"I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. I was born further west in Midland Odessa, or what they might call the 'oil patch'—George Bush country. It’s a far cry from Town & Country, I suspect, but in a way it's not. People who were interested in luxury there were intensely interested in it—I remember when Estée Lauder used to do her roadshow in Midland and she had huge success there. I just think people were really thirsty for something glamorous and beautifying and mysterious. Certainly we know that Texas women love to wear makeup, including my mother. Her hair is pretty tame, but she’s definitely pretty good with makeup.
I was always interested in the possibility of being a writer, and in particular, studying these guys who were really great, stylish, interesting people—Hemingway or Fitzgerald, even Salinger to a certain extent. They were a part of a generation that seemed to enjoy the way they presented themselves to the world, and I found that just as intriguing as the literature itself. In high school I worked at one of the first Ralph Lauren boutiques, which was in San Antonio. I loved that place. I knew that I wanted to end up in this world in some capacity.
After college I met Adam Gopnik, who told me about a typist position at The New Yorker. But I had to teach myself how to type! The woman who was the head of the typing pool also seemed to like the fact that I wore this windowpane suit from Ralph Lauren, and she said, ‘I know you can’t type, but I will give you a few weeks to learn how, and if you can do it when you come back you will have a good chance of getting the job.' So I went and taught myself how to type as best as I could. I think she gave me a little leeway in the test coming back, and I got the job. Eventually I ended up in the fiction department, where I was for six or eight years. When I was about to get married, a position opened up at Vogue and I went there as the Arts Editor. That’s where the idea of Men’s Vogue came about and I did that for its full cycle of life—about 20 issues or something like that—and then I started doing Town & Country.
I’m not for plastic surgery, but then again I don’t want to ever think that I need it. I know I’m going to get wrinkles, there’s no doubt about it, but that could be kind of a cool thing. If you look at Clint Eastwood or even my grandfather, they look like men with character, so I’m not afraid of any of that. I do wash my face and use toner and lotion. I’m the guinea pig for many of the men's products that come to the magazine, so I always make sure that I know the latest thing. Sometimes my wife will take some of my stuff, or I’ll take it from her. We go back and forth and back and forth...
You can’t go wrong with Kiehl’s. I use the Ultra Facial Cream, and the Calendula Deep Foaming Face Wash is good, too. During the summer I use Sisley Super Crème Solaire Corps and La Roche Posay Anthelios 50—those are my two sunscreens, one for your face and one for your golf and tennis body. I also like the John Masters Organics Lip Calm; it’s really good, it doesn’t taste bad, and it's not noticeable.
I’m a big fan of Harry’s razors—it's so easy, you sign up and they send you the blades every month. They’re so much better than anything I’ve tried. Plus, it’s inexpensive. I also like the Aqua di Parma Crema Soffice da Pennello, which makes a nice shaving soap that's a little bit more like a cream. And you sweat a lot at this job, so you have to have a very strong deodorant. I use Gillette Clinical Endurance.
I’m driven by the way things smell. When I’m traveling, if I like the way something smells, I always try to bring some of it back with me. I’ve been to Santa Maria Novella in Florence and I just love it—how can you not? It all just smells like Leonardo and Michelangelo, and great pasta and wines. They feel very ancient and stony. The body lotion is fantastic.
My favorite cologne is Blaise Mautin. It’s from Paris, very hard to find. I also like the Frédéric Malle Vetiver a lot. And I really like Juniper Ridge. They make soap and room sprays, and it smells like you’re walking into Napa. I like the Big Sur Spray and the Trail Crew Soap.
I’m stuck on Aveda Madder Root Shampoo, the one for redheads. I’ve always used it and it seems to work without making my hair go insane. It's always fun to try something new, so I've got this Shu Uemura a non-shampoo shampoo called a 'cleansing oil,' but I always go back to the Aveda. I’ll occasionally use the pine-scented shampoo I found at the Armani Hotel in Milan. It’s so intense and beautiful; if I need to have an Alpine experience I’ll use that every now and again.
After I shower I use the Hanz de Fuko Gel. I'll put it in while my hair is still wet and then let it dry on its own. At first it's pretty stiff, but then it just lets go. If it's a humid day I'll put some Moroccan Oil on, too.
It's kind of tough not to need two dopp kits just because you’ve got vitamins and medicine in case you get sick along with all your other stuff. I take this Smythson dopp kit; it’s practically surgical quality in its organization. I've been traveling with Frédéric Malle Bigarade Concentrée travel-sized cologne, which smells nice and very subtle—he gives us these little test sets with eight different scents and they’re perfect for taking with you. I also have this Acqua di Parma cream, and this Secret Clinical Strength is very nice. Then I've got the European pills for anything that comes up—I have Vogalib in case I get nauseated. Then there’s Citrate de Bétaïne, for if you have a hangover. Panadol is another good one.
I dislike the gym intensely. It's the most boring invention ever, and I don’t like to jog. I like to run if I’m going after a ball. I’m like a dog—'Oh there’s a ball, lets chase it!' But otherwise, I’m not interested. One of my favorite quotes is, 'I don’t hustle and I don’t bustle,' from The Royal Tenenbaums. I think there’s something to that. I do hustle and bustle in other ways, but just going out for a run for me is awful. I’d much rather go have a cocktail and exercise my brain. Oh, and I try to make sure I have at least two glasses of wine a day—red or white—I think that's important!"
—as told to ITG
Jay Fielden photographed by Frances F. Denny at his home in Connecticut.