Photos by Wing Ta
“I just think guys can do better,” says biology professor and sartorial influencer Paul Buttenhoff. “Less pleats, fewer Crocs.” The current program director for St. Catherine University’s liberal arts and sciences department is a big fan of elevating guys and encouraging them to be more intentional about how they dress.
His own style, as extensively documented on Instagram for the past seven years, marries a working man’s basics—sturdy footwear, jeans, weather-appropriate sweaters and jackets—with precise tailoring and finishing touches like ties and scarves to create looks that are a little rugged, a little refined, and always thoughtfully put together.
Lately, he’s turned his attention to sprucing up his two-story stucco house in the Windom neighborhood of Minneapolis. Built in 1918, it’s classic South Minneapolis with abundant dark woodwork, a built-in buffet with leaded glass doors, and narrow hardwood floors throughout. Unsurprisingly for someone who values quality, Buttenhoff has left most of it intact.
He painted the walls in crisp shades of white or gray to set off the rich wood and added a mix of traditional and modern furnishings. A white metal sideboard by Paul Schulman serves as a cool bar in the living room, vintage Persian rugs bring color and warmth to the front porch, and a smattering of green plants, books, and artwork throughout add freshness and reveal his interests in science, travel, and manly icons (Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery). Each room is relatively spare, reflecting his ethos of purchasing fewer things of higher quality.
Noticeably absent, especially for a single guy, is a big flat-screen. “I moved the TV out of here,” says Buttenhoff. “It just became too easy to plop down in front of it instead of reading or mowing or listening to music.” He does have a fair amount of cocktail paraphernalia owing to his time as a bartender after college. “When you become a tropical biologist, the hidden skill set they don’t tell you about is you get to learn how to make lattes and do landscaping and bartend,” he says, only half-joking. The colorful bottles of liquor, shiny accessories, and glassware add sparkle and a sense of impending good times.
Since he lives alone, he decided to convert one of the upstairs bedrooms into a closet to display his impressive boot collection, shirts, denim, “neck stuff” (ties, bandanas, and scarves), watches, glasses, and other accessories. Another closet located in the master is home to around 30 vests and as many brogues. Clothing as gallery, Buttenhoff as curator.
The Influencer: Paul Buttenhoff
How did your big (50k) Instagram following come about?
Instagram was just a fun outlet where I posted pictures of boots and watches and connected with other guys who liked boots and watches, and it grew from there. Now I like to think of it as a tribute to folks who do things well, whether that’s sewing a pair of boots or making a great bowl of pho.
And the name?
I’m a biologist and I was writing a paper about snakes when I set up the account. It asked for a name so I came up with “bothrops,” a south American pit viper. Turns out there was already a “bothrops” out there so, in a stroke of genius, I added the “1.”
Who are your style influences?
My grandpas. They were hardworking dudes who wore jeans and boots and did what they needed to do to put food on the table. One worked on the iron ore docks in Two Harbors. That’s probably why I’m drawn to those established, heritage-type brands.
What’s your favorite item of clothing?
A leather jacket made by Belstaff. It makes me look like Indiana Jones, and I feel like I’m an imposter, but I love it anyway.