Presented in collaboration with Fusion of Effects, this interview is part of a series discussing signature style and other aspects of menswear blogging with some of Toronto’s most influential up-and-comers. See all the interviews here.
Men dress well to look good — that much is a given — but another reason guys dedicate themselves to fashion is to feel good, too. That’s the concept behind Abdulla Khatib’s men’s lifestyle blog, Muscles & Tussles, wherein the self-proclaimed rookie writer fits fashion features alongside tips for healthy living. One of the first things I noticed about Khatib was his eagerness to learn, made manifest in the form of a Moleskine notebook in which he records new ideas for writing and, presumably, for life in general. It’s rare to find a blogger so passionate about self-improvement, which is why I’m certain anyone following him will find loads of inspiration for doing the same. I sat down with Khatib ahead of our photo shoot for Fusion of Effects’ sixth anniversary celebration to talk the versatility of the pocket square, the intersection of well-being and fashion and making his mark in the industry.
The Gentleman Journalist: What’s your signature piece?
Abdulla Khatib: My signature piece is a pocket square. The reason why I’m a big fan of the pocket square is it could be any piece of cloth or piece of fabric that you use. If you wear it with a suit, you can add a bit of detail and a bit of colour. You could just wear a dress shirt and put it in the pocket to add a bit of detail. Even for casual outfits, you can throw it into your back pocket. I’ve cut out old pieces of scarves before and used them as pocket squares. Even bandannas can be used as pocket squares. You’d be surprised.
TGJ: What do you look for in a pocket square?
AK: You want that one stand-out accessory to bring out the outfit or add that pop of excitement, so it’s more about the detail than the quality. I have a few Club Monaco ones and some from Banana Republic, and also some I’ve ordered off Ebay from Korea or China. They all look just as great, and you can’t tell the difference. If you can make it work based on the colour, detail, or how you fold it, it goes a long way.
TGJ: How would you describe your overall style, and how does your signature piece fit into it?
AK: I tend to wear business casual, but sometimes grungy or casual, working around a business element. A pocket square can dress up a casual outfit or dress down a more formal look. It’s a piece that’s very versatile and can make anything more stylish.
TGJ: Do you believe having a a signature look is important for menswear bloggers?
AK: Yes, I definitely do. I can’t really vouch for myself because I’m still trying to establish a niche or a stronger understanding of what I really want to put out there, because once you stand out for one particular thing, people can recognize you for that look or style. They see that you have something that everyone else doesn’t, or that you’re doing what others are doing, but better. Standing out allows you to be the best at what you do.
TGJ: A signature piece helps define your look and people’s first impression of you. What’s your blog’s signature, its niche?
AK: Muscles & Tussles is a bit of an abstract name for a website, but the idea is that a healthy lifestyle, looking good and dressing well can be done by anybody. I try to put together outfits that don’t really revolve around so much the brand, but moreso looking stylish without having to spend too much money. Recently, I’ve also done a few food posts — eating healthy, eating well. Being a healthy gentleman is a healthy lifestyle and a healthy look altogether.
TJG: What’s your plan for making a lasting mark in the industry?
AK: If I were to leave a mark, I’d want to let everyone know that anyone can dress well. I’m a regular guy like anybody else. I’m just trying to be more vocal in my opinions about style and well-being for gentlemen. Style is one thing, but style carries forth a confidence, and beyond confidence is a great man. You just have to be willing to open up your mind a bit and try new things, try new styles and learn healthy habits.
TGJ: What’s your plan for achieving your long-term goals, what’s that next step?
AK: The next step is I have to improve my blogging skills by collaborating with like-minded individuals and hopefully be inspired by them, learning what I can from them, just keeping an open mind. I’d like to potentially create a team for my blog that would help me grow it into a brand that revolves around men’s lifestyle — potentially a magazine — where it promotes healthy lifestyle and dressing well.