Most stylish New Yorkers: Jesse Kuhn

The illustrator infuses his wardrobe with bright colors and whimsical stripes from his own designs.

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  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    Kuhn balances his playful and serious sides by pairing a navy blue Urban Renewal blazer from Urban Outfitters (locations throughout the city; visit urbanoutfitters.com) with a pair of the store's black-and-red plastic sunglasses and vintage black-and-purple--plaid trousers from Kasi Found This (etsy.com/shop/kasifoundthis). "The pants keep it fun and add flair and color," he says of this casual look. "My girlfriend got them for me this Christmas because she said I needed more plaid in my life."

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Kuhn's youngest sister, Sara (scootsknits.com), crocheted this charcoal-gray...

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    This silver-plated coral necklace is another score from Urban Outfitters. "Sometimes when I don't feel like digging through dirty vintage stores, I cheat and grab some items from there," he says of the chain, where he also purchased his heather gray BDG V-neck tee.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

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    Each of Kuhn's sterling-silver rings was a gift from his sister, Sara: "Every year for Christmas she gets me a new one. This year's bottle-opener ring [on my right middle finger] is a particular favorite." His black-rope and silver-chain bracelets are both found objects.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

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    Black-and-white Chuck Taylor sneakers by Converse (converse.com) have been a staple footwear choice for Kuhn. "I usually go through one pair a year," he admits.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    The Missouri-born visual artist dubs this ensemble "farmhand formal," referencing the combination of distressed Topman jeans (478 Broadway between Broome and Grand Sts; 212-966-9555, topman.com) and vintage black-pinstripe dress shirt he most likely bought at Rag-O-Rama in St. Louis. "I like the mix of nerdy and rock," he says.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    White American Apparel (locations throughout the city; visit americanapparel.net) suspenders pop against the dark button-down. His tie, a gift from his girlfriend, is handcrafted and upcycled from another vintage neckpiece. "The maker added a little polka-dot fabric and a touch of red stitching to revive this old throwaway," he says.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    Kuhn rolls up his pant bottoms to add a little rockabilly twist and to show off his striped Etiquette Clothiers socks (etiquetteclothiers.com), which he picked up at Brooklyn Circus. He finishes the outfit with black leather Florsheim shoes (444 Madison Ave at 50th St; 212-752-8017, florsheim.com). "I was lured in by their two-for-one suit deal and grabbed these while I was getting fitted," he says.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

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    "Any man who's a true believer in vintage, 1970s fashion should have at least one leisure suit in his closet," Kuhn says of his vintage powder blue two-piece look from JCPenney (Manhattan Mall, 901 Sixth Ave between 32nd and 33rd Sts; 212-295-6120, jcpenney.com). "It's classic. Throw in a fat chain and some chest hair to seal the deal."

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    Kuhn adds "instant flavor" with a navy-and-white striped cotton Mossimo tee from Target (locations throughout the city; visit target.com) swiped from his girlfriend's closet and layered over a white Fruit of the Loom men's tank. "Stripes update the suit and break things up," he says.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    When Kuhn wore through his pair of white vintage loafers, he replaced them with a pair from Payless Shoe Source (locations throughout the city; visit payless.com): "These little bargain beauties caught my eye on 14th Street, and they've held up [for four years]!"

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

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    A World War II--style aviator hat found on eBay (ebay.com) and goggles from a resale store---most likely Rag-O-Rama in St. Louis---add an unexpected touch to the retro ensemble. "These accessories are great for battling the vicious winter winds that whip across Gotham City," he says. "Plus, they add a little 'wha?' factor to round out the getup." The gold chain is another thrifted find from the same Missouri store.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    Inspired by rock & roll, Kuhn mixes wild textures, bold colors and a graphic sweatshirt. "This is an outfit that's been worn when whiskey is for breakfast," he notes. Sunglasses from Walgreens (locations throughout the city; visit walgreens.com) reinforce the morning-after aesthetic.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

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    "Red pants have super powers," says Kuhn when discussing the vintage polyester pants he snagged from a Salvation Army Store in Springfield, Missouri. "They're something you can't just throw on; you've gotta believe in them." He feels drawn to his vintage fur coat for similar reasons: "There's some serious black magic in this coat. It makes you instantly jump higher, talk smoother. No winter temperature can penetrate its force field."

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

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    Brooklyn-based designer Erica Bradbury, the force behind local label Species by the Thousands, created this cozy upcycled-cotton sweatshirt. "A shirt with the right graphic or illustration equals instacool," says Kuhn.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    Stripes pop up in Kuhn's wardrobe once again. "They actually appear in my illustrations frequently as well," he observes. "They bring an old-timey vibe to any situation." Like his tan-and-red pair, these socks were designed by Etiquette Clothiers and purchased at Brooklyn Circus. Kuhn dons another pair of Chuck Taylor tennis shoes; he's been able to hold onto this pair for almost a decade.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    After becoming disenchanted with trim jobs around town, Kuhn decided to start cutting his hair himself. "I'm working on more of a hybrid pompadour-mullet," he says. "I do miss the nostalgia of the barbershop. I still remember the first time my dad took me in to get a flattop [when I was nine]. It smelled like a real man's world in that place."

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    Kuhn also displays his personality with his mustache, a style choice he's convinced makes him new friends. "Someone always has a mustache story that they want to share with you," he says. "I haven't actually plotted the data to verify this, but I think I actually make more money during mustache months versus the calendar days that are sans 'stache, so I guess you could say it's a financial move, too."

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    The phrase "steampunk chic" comes to Kuhn's mind when asked to describe this clothing combo. Up top, he pairs a vintage pinstripe shirt from a Salvation Army (locations throughout the city; visit salvationarmyusa.org) and a pinstripe Urban Renewal vest from Urban Outfitters. On the bottom is a pair of jeans from Diesel (locations throughout the city; visit diesel.com) that he scored for free at the opening of the brand's flagship store. "They recruited me and a gang of Mohawk-laden locals for their street team during the grand opening to help out," he says.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    This etched pocket watch was a gift from Kuhn's girlfriend, who found the...

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    Kuhn DIYed this leather bracelet by cutting and restitching a belt to fit his wrist.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    Karen Keith (karenkeithdesigns.com), a friend of the illustrator, crafted this key necklace. "I love it because it's a sophisticated combination of old and new," says Kuhn.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    "Pops of color are an important part of balance, and doing it with a pocket square helps add a little extra flair," describes Kuhn. He scored this red silk version from Men's Wearhouse (locations throughout the city; visit menswearhouse.com).

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    Kuhn's decision to buy this vintage leather belt and '70s buckle began with a dream: "I loved that van style," he muses. "I always wanted one with the circle dome window on the rear side panel, plus an airbrushed desert landscape and a coyote howling at the moon painted on the side." This accessory, sourced from either a Salvation Army or Goodwill store (locations throughout the city; visit goodwillny.org) in Missouri, is as close as he got.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    These much-loved Guess leather zipper boots are a style staple for Kuhn. "I've gone through several similar vintage pairs like this in the past," he says. "I usually wear 'em until they start taking on water or I blow right through the soles." This particular pair came from the Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse in Missouri.

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    In addition to vintage stores, Kuhn occasionally finds accessories at local markets, including the Brooklyn Lyceum Holiday Craft Fair (bkcraftcentral.com), where he procured this handmade topper by Delanco Hat Company (etsy.com/shop/jonboy).

  • Photograph: Marielle Solan

    Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

    This vintage bowler hat, purchased at Reminiscense (50 W 23rd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-243-2292, reminiscence.com) gives Kuhn extra confidence. "Hats are like magic, too," he says. "You can put one on and it immediately alters your presence---and the way you're perceived."

Photograph: Marielle Solan

Style Icon; Most Stylish New Yorkers; Features; Jesse Kuhn

Kuhn balances his playful and serious sides by pairing a navy blue Urban Renewal blazer from Urban Outfitters (locations throughout the city; visit urbanoutfitters.com) with a pair of the store's black-and-red plastic sunglasses and vintage black-and-purple--plaid trousers from Kasi Found This (etsy.com/shop/kasifoundthis). "The pants keep it fun and add flair and color," he says of this casual look. "My girlfriend got them for me this Christmas because she said I needed more plaid in my life."

Jesse Kuhn, 32, designer-entrepreneur (rawtoastdesign.com) and illustrator of The Quirkles (quirkles.com); Park Slope, Brooklyn

His personal style: "It's laid-back with a nostalgic, vintage edge, blurring lines between formal and casual, classic and unique. I like to pepper in some humor and keep things eclectic. I respect my Midwestern, middle-class roots, and have always tried to live within my means."

His inspirations: "Rock & roll—especially that '70s funky, Western, leftover hippie mash-up. Also NYC, '80s television and Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips."

Favorite stores: "Goorin Brothers (337 Bleecker St at Christopher St, 212-256-1895 * 195B Fifth Ave at Union St, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-783-4287, goorin.com) for their awesome hats. Guvnor's is my new neighborhood vintage thrift store (178 Fifth Ave between Sackett and Degraw Sts, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-230-4887, guvnorsnyc.com). I've only purchased socks at Brooklyn Circus (150 Nevins St at Bergen St, Boerum Hill, Brooklyn; 718-858-0919, thebkcircus.com), but that place is dope. Those guys just have a well-tailored taste [that meshes] classic and modern vibes."

His favorite local designers: "Species by the Thousands (speciesbythethousands.com) has sick illustrations, and the people who run it respect the environment by using vintage and reclaimed materials, plus organic and recycled fibers. They're just all-around super cool people."

His New York style icons: "Andy Warhol and John Lennon come to mind first because of their multifaceted awesomeness and the many gifts they brought to this universe—all while looking sharp."

How his style has evolved: "The late '80s and early '90s were filled with confusion. I was a skater with parachute pants and satin jackets, which then evolved into some weird version of an American Eagle/J.Crew window-display model. I did a quick stint as a rave kid in '99, and then shortly after that settled into what I'm working with today."

Favorite spa: "Keisy Oriental Nature Center (229 E 9th St between Second and Third Aves; 212-253-6171) is the bomb for a massage. These guys are like Jedi spiritual bodyworkers, and their prices are super cheap."

How his career influences his style: "I get to play for a living, so I think that naturally transcends to what I wear as well."

How his style at work differs from his off-duty style: "It's pretty much the same. I am always hard at work in a pair of Converse sneakers. I clock in when I want, with or without a Mohawk because I can. There really are no rules or limitations since I get to be my own boss."

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