By Britt Burritt
On the streets of his hometown, Harjas Singh cuts a distinctive figure. That's by his carefully constructed design. The fashion enthusiast behind Styled by Harj knows how to make a statement with a pocket square ("it's got colors, it's got patterns, it's loud") or a tie tack (in "the shape of a moustache") paired with one of his perfectly fitted suits.
We spoke with Singh about how men can find their unique style—in three steps.
What are your holiday traditions?
We always do a home-cooked Christmas Eve dinner followed by a home-cooked Christmas morning breakfast. We also do a family "secret Santa" gift exchange.
What is your favourite holiday memory?
The first time we put up our Christmas tree was the beginning of a new family tradition that has helped bring and keep us together year after year.
What do you love about Toronto?
I live in a small city by the name of Thornhill in Toronto. It's so welcoming and accepting of everything that makes it different and unique. Growing up in Thornhill, a place that wasn't full of South Asians but predominantly Caucasian, it was nice to be different and then also welcomed and accepted for being different. If you look at Toronto, if you look at Canada, people will tell you that it's got so much diversity, but it's also so accepting of its diversity.
What styling tips do you have for men?
It's not super complicated. What I tell a lot of my friends, family and clients is that it's about finding the right colors and patterns that suit your personality and your skin tone, and then finding a fit that works for your body type. It helps when you have a stylist to hold your hand through that process. But my biggest styling tip to people is just keep it simple. Start with simple things; start with patterns and colors that you like and enjoy, and something that fits you and is comfortable. Then you can slowly start understanding your body type, start understanding fashion and trends, and then put the pieces together.
How can someone develop personal style?
The first meeting with any of my clients is always about half an hour to an hour and I just get to know them. I do that because I think the first step is to create a fashion persona for yourself. What I mean by that is if you're more serious then stick to that and understand that that's who you are. I think with that comes patience and confidence. People kind of want to flip the switch overnight. It's been about a four-to-five-year journey for me developing my personal style, and I still don't think I have yet, and so patience is key. Lastly, I think it's confidence. I may be able to put you in like a $3,000 outfit, but if you don't rock it with confidence, then it's not you. I think when you're developing a sense of personal style, it's figuring out who you are as an individual so you can parallel that to fashion, having patience, and then a sense of real confidence that you can rock what you're wearing.
Can you describe your personal style?
I was stumped on this, so I jumped on a phone call with one of my friends. She's like, "The way I would describe it is an edgy twist on classical pieces."
Where do you look for fashion inspiration?
One of my biggest inspirations is Toronto and Canada. I think this is because it's so different—right?—different people, different cultures, different everything, music, food, entertainment, personalities. I'm one of those people on the subway whose eyes always run back and forth just looking at people, and I do that a lot because I just love fashion. I love people's outfits.