Attorney-at-law Jay Kumar (jaykumarlaw.com) was barhopping with some friends in Wicker Park. He is semi-famous around town for his outfits.
Could you tell me a bit more about your jacket? How often do you wear it? Where did you get it? How does it make you feel?
The jacket is a replica Michael Jackson “Beat It” jacket I got made for me online. I collect Michael Jackson jackets as well as other forms of eccentric fashion—from sparkly blue motorcycle jackets to shiny silver blazers and white tuxedos with studded ties. I almost always wear something interesting when I go out, and often during the day, though less flamboyant. This jacket is my favorite so I wear it the most—at least several times a month. I never feel like I’m a guy wearing a costume, I just wear things I’m attracted to that I think complement my personality and make me feel like myself. I get tons of people talking to me at bars and clubs so it’s a great conversation starter.
Do you also incorporate statement pieces in your work wardrobe?
I don’t think I usually incorporate statement pieces for the sake of making a statement, but I usually only buy things that I think are especially interesting. So I usually don’t have any boring outfits.
If you could wear anything to practice law, how would you style yourself?
For the most part, I do wear what I’d like to wear to practice law. I’m a fan of very slim fit, dark or grey three-piece suits with bright, solid or regimented pattern ties. I love to accessorize with tie-bars, pocket squares and watches. Most lawyers in state court don’t dress that well, so I like to look really sleek and put-together, especially to build credibility as a young lawyer whose opposing counsel are older. Men’s formal fashion is more or less a pretty dull affair without much variation so we tend to innovate in the small harder-to-notice details like the aforementioned tie-color/pocket-square combos.
Who inspires your work wardrobe? How about your party wardrobe?
I don’t think anyone in particular inspires my work wardrobe. It’s more or less a formalized version of my normal outfits. I dress with about as much edge as I can get away with in court. My “going out” wardrobe has an eclectic set of influences ranging from Michael Jackson, Johnny Depp, to hip-hop and goth and metal sub-cultures.
What’s your fashion philosophy?
I think fashion is one way for people to express themselves. You broadcast information about yourself whether you’re conscious of what you wear or not. I’m very confident, extroverted, bold and a huge risk taker, so I tend to be attracted to clothes that reflect that, although my overall look seems to elude categorization into any specific subculture and usually transcends class or race boundaries. I also have a performer personality—I’m a mentalist (a mind-reading magician who performs on stage) which fits a trial lawyer well. I love to talk to, persuade and entertain large groups of people. I’m an advocate of throwing aside conventional, arbitrary fashion norms, which serve to repress individuality. I think it’s important to be bold and craft one’s own identity.
—Interview and photograph by Isa Giallorenzo.
Journalist Isa Giallorenzo was born in São Paulo, Brazil and has elected Chicago as her beloved home since 2009. She runs the street-style blog Chicago Looks and wants to see this town become one of the fashion capitals of the world.