Into Ben Schwartz's Comfortable Vintage Fashion
Benjamin Schwartz is an American actor, comedian, writer, director, producer, and effortlessly cool. Ben, as many people know him by, has been in multiple television shows and has entertained us for many years already. You might know him from his role as Jean-Ralphio in Parks and Recreation or the voice of Sonic in Sonic the Hedgehog. If you know his professional work, you know that Ben is quite the talented artist. Aside from being a talented guy, Ben is also the nice and humble type of dude you want to have as a friend. But aside from being the talent or the nice guy, Mr. Schwartz is quite the style king. From sharing about his sneakers collection to his passion for vintage fashion, Ben gave us an insight into his world of fashion.
What is your relationship with fashion?
Ben: You know what’s funny? I feel like it’s [fashion] grown more as I’ve gotten older and more interested in the things I put against my body. It’s always been about comfort first. And now slowly as I’ve gotten older, it’s now about buying things that aesthetically are pleasing to me and all those things. But it’s funny as I’ve grown older it’s become more of a thing that I care about.
What are you currently into? Favorites?
My thing is vintage T-shirts and sneakers. I really like sneakers because I’m on my feet a lot. I do have a nice little collection of Jordans and I used to work at a sneaker store when I was younger. I worked at a place called The Athlete’s Foot when I was a kid. So sneakers and vintage T-shirts I really enjoyed.
Do you have a favorite pair of sneakers?
I have a pair of sneakers that was given to me after I did a job that are very special so I’ve never worn them. But I wear everything. I’m not one of those people that buys something and puts it in a closet forever. I like Jordan 3’s very much. And so the Jordan 3 colorway that I wear all the time is a Nick’s colorway. That’s what I wear now. But at home I have something called the Jordan 3 Free Throw Line and it’s a Jordan 3, and on the sole of it, there’s a line of where Jordan’s foot hit when he took off the dunk from the free throw line in the dunk contest.
And it’s more of a rarefied pair. So I have… That’s in a box that I haven’t taken out yet. It’s my next one if I get… I don’t know. It is a special night out sneaker for me.
How would you describe your style?
Oh my goodness. I don’t know. It’s so funny. I don’t really get to talk about it much. It’s more like a… There’s not a huge amount of thought that goes into it, which probably makes me terrible at this. But it’s always comfort first… So during the day it’s just me relaxing at home and I will have… If I’m not going out, I have these pajama bottoms that I love from Vermont Flannel, they use the same type of flannel they use on those like really soft shirts. Then with pajama pants. And then I’ll wear a really comfortable shirt, just from wherever. And then I’ll wear it. I have this cardigan from Scotch & Soda that’s super comfortable and too big. And so that’s a nice little loungey thing that I do. But if I’m going out, oftentimes it’s a comfortable shirt or a vintage tee that has a fun graphic on it.
And over that, just a comfortable plaid something or a button up shirt I can button all the way to the top button, or a cardigan. That’s my whole thing. But I don’t wear jeans, because when I was in high school, I hated the way they felt against my legs. So since then I just stopped wearing jeans. I wear chinos. Rag & bone has these pairs of pants that I wear. I have them in three different colors. And so that’s literally all I wear.
So you don’t like the texture of your jeans or of any jeans?
I have never… If someone can convince… I don’t like rough things on my body. I like everything having to be softer. So I felt like I didn’t have the patience to break in jeans. And also to be fair, I have not given it a good shot in a long time. When I was young, I didn’t have any money to buy good clothes, so whatever, the least expensive pair of jeans I could buy were very rough. I remember telling my parents, “I’m never going to wear these again. I don’t want to wear these anymore.”….But I invite any jean company or a denim company to show me a soft pair of jeans and transform me anytime they wish.
Is there anything that you’ve worn in a show or film that you’ve incorporated into your own wardrobe? Either by getting the actual piece or by incorporating it into your style in another way?
Yes. This is a great question. I did a television show called House of Lies, which had an incredible wardrobe department. I’ve been very lucky in the wardrobe departments. I’ve played with lovely, kind people. And all the suits were tailor made for me. And there was a lot of Hugo Boss, I loved Paul Smith. There were a bunch of Paul Smith pieces in there. And it started probably helping my appreciation of wearing a good suit. And so when that was done, I was able to grab a lot of those pieces so they don’t go to waste. So I had them at home and I was wearing them everywhere. I wore the suits from that show to anything. To talk shows, to whatever. And then as I started to grow out of them, and when I wanted something else, I would give them to my friends and donate them.
I really loved the idea of a piece of clothing living on. Just like the way that I buy vintage shirts and stuff. And I know I have friends that just don’t have any suits. So I started with a lot of these suits, and now I only have six left. I had many, many, many, probably over 20 of these suits because I did this show for five years… And I have a piece from a lot of different things.
When I like something, I’ll try to keep it. From photo shoots and stuff like that, I have a wonderful stylist named Sonia Young and oftentimes I can keep some of that stuff and it’s great. It is lovely. I think it’s also that now that some more things are available to me, it’s exciting to try out different styles and stuff like that.
What is the current project that you are most excited about and what should our readers check out?
I’m doing a show that just came out called on The Afterparty. It’s a murder mystery. It stars Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, Sam Richardson, Zoe Chao, Ilana Glazer, Jamie Demetriou, Dave Franco and me. It’s like a really wonderful show. The producers and Chris Miller directed all the episodes. And it’s one of my favorite filming experiences I’ve ever been a part of. And so someone dies in the first episode and then the episodes after it’s Tiffany interviews each one of us to ask what happened on that night. And when we retell the story, each person has a different way they retell it. So it’s shot in a different genre of film. So the romantic guy shot like a romantic comedy. The badass guy shot like a Fast and Furious movie. And then my one shot was like a bold musical.
So I got to do songs and choreography and dances and it was just awesome. So I’m super proud of it. And it’s out now and the last couple episodes are coming out weekly on Apple TV right now. So do check it out!
Photography by Sela Shiloni
Interview by Layla Farahani
Grooming by Gillian Whitlock
Fashion by Sonia Young