Welcome to YPG OOTD (outfit of the day), a new series where we feature young professionals with style. If you’re a recent grad looking for workplace style inspo, or someone new to YPG and wondering what to wear to one of our events, this series is for you. Learn about what other professionals in the area wear both in the office and off duty, find your favorite new shopping spot and get inspired!
Our first feature is Rob Tualaulelei.
Q&A with Rob Tualaulelei
Where do you work? Do you have a dress code for work, official or unofficial? Tell us what it is and what you like or dislike about it!
I work as an administrative coordinator for the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC.) Our office is based on UNL’s downtown campus, and just like other faculty and staff working daily, we all dress professionally. As professional staff members on campus, whether we are interacting with students or any visitors, we are a representation of the university as well as our organization—so though we don’t have a specifically written-out dress code, our environment naturally influences our everyday office-wear.
What are some of your go to outfits for work, YPG events, and on the weekends?
Menswear is such an easy thing to pull off because just a few items can make an entire look. My everyday look is comprised of five key pieces:
Many think professional menswear can be a little boring, because most of it is pretty timeless—but that’s where I see the opportunity to have some fun with it. Within the five pieces I mentioned above, I find bold pieces to elevate the look of different outfits. Whether it’s a fun floral print to wear under a solid blazer, a pocket square that complements the outfit in an unexpected way, or a bright pair of pants—my everyday work or networking event outfits are always subtle with a pop.
On weekends, you’ll most likely see me in a button-up and jeans or shorts (depending on Nebraska weather) and a pair of boat shoes.
What are your favorite brands or stores to shop at? Why?
I love scoping out pieces at a wide range of places and piecing together looks from different designers and retailers, rather than letting a brand dictate what the outfit should be. I shop everywhere from Brooks Brothers to Amazon, ASOS to JC Penney, Target to Walmart. If something looks cute or evokes some sort of reaction from me, I’m going to think of buying it—and then wait a few weeks to see if I still feel the same way about it. Usually, that works in my favor because then the price goes down on the piece—but I’ve also never said “No” to a clearance rack, especially for preparing for summer in the winter, or fall during the summer. Buying off-season is such a great money-saver and also helps you to build an ensemble palette in advance. So when the season hits, you’re ready to turn your looks, and let’s be honest: turn some heads.
One thing I sometimes have trouble with is finding things in my size. I’m a 6-foot-5 man with size 15 feet, and a pretty eclectic style aesthetic, so sometimes I have to get a little creative when piecing clothes together. And because I rarely find shoes in my size right off the bat, they’re usually the pieces I won’t hesitate to buy if I do find them unexpectedly.
Where do you get style inspiration?
I describe my style aesthetic as “Classic Northeast croquet gala meets island-inspired resort wear,” a balanced mix of “Do you know who my father is?” and “Another Mai Tai, please.”
I’m originally from Hawai`i, and that has greatly influenced the way I dress. I love the timeless structure of menswear, but always like to organically weave in pieces from designers from Hawai`i—many of whom are dear friends and family who I love to support. I absolutely love layering a blazer over a bold and abstract floral print, especially on a sunny day—and that inspiration is built on where I come from, who I am, and how I want to present myself to those I encounter.
What is your favorite item in your wardrobe?
By far, my favorite item in my wardrobe is this full sequin blazer I bought to wear for my 30th birthday, seeing Britney Spears in Las Vegas. I knew it would be a lot of fun to wear, and who doesn’t want all that attention on their birthday, right?! It’s a piece I don’t wear often, simply because it’s a lot for every day, but I do break it free for special occasions, if the atmosphere is right.
What is your fashion philosophy? Are you a rule breaker or follower? Do you keep up with the trends or stick to more classic pieces?
“You’re either extra, or not enough.”
I prefer to push the envelope when dressing up, and have at least one element of an outfit pack a punch of extra into a look. I stick to more classic pieces, as those pieces have a longer lifespan in my wardrobe. I think fashion rules are fluid, but my two most favorite seasonal color schemes are spring pastels and Labor Day whites.
I think the most important thing when you wear anything is that you feel good within it. If you look good, you act that way, and that radiates positivity, especially in a professional setting. You want to present your best self, and as long as you look and feel your best, you’re going to project that onto the people you interact with, and the work you perform.