distill what’s interesting. In general the populous is much more informed,” he says. And while that may make the job of finding surprising things for eagle-eyed customers even more challenging, it makes it more exciting too. “I love being here and being in the store,” he says.
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