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Fashion Friday: Style As A Meditation


I am attempting to live this philosophy everyday: Style as a meditation and not a mere regulatory affair.

I recently did a post on The 7 Habits of Sylish People and most of the advice was character driven. I believe 70% of style is Character and the other 30% is Clothing. Most  think clothing is important. And I tend to agree, I live and love them. They can take you places, give you access to certain environments. Yet, if you don’t have solid character to back it up you’re like a boy in his fathers clothes. You’re only playing “dress up” and that’s called “acting.” Dressing to enhance vs dressing to hide are two different things. The goal should be deeper than that. It’s about motive and intent. Let’s deepen the conversation from how we look and who we wear to how we act and why we should care.

“Elegance is a question of personality, more than one’s clothing.” Jean-Paul Gaultier

Nothing is worse than arrogance dressed in elegance. Substance always trumps surface.However, a Twitter user reminded me:

“there are far worse things than arrogance dressed in elegance, arrogance dressed in ready-to-wear would be one. A good suit is worth plenty on a rotten man! It’s usually the ONLY thing he’s worth, so he may as well look fabulous!” –  Alexander Stacey

I think he is right in of those statements, there are far worse things a person can be (I know his intent was light banter)  but I think there is something to be said for a person who gives the appearance of refinement but proves false to this by the way he acts toward people. ( I cover this topic in a previous post) what good is a new suit if the man inside is rotten? We must not use clothing as a way to deceive others by hiding who we really are on the inside.

For example: A man hires a stylist to help him pick out clothes for an interview. Together they pick an appropriate shirt and tie, pair it impeccably with a tailored suit, possibly even stir within him the confidence he needs by means of coaching and direction beforehand so that he actually lands the job. Granted, the boss/interviewer is impressed with his résumé and his interviewing skills. But soon after the boss notices things that may make him question the hiring decision. His constant tardiness, failure to meet deadlines, incomplete or inaccurate reports or even laziness may make him more of a liability. Sure, he nailed the interview, made a good first impression and was a convincing candidate. But an awesome wardrobe won’t cover-up bad work ethic. He may be the topic of discussion and even the resident expert around the office on how to pair this with that. However, his sharp suit won’t be enough to save him from a pink slip.  Even if he has entrepreneurial aspirations his behaviors won’t get him very far.

Clothing should enhance our persona, but we also need to do the work that is required to change traits, habits or more importantly, behaviors that may be counter productive to our personal development. How? Think about the last conversation you had with your boss about your performance, your good friend or significant other about your relationship? Were you listening closely to the things you needed to tweak or even change to become a better or refined version of yourself? Or did you scoff at their suggestions? Stylish people should balance what’s in their closet with what’s in their head. They know that teachers come in the form of people they meet, places they go and in events they experience. Thus, when we go out into the world dressed up or move through life rocking our killer “look” it will be far more than just mere sartorial elegance.

Start from the inside & the rest will follow. Less “clothes maketh the man” more “the man maketh the clothes.” – Dublo

Thank you MyrtleTakesTeadublonothing for inspiring this post and engaging me in some brisk debate on style.

TheStyleGent

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Fashion Friday: Woman’s Style: A Gentleman’s Perspective


Fashion has taken many twists and turns through the years but the one thing that hasn’t changed is people’s need to express their personalities through clothing. Women and men do this slightly different. For years, men have dreaded even going into the store let alone trying on clothing. While most women keep up on the latest trends going on in style and fashion (I see a lot of women with a killer shoe, handbag & accessory game) most men prefer to “just get on with it,” picking just the basics in clothing and move on.

Things have changed in the past several years. Men have been become more and more interested in style and fashion. No longer does she have to say: “Are you really going to wear that?“ Blogs and magazines have set out a roadmap to help us to become proficient at matching, accessorizing and generally better companions when it comes to dressing. Translation: we won’t embarrass you anymore.

As a Gentleman I offer this as a message to the ladies: With this newfound interest in fashion some of us have gained we want you to know that even though we may enjoy flipping through Esquire, GQ and the many other magazines and books on style, for us it’s still sexy just to watch you strut your stuff and rock those killer Spring or Fall looks. We appreciate those A-line skirts, those peep-toed sling backs, the stacked heels, the dresses from Stop Staring, the way you turn heads when enter a room, or the way you grow your hair out in luscious natural curls or flowing straight wisps. we like you curvy, we like you confident, we want you to shine. And now that we have fashionably come into our own, we just want to look as good as you do when we step out with you on our dates, have that first inevitable meet & greet with your friends (we know you rate us when you excuse yourselves to go to the bathroom) or even one day meet the parents, we want to fashionably complete not compete.

This means we might have to negotiate closet space. As our interest gets larger, so does our wardrobes. So don’t be surprised if we want to go shopping. Of course you’ll have wait for us now while we go into Brooks Brothers, Sax or Nordstrom. But that’s a small price to pay for the both of us to look fly.

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Transformations: Monday Motivation – Ten Things to Remember and Avoid This Week


A good friend sent this to me about a year ago in an email and I thought it would be a good idea to frame a post around it. As we all start our week, it would be a great way to reinforce good habits  that have gotten us to where we are now, but also shine a microscope on things we may need to improve on.  Life for most of us has become ever so stressful and for some of us maybe even difficult, but if we can focus on these ten do’s and dont’s it may help change at least the way we feel about ourselves and improve our relationships with others.

Ten Things To Remember:

1. Do kind things for others without expecting a reward
2. Always improve yourself
3. Take responsibility for your own shortcomings
4. Complement yourself when things go well
5. Nurture friendships and relationships
6. Be aware and pay attention
7. Meet new people and try new things
9. Slow Down
8. Look up
10. Believe that good things can happen to you.

Ten Things To Avoid:

1. Don’t hide behind emotional walls
2. Don’t judge others
3. Avoid self-pity
4. Never forget that there will always be greater and lesser gifted people than yourself
5. Never let fear stand in your way
6. Never let your inner voice put you down
7. Avoid negative people
8. Try not to be suspicious of others without good reason
9. Don’t put yourself down in front of others
10. Don’t be a tool.

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Transformations: Beauty Is Her Name


 

Recently, after doing a post for @TBBBoutique (Beauty Boudoir) I was asked to give my opinion to a bimonthly women’s discussion group that takes place in their Boudoir in Florida.  It’s called Gucci, Godiva, & God Nights. (See About on guccigodivagod.com for what they are about) They meet and discuss topics ranging from “What does a domestic woman look like in 2011?” to ” Sex & Celibacy”.  One week they took a dive into discussing beauty.  They discussed comments from well-known rappers and celebrities about skin color and beauty such as “Dark Skinned Women are not attractive” to some men’s infatuation with long straight hair and aversion to short natural styles. They discussed media & television as it relates to ideas of beauty and asked me to weigh in on this and give a gentleman’s perspective.  Here are Some of the questions that were being posed and my responses, I invite both men and women to engage on this topic. I’m curious about what you think. Many thanks to Ms. Albany Craig,  Shivawn Mitchell & Charisma Adams at the http://thebeautyboudoir.com/ for asking me to participate.

1. What are the things that men just really don’t care about when it comes to outward beauty? 

We don’t care if you wear designer or not.

We don’t care if you if you weigh a size 8  or more, seeing that the average weight for a woman is 14/16 in the US. Stop starving yourself and just eat in moderation, exercise and be healthy. Work what you got and work it well.
We don’t care about plastic surgery. Seriously. You get hug up on that nonsense a little too much. Only shallow superficial guys care about it and most of us are NOT that guy. We like the parts He made you with so don’t mess with His original design unless it’s for health reasons.

What are the things that are deal breakers?
1. Women in age inappropriate or ill-fitted clothing. Stop wearing things your tween or teenage daughter would wear. You wouldn’t want to date a guy in his 30’s who still dresses like he was 17 would you? You are a woman, a Queen, dress like one. Besides, I don’t want to see “JUICY” across the back of your behind.
2. Too much makeup, easy on the smoky eye effect.

3. Colored contacts (you know you weren’t born with blue or grey eyes) it’s nice to look at initially, but we both know it’s not the real you.

4. Coming out the house in curlers (are they still selling those?) head wraps, slippers or pajama pants (trust me I’ve seen these things) Long multi-colored fingernails etc. You don’t have to come out of the house looking like a beauty queen all the time but we want you to present yourself in the best possible way so careful consideration is required. You can be casual and still look classy.

These things may sound superficial but they are really an insight into a persons self-esteem. Some use these things to hide behind unresolved issues of Attention, Affection, Acceptance and Approval. 

2. Can beauty be achieved through attitude, spirit, and other attributes, having nothing to do with physical appearance?
I love this question and the answer is YES!
“Nothing is so necessary for a young man as the company of intelligent women” – Leo Tolstoy
There is nothing more seductive than an intelligent woman. her positive and engaging attitude will do more for her beauty than almost anything else. Emotionally intelligent women are even more attractive.
Yes, looks may be initially draw us in but nothing is more unattractive than a pretty woman with an empty mind, rotten spirit and a bad attitude.
Stimulate the mind and the body will follow. Beauty is more than hair, eyes, lips, hips etc. A woman with the mind of a Jedi is super attractive. Her warm inviting smile, great conversation, spiritual devotion, and positive and encouraging out look on life can make her look like a 10 in the eyes of a mature man.
 
3. Beautiful + Bad Attitude vs Not Beautiful + Great Attitude – which will a man choose?
See Question 2 What do you think?

4. How is a man’s standard of beauty formed? (father/older men in your life, friends, the media, etc)
Initially all of the above. Some of it is conditioning. But at some point a man has to choose his own value system.
Dad makes his impression, his friends make theirs. I’ve even heard of family members dictating the criteria for who they approve of based on how attractive the couples children would be. (I know you women secretly grade us based on how you think our future baby would look like) then the media pounds an “ideal” perception of beauty on TV, magazines and in advertising campaigns.  Ultimately, a man has to ask himself “How do I feel about this particular woman, why do I find her attractive or why don’t I? Asking those questions and really examining those motives will help him to discover what he’s looking for in a woman. Giving in to peer pressure from his friends or even family only makes him seem immature and superficial.

5. Is skin color still an issue for black men in 2011?
Sadly for some. (see Question 4 and the baby issue) The entertainment industry is notorious for perpetuating the battle over skin color. Scan the TV channels and you’ll see that. Rappers talk about it in their verses and videos (Kanye did it on POWER) Filmmakers tackle the issue in films and in our community it divides families. Go to a Lounge and see the this in action, do a social experiment and see for yourself how many men are diverse in their choices in who they pursue or give their attention to. It’s devastating to the ego and secretly creates a divisive wedge in the unity of the already fragile connection between our sisters. All in all if Love is developed in the heart, solidified in the mind and nurtured in the soul, the shade that it comes in won’t matter.
6. How does a man’s perception of himself affect his perception of a woman?
With the epidemic of “Father Hunger” in our communities, some men don’t even realize how their self-esteem is connected to the choices made in terms of the women they choose to sleep with, date or even marry. Even if he had a father or depending how he was raised, a man’s self-esteem can determine if he sees a woman as a threat to his “man-hood” or a partner in his relationship. If he sees himself as a “ladies man” he may see the way his peers treat their women and under subtle peer pressure, become emotionally detached and see woman as nothing more than objects to be played with, used or even worse, treated with disrespect. If he’s an “aggressive man” he may have witnessed the way his Father treated and controlled his Mother and carried that over into his own relationships, possibly leading to emotional and physical violence. If he is a “passive man” he may have seen how dominating his Mom was toward his Dad and now chooses women who either do the same to him or don’t encourage him to take the lead in the family. Hopefully through it all he aspires to be the healthy balance of an “assertive man” who understands the need to be use his power to protect and encourage, with the humility and mildness to see her as his partner and life-mate.
7. The Halle Berrys of the world are few and far between… now what?  Are you waiting for her or are you open to a non-Halle? If so, which qualities are at the forefront? 
First things first, Halle isn’t even on the top ten list. She’s been bumped off years ago in no particular order by:
Kerry Washington, Thandie Newton, Jill Marie Jones, Sanaa Lathan, Meagan Good, Taraji P. Henson, Essence Atkins, Rachel True, Tracee Ellis Ross, Selita Ebanks, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Beverly Peele, Toccara Jones, Kenya Moore need I go on? 
Second, no disrespect to Ms. Berry, but given Halle’s love history, there are issues going on just under the surface of that beauty (her former lover’s bad behavior aside) that need to be dealt with that may prevent her from having a truly enriching relationship. So no, we aren’t waiting. That said, all the women I previously mentioned have different body types and shades and personalities so there is a great variety of types to choose from. Maybe he likes the light-hearted beauty and silliness of a Taraji P. Henson, her type will keep him laughing, doesn’t take herself too seriously and would be the life of a party. 
Or maybe a quiet and powerful woman like Jada Pinkett-Smith. She may not say much, may be small in stature, but you know she’ll hold you down when things don’t go as planned. Or a Rachel True, a free spirit that’s a lot like the character she played on Half and Half. She’s got an unassuming beauty, humility and will keep you warm on those cold winter nights. 
We want qualities in you that either mirror our own or will complement us. 
If we are lacking in one area we’d love for that to be your strength. 
A mature man doesn’t mind learning from his woman and vice-versa.
 
8. What role does weight play in a man’s perception of beauty?
(See Question 1. Answer #2 & Question 2.) It plays some role. for some it’s a personal preference. A lot of my brothers appreciate a “Thick” woman. Our beautiful black women have always been blessed with voluptuous curvy bodies. Other women try to get your skin tones in the summer, get your lips through plastic surgery and try to emulate your sense of style on the street. They even try to speak your sassy lingo. All of these things make us love you so much. Granted, there are some of us who are too preoccupied with the weight issue but any man with some sense knows that weight will fluctuate due to children, life’s stress, emotional issues, hormones or just plain old genes. Recently, men are starting to feel a little pressure to get those washboard abs that you like feeling on. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it’s time that men felt what it’s like to feel the pressure to keep up a weight or number or an unrealistic ideal. There’s already a superficial and silly expectation for women to be nurturers, sexy lovers, business power players, wives, mothers etc. The issue of beauty and weight should be summed up simply by saying: We want you healthy, vibrant and full of life. If any of those things are an obstacle because of your weight then hopefully it can be changed by a healthier lifestyle.

9. Can a fly dress, hair, and shoe game compensate for what a woman may lack in natural beauty?
(See Question 2) Short answer? Yes. But those things should only be “accessories” for your personality because at the end of the day those things will have to be put back in the closet. By all means rock those 4″ heels, that LBD, Whip that hair back and forth, but keep in mind that it’s better to do some “Internal Styling” and “Character Tailoring” to decide if you are being the best woman you can be. Confidence balanced with Modesty, Intelligence balanced with Wisdom and Understanding coupled with a deep sense of Self-worth and Spirituality will go along way in the eyes of a man. And if he doesn’t appreciate those qualities in you then he clearly doesn’t understand God’s gift at all.
 
10. What is a man’s view of cosmetic procedures being used to obtain physical attractiveness? 
(See Question 1.) Here it goes (again): We don’t care about plastic surgery. Seriously. You women get hug up on that nonsense a little too much. Now I understand why. We know there’s a lot of pressure out there. You’ve got the media bombarding you with all these crazy messages telling you the spread of your nose is too wide, your breast may be too small (I peeped Persia Whites’ nip-tuck transformation in the middle of one season of Girlfriends) or even that you need to “lighten” up a bit. But only shallow superficial guys care about it and most of us are NOT that guy. We like the parts He made you with so don’t mess with His original design unless it’s for health reasons. Be powerful, be beautiful, be you. Don’t worry, you still turn our heads when you walk by.
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Transformations: Excuse The %&$* Expletives


 

I’ve been using social media for a short time now and it’s been an enriching experience. I’ve been able to connect with all types of interesting, informative, intelligent, creative, caring, empathetic, engaging people. Like offline life, it has really giving me a real insight on different types of personalities, brands, entertainment and propaganda out there. I’ve learned that it can inspire you to be more aware of yourself of others and the world around you, teach you to be entrepreneurial,  a leader or give you daily affirmation. I learned that it can also be a very weird, confounding, unruly place as well. I’ve learned that there are other “versions” of the chirping bird out there including a #twitterafterdark, black twitter, a spammers paradise and a slew of bathroom photo models that would love to get your attention. But out of all the things that may be right or wrong with social media I guess the one thing that I don’t appreciate is foul language.

If you have visited this site enough you know that I really do my best to be positive and encourage those that visit to do “Internal Styling,”  tweaking  the things that keep us from being the best version of ourselves we can be. One of those things is foul language. I don’t like it. It really, really turns me off. In fact, I actually cringe when I hear a person lay into a person with a barrage of vulgar, angry words aimed mostly at degrading or berating someone or someones character, family member, racial background, sexuality, etc, etc.  Some even pride themselves for their distinct ability and ease at being able to rattle off a slew of carefully aimed expletives that cut away at someones self-esteem with the precision of a surgeons scalpel.

Call me old fashion but there is something to be said of someone who lets the F-bombs flow freely. It’s a part of good etiquette and general manners to be wary of how our actions affects others around us. I’m not a Puritan but being polite and gracious goes a long way online and offline. So as you tweet, sub-tweet, post or update your status be a little mindful of how you speak. Words can cut or heal. “Dress Internally”

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