He may be the best-dressed male banker in the Maritimes.
In a sea of businessmen wearing boring uniforms of blue suits or chinos and golf shirts, Paul Ryan stands out.
Bow ties? Pink shirts? Red blazers? Purple shoes?
“I enjoy dressing up and part of it is a way for me to feel like I’m a little bit different,” says Ryan.
It takes a degree of courage to dress differently in a region where not standing out is considered the standard for men. But Ryan does it with panache. He’s also become a beacon for guys looking to turn up their personal style dial.
“People will look at you when you wear a bow tie, and if you’re wearing one, you’re probably either hoping they’re going to look to notice you are wearing something cool, or you are OK if they do,” he says.
“I don’t want to look or dress like everyone else, but I’m also OK if people notice.”
It’s A Passion
Ryan wasn’t always a page out of GQ.
“It’s funny because I was almost indifferent,” he says. “I went through my period like a lot of us, you’re playing sports or in university and it’s just either economics or comfort or any number of things that preclude you from having an interest in style or doing anything more than t-shirts and shorts or sweatpants.”
He credits the women in his life for his style.
“I look back at photos as a young kid, when I’m like four or five, or eight or nine, Mum used to dress me up. I’ll look back and there’s clearly a gene I had there where I liked suits, I liked cufflinks, I liked potentially the attention of being a little different than other folks.”
“But there was definitely a period after that when it wasn’t important and I didn’t care.”
Then he met Jennifer, the very stylish woman who would become his wife.
“She said ‘We’re gonna have to fix a few things,’” he says with a laugh.
Under her tutelage, Ryan rediscovered a sense of fashion his mother had created, and then he really went with it.
“It became a passion.”
Ryan’s Style Tips
Ryan offers a few style tips for the uncertain Maritime businessman looking to branch out a bit.
“You want to be yourself,” he says. “You don’t want to step well outside of who you are, it should be an extension. But [focus on] little details, and not feeling like you have to spend a lot of money to do it.”
“There’s a difference between personal style and fashion, and fashion I think is brand and marketing driven,” he says. “I look for unique pieces that I know someone else either won’t wear or won’t find. That can mean old cuff links paired with a cool new tie I find at Banana Republic.”
“It’s almost like a record collection, over time you’re adding standard pieces that aren’t necessarily fun to buy, like a good white French cuff shirt, that you can build on with those fun things that you find along the way.”
Ryan has a few style icons he follows including the late David Bowie and New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. And he’s a fan of the English soccer star, and Spice Girl husband, David Beckham.
“You have to look at guys like Beckham. He’s a classic chameleon who tries different things,” says Ryan. “He gets razzed for it, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It doesn’t hurt that the dude is really handsome and quite fit.”
“But his sense of adventure around style, I think he’s someone a lot of people can point to and say don’t be afraid to try some things.”