The Art of Understatement: MR PORTER, Olie Arnold


To celebrate the launch of the new A8, we speak to Olie Arnold, Style Director at MR PORTER, about understated design, developing your own personal style, and why comfort is key.

Olie Arnold of MR PORTER

What does subtlety mean to the MR PORTER man?

Our readers appreciate subtle design, they’re not ostentatious. They consider things like the fabric, or the silhouette—details that don’t scream ‘fashion’, but are very personal and instrumental in subtlety.

In what way does this influence the products you choose to feature?

It’s a concept that’s developing as we get older and as we find customers asking new things of us. It's really powerful to have the influence we do, so there is a common understanding and a genuine interest in finding these really fantastic things.

Which designers out there are doing a great job of being innovative yet understated?

Oliver Spencer is very good. His taste is of a very high standard. His designs are interesting too—not extravagant, but enough to spark an interest and be different.

He’s really great at trims, like buttons or linings in jackets. Little things that you as an owner are aware of, even if everyone else isn’t. I think that’s a nice touch.

What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to update their personal style?

There are ways of changing style that don’t take such a commitment, which can be developed. You can do that in subtle ways. For example, colour can be brought in through accessories like socks or a bag.

It takes a bit of time to bring in something new [to your wardrobe]. Adopt it slowly and get used to wearing it.

How can you make a confident statement with your outfit without going overboard?

I have this rule that I’ve lived by for quite a long time: if you take more than 10 minutes to get ready, you’re overdoing it.

You won’t feel comfortable and that will show in the way you carry yourself. You need to wear the clothes—it can’t be the other way around.