Meet Elliott Terral, a man of many passions. He’s an in-demand men’s fashion consultant, podcaster and master magician. Elliott is passionate about his sleight of hand magic (he is a skilled performer regularly appearing at the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood, California) and equally passionate about the “art of style,” which shines through everything he does. In fact it’s at the very core of who he is.
Elliott has been wearing suits since he was four years old. He admits to being preoccupied with style from a young age, switching out his clip-on ties in the bathroom of his Sunday school throughout the day to better match his mood. Growing up in the 90’s, his style icons were television personalities Bob Barker, David Letterman, and the cast of nighttime soap opera TV show “Dallas.” Not exactly your average inspirations.
We meet for coffee at Urth Cafe in Beverly Hills to discuss our mutual love for the “art of style,” and Elliott saunters in dressed in a gorgeous, cesious green, seersucker Havana suit from Suitsupply, a go-to destination men’s clothing store favored by world renowned magicians Steve Valentine and DMC, as well as fashion guru, Tim Gunn.
Elliott wears an off white, pique camp collar polo, also from Suitsupply, and a tasteful pochet from Drake’s, cheekily peeking out of his breast pocket. “I dress like this to go to Home Depot,” he laughs. “It makes me feel good. I’m dressing for myself, but the time I take putting myself together is as much a show of respect for those around me as it is an expression of my personality.”
Whether he is performing at the Magic Castle, meeting me for a quick interview over coffee or shopping for lug nuts, Elliott is always immaculately dressed.
Deeply curious on what it takes to raise a stylish young man like himself, I drill Elliott on his approach to style and dressing and discover a world of timeless parenting tips:
1. What do you think is the most important thing parents can teach their children about style?
First, kids copy. If you make an effort to dress up well on a daily basis and look put-together, your child will absorb that. In young adult life, there may be a rebellious streak against what their parents’ generation wore, but the parent’s approach to dressing nevertheless informs the child’s opinions of being dressed well, regardless of their differing style opinions.
Second, open their eyes to timeless beauty. Educate your child on what you find beautiful in the world - whether that be art and artists, poetry, music, architecture, industrial design, etc. Encourage them to broaden their horizons and develop their own appreciation for beauty. Conversations about quality, construction and design principles will engender an appreciation for enduring styles, even if they can’t or don’t recognize it as a child.
When appreciating well made clothing, focus on pointing out fit, fabric, construction, and proportion. This will help shift their perspective from looking at clothing as just an item in their wardrobe to appreciating it as a work of art.
And lastly, encourage your child to have deep knowledge about at least one subject. The deeper into a subject you go, the more the world opens up and reveals others subjects. Keep an eye out for what your child is passionate about and really explore that subject from many different angles. They will also learn how to learn, which is the most essential thing in life.
2. How can I help my young child dress better? I am responsible for buying almost all their clothing.
As a stylist my job is to translate my client’s taste (which they often can’t clearly articulate, even to themselves) into a functional wardrobe. Listening deeply to who they are and how they want to come across gives me what I need to make educated wardrobe choices. As a parent you are your child’s first stylist. Your job is to dress them, but also to challenge their self-identity and push them out of their comfort zone. Children want to know “Why?”. If you can help them understand the importance of quality garments and the proper fit, they’ll have a great foundation for building their own wardrobes through adulthood.
There’s also the practical matters at hand: Kids play, clothes get ruined. Kids grow, clothes don’t fit for very long. As a parent, you have to make some concessions so as not to go insane, but staying away from “fast fashion” and again, educating your children on the importance of quality are what are important. Be a role model, and don’t ever let your kid be better dressed or groomed than you.
3. What do I do when I don’t approve of what my child is wearing?
You may not approve of what your child is wearing, but making space for your child to experiment is paramount to building a safe, nurturing environment for self-expression.
Learning to express oneself through style is a personal journey. You can’t tell kids how to dress. Well you can, but you are going to get a lot of push back. They have to cultivate their own tastes, and this cultivation is a process, which involves making mistakes along the way. Part of this process is also discovering your style inspirations, traveling as much as possible, and being exposed to varied fine artworks.
My life and style were greatly influenced by some of my high school teachers, who introduced me to the joys of meandering through a museum and experiencing the Symphony. With those same teachers, I was able to travel to Europe and build on my aesthetic knowledge and sensibilities. They showed me such a beautiful approach to life, which informed my own. As I matured, I began reading books on style [personal list below] and learning about the art of magic. All of these resources and influences helped me figure out who I am, so I can then communicate it to the world. Now I help other people communicate themselves as authentically and beautifully as possible.
4. Any parting advice?
Just this quote: “Don’t strive to be a great artist, strive to be a better artist.” You’re never done. Always be a student, and always work to improve. In dress, in parenting, in growing, there’s always more to learn.
5. Elliott’s Top Books on Style:
1. Style & the Man, Alan Flusser
2. ABC's of Men's Fashion, Hardy Amies
3. Dressing The Man, Alan Flusser
4. True Style, G. Bruce Boyer
5. Elegance, A Guide to Quality in Menswear, G. Bruce Boyer
6. Eminently Suitable, G. Bruce Boyer
7. Take Ivy, Ishizu, Kurosu, Hasegawa, Hayashida
8. Men and Style, David Coggins
9. The Mr Porter Paperback, MrPorter.com
10. Gunns Golden Rules, Tim Gunn
6. Elliott’s List of Timeless Fashion Items for Boys:
No matter if your son is 4 or 18 this list of classics will help them quickly achieve an effortlessly chic look.
What’s next for you?
I strongly believe a magician’s dress is an important piece of the performance. I’m super passionate about helping magicians dress beautifully, so I’m writing an entire book solely dedicated to style for magicians.
Follow Elliott Terral @elliottterral on Instagram for news on his upcoming book and style advice.