Perhaps US director Paul Feig isn't the obvious choice to be a Myer Fashions on the Field judge on Cup day at Flemington during this year's carnival.
But look at his films carefully, and one discerns a certain wardrobe savviness: think of Rose Byrne's immaculate bridezilla in Bridesmaids, Chris Hemsworth's dapper vest and tie situation in the Ghostbusters reboot and Blake Lively's sexy-Great-Gatsbyesque men's suits (together with a walking cane from Feig's own antique collection) in A Simple Favour.
Feig admits that his upcoming film Last Christmas has several memorably-dressed characters. Its romantic lead, Henry Golding, wears a trench coat that Ralph Lauren designed for the movie – "which was a thrill for me, because Ralph is a hero of mine," says Feig.
Judging the judge
But does any of this prepare him for the drama that is FOTF competition time?
Not really. For starters, Feig is still researching what he's supposed to wear, with half an eye on the ensemble he donned when he attended Ascot.
"All they told me [so far] is that men wear suits and ties, but that would be me every day of the year!"
A style of his own
As a self-confessed Anglophile "I finally got to wear a morning suit and top hat, but it doesn't sound like [Melbourne Cup] is that. I don't want to look like a cartoon of the Monopoly man, but at the same time I do love my top hat." He admits that he would like to make a splash "but I'm not trying to pull focus. I need to go online and look up what other guys are wearing…and then try to outdo them slightly."
In Hollywood, his daily wardrobe stands out. Influenced by the likes of famed director Howard Hawks, he favours sartorial punctuations of purple and devised what he has coined "the Feig Fold" for his pocket squares (carelessly-yet-somehow-studiedly scrunched into his pocket).
He adds that "I am a pocket silk and silk boutonnière fanatic; I get these boutonnières from Charvet in Paris. For me, it's all about how you can accessorise, but we have so little we can do, really. Shoes aren't really an accessory. But I do try to set myself apart." To wit: his shoemaker, George Cleverley, made bespoke shoes for him that included decorative perforations of Feig's initials on the toes.
The winning looks
As for judging?
"I hate to judge anyone, I should say. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings…but I do look forward to weighing in on what I think is working better…What stands out to me overall is somebody having a style. I don't even love the term 'fashion,' because fashion is of the moment – in one day and out the other and can sometimes be used to make you feel bad about yourself, because you're not wearing the current thing. But style is forever."
Feig's style of preference suggest a bygone, classic era. "I love when I see guys wearing a suit and tie but almost in a '40s or '50s way, and then bring something unique to it. What's called in the men's world, a "Sprezzatura." (The Italian term denotes a practised nonchalance.) Something a little off or quirky, anything that makes you look twice, I just really love."
His main tip for men dressing to impress? "I always say, look at your head. That's my big warning to guys, especially as we get older. When you look in the mirror, you tend to look at what's from the neck down. But now look at your head on top of that outfit: do you look ridiculous? Are you trying to be too young? Are you dressed too stodgy? People who get the balance right, no matter what they're wearing, are the people that I'm inspired by."