How has Charlie Carver created his style aesthetic? According to the actor, the process has involved soaking up different cultures, consuming great writing, taking cues from Pharrell Williams, and always staying true to himself. Though he was raised in the Napa Valley, the actor was born in San Francisco, a place to which he often returned as he grew up. It's where he honed his craft, developed his fashion ethos, and began shaping his penchant for honoring his classic American heritage while modifying it to show his personality. “I think a Master of Style has to have a sense of tradition, and then know how to break it,” Carver says. “Look at any master of anything: They've studied, they've taken a lot in, and they find their own way to subvert that, and have fun with it.” As Out discovered, that's Carver to a tee, and here, as our 2018 Master of Style, he sounds off on how his fashion choices reflect his distinct past as well as his hopes for the future.
What are some early memories of how you came to define your personal style?
I remember in high school we had a dress code, and I would always find a way to bend it. I would cut collars off things or find a way to put patches on stuff. I also responded to having grown up in the west and absorbing that old American, old Californian imagery—but, again, I'd mess with it and add whatever kind of bent I wanted to. And I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but I was an art history major in college, and I think that probably enhanced the sense of heritage that I like to queer up a little bit. Just with a hint or a splash.
How have your passions influenced how you dress?
I think what's fun about fashion and style is that you can bring your curiosity about the world and wear it outwardly. Travel is a huge passion and influence for me, so my sense of style has always involved exposing myself to new traditions or periods of style by just seeing it out in the world. Or even by looking through a book and learning it that way. It's all about incorporating how you're growing as a person, and then sharing that, and showing that.
Are there any particular fashion habits you've noticed about yourself?
I think as an actor I'm definitely guilty of costuming myself sometimes and making things overly tidy. Trying to make the whole look very clear, as opposed to having freedom with it, is a little much. I can look back now at some of the ways I've dressed before, and I can see that there have been periods of “this is who I am,” and “this is how I feel about myself,” and “this is the mood I'm in,” and “this is the mood I want to get to.” But if there's one piece of clothing, like a shirt that's really appealing to me, I always build something around it. There's been a consistency.
What in your career has inspired you, particularly when it comes to style?
Oh, a lot of things. I think what's inspired me more than anything is great writing, whether that's a movie that moved me when I was a kid or a beautifully written play or book. That's what gets my imagination going in every way. And I love looking at different cultures—both international cultures and niche cultures in our country. What happens when they start to be in conversation with each other? I also like people who stand out, like Pharrell Williams. He really knows how to dress so well, because he has so much fun. He speaks a language of fashion that everybody can understand, and then he throws something on top of it.
Style is embedded in the images we see, and they affect us. How do you hope to be a part of that?
Style is a form of representation. If you come from a certain culture or background, and you want to share that and express that about yourself, style is such a clear visual way to say, “This is who I am, and this is where I come from.” In a lot of ways, who I am and where I come from...it's not that interesting of a background. But it is a part of my heritage, and I hope that with my style, I can express outwardly. how I hope to change and shape that heritage toward wherever we're all going.
You've gotten to spend some time with the Cadillac XT4. What are some of your favorite features?
Well, first of all, cars have always been in my blood. I grew up on the road. My dad comes from a family of engineers and auto assembly workers in Detroit, and my uncle's a formula three race car driver. Personally, I love any vehicle that can integrate the things I want to do on my phone, so, with the XT4, I love the whole [available] navigation system and the music system. And I love the intuitiveness of the wheel. My favorite way to take a mental break is to get behind the wheel and get in that automated mode—you're steering and the music's playing and it's bliss. And when you're in a car like the XT4, you feel like you're in a machine that's like expressing you. A car can be an expression of who you are.
Head over to Master of Style (https://www.out.com/master-style) to learn more about this year’s Charlie and the 2019 Cadillac XT4