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Building a Look Around a Bold, Upscale Cartier Tank Louis with Professional Stylist Turner Allen

Building a look around a watch is a great way to shake things up and get out of a style rut. Pro stylist Turner Allen does just that with Cam Barr’s new Cartier Tank Louis.

Cameron Barr:

I recently acquired a 2022 Cartier Tank Louis with a black dial from a close friend and client. I have always been a fan of the Tank’s iconic design and its history and love vintage Tanks, but this specific example is something that Cartier quietly released in late 2021 made it to my hit list for a few reasons. Firstly, I love that it features an all-black dial, which is typically only found on watches in the Cartier Must range and gives the watch an upscale and striking look. Additionally, this specific Tank is what Cartier refers to as its “large” sized Tank Louis, which gives it a more masculine wrist presence, but keeps the watch in the range of vintage-appropriate sizes. The black dial and large case give the watch a feel that’s bold, but still wonderfully refined. Cartier only offers four mechanical-winding versions of the “large” Tank Louis models; two come in rose gold, which is stunning, but drifts too far away visually from traditional yellow gold Tanks for me. The other mechanical version in the “large” model, which is available with red or opaline dials, which are also beautiful, but not exactly my cup of tea or something I’d wear frequently.

The Tank series has a classic and surprisingly versatile feel for a piece with such an upscale overall look. This specific example, rendered in 18k yellow gold, featuring that strikingly minimalist black dial without any markers, and worn on a Cartier semi-matte black alligator leather strap, perfectly bridges the gap between vintage elegance and sophistication and modern sleekness. It’s timeless in every way. When I put the watch on my wrist for the first time, I was again reminded of how unexpectedly versatile these watches are and I realized that it’s something that might be hard for people to understand without having worn one. I thought it would be a fun and enlightening exercise to prove the point by having professional men’s stylist Turner Allen put together an outfit around my exciting new Tank.

Turner and I went over the Tank’s place in horological history, its importance to the Cartier brand in general, and why this particular example’s feature set and aesthetic were so exciting to me. Turner then styled an outfit from my closet that we think pairs perfectly with the Tank and shows off a bit of its versatility. Something I think is often missing from the conversation with watch collectors is how a piece fits into their overall sense of style, and working with a pro like Turner to explore the sartorial possibilities a watch can inspire might be a luxury, but is also a great learning experience and one I want to share with our readership in the hopes that it might inspire new possibilities when you shop your own closet.

Turner Allen:

Upon seeing the Cartier Tank Louis, I was immediately struck by its ultra-minimal design. This is a watch that says a lot while saying very little. It’s a piece that’s understated and decidedly elegant while at the same time offering a subtle, yet noticeable edge thanks to its all-black enamel dial. In short, Cameron’s Cartier contains a multitude of meanings that I wanted to capture when it came to his outfit. A bold watch demands attention, so if you’re wearing something particularly striking, pairing it with neutral (yet still impactful) components helps to create balance and contrast without detracting from the watch’s clean lines and simplicity.

When it comes to assembling an outfit, contrast is always key. How do you highlight and bring attention to a beautiful watch like the Tank Louis if it’s contextualized within an outfit that’s too on-the-nose? Sure, this watch would work exceptionally well with a proper formal look like an elegant suit. However, just because a watch makes sense with a specific style doesn’t mean it’s your only choice when assembling a head-to-toe look. In fact, subverting those expectations is a great way to create a unique look – but it’s important to be careful not to go too far in the opposite direction. For Cameron’s outfit, I needed to consider the vibe he and the watch inherently convey and attempt to find a balance between the two. The Tank Louis embodies refinement, while Cameron’s style leans edgy and masculine. My goal was to build an outfit that spoke to the watch’s elegance, while retaining Cameron’s casual and approachable vibe.

The simplest way to subvert something that’s overtly formal is to pair it with sneakers; they’re unmistakably casual and help to ground dressy pieces in reality. For this, I chose a pair of Golden Goose sneakers as they balanced a rugged, retro look, but work cohesively with the Cartier as Golden Goose is an elevated brand. Next, I wanted to counterbalance and elevate the casual sneakers with a tailored jacket. The juxtaposition of high and low brow elements speaks to the surprising versatility of the Tank Louis and I opted for a simple black blazer with the sleeves rolled to give the look a nonchalant air and double-down on the high brow/low brow cocktail I was after. Next, we went for a pair of funky, but still refined black trousers with a flare to complement the retro feel of the sneakers.

Finally, I needed another relaxed element to bring balance to the two sleek components we had just added in the jacket and trousers. My first instinct was to go for a linen camp collar shirt. However, I noticed Cameron has a vast collection of vintage tees and I felt that one of those would complement the sneakers while also bringing in an element of Cameron’s unique personal style. This is typically the point in the outfit creation process where men often go too formal by thinking the only logical combination with something like a tailored jacket and trousers is a dress shirt. Remember, contrast is king! I believe balancing every “formal” component (e.g., tailoring), with a casual component and vice-versa is a really underappreciated approach and one I’ve had a lot of success with. At first, Cameron opted for a black vintage t-shirt, but since the black-on-black on black felt too heavy and lacked (you guessed it!) contrast, I selected a white one instead. The t-shirt sports a simple graphic in red to add a subtle, but much-needed pop of color. The final look was completed with dark sunglasses and a leather belt. 

The look we ended up with not only complemented the Cartier watch brilliantly well, but clearly communicates who Cam is and what sets him apart, which should ultimately be the goal of any outfit. Telegraphing your own unique personality is the top priority, and I believe we really nailed that this time.

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