When you meet David Coggins, he’ll most likely be wearing an impeccably tailored three-piece, tweed suit. It’s also likely he’ll have just comeback from some far-flung region and, undoubtedly, he’ll regale you with the details of some rare and unique object he has brought back with him. Coggins, who is as equally at home fly-fishing in Montana as he is dispensing style-advice in the pages of GQ, Interview Magazine, and Esquire (just to name a few), is one part man about town, one part man of letters. A writer’s writer and style icon to boot, Coggins has made a name for himself as an arbiter of literary and sartorial taste. He’s also somewhat of a prolific collector, and his home in New York is crammed with objects that reflect his worldly travels – and his style. Here, he opens his doors and reveals that a man’s home is far more than just his castle.
Joseph: You're well known for your dapper sense of fashion. What are elements of your style that speak to who you are? As the old adage goes, ‘If clothes make the man…’
David: I really like tweed sports jackets and suits. And I like when they have a sort of worn-in quality to them. If the collar starts to fray, I think that’s dandy. If you’ve got a little hole in the elbow of your smoking jacket, that’s all right, too. For me, it’s a sign that something’s been worn well and is a small signifier of that history.
JA: They say a man’s home is his castle. If that’s true, are you the master of your domain?
DC: That’s a classic question. I'm very much a creature of my environment and I think my home reflects my belief that, especially in New York, you need to have a peaceful place to escape from all the worldly excitement outside.
JA: Who are your style icons?
DC: As far as style icons go, I love a certain classic Italian style. When I dress myself, I often recall my travels to Milan, walking down its cobbled streets and being so impressed by the sense of understated flair and style the men have there.
That said, I also draw sartorial inspiration from Gary Cooper’s personal style. Whether it was the impeccable suits he wore or the rugged looks he put together as an outdoorsman in Sun Valley, Cooper is a touchstone for me. He knew how to be stylish for life in the city, but also how to remain masculine and unaffected.
JA: Well, if clothes make the man, what about his home? And what does your home say about you?
DC: I like to think that my apartment has the air of an English gentleman’s club where the members have stopped paying their dues.
As for a man’s home, I like people who care about their interiors. I think it's natural to be interested in the objects that surround you. Just as you should be interested in the clothes you wear as a reflection of how you interpret your place within society, your home is a more private expression of the same thing.
JA: As a writer, how does your home reflect you literary tastes and character?
DC: Books are omnipresent in my home, I mean look around, there are just stacks of them. I think every man should have a library – it’s a very personal expression of the things you care about, your intelligence, and your tastes, and mine is no different. It's nice to be surrounded by books that you care about.
JA: That brings up an interesting point: what’s separates a collector from a hoarder?!
DC: Well, there is a very fine line that separates them and it’s one I walk often. In the end, whether its books or clothes, I think things should be used: get the best version of that jacket, that watch, those shoes, and use them.
JA: How does your home, and the collections housed within it, reflect who you are?
DC: I believe collecting for your home should follow the same rules that one subscribes to in building a lasting wardrobe. It takes a long time and should reflect where you've been in the world and the things that you care about, whether it's a sport coat or another rug in your apartment, make it a lasting statement.
JA: If there was a fire in your home, and you could only save one object, what would it be?
DC: Hands down, The Great Gatsby first edition my parents gave me.
JA: Finally, and I’m setting you up here: what’s more important for you, closet or shelf space?
DC: Hah. Well, what I would say is that people need less clothes, but of superior quality. You can always tell when a guy wears something that he really loves – he exudes confidence and pride and I always respond to that. One great sports coat or leather jacket will last you a lifetime.