Meet style writer and menswear expert Beau Hayhoe (@beauhayhoe) of The Style Guide, and find out how to grow your Instagram following and develop your own personal uniform.
Were you always interested in style and fashion as a kid? How did you develop an interest in it?
I always liked costumes. I dressed up as Indiana Jones and I wore that costume for a year. As far as personal style goes, I didn’t think about it much. I grew up in Michigan in a small town called Mason where my dad had an asphalt business and also was a substitute teacher and a football coach. I wore athletic gear because I played a lot of sports.
In college, I started to dress a little better. I went to Michigan State University and I wanted to look more pulled together. This was in 2010, right when menswear started to take off. I started to read blogs like Effortless Gent and Style Girlfriend, [both of which] are still really prominent today. Reading these blogs helped me to improve my confidence and my approach to the day in terms of purpose, structure and self-improvement. I started learning the basics of classic style and how to define the style that worked for me.
Tell me about your career path.
I was interning at a small-town newspaper covering the police department in Jackson, Michigan but I’d read style blogs for hours. Eventually, I started my own blog and then I reached out to the editor of Effortless Gent with an idea of a recurring series called “5 ways to wear 1.” My interest in style kept growing and I started to see it as a potential career. That’s how I turned from traditional news journalism to freelance style writing. The process evolved naturally.
How did you become a social influencer?
I joined Instagram fairly late in the game, around January 2013. I didn’t start posting style content until two years after that. I moved to New York and I started a PR internship at Bonobos which allowed me to combine writing, style and PR. I met a lot of influencers, and my blog helped me get a foot in the door. I became friends with Instagrammers like Jamal Jackson, Diego León of Dandy in the Bronx of Leo Chan of Levitate Style. They inspired me to go out on my own.
How did you grow your following?
I researched Instagram to find inspiration and to learn new ways to produce content that’s authentic to me—things like product shots or outfit grids. I tried to post consistently and I really kept at it. Before I knew it, I went from about 1000 followers in 2015 to 15,000 by the end of 2016.
What does it mean to be an influencer? What are some of your responsibilities?
A lot of influencers have a manager, an agent and a photographer. My approach is more DIY. I have a full-time job so I don’t live the full-time influencer lifestyle. It’s a ton of hustle. There's everything from personal travel to video content creation to attending events and networking either on your own or with a brand.
I put together my own outfits. I create content that fits my aesthetic but I also keep in mind the brands that I'm working with. I work on my blog every night and on Saturdays and Sundays, I prep my outfits for the week. For me, it’s a way to combine my love of menswear with my other passions. I’m a big craft beer fan and a music fan. It all comes together when I put together an outfit that I’d wear to a concert.
What do you do to maintain your community?
I post every day. It really does make a difference. It’s about consistent content creation. When I post about products and brands that I love it really resonates with my followers. I try to engage with them and respond to comments and I remember to stay true to the authenticity which drew people to me in the first place.
Where do you find your style inspiration?
In a city like New York, it’s easy to come by. I get inspired by people in my fellow fashion circles, but also from people watching on the subway, going to stores and events, seeing overarching trends on the runway. If someone’s wearing a cool color palette or something unique, I file it away on my mental Pinterest board.
How would you describe your personal style?
Rugged American classics. A lot of leather boots, denim and chambray with Henleys and cardigans for layering. Sometimes it’s as simple as wearing a watch that’s unique. The right fits and the right fabrics set my look apart from something that’s more basic. I look for quality fabrics and quality investment pieces. Simple pieces can be set apart when they’re well made.
What are the foundations of classic style? What are some essential pieces that you need?
It’s different for everyone but I think it’s about basics that are polished but still relatable. A great fitting pair of blue jeans, slim chinos that you can dress up or down. Dark khaki shorts with a slimmer fit, and white low-top sneakers. I like the idea of a personal uniform—like an oxford shirt, dark denim and leather chukka boots. That’s become a go-to of mine.
Why do you think style is important? Why does it matter?
If you look good, you feel good. Good style and grooming can set you apart and put you on the right path for your day. Men are more image conscious now than ever before, and that’s a good thing. For me, [improving my style] has made me more confident and helped me to improve my outlook on life.
For a long time, men were told looks don’t matter, that style and grooming were things only women worried about. Has that changed now?
There are more brands that cater to guys specifically now and they’re making it more intuitive for us to care about grooming. We’re not using our girlfriend’s moisturizer anymore.
What advice can you give to someone who is trying to develop their personal style?
Inspiration can make all the difference. Look at a guy in your life that you admire in terms of how they dress or care for themselves. Find items and grooming products that can improve your life and fit in with your lifestyle. But it’s not as simple as going from a tee-shirt to a suit, it’s about finding what works for you. Be true to yourself. If you need to wear a suit every day, do it in a way that feels true to you.
Can you share some of your favorite grooming tips?
Finding the right daily moisturizer for your skin will go a long way. If you have a hair style that requires more upkeep, find a matte finish pomade that you can use every day. If you have a beard, use beard oil or beard balm to keep it looking healthy.