“Dress like you’re coming from somewhere and you’ve got some place to go”. Words from Mr. Kanye West that have stuck with me since reading the Daily Mail article years ago. I always want to put my best foot forward wherever I go, starting with my wardrobe. For young African American men the perceptions of others can weigh heavily. I’m not suggesting you wear a 3 piece suit every time you step out of the house, but simply take a little extra time to be aware of the person you present to the world. There’s a way to deconstruct the negative stereotypes while still maintaining your identity. Today I’ll focus on how to begin that journey through dress.
The most frequent statement I hear from friends and clients are “hey I’m really trying to revamp my wardrobe, transition into being a little more professional”. “I have this new job” “new internship” or “I’ve been a sneaker head for years, but I want to start rocking loafers and switch the style up a little bit”. A lot of young professionals want to stay fun and true to who they are, while maintaining a professional image in the work place. It’s not only possible, but can be a creative and enjoyable experience. Whether you are looking to completely revamp, or if you already have a pretty solid wardrobe and want to add a few stand out pieces here are some tips and staples to developing and maintaining an amazing men’s wardrobe…and for a reasonable price.
Go To Suit If you only have one suit in your closet make sure its navy blue or dark gray. My suggestion is to stay clear from the black suit until you have a couple of other options in your wardrobe. Many men choose a black suit to be their go to or only suit because they think “can’t go wrong with black”. To the contrary black does not go with everything, and it is far less versatile. When revamping a wardrobe you want a suit that is versatile that will make you stand out in an interview and look just as great as separates as it does together. The ability to mix and match will make your wardrobe appear far more extensive. I’m a fan of a two button suit, three is acceptable, but any more than that and be prepared to not be taken seriously. Also always throw in a pocket square it makes all the difference, but it should never be the same pattern as your tie. Choose white if you’re ever confused about what color pocket square to wear.
Suit suggestions: Zara, H&M, Suit Supply, J. Crew
Denim A good pair of jeans can go a long way in rebuilding a wardrobe. The fit will be the most important aspect (if you need a belt to stop your jeans from falling completely to the floor they are way too big). I encourage people to try different brands and cuts as some just may work better with your body type. Dress them up or down, from sneakers to double monks you will be able to make a lot of great combinations with the right pair. Invest in a pair that will last you for years to come. I personally like raw unwashed denim; they simply get more beautiful with age.
Denim Suggestions: Barney’s, Levi’s, Urban Outfitters
The All Occasion Chino The older I’ve become, I realize the less I wear jeans. Not because don’t like them, but because they aren’t apart of the dress code for work or even class. So I find myself wearing a comfortable pair of chinos that are able to make a smooth transition from class to happy hour, and even an evening out on the town. Being able to have an item that you can wear to work or hanging out with the fellas will make getting dressed a lot easier. Buying versatile pieces is how you get the perfect wardrobe that’s affordable.
Chino Suggestions: J. Crew, Gap, Nordstom Rack
Shoes: Take a tip from the ladies, the proper shoes can make or break an outfit. Make your shoes choices wisely. It can take some time to build up a diverse shoe collection of loafers, saddle shoes, wingtips, single and double monks so you don’t have to neglect your sneaker collection. Find new ways to incorporate those sneakers into your evolving style.
Shoes Suggestions: Bass, Allen Edmonds, Zara, Nordstrom Rack
The Fit No matter what you wear if the fit is off, more than likely the outfit will fail. You don’t want to look like you’re swimming in your older brother’s clothes or look uncomfortable because your clothes are too tight. A simple jeans, t-shirt, and cardigan combo can look absolutely amazing as long as the proportions are on point. Become familiar with brands and styles that fit you well. Also find a tailor to make necessary adjustments to your suits, trousers, and other garments as needed.
Now you’re ready to start building and revamping that wardrobe.
Live H.O.P.E. Give H.O.P.E.
About Raymond Metzger
Raymond Metzger is a Doctor of Physical Therapy student at Howard Univesity, and Men’s Fashion blogger at The Dapper Diamond District. The blog is dedicated to inspiring menswear choices, showcasing the eclectic style found in the district, and how to achieve a desired look on a reasonable budget.
Photos by: Shoccara Marcus