Geneva – Paris – Kraków: The Gentleman’s Lifestyle
I have been mentioning lately that interviewing people is one of my favourite activities. A few weeks ago I interviewed Emil Levin from Sweden in a great article about disabled fashion.
This time however, I am proud to introduce you to another wonderful person I have met through Instagram. To me he is a dying breed of the Quintessential Gentleman and never ceases to amaze you with his style choices, finesse and storytelling.
In today’s article you will explore the story of a man who’s life revolves around three different cultures: Geneva, Paris and Kraków. Without further ado I present to you Philippe.tk!
First of all, once more thanks for participating in this! I like it as a theme and I can learn a lot from you, and so can the rest of the world!
You’re very welcome, I’m more than happy to both share what I know & learn something new!
Tell us a bit about yourself. How does a Polish Frenchman end up in Switzerland?!
My name is Philippe, I was born in France near Paris and was raised there by my Polish parents & sister. I’m an engineer by trade and I currently work in the satellite industry, more specifically on connecting aircraft by satellite. One of the best companies in that space had their aviation office near Geneva and that’s how I ended up here. I’ve been madly in love with Switzerland for the past three years and I hope it stays that way for the rest of my life.
Even as a kid I always loved neckties & watches and I would dress up every time I got the chance to. I really got into classic menswear at the end of high school and the beginning of engineering school. It truly took off though when I started my first job!
You have experienced fantastic growth in your Instagram over the past 6 months, while you worked for over a year on it before. What made you commit to the platform? Any tips for aspiring Instagramers?
I started my Tumblr & later my Instagram as just a quick access album of my previous outfits. The idea was to see what works and what doesn’t (this was inspired by @dirnelli and @paulluxsartoria). I left it public because why not, and people started to follow me and comment on my posts. After a year and one thousand followers, I started to take it more seriously than just taking a quick selfie every morning before going to work.
I got a tripod, improved my photography, and started to work and collaborate with other Instagramers. I have to mention Romain from @gentlemenclover who reached out to me during his funding campaign, Steffen @stingwersen who runs @vecchioanseatico who showed me a good time in Hamburg & with whom I went to Pitti Uomo in Florence and of course my great friends Giorgia & Stefano who are behind @stefano.cau and who are responsible for me going to Como five times in less than six months!
As you said, it took me more than a year and a half to get to two thousand followers. However, it took less than four months to gain an additional seven thousands. I would say that patience & consistency are key. I post every day the best content I can create and I connect with my followers and other creators. I’ve never played any games such as following/unfollowing, likes for likes or pods because I’d rather have a thousand organically reached loyal followers than one hundred thousand tricked into following me who will never interact with me.
This certainly shows from how much engagement your posts have! Style and Fashion is not on every man’s mind. What fascinated you in this world and made you get involved with it?
I quickly understood that nothing is more useful in life than what appears to be useless. Beyond our practical needs (eating, sleeping, etc.), I believe we have a need for harmony. Some people satisfy that need with art, work, sports, travelling or other means. For me it’s to dress up.
I also noticed how people reacted to my outfits and it’s usually very positive.
I’m lucky that I don’t have a dress code at work so I can really explore the classic menswear world. While a lot of bankers & lawyers think they are sartorial experts since they dress up every day, they tend to stick to the same outfits (dark suit, light shirt and maybe a tie?) and can be restricted by their industries.
When I finished my last internship and signed my first contract at the same company, my boss’ boss’ boss who could be seen wearing flip-flops in the summer told me I didn’t have to dress the way I do. I told him that neither did he!
Of course, you should always dress well for you! Philippe, how does someone find their personal style? Where to begin?
As with many things, the easiest way to develop one’s personal style is to have a mentor figure. This could be a friend, a family member, a co-worker, an actor or someone you saw online. See how that person dresses, what you think works, what you think doesn’t, and (if possible) apply it to your style.
There are endless picture boards online, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. However, I would focus on a dozen accounts to see the consistency and coherence in their styles.
I would add curiosity to the mix! You do seem to have an endless wardrobe though! What’s the secret behind that?
My wardrobe isn’t small by any stretch of the imagination but it’s not as big as some people might think when they see my Instagram profile.
The trick is to never “buy a look”. What I mean by that is buying a tie while only thinking about it pairing with one shirt and one jacket/suit. That’s a recipe to potentially having some great one hit wonders but as the name implies, they can only truly hit once or at least only once in a while.
Buying pieces that can work with someone’s entire wardrobe or at least a big part of it is the secret. If one has 5 suits, 5 sport jackets (so 10 jackets in total), 10 shirts and 10 ties, that’s 1,000 combinations. Let’s say only half of these look good, that’s two years of workdays covered.
I love to buy second hand, firstly because I’m a thrifty person and because there is such great value in vintage menswear for such a great price.
It’s much better to not be looking for something specific (“I want a navy suit”) and rather be pleasantly surprised by the offering. I would therefore advise people to build a small but solid foundation of 4-6 jacket/trousers combinations, 5-10 shirts and 5-10 ties and a few pocket squares before going out thrifting.
I wish our thrifting options were better in Sweden! Hey, I don’t remember you showing any shoes though! What do you usually wear daily?
I find it hard to take nice pictures of my shoes with my current setup. This is why you don’t see much beyond the sneak peek one can get from my watch/trouser/sock shot on the right hand side of my daily Instagram posts.
I’m mostly wearing the few pairs of Crockett & Jones I thrifted while studying in Paris. I also have some Weston and Church’s and I am currently looking into some Italian and Spanish makers.
Thrifting online for shoes is a bit harder, unless you already know your size/last. Therefore, my advice is to ideally do it in person. My friend @chez_ammar often has some nice stuff in his Paris shop.
I am amazed by the classic yet unusual style you project. Checks, stripes, flannel, tweed and different patterns which are colourful and different. The same goes for the ties and pocket squares.
Thank you for your kind words Kostas! I think you put it well, it’s classic menswear but with colours, patterns, fabrics and combinations that are not often seen.
Every time you post, I expect a story. A story told from the pictures which is accompanied by the appropriate lapel pins. What made you use those pins in the first place?
Low expectations are the secret to happiness!
I love flags and I got my hands on a stack of pins so I thought why not use them! They can either complement an outfit or add an extra pop of colour.
It’s also a great souvenir from a country/city that one visits. Very small, usually inexpensive and it always makes me smile when I see them and when I wear them.
Carrying a piece of history always with you. I like this! However, this would not be a proper interview without asking you about watches. You are a well-known watch aficionado or “horologophile” as I like to call them. What is it that fascinates you about time?
Time is a fascinating concept! It doesn’t really exist yet we measure it. It’s also one of the few things most people around the world agree on.
I don’t know if I’m well known in the horological space but I do like watches! I got my first one when I was 5 and there hasn’t been many days since then when I didn’t have one on my wrist.
As an engineer, I find mechanical watches incredibly interesting, especially when I think about how the technology evolved in the last 300 years.
Watches can also be full of stories. You either inherit a story, the watch I have from my grandfather, the ones I bought second hand, or you can start the story of a new watch.
Nowadays tools such as phones or computer become relatively quickly obsolete while I have a watch that is three times my age. They will always be relevant.
So watches can be a marvel of engineering, a piece of history and some nice jewellery. Just think about the watches that made it to the moon or to the summit of Mount Everest..
Any advice for watch lovers on how to start their collection? Could you give 3 personal picks for different budgets?
Wristwatches are not essential nowadays since we can get the time from our cell phones, our computers, TVs and many other sources that will be much more accurate than any watch.
I say that to remind people to not rush any purchase and focus on pieces they know they will appreciate. Take your time! Pun intended!
I think that three watches could make a very complete collection:
- A dress piece: The Cartier Tank is a great example. There is a Seiko model that looks like a Tank for not a lot of money, you have the Must De Cartier line, the Tanks themselves and then you have some Piaget and Patek Philippe watches that are exquisite.
- An “everyday” piece: The Rolex oyster cases in 34 to 36 mm are great. I have a few Tiger Concept pieces that are pretty affordable, Oris is great around 1-2k EUR/CHF/USD, you have the Rolexes and then some Audemars Piguet or Patek Philippe (Royal Oak & Nautilus).
- A sport/utilitarian piece : The Rolex Submariner and the GMT are the iconic ones, you can start with a Seiko SKX, a Christopher Ward, some of Sinn’s offering, Tudor (especially 2018’s releases) and Blancpain.
Back to photography, you seem to have a couple of signature poses for your photos that work very well! What’s the trick?
Do you have any other hobbies apart from watches and style?
Beyond classic menswear, linguistics is a passion of mine.
I help run the Geneva edition of a language exchange event called Mundo Lingo that happens weekly. I’m also happy to visit some of the other editions when I’m travelling. You can find me regularly at the London one and I have been to the ones in New York City & Toronto.
The main languages I focus on are German, Swiss German & Italian (makes sense when one lives in Switzerland!). I also try to often travel to countries where these are spoken!
I think this has been a good and thorough interview! Thank you very much for your work on your blog, on Instagram and on Reddit and I hope to meet you soon!
The Quintessential Gentleman Redefined
Philippe’s story and personality is one of the things restoring my faith in people. It helps me refine my taste and appreciate classic menswear but also explore the unknown through his eyes.
You might not know, but he has essentially taught me photography tips, posing as well as knowledge about watches. I have learned a bit of history through his Instagram Stories and he is a prime example of loving what you do and being alive.
Above everything, he is one of the most friendly and polite people I have stumbled upon this strange Social Media world and truly genuine. He does this because he loves it and so do the people that follow him.
Another thing Philippe manages to do is be humble, as you can see he has not forgotten the important people in his life. Likewise, he blends beautifully the old and the new, the affordable and expensive. This is a valuable lesson about value and giving older items a second wind.
So a big thanks to you Philippe and I am sure that one day we will meet in Paris, Kraków, Geneva or Pitti.
This concludes our second interview with the Quintessential Gentleman of Geneva! We have another very exciting one coming up in the near future. In the meantime, make sure to follow Philippe and leave some comments with your thoughts!
Thank you for reading,