As you grow and mature, show should your wardrobe. When you’re a child, it’s cool to wear sneakers that light up, jeans with all types of crazy designs and hats with your favorite cartoon characters on them, but when you’re an adult, not so much. The first thing people will notice when they see you is your attire, so give them a good show. From your hair-cut, to your outfit to your shoes, be sure to present yourself as the person you want to be known and remembered as.
Growing up in a house full of boys, I didn’t know WHAT to wear. I was too busy trying to dress like my older brothers. For years, my mom would try to nip that in the bud by dressing us all alike, but as we grew older, we wanted our own unique style. If my older brothers said it was cool, then it was, and if they didn’t I would still rock it with pride, defending it to the death. I had the good fortune of getting many hand-me-downs because I was much smaller than my older brother. Once they grew out of it, I gladly stepped into it.
Finally, I got to incorporate my older brother’s style into my wardrobe which was constantly growing. Even if the clothes didn’t fit me, I would find a way to make it work. We had lots of different ways to make our clothes last because we had to. The only time we went clothes shopping was during back to school season. For the rest of the year, we knew not to ask my mom to shop for anything! We had clothes from the previous year that we would reuse until that couldn’t be used anymore.
We could cut jeans into shorts, dye jeans black, or bleach them white; whatever we had to do to make them last. We didn’t have a lot of clothes, but no matter what, we were always sharp. Especially on Sundays, my mom didn’t play when it came to our “Sunday outfit”. We were “suited and booted” each and every Sunday, all dressed in the same cut suit. People always thought that me and two of my older brothers were triplets, and I would say “No, it’s just the suits”. lol
There was a lot of pressure growing up in the NY area to dress a certain way. For us, the latest fashion was Air Force One’s, Timberland boots, NY fitted caps and the big puffy goose coats. There was nothing particularly special about these things, they simply were apart of our culture at the time. And since everybody else had them, we wanted them. My mom never succumbed to the pressures of buying into the propaganda, she would simply stick to her regular once a year shopping habits. Thank God she did, otherwise I would be a total wreck trying to keep up with name brands and such.
In fact, I didn’t even know what a name brand was until I was in the fourth grade. I remember because I had gotten my very first pair of Nike’s. I was attending a new school, and someone made a comment saying “Oh I see you’ve got name brands”. I smiled and was like “Yea!” but in my head, I thought “what in the world is a name brand”. Prior to this instance, name brands meant nothing to me, I was simply happy to have a new pair of sneakers on my feet that I liked. After school I asked my older brother Shane “What is a name brand” and he gave me the answer.
Apparently, having name brand clothes and shoes some sort of stamp of approval amongst the people who thought they were cool. From that point on, I made a point to request name brand shoes when we went shopping. Of course, when we went shopping the name brands cost much more than regular sneakers, which resulting in me settling for a pair of sneakers that had the Nike brand, but was as ugly as sin. I didn’t have any clothes to match it, they weren’t diverse and could work with any occasion and it didn’t add any value to my life. I had been sucked into the vicious cycle that many of has become victims to.
When you’re a kid, you’re not concerned with the cost of things, because it’s not coming out of your pocket. All you can think about is making a good impression on your friends at school. You don’t want the cool kids to pick on you because of your poor style of dress or worst, being laughed at by the girls. You want to feel good about yourself, and please others at the same time. During the early stages of your life, finding your own identity will be one of the greatest struggles you will face in your life.
As you grow older and mature, your values will begin to change, as should your style of dress. Your goals are higher and your network larger, your vision clearer and your confidence stronger. Over time you’ve learned how to value the person who goes into the clothes and not merely the clothes themselves. You’ve told yourself over and over how valuable you are, how intelligent you are and how good looking you are. And then as you begin to dress yourself, you tell yourself “I look even better with these clothes”.
Your style of dress will change dramatically depending on where you are in life. I’ve had the good fortune of living in New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, and Texas, an each state had their own unique style. New York and New Jersey had very similar taste, however Atlanta and Texas was a whole nother world. In Atlanta the boys would actually tuck their jeans into their socks; strange, but it was their thing. In Texas, the boys would use a ridiculously excessive amount of starch on their jeans; very strange, but it was their thing.
No matter where I lived, I tried my best to adjust based on a number of things: who I was, where I was and the people who were around me. I wanted to “do as the Romans did” while I was in Atlanta, but also maintain my New York swag. I tried my best to hold onto my New York accent, and would occasionally tuck my socks into my jeans. While in Texas, I literally used an entire can of starch on my jeans and still could not get it right. I was losing myself trying to fit in; it did nothing for my budget, nothing for my credibility and nothing for my peace of mind.
In my junior year of high school, I transferred to Saint Anthony high school in Jersey City, NJ where I immediately joined the popular basketball program. Thank God we had a uniform that we wore everyday because I did not want to have to explain to my teammates why I was tucking my jeans into my socks or super creasing my pants. I would’ve ruined any possibility of a friendship with the guys, and I could forget about getting a date with the girls. Even with our uniforms the guys would figure out a stylish way to finagle their individuality. It wasn’t enough to wear khakis, you weren’t cool until you got the ones with pockets in them.
After graduation, I moved back to Texas and attended Texas Wesleyan University, but I refused to crease my jeans. “I’m a New Yorker”, I thought to myself “and I will stick to my Air Force One’s, Timberland boots, baggy clothes and NY fitted caps. I was the MAN during that period of my life, but still growing. All of the girls at college loved the way I dressed, my NY swag, and my NY accent. Down south they treat New Yorkers like we’re celebrities!
One of the problems that I faced was when I went back to NY, there was nothing special or unique about the way I dressed, my accent or my NY swag. Everyone and their mother had it! It was so bad, that you could hardly recognize a lot of the people because they all looked the same. The same Air Force One’s, Timberland boots, White T-Shirt, blue NY fitted cap and bubble coat (if it was winter). I was a statistic and it was all my fault; I didn’t know how to dress. Even my long braids was a fashion fad that was getting old.
I tried to apply to a job in NY and they said “No braids”. I loved my braids, but I was not going to let a hairstyle get in the way of my future. I remember the day, it was June 5, 2005 when I cut them and it felt good letting go. I felt like a grown man, and not only did I let go of the braids, I let go of the baggy clothes, Air Force One’s, Timberland Boots, and bubble coats. My new closet consisted of shoes, slacks, blazers, suits, ties, button down shirts, sweaters, vests and overcoats that fit. I’ve managed to completely re-invent myself by doing away with childish things and started walking, talking and dressing like a man. I wanted to look the way I felt, so I did away with everything that made me look like a boy running around the streets of Brooklyn and started to dress like a man who runs New York.
Sometimes in order to change your life you have to change your ways; this will require a complete destruction of your old self and a reconstruction of your new self. Now, when you walk into a room people will want to know who you are, what you do and even wear you shop. Women will be attracted because you dress and carry yourself like a man of purpose, an effective leader, and a role model. You will spark interest in others which will result in exclusive invitations into their social circles simply because you appear as if you belong. Finally, you will feel better about yourself as a man because now you’ve done more than simply made an adjustment to your wardrobe, you’ve made an adjustment to your attitude, and an even greater adjustment to your life.
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Life & Relationship Coach