By David Baldwin Barnes - Inside the GAIT - July 11, 2011
As I walk down the corridors of U Street to K, around fluorescent lit federal offices, and through the grandiose halls of Congress, I am forced to witness a numerous fashion faux pas on display by the suit wearing men of this city. I will implore the gentlemen of our nation’s capital to steer clear of these 8 peeves of a well-dressed man.
Peeve 1 – Drooping Shirt Collars
I’ve previously stated the cringe in my stomach when I see a gentleman’s shirt collar that does not fit, but I’ll reiterate— collars are designed for necks and not collar bones. When buttoned, your collar should be directly below your Adam’s apple. A couple things take place when your collar is too big. One, It just looks bad. Two, you will never be able to get a good knot in your tie without the support of your neck backing your collar.
Peeve 2 – Improperly Tied Ties
The end of your tie should stop at the top of your belt buckle. It should be no longer than that. Also, when your tie is too long, you’re left with a tiny knot from the lack of width that’s further down the tie (skinny ties get a pass for the small knot).
The type of knot should correspond with the collar you’re wearing. The “four-in-hand” can go with almost any collar. Your “Windsor” and “Double-Windsor” should only be tied with a spread, cutaway or extreme cutaway collar (my favorite collar, which the CEO of CIA wears well). You can wear a bowtie with almost any collar.
If the top button of you shirt is in fact buttoned, your tie should be tightened all the way to the top of your collar. I’m not asking you to strangle yourself, but the top button ought to be invisible.
Peeve 3 – Baggy/Ill-fitting Suits
My uncle is a talented jazz pianist with a style that matches his creativity on the ivory keys. He’s one of my fashion heroes, but I do NOT wear his suits, nor my older brother’s or my cousins’… they don’t fit me. As tempted as I was to accept the hand me downs coming my way as I struggled with the measly budget of an entry-level employee, I made the decision to by a suit the fit me. I then applied the golden rule— alter, alter, alter every suit that you buy off the rack. If your suit has enough fabric to land you safely from a dive off a plane, your suit is too big.
Peeve 4 – Suits with 4+ buttons
There are certain fashion rules that I follow (the “golden one”), and others I throw out the window (“trends”). I am unaware of a rule banning the existence of a suit with 4 or more buttons, but I humbly request that Glenn O’Brien speak on this matter so I may have an authority to refer to in times of my vehement rebuttal of such sartorial malfeasance (I’m tempted to ban three buttons as well. Double breasted don’t apply).
The Kings of Comedy are comedians… they’re supposed to look funny.
Peeve 5 – The Renegade Collar
I spoke earlier of how the collar should fit around your neck; snugly but not suffocating. I now speak of the two flaps where the tips generally touch your collar bone. These two flaps belong there, not half way in the air. I have witnessed collars leaping from the shirt as if to proclaim treason on the state of shirt land. They look like the wings of eagles soaring, an Olympic ski jump, a tortilla chip curled from the heat of a good baking.
To remedy this conundrum the fashion gods invented what is called a collar stay. Many shirts come pre-loaded, and others have a special place for their insertion.
Go to a store that sells men’s suits and ask for some, I’m sure they’d be obliged to relieve you from this plight (some even give them for free with a purchase). Make sure you take them out when ironing or dry-cleaning.
If no there’s place for a collar stay, iron your collars until they’re as stiff as the wall stud you drilled into to mount your flat screen TV. I’m not a fan of a lot of starch, but drench those bad boys in starch and apply maximum heat to them without burning to make them immobile.
Other remedies are a button-down collar or a collar bar (worn frequently by the best dressed Member of Congress).
Peeve 6 – Black, red, neon, dark purple, dark blue shirts (any dark shirt)
I applaud you for using color to express yourself, but please limit these colors to ties, pocket squares and socks (although black ties do not belong in the office either).
Peeve 7 – White Socks
I don’t even wear white socks when I go to the gym (The Fab 5 were indeed style icons. Go Michigan!).
Peeve 8 - Short Sleeve Shirts
Your honor, I would like to submit this photo as evidence of the crime perpetrated.
I rest my case.
by Esther Adams
Photographed by Stephen Meisel Vogue in 2009
Now that summer’s almost here, and bikes are out in full force, how does a style maven dress when she chooses to move in the elements rather than simply sit in an air-conditioned vehicle? Vogue asks loyal cyclists Lily Cole, Agyness Deyn, Hanneli Mustaparta, and Pamela Love, for their tried-and-tested tips on how to pull together looks for pedaling through the city.
“I love it when women cycle in heels,” says Cole. The redhead beauty has been spotted in short vintage frocks whizzing around Cambridge University (where she’s currently studying art history) on a sleek black Pashley Guv’nor. “I mostly wear trainers or flip-flops,” she continues sheepishly, “but I’m thinking of experimenting with wedges—I have Ferragamo and Christian Louboutin versions.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, intrepid style blogger Mustaparta is another bike/heel advocate. And although she’s shrewd when it comes to her wheels—“I bought a really cheap Brentwood so I wouldn’t be worried it would get stolen!”—she throws caution to the wind when it comes to elevated footwear. “Biking makes it surprisingly easy to do a full day in Chloë Sevigny’s Opening Ceremony heels,” she says with a laugh. “Walking in them tires me out!”
DC’s Top Image Architect Brands the Political Athlete
Inside the GAIT
Sitting at a brown whicker high-table on the patio of Barcode restaurant in Farragut North, Michael Hardaway shifts between two smart phones, seamlessly conducting the flow of calls, emails and text messages from clients and partners like a seasoned maestro— any professional athlete wanting to make their mark in Washington’s policy driven culture goes to him.
The Chicago native is a brand architect. He has developed one of the strongest personal brands in DC, and has taken his skills, combined with his corporate and political acumen, to push the policy and charitable initiatives of his clientele of athletes.
Perched behind his signature designer shades, the 29 year old Founder and CEO of Cavenger Image Architects (CIA), takes an intermission from his symphony of information to share with Inside the GAIT the philosophy behind his personal brand and his firm’s mission to help athletes change people’s lives.
Inside the GAIT: So I think you have one of the strongest personal brands in D.C. How would you describe it?
Michael Hardaway: Timeless and aggressive (big laugh). I like to win, and so I think my brand projects victory.
I think my ability to cultivate a brand as someone who’s exceptionally driven has gone a long way in my ability to ascend in both the corporate and political sectors. People want to work with [someone] who is both intelligent and affable. I think if you can retain both of those qualities, you’ll be extremely successful in whatever you choose to do.
GAIT: You wear the iconic Cornell West black suit everyday. What’s your inspiration for that?
MH: I love black. Black is my color. Every individual has a color that’s theirs. You have to wear what fits you. It’s just like athletes. Each athlete has to find a cause that fits them. Each man wears a suit that fits him and identifies with him.
GAIT: DC isn’t known for people being intentional about their appearance. Why do you think that is?
MH: I think it’s something that needs to be learned. It’s just like anything else, like financial literacy, right. Everyone’s not born with financial literacy. You have to learn how to do it. It’s the same thing with style, the same thing with your image. You have to learn it. No ones born with it.
GAIT: What advice would you give to people about developing their own brand?
MH: You have to first figure out what you want in life. How you want people to view you, and figure out what the steps are to get to that end. When you figure out what that is, then you can sit back and figure out image wise how you want to project yourself. You know it’s not just the way you dress. It’s the way you walk, and the way you sit, the way you speak. Everything has to come together and be believable… It’s currency in a lot of ways. In terms of the relationships that you have and your ability to get things done. It’s a vital component of [professional growth].
GAIT: So tell me how you got in the business of representing athletes in the political realm?
MH: I worked in public relations at Golin Harris, which is one of the largest PR firms in the world, in their corporate communications practice. I also worked on the Hill in a press capacity, and on the historic 2008 Obama Presidential Campaign and the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team. So those experiences gave me a breadth of capabilities in terms of building narratives and driving those narratives to polish an image for a specific individual. In those instances it was for politicians and corporate executives, and in this capacity it’s for athletes.
Of course I’m a huge sports fan, too. I also realize these guys have a window to change people’s lives, and it’s typically a brief window. So I wanted to lend my skills and my abilities to help them leverage that to improve their lives and the lives of as many people as they could while that window is open.
GAIT: What exactly is it that you do?
MH: We turn athletes into global icons. We identify athletes who have a wider awareness of the branding possibilities their profession affords them and we help them realize that potential on a global scale. We help them figure out their long term goals for the next 5, 10, 15 years and we help build a narrative behind that. Everything he does for the next 5 to 15 years is built around driving to that end.
We’re building a comprehensive image machine. A comprehensive branding strategy includes public policy, it includes traditional charity work, it includes informing fans at a deeper level about what they’re doing and how that compares to their peers, how that compares on an historical level.
GAIT: What are some of the issues that your clients get involved in?
MH: A great example is diabetes. A lot of players are deeply involved in the fight against diabetes, and it’s primarily because they have family members that have diabetes, or it runs in their families. And so it’s a spirited issue for them to do whatever they can to leverage their image to eradicate that disease.
GAIT: What makes an athlete unique, in say, fighting diabetes?
MH: I think they’re the best advocates in many ways. I think the visual first of all helps a lot, right. The initial visual of this athlete who has incredible strength, stays in shape, eats healthy and lives healthy, that’s a great example of how one could live to mitigate the chances of getting diabetes. So you have that initial image and then you have the athlete informing himself and deeply studying the issue and discussing that with his fans and with constituents. It helps galvanize people behind that particular issue.
Case in point. There are 26 million Americans with diabetes. Nineteen million Americans are aware that they have diabetes, and 7 million are unaware that they have diabetes. And so the biggest problem lies in the 7 million Americans who are unaware that they have diabetes. If athletes can be an advocate in informing those individuals to get tested if it runs in your family, inform yourself and know what the risks are and know how you can mitigate that, that makes all the difference.
GAIT: How does that tie-in with the policy arena?
MH: It’s a great marriage between athletes and public policy figures. It takes the legislative effort, it takes the effort of the government to expand access to certain programs and increase funding for them. And it also takes public awareness of these issues, and athletes are unique in creating awareness and getting a groundswell of support behind these issues
We work with the Administration in several capacities where it makes sense to partner athletes with different Administration initiatives and help get the word out. I think it’s a fantastic and admirable program the First Lady has put together [on obesity]. She has that initiative, the NFL has “Play 60” and the NBA has “NBA Fit”, which are their health initiatives. And I think it’s incredible.
GAIT: You mentioned diabetes. What are some of the other issues that your clients are passionate about?
MH: Well obesity, which goes hand-in-hand with diabetes. That’s a huge issue for a lot of athletes. They’re very concerned about children and their ability to stay involved, stay active, stay fit. Cancer is also a primary issue for a lot of guys. They have family members who have died from cancer or suffer from cancer. Those are the three largest ones.
I would say education is also something that’s very important to a lot of athletes as well. You know a lot of them may come from school districts that don’t have the most financial governmental support, and now that they have this ability and this platform to advocate for better opportunities for others, a lot of them have taken that opportunity to go forth and try to improve the lives of those who live in the area they came from.
GAIT: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
MH: I love it! First of all I love being able to work with these guys and help them change people’s lives. When you’re working with an athlete, maybe cancer is his big issue, so you brief him on what the situation is and what he can do. And he may be at some event and meet some kid who has cancer. And the reaction that kid has to the athlete is priceless. Absolutely priceless. I would say that’s easily the best part of this job.
There is still some controversy over the inclusion of the braided belt in a man’s sartorial repertoire. And after careful consideration, I decided to endorse its inclusion.
On several conditions…..
#1 - Braided belts shall be worn sparingly, and in very casual settings (see ribbon belt)
#2 - Braided belts shall be selected according to thickness and strand; the thicker belts with fewer strands are preferred over the opposite
#3 - Braided belts shall be colored oxblood (burgundy); no other color
#4 - Braided belts shall be worn with khakis and chinos ONLY; no pinstriped slacks or silk suit pants with cuffs at the bottom
If you can handle these 4 conditions, the style gods will not smite you, and your co-workers will refrain from ridicule.
Special shout out to @Mark_Merlot for his contribution to this post
Consider this as an advanced lesson in the stylish ways in which one keeps his pants around his waist, instead of his ankles.
If you missed Pt. I of Belts and Braces, then click here to learn the basics. If you’re ready for more, follow the jump.
You may be wondering aloud, “But why not reversible belts? Its convenient and it saves me money.”
I don’t mind their look, but I object to their sturdiness. There is nothing worse than having the head of your belt buckle pop off when you are getting ready for work in the morning.
I have personally experienced “reversible belt malfunctions” enough times in life to swear them off for good. I recommend you do the same.
When I started this post I fully intended to do some quick research, throw up some pictures, and succinctly explain why it is essential to own a sensible brown and black belt. Some 5 hours later I realized that this piece would be much more than that.
I discovered Ratatat a couple years ago, when they did a collaboration with one of my favorite artists Kid Cudi. I liked their sound, but didn’t look to deeply into their catalogue— that was before my dear friend Michael Zetts played “Wildcat” for me on our way to a Cudi concert in Cleveland.
Give it a listen. Leave a comment. Add it to your morning playlist for your metro to and from work.
We will be posting more METRO MATERIAL in the coming weeks and months, so keep coming back for updates.