Gentlemen, what’s going on? New year new you? I hope so! It’s time for growth, and I’m here to give you five fashion tips that every man needs to know. I know you might be thinking, “why do black guys need different style advice than white guys?” Well, simply put, the answer is diversity. We’re very diverse people within our own community as it is, but truth be told, there are just some things that work for white men that don’t work for us, and vice versa. With that said, let’s get into it.
5. Fit is a key factor
More times than not, if you see black men on TV they fall into one of two wardrobes — baggy clothes and athletic gear or perfectly tailored in a $500 suit, and there’s a good chance that you don’t fit into either of those on an average day. But the number one factor in stepping up your appearance is understanding the fit of your clothes.
On average, most men wear clothes that are too large or — unfortunately — too small, so outfits tend not to compliment their build, and either hide it or make it appear stuffed. It’s important to find a balance that combines comfort and composure, so finding clothes that compliment your body type is top of the list. You don’t want to be a shirt that’s two sizes too small, but it’s safe to say that we’re passed the tall tee phase as well.
4. Redefine your casual dress
When a lot of us think of casual clothes and wardrobe, what comes to mind? For a lot of guys, it’s a pair of Nike slides and either basketball shorts or sweatpants with a random shirt, most often a muscle shirt. I’m here to tell you that it’s time to put this look to rest. Seriously, half the time, guys wear slides with socks, so it defeats the purpose of an open-toed shoe. You’re better than that. Don’t get me wrong, casual doesn’t have to be boring, but it’s time we graduated from the high school athletics look.
If you’re at home just lounging around, wear whatever feels good to you, but when you’re out in the world put your best foot forward, even if it’s just a lazy weekend with the crew. Be willing to experiment with different types of pants and collared shirts and even t-shirts. If you’re just stepping out of your comfort zone, try taking some inspiration from men who approach casual at a level that you believe looks good — there’s no shame in appreciating another man’s style.
3. Understand your ensemble
The foundation of any man’s outfit should be making sure that your top and bottom halves compliment each other. If you’re wearing a long-sleeved top made with the thicker material like cashmere, make sure that your pants compliment the look to create balance. A tailored top is wasted on loose, baggy pants. I know as black men, many of us are accustomed to loose-fitting jeans, and rest assured, this topic will be covered.
2. Don’t be afraid to dress well
You’ve probably faced this problem before. You get an invitation to a social event, but there’s not much indication of what to wear. You don’t want to show up in a tux, but you also don’t want to look like the broke guy who snuck in through the side door. It’s really frustrating most of the time, and most men err on the more casual side only to regret it when they get there and see a few guys dressed better getting all the looks. It can be a confidence killer.
Don’t overdo your wardrobe to a fault, but dare to set the bar for men around you. It’s better to be a little bit overdressed than underdressed in any setting, but don’t show up to the lake in a tuxedo unless there’s a wedding. What’s important to consider when deciding on an outfit for an outing is where you’re going and who you’re going to be with. Your friends will be impressed by your style and their praise can really help you feel the difference that your style makes.
1. Nurture and develop yourself
Invest more time and money into yourself in every aspect that will make you better. From fashion and face scrubs to new skills and handiness, when you take care of yourself — or neglect to — it shows. From subtle details like posture and body language to more noticeable effects like acne or unkempt nails, people notice the clues that indicate how well you treat yourself, and in turn how you present yourself.
Cultivate your fashion sense. Your style is a huge mode of communication, and is worth nurturing just as much as education and relationships. A quote that comes to mind is from Oscar Schoffler, longtime fashion editor of Esquire, who once said, “Never underestimate the power of what you wear. After all, there’s just a small bit of yourself sticking out at the collar and cuff. The rest of the world sees what you drape on your frame.”
I feel like this is something we should take to heart as black men or men of color in general, because it’s so easy for us to be profiled simply because of the way we look. I know personally, I’ve seen people approach me differently based on what I wear. Strangers won’t know who you are from your clothes alone, but those clothes will be a factor in whether they decide to learn more.
Hopefully, this has been a good starting point for your journey to a better you. Feel free to leave comments below, and subscribe to the newsletter to stay in the loop. We’ve got more stuff coming soon.
Nick Bailey is a forward thinking journalist with a well-rounded skill set unafraid to take on topics head on. He now resides in Austin, TX and continues to create content on a daily basis.