We have a conversation with the man who played Alistair on Huge about creating your own style, what every guy should have in his wardrobe, and his summer world tour.
Photo by Patrick McPheron
Chubstr: One of the things I’ve noticed when looking at photos and videos of you is that you’re always wearing something unique. Would you say you have a specific style?
Harvey Guillen: I think I’d call it wearing what I want. [laughs] And wearing what I like. I put things together that will look good on me. I know what looks good on me and what I’m comfortable in, and that’s what I aim for when I go shopping. I’ll find something and I’ll say “I could wear that” and then I’ll look for things that are out of the ordinary to add to it. If it looks good when I put it all together, then I’m ready to go.
Photo by Patrick McPheron
C: I like that you don’t get stuck with just having one specific look. I think bigger guys can fall into that, but you don’t do that, which I think is awesome.
HG: It’s harder for a bigger guy to pick different outfits. They can get stuck with one trademark outfit and that’s all they wear. Me, I like to mix it up. Just because you might have a couple pounds on you, there’s no reason why you can’t dress up.
C: It’s difficult to find clothing that fits your style when you’re a bigger guy. Living in Los Angeles, it seems like it could be hard to do even with so many options. How do you make it work?
Photo by Patrick McPheron
HG: Sometimes I go out shopping without planning on shopping, if that makes sense. I’ll be out with a friend and we’re at a vintage shop and I’ll find a hat I really like and buy it. I don’t know what I’m going to wear it with but I like it in the moment, so I’ll pick the piece up then. I don’t purchase it because I need it now – I know that if I like it, it’ll be used eventually. I’m weird that way.
C: So you can kind of stockpile things so you’ll have a variety to choose from later on.
HG: Right. I’ve got a collection of hats and sometimes I’ll have friends come over and they’ll see something that still has a tag on it. I tell them that I like it and that I know eventually I’ll wear it. One of the pieces that I’m really proud that I found is this corduroy hat from 1942. It reminded me of The Honeymooners and I just thought it looked awesome. I finally got to wear it a couple months ago and it’s one of those things you get excited to wear.
C: You do a great job of integrating accessories into your looks. How important do you feel it is to have those extra pieces when you try to put together an outfit?
HG: I think it just completes a look, even if it’s as simple as a bracelet or a necklace piece. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet people who want me to wear their pieces, but I won’t wear anything that I don’t like. No big Gucci necklaces or anything like that. It doesn’t make sense to me because then you’re like a walking billboard. I think it goes back to wearing pieces that you like but that you feel comfortable in. Accessories are just a final touch and I usually keep them pretty small.
C: Do you have any favorite shops or websites that you go to if you’re looking for something specific?
HG: I like vintage shops when I want a casual look. They’re good places to find shirts. If I need something for an event, I’m pretty lucky in that I can usually find something at a local department store, like Macy’s or Bloomingdales. I know it’s harder when you’re a plus size guy, so you go to the biggest size they have. I’ve been lucky enough that I find really cool pieces in department stores that I can put together to make an outfit. There’s a website that will take an artist’s print and put it on a t-shirt and then sell it. I like things like that. I’m looking at my closet and it’s packed with t-shirts with different prints and colors and stripes. People say big guys shouldn’t wear stripes but I love them. You just have to break down the stripes with something like a vest, so you don’t look even bigger and you get that solid color that you’re more comfortable with. I’m a big believer that you can wear whatever you want. It might be a challenge to make it work, but I’m always up for challenges.
C: What would you consider your go-to outfit? Something that works on short notice for multiple occasions?
HG: For some reason, I love slacks. I wore nothing but jeans through high school and then realized I needed to step it up a bit. Slacks dress it up and give you that extra bit of style, and you can wear them with something like a black vintage Kiss shirt and a vest and a brightly colored shoe. I’m really big on shoes that stand out because you can use them to add personality to your outfit. I’ll wear a black studded shoe with black slacks, a blue vest and a vintage shirt. It’s the dressed up/dressed down kind of look that I go to for a last minute event.
Photo by Tracy Birdsell
C: What do you think every guy should have in his wardrobe?
HG: I think every guy should have a fun shoe. I think guys miss out on good shoes sometimes because they think having lots of shoes is more of a girl’s thing. If you look at the market, there’s so much focus on women’s shoes, but there are options for guys too. I have friends who only have pairs of Chucks in their closet, and it’s like mix it up a little. I feel like you can go a little crazy with your shoes when your outfit is pretty simple.
C: We’ve all found out the hard way that there are some looks just don’t work. Is there anything you stay away from because it doesn’t work for you specifically?
HG: If it’s white, wear it tight. If you wear white and it’s bigger on you – especially on a bigger person, you’re going to look like a snowman or something, and it’s not going to be flattering. If it’s white you should wear it fitted so it shows your body in the way you intend it to. Keep in mind that white does make you look a little bit bigger, so you might want to wear a vest or a cardigan along with it.
C: A lot of guys don’t know where to start when it comes to putting together a look. Do you have any tips for bigger guys who are trying to create their own style?
HG: My recommendation is that you go shopping not for the moment, but for things you’ll like and wear later on. Don’t just buy clothing when you need it. Buy pieces you can mix and match later on. Start with the simple things you’re comfortable with, like a shirt, and then look for things that could compliment it. Plan ahead and try to break out of your comfort zone. Match some slacks with a t-shirt and jacket. When you try things like this you’ll put together outfits that make you feel good about yourself and help you express yourself.
C: Who are your style icons – male or female?
HG: People always ask me where I get my inspiration from or who influences me. I might like the way one artist wears a tie, or the way someone else does their hair. I don’t really have any one influence when it comes to how I put my style together; I try to take inspiration from many different people. I saw a lady walking down the street with this really cool shoulder bag. I asked her about it and she said it was from South America. You could tell it was worn down from years of use and that it was her favorite piece. I love things like that because it tells a story.
C: That makes sense.
HG: I don’t really have any specific inspirations because there aren’t a lot of people to look up to as a bigger guy. That’s why I think it’s so great that you’re doing this, because options are limited for plus size guys. There are people like Jack Black or Seth Rogen on the red carpet that inspire others with their looks, and that’s what I want to do. At the end of the day, you should wear what you like because you feel it and you wanted to. I admire people like that.
HG: Next I’ll be touring with this short film that I did and I’ll be in Singapore, Thailand, Australia and then Ireland. So I’ll be jumping around a bit with El Tux, which is a short that I did a couple of years ago and it’s getting really good recognition at film festivals. It won the Audience Favorite at the Chicago International Film Festival last October, so it’s a huge deal because the children’s festival is the only festival that if you win you’re automatically eligible to be considered for an Academy Award. So because of that, they invited the movie to Australia and to Singapore for their first international children’s film festival. I was asked to be a speaker and to do a workshop there, which was a huge honor. It’ll give me some great opportunities to go shopping in Asia!