The Festival of Steve opens the doors of Melbourne's private members den The Kelvin Club this Saturday for the third stylish showcase of experts teaching men how to look sharp.
Despite not being named Steve, comedian, TV and radio presenter Tommy Little is the festival's inaugural ambassador. "The beauty about this role is that I'm their first, so no matter how well I do, I'll be the best ambassador they've ever had," Little says.
He'll bring his laid-back charm to the event for blokes who need a little pick-me-up in the personal style stakes. "When things involve style and beautiful clothes, occasionally it can get a bit stuffy, and that's not at all the intention of Festival of Steve. It's all about beautiful things that are accessible to everybody."
The first to admit it usually takes a year for him to like anything he wears, Little hopes he can pick up some smart togs himself. "I'm a big fan of the almost-destroyed look."
Cufflinks in code
Mark Boldiston, owner of men's jewellery emporium Lord Coconut, will showcase his store's selection of handcrafted rings, tiepins and chains representing around 40 Australian designers. He'll have a special selection of $99 cufflinks including Jonty's work featuring intricate detail from watch mechanisms and Code Love's stainless steel links marked with Morse code statements like 'I Do,' or 'You Rock.'
"The most popular one says 'F**k You,'" laughs Boldiston. "I had one guy who bought a pair for his boss, who he actually really likes, but he wasn't going to tell him, so he'd have a laugh every time he showed them to someone."
Boldiston says it's vitally important to pay attention to all the little details. "If you're wearing an expensive suit from M.J. Bale or Oscar Hunt, it's not a good look if you're wearing cheap shoes and a $40 pair of imported cufflinks. To give it that personal touch with a little bit of a twist, you should have the pocket square, a fitted French cuff shirt and an original, Australian-produced cufflink."
The shoes fit
The right look should work from top to toe, according to men's shoe designer Alessia Daniele from Belmore, who will bring her classic-look kangaroo leather boots to Festival of Steve. "The shoes make the outfit," she says.
While kangaroo leather is commonly used in soccer and rugby boots, it's a little more unusual to see in classic styles. "We're quite unique," Daniele says. "It's good for the environment too because kangaroo is really sustainable and very representative of Australia. They look good and they're comfortable too, with a two centimetre heel that's great for your posture."
While entry on the day will be free, gold coin donations are encouraged, with all proceeds going to Beyond Blue. Little is a big supporter of their work and also an ambassador for Suicide Prevention Australia.
"The age of manliness, meaning you don't talk about your feelings or that you have to be tough as a brick, is long gone," he says. "Anything that gets us all together and talking is good. Festival of Steve might be aimed at men, but if that means women want to bring their men down and nudge them in the right direction too, that's great as well."
Festival of Steve runs from 12–8pm in Melbourne's CBD on Saturday, May 23.