Four local fashion industry experts translate their tricks of the trade, trends and tips for our laid-back coastal lifestyle.
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Dennis Reeves’ high school job in a men’s clothing store properly suited him to open his very own business outfitting the most stylish men along the coast.
Founder/Owner, Dennis & Company, Fort Walton Beach
In the ’80s, ZZ Top crooned that “every girl is crazy for a sharp-dressed man” … and for nearly 30 years, Dennis Reeves, 47, has made a living of dressing sharp.
Reeves first learned his way around a collar and cuff in high school, while on the job at Don Alan’s Men’s Store, where he worked for 20 years. In 2007, Reeves stuffed all of his retail experience in his designer pockets and founded Dennis & Company, which, at the time, was an updated full-service men’s clothing store. (Today, Amy Reeves runs women’s apparel for Dennis & Company.) Dennis explains that by “full service,” he means that he covers all of the clothing needs men may have, from a picnic on the bayou to a formal wedding on the beach.
One of the things that makes Dennis & Company special is that the owner is working on the sales floor every day, bringing all of his experience to make all of his clients look great.
Emerald Coast Magazine: What makes you a style icon?
Dennis reeves: I’ve been able to grow in this community. My customer base comes here for me, and I’ve been here on the Emerald Coast for 29 Christmases helping wives pick out something for their men.
EC: Do you grab and go, or do you think through an ensemble?
DR: I try to think out my own wardrobe. I have to look like I know what I’m doing, so I have to look like I’m put together. I always have a sport coat to demonstrate how it’s supposed to look. I always try to represent fashion. If you’ve got something with a little edge, people do notice.
EC: What does it mean to have a sense of style?
DR: It’s important that you have some leaders in fashion in your community. And these leaders have to expose their community to new fashion to keep it evolving. Fashion and what we put on is one of the most important things we do each day.
EC: What is fashion, to you?
DR: I could do something else, but I have a love and passion for this business. It’s more than a career, but I’ve invested my entire life in the fashion industry.
EC: How have you seen fashion evolve over nearly 30 years?
DR: The Emerald Coast was always casual, but when Casual Friday hit, there was a dip in demand for dress clothing. Still, there are a lot more options now.
EC: What are some classic fashion must-haves?
DR: It’s changing. Years ago I would have said, charcoal suit, navy blazer, blue and white dress shirt and a necktie. Now, you need a soft sport coat to put on with the “bad” pair of jeans. We’re going softer and more casual.
EC: What fashion faux pas do you most despise?
DR: Not matching your belt with your shoes.
EC: If you have to make a good impression, you will be sure to do … what?
DR: Try to dress appropriately. If the invitation says “black tie,” wear a tuxedo.
EC: If you could experience a fashion flash-back, what era would you want to exist in?
DR: 1988 to 1995 Tommy Hilfiger, for sure.
EC: What do you say to the notion that men don’t shop?
DR: That’s a myth.
EC: What is your suggestion for inspired coastal fashion?
DR: Here you don’t have to adhere to the seasonal rules, such as no white after Labor Day, and you can wear things longer into each season.
EC: What is your favorite fashion-forward tip?
DR: Don’t be afraid to wear some color.