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Native Richmonder Steven Sneed has built a following for his skills as a talented tailor and designer. (Photo by Megan Parry)
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Suspenders designed by Sneed. (Photo courtesy of Steven Sneed/Instagram)
Have you ever searched the #rvafashion tag on Instagram? If you haven’t— you totally should. I’ve stumbled upon some seriously stylish locals through my Insta-stalking habit, “liking” and “following” my way down RVA’s sartorial rabbit hole. One such digital discovery is the charming, dapper and supremely talented tailor and designer, Steven Sneed. The native Richmonder shares snaps of his daily outfits and latest designs on his Instagram page; showcasing not only his personal style but his professional chops as well.
I spent some time chatting with Sneed about his professional background, the advantages of thrifting, holiday dressing tips and his new subscription service; read below to get the style scoop for yourself!
blvd: Hi Steven! Thanks for answering a few of my more pressing fashion-related questions. Can you start by telling BLVD blog readers how you got into the fashion and tailoring business?
Steven: I started teaching myself how to sew in March of 2009 immediately after graduating from Norfolk State University. Soon after I met Hal Abner, a tailor at Men’s Warehouse in Newport News, who began to mentor me in his off-hours, spending every evening from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. for months teaching me proper tailoring techniques and skill sets.
I would also shop at thrift stores and painstakingly pick out nice suits with minimal wear and then alter/tailor them for resale to my friends and growing client base. In 2012, I received a call from Carolyn Dandisman at Nordstrom who’d heard of me through a salesperson at the store. She took a big chance on hiring me since I had no “official” education in tailoring. With her guidance as well as the insights and teachings of my coworkers (from Greece, China, Vietnam, Russia and India) my skill set has drastically increased since my hiring.
blvd: I saw on your Instagram page that you also have your own projects; you design bow ties and offer a subscription service; can you tell me more about that?
S: I am currently having a store front/work space built in the city’s North side where I’m from. I’m definitely excited about that. The subscription service in my bio is an opportunity for my clients to receive my services consistently at a flat rate. Every month, I either mail them a custom bow tie, pocket square, gift card or add the fee to their retainer that they can put toward tailoring services with me whenever they need it.
blvd: You have awesome personal style! I love looking through your daily outfit posts; the tailored casual vibe you have is so great. How would you describe your personal style? Does living in Richmond influence the way you dress?
S: I would define it as exclusive. And I don’t mean in an arrogant sense but literally— I wear a lot of one of a kind pieces! That comes from me either making my clothes myself or shopping at thrift stores. I also have a twin brother. So growing up having to share clothes with someone else, I just wanted to stand apart. Now it has a life of its own where I don’t want look like anyone else period. Now sewing helps me accomplish that for myself and others.
blvd: Can you give the guys a few tips on how to amp up their holiday style for Christmas and New Year's Eve?
S: Whether it be your vest, suit, slacks or accessories, something should stand out, but try not to mix too many loud colors or patterns, unless you have a high fashion IQ. It can become a painful sight to those around you. You don’t have to care what others think of course— just a warning.
blvd: What are the three tailoring faux pas that make you cringe when you see them?
- When a man buys a new suit but neglects to remove certain tags or the tacks that keep the single or double vents closed.
- When a man wears a belt and suspenders at the same time. They are both intended to keep your slacks up, so no need for both.
- It is extremely cringe-worthy to see pair of slacks that are wayyyy too long. That troubles me.
I’m always in awe of folks who are able to teach themselves such technical skills; Sneed’s drive, motivation and talent for his craft is so inspiring, especially coming into the New Year (resolution time!). There’s something so awesomely old school about the late-night hours he spent with his mentor, forgoing sleep to pursue his passion.
Be sure to check out Sneed’s Instagram page at @sturdywell and spend some time scrolling through his archives for a dose of outfit inspiration. I’m definitely now in the market for a playfully printed bow tie and a pair of smart oxfords.