On Style: with Tommy Prudenti

Tommy Prudenti
Tommy Prudenti

When Tommy Prudenti’s parents moved from New Jersey to Charlotte he never thought he would follow in their tracks. The eldest of four siblings who are fewer than seven years apart, he was the last to relocate to the Queen City in 2013. Prudenti, 31, graduated from Rutgers with a B.A. in Theatre Arts. He’s the education programs coordinator at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, where he manages a staff of teaching artists.

Q. What’s something you remember from your childhood closet?

A. My mom used to make us wear neon fanny packs on all our school trips. The funniest thing is I go to musical festivals and I see people wearing them. They are coming back. Mine was green. My mom had a system for everything, and she didn’t want us to lose anything.

Q. When did your style develop?

A. When I got to high school, I would play with fashion. I found an old denim vest, and I bleached it and put in studs. I used to spray paint boots. I had a lot of piercings when I was going through a late-teen rebellious phase.

Q. Did your parents affect your style?

A. In the sense that, being an Italian Jersey family, my mom and my aunts dressed very gaudy with a lot of jewelry and prints and gold. So that bold style played a little bit into what I like to experiment with now.

Q. Who else influences your style?

A. I do follow a few people on Instagram. One is Mariano Di Vaio, and Maor Luz; they are stylists. I admire how young they are and how they really use social media to promote their fashion.

Q. Do you have any obsessions?

A. Cheap sunglasses. I lose sunglasses and I break sunglasses. I have one pair that are really, really expensive; they are Roberto Cavalli. I’ve had them for 10 years and I’ve worn them four or five times. Everywhere I go I buy cheap sunglasses.

Q. What’s your style?

A. Mine started out as a little eccentric when I was younger. When I lived in New York I wore a lot of blacks, and “agent chic” so to speak. It’s gotten more universal since I moved to Charlotte. I’ve infused some preppy things.

Q. If you could choose an everyday uniform what would it be?

A. I would love to be in a printed tee and ripped denim shorts and high tops every day. But I also like the other extreme. Black skinny jeans, black combat boots and a black sweater.

Q. What would surprise people about your style choices?

A. That the average price of an item of clothing in my closet is under $25. I shop at thrift stores, consignment shops, stores in the mall, and I try to find a bargain. I love Buffalo Exchange.

Q. What strikes you about Charlotteans’ style?

A. Overall, it is very simple. I’m much more used to the New York City experimental style.

Q. What don’t you miss about NYC?

A. I don’t miss the grittiness. Charlotte is beautiful. I love the greenery. I don’t miss the commuting. I used to drive to the train, take two trains, and walk to my office. It was an hour and 10 minutes each way. Now I have an eight-minute walk or a two-minute drive.

Q. What piece of clothing was a game changer for you?

A. I love wearing combat boots. My last pair I wore out. They had to go in the garbage because they were falling apart.

Q. Do you swap out watches?

A. I have a Michael Kors and a Tommy Hilfiger watch. I don’t use it for time. I feel it is a cool accent piece.

Q. What store do you miss?

A. Zara. Their clothes are very European and they fit me really well.

Q. What’s next on your list to buy?

A. I know what I want but I can’t afford it. It’s a Hex Tie. It is made of metal blocks. They are up to $1,000. I would get silver. I love silver.

Q. What product is a must-have?

A. I use CereVe cleanser. My sister got me hooked on that. For hair I use Bed Head, it’s a hair clay. My signature has been Zara’s men’s fragrances, but I just got hooked on the new Tom Ford fragrances.

Q. What does your hair say about you?

A. My hair is unruly. So maybe that’s what it says about me.

Q. What’s a great gift you’ve received?

A. Concert tickets. I’m a concert junkie. I go the Fillmore every two weeks. I’ve been given tickets to Rihanna. All three years my Weenie Roast tickets were gifts. I saw Parachute and Matt Carney at Amos’ recently. X Ambassadors are one of my favorites.

Q. I never splurge on …

A. Myself. I don’t really pamper myself when it comes to relaxation. I’ve never had a massage, I’ve never had a pedicure.

Q. What’s your best bargain?

A. I think that Nordstrom rack has the best bargain shoes in the whole universe. They are not super cheap but they are by great designers.

Q. Do you admire any artists?

A. I love Robert Rauschenberg. I love Andy Warhol’s stuff.

Q. Describe your dream vacation.

A. I want to go to southern Italy and Greece. I’ve never been to Europe. I’m almost 100 percent Italian. I’d like to see where my roots are.

Q. What’s your favorite comfort food meal?

A. Macaroni and meatballs. We do Sunday dinners at my parents’ house at least a few times a month. She makes a big pot of “gravy,” with pork bones, Italian sausage, meatballs, and lets it cook all day. We call it gravy, but it’s red sauce.

Q. Who is your muse?

A. My grandma. She passed over the summer. She’s just been my best friend, my caretaker. She lived less than 10 minutes away from us growing up. My whole childhood, if I wasn’t at school or an activity, I was at my grandmother’s house. She taught me how to just embrace everybody and find the beauty in every person.