Paul Hodges | Photo by Joshua Steadman

Colorful, Clean and Classic

In March 2020, Stuff by Raleigh Magazine

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A graduate of UNC Greensboro, Paul Hodges has spent the last 13 years working for locally owned and operated O2 Fitness, helping facilitate clubs throughout Raleigh and western Wake. The work, Hodges says, “helped shape many relationships and organizations of this growing community.” Currently, Hodges is the executive assistant for MDO Holdings, a local investment and management firm (and O2 Fitness owner) focused on building strong and healthy communities.

Jacket: “Tallia Orange” dragon embroidered blazer; Shirt: Burberry; Watch: Daniel Wellington; Shoes: Gucci; Pants: Michael Kors

Hometown: Born and mostly raised in Raleigh, I am a true native to the City of Oaks. But I have been blessed to have parents from different parts of North Carolina, my mother from the foothills (Winston-Salem) and my father, a Cary native. They taught me the importance of Southern charm and manners, clinging to family traditions and upholding an honest work ethic.

Your neighborhood: I live in the corner pocket of the Glenwood South and Capital Districts. Among all the high rises, new construction and train tracks, I somehow live a peaceful, urban lifestyle in a tight-knit community where my neighbors are like family. Plus, I can walk anywhere downtown in under 15 minutes flat!

What do you love most about Raleigh: We have the greatest sense of community and support for each other. We strive for diversity, acceptance and love, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity and class status. Whenever I walk through the city, I look at the oak trees that have stood the test of time, standing tall and strong; a true symbol of the strength this city and its people embody. 

Currently reading: I just finished “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Another recent read is Garth Stein’s “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” a poignant tale written from the perspective of a dog and his owner about how our relationships with animals are forever embodied in unconditional love—grab a box of Kleenex, or three! 

Currently listening to: I just started the podcast Dolly Parton’s America; her music and euphonious speaking voice make for the most joyous listening experience in American storytelling. When it comes to music flair, I am an old soul for the classics: Motown, jazz standards, cocktail lounge tunes that help me escape to another era where class and decorum never went out of style! 

Style mantra: Style should be focused on the three C’s: Colorful, Clean and Classic.

Style influencer: John F. Kennedy mastered relaxed, laid-back sophistication. He would take a neutral toned crew neck sweater, paired with a fresh pair of pressed chinos, penny loafers, the perfect pair of tortoise-shell Saratoga sunglasses—and would wear them with complete confidence. He is an icon that set the standard for classic, Ivy league style that still graces the modern look for men. 

Favorite clothing labels: I love vintage clothing, so Ralph Lauren is a staple in my closet. Over the years, I have been collecting seasonal sport coats by Tallia Orange, a fresh concept in tailored clothing with a unique array of fabrics, designs and colors. When summer hits the South (in mid-April), I gravitate toward vibrant colors, such as Lilly Pulitzer (yes, they make it for men too) or Vineyard Vines, as a casual, beach resort-attire look. 

Boxers or briefs: Honey, don’t make me blush through my tan…I’ll turn purple! 

Local go-to shop: Locally, you’ll find an array of vintage brand clothing at Revolver. I’ve found Gucci and Burberry at remarkable prices there. Otherwise, I’m guaranteed to find a bargain at the Belk Men’s department at Crabtree Valley Mall.

Last great dinner: Barcelona Restaurant and Wine Bar. I love that the ever-changing menu is focused on clean flavors, seasonal ingredients, specialties from Spain and the Mediterranean paired with some of the best wine in the city. 

Go-to piece: I always keep a freshly ironed, white button down, preferably done by a dry cleaner (yes, people will notice) and a navy sport coat on hand. Pair with a simple watch and it’s a sharp contrast to the ordinary, pedestrian looks of today. And I always accessorize with a vibrant pocket square.

Favorite piece of jewelry: A pair of sterling silver Tiffany cufflinks that I only wear to formal weddings and events. It was my first purchase, while in college, when I had saved up enough money to buy an expensive item that would be a forever keepsake. They’re a simple reminder that if you want nice things, you have to work hard for them. 

Travel dreaming: The Greek Isles; Santorini, Mykonos, Ios. I love Greek and Mediterranean culture and the food has always been a staple in my diet. Besides, who would pass up an ocean view sunset, sipping Avaton, listening to ABBA? 

Staying fit: Part of my job is teaching group fitness classes so I’m cycling, interval training, leading senior fitness formats anywhere between five and six times a week. I try to drink 160-180 ounces of water a day. I also believe everything in life should be done in moderation; exercise, food, work, play. A lifestyle of moderation is just as important as physical fitness and mental wellness, especially as we age. 

Favorite drink: I love a well-stirred gin martini, not too light, not too heavy, with a layer of thinly crushed ice and a lemon twist. Royale makes the best one I’ve ever had, hands down! I prefer Beefeaters gin, with an added secret ingredient; French vermouth (my favorite is Boiserie which adds a subtle floral, citrusy flavor). 

Style secret: You can never be overdressed or overeducated. Style is greatly affected by your attitude and demeanor. 

Moment in your life that inspired your style: In high school, I remember watching “The Talented Mr. Ripley” in the theater and being immersed in the era of the late 1950s/early ’60s fashion. The film is about passing for someone you’re not, explored in several ways, socially, economically and sexually. In the central conflict between Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) and Tom Ripley (Matt Damon), this theme is examined through fashion; Tom clearly wants to be Dickie and deeply envies Dickie’s style. Ultimately, Tom assumes Dickie’s identity but can never quite ape his presence (or, in this context, his “look”). The film is a primer on breezy, mid-century Italian style but incidentally shows how to build a personal style that can’t quite be replicated. It also examines how personal style can expose a man’s broader personality.

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