What type of garment is key to your personal style?

A blue oxford shirt is literally the thing that I’ve worn for 45 years.

How many examples of these shirts do you have in your wardrobe?

Probably 50. I always say I don’t need another blue shirt but then I see one and it’s like, oh, I need that one! Which is the stupidest thing in the world.

What are the defining specifications that make the perfect example of an oxford shirt?

The key to a buttoned-up collared shirt is the roll of the collar; it should have a natural soft roll and not stand up like cardboard. That’s how you can tell the quality. That and the weight of the fabric, it should be sturdy cloth. And they don’t have to be expensive, by the way. I mean, they can be if you buy one from THOM BROWNE. But at the end of the day, a shirt from BROOKS BROTHERS or J.CREW is perfect. They’re like 70 bucks, or something.

Do you know where your attachment to blue oxford shirts comes from? Is it something from your youth, or something you picked up from a specific person? When, who?

Forty years ago this year, I started working for a clothing store in Salina, Kansas called Joseph P. Roth & Sons Clothiers and it was the best clothing store in town. I’ll never forget, the two brothers, who were the sons of the owner, always wore blue oxford shirts. I remember thinking, “What is that?” because they reminded me of my dad’s chambray work shirts but more refined. Whenever I see a blue oxford shirt I still get that feeling. It just seems correct. And by that I mean it always looks good. These guys were handsome and I wanted to be like them. I was probably in love with one of them.

Would you say you have a fetish for blue oxford shirts?

Well, yes, they do kind of give me a little bit of a hard-on. I love them! They are the one thing absolutely everybody looks good in and they really are the solution for any guy’s dressing dilemma.

How do you feel when you see other men wearing the same thing? Are you happy for the whole world to wear ‘your’ blue shirt or do you prefer to stand out?

Yes, I am a huge fan of people copying or borrowing, in general. Not necessarily borrowing my actual clothes, but going out and buying the same pieces. I’m totally okay with that. At the end of the day, clothes never look the same on any two people.

Can you describe the state of your closet? Is it tidy, messy, super organised, folded, boxed, grouped by colour or season, etcetera?

I’m very bipolar when it comes to my wardrobe. I can go from being super disciplined, super anal, super organised to a complete mess, all in the same day, week, place, month – it’s constant. I need to have everything generally organised and then I can make a mess within that organisation. So part of the deal with my housekeeper is that she knows how to organise things by colour, or like-by-like. All the slip on tennis shoes go here, all the oxford shirts go here. It has to be organised and then I make a mess. And then she comes back the next week and fixes it.

Have you ever made a radical change in your look?

Certainly, in the ’90s, in the era of HELMUT LANG and the beginning of MARGIELA, I had a very minimal period. All of those brands, PRADA and CALVIN KLEIN included, were doing something that was deceptively simple that I was really into for a while.

Is there a garment that you used to dislike but ended up loving and wearing?

I have changed my mind about heather grey T-shirts. I used to hate them because they seemed like such a gym thing and wearing heather for anything other than sweating seemed wildly inappropriate. But now I’ve turned a corner and I think they are perfect and go with anything.

Have you ever been tempted to get rid of all your clothes and start again from scratch?

Never! I still have wingtip shoes that are 30 years old. I still have an alligator belt from RALPH LAUREN that’s 25 years old. Not shirts, because I don’t think those keep well, but I have tweed jackets... I have a suede jacket of my father’s. Even if I don’t wear them I like knowing that they’re there. I still have the first designer overcoat that I bought from PERRY ELLIS in 1984. It looks terrible but it’s such an amazing coat. A friend of mine is a costume designer for Broadway and it’s been used in two productions. It’s come and gone in different things but I still have it.

Have you ever considered settling on a strict uniform and what would it be? Would you consider it a relief, or a loss of options?

To me, a uniform is the absolute chicest thing in the world. I know that I’ve created a monster for myself with this whole thing of dressing up. But I’ve always been like this – I’m a bundle of insecurities. I look at people who do have a uniform as the most secure people on the planet. And I wish I was one of them.