Men’s Health style director, Dan Rookwood, gives us the lowdown on his personal style and life in London. In the second of two features, we see the dapper gent’s more casual side and find out the sort of places he likes to go to unwind. Prepare for a sneak peek into one very stylish London life.
A style editor with 10 years international experience in magazines and newspapers, Dan Rookwood is now one of the UK’s most respected voices in men’s fashion. He is also considered one of London’s best dressed, which is why we invited him to take part in our London Lives series.
Dan hasn’t always worked in fashion. After graduating from Cambridge University and City University’s School of Journalism, his first job was actually as a sports writer on The Guardian’s website, writing The Fiver and minute-by-minute match reports. Then after spending three years at Men’s Health magazine as its senior writer, he moved to Sydney in 2006 where he helped launch Time Out as deputy editor before taking over as editor.
When Dan returned to London in 2010, he also returned to Men’s Health, this time taking up the role of Style Director. Dan describes himself as very “on brand” – indeed he has twice been a Men’s Health cover model, first in March 2006 and then in September 2011. “I never used to be in good shape,” he says. “But when you work at Men’s Health, you’re encouraged to practise what the magazine preaches.”
Dan sees a two-way relationship between fitness and style. “If you’re a man who looks after his physique then it’s likely you also have an interest in how you can best dress that physique,” he says. “It works both ways. Men who like style want to look good in the clothes they buy so they make sure they stay in shape.“
As Style Director of the UK’s best-selling men’s magazine, Dan sees his job as speaking to the everyman. “The tone of the magazine is crucial. We try and speak to our reader on the same level. And in my pages we draw a deliberate distinction between ‘style’ and ‘fashion’. Our readers aren’t necessarily interested in all the latest trends, they just want to know how to dress well.”
By his own admission, Dan is quite vain. He even occasionally writes a tongue-in-cheek column for the magazine called Mr Vain. “But I would hope it is a healthy vanity,” he says. “As men we want to look good so we make an effort to get to the gym and play sport. It might be a struggle to find the time but you always feel better for it. I’m not just talking about that post-exercise rush of endorphins – that ‘runner’s high’ either – I’m talking about self-confidence. If you feel good about how you look, you stand that little bit taller.”
With the job he’s got, Dan admits there is a pressure to dress the part – but it’s one he enjoys. “If I’ve got a really busy day or a big meeting, I’ll go to the gym before breakfast and then put on a suit, just so I feel more on top of my game,” he says. “I’ve always been that way. It’s a mindset: at university I used to wear a shirt and tie to exams as I felt it gave me a little boost.”
For this shoot with Reiss, Dan invited us to spend the day with him in Richmond where he lives with his wife, Sam. “’Sydney-on-Thames’, we call it,” he says. “When we moved back to London, we wanted to find somewhere that felt a bit greener and more open. It’s awesome to have the park and the river on your doorstep but still only be 15 minutes on the train into Waterloo.”
Recently Dan has started a weekly style column for the Evening Standard’s ES magazine, writing about the best of London menswear. “It was only when we moved away from London that we truly appreciated what an incredible city it is,” he says. “In terms of creativity, culture and fashion, London leads the way. And now that we have our proper men’s fashion week with London Collections: Men, it’s a very exciting time to be involved in it.”
With that, Rookwood reached for his pocket square and prepared to be photographed in some of his favourite local spots. We hope you enjoy the second part of our London Lives menswear shoot; view the first feature and other London Lives content in its special behind-the-scenes section.