When A Black Man Loves - a romantic journey

Will JT and Jay-Z (Timberlake and Hova) Inspire Black Men to Dress Better? And will this make a change in blossoming African American Men

Zachary M.C. Harris
Saturday, March 16, 2013

George Fraser – “Success Runs in Our Race” -- posted a good note the other day in regards to women looking very nice when they are going out only to be accompanied by a man who looks like he is lounging out with his boys, if not working around the house.  As usual, there were some very good comments.

Now, I didn’t watch the Grammy’s but I did hear about the performance by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z, and I wound up looking at the official music video to the song online.  I can’t say that I loved the video, but I can say that I have upped my fashion standards since high school.  In high school, we initially had a dress code that males had to wear shoes and ties, and while this was challenged and defeated by an upper classman, I still chose to wear shoes, if not sometimes a tie.  I still remember a couple teachers commenting on how professional I looked… and that was some twenty five plus years ago!

After high school was the Navy for me, and there I was taught not only to dress in a uniform, but to also proudly maintain it.  My gigline had better be straight, I’d better have no Irish pennants on me and my belt buckle and shoes had better be shined and looking good.  Hell, my roommate and I had the best looking floor in the whole platoon, if not the whole battalion, and our platoon had the best looking corridor (hallway) in the whole battalion if not the whole building, and again if not of all the buildings in our command.  And it was a big command!

Since then, while I had some periods in which I didn’t bring my best to the table, no one can say anything when I rock my “dirty sexy” look, or when I bring my formal fashion game to the table.  All of my dress shirts feature French Cuffs and while I might not always shine my shoes to the highest shine that the service taught me, they stay on point [like Stacy Adams] and/or I take them to get professionally polished.  Note:  the best shine jobs I have gotten are in the places in Penn Station up in New York, and I always tip five dollars.

What I am interested to see is the effect that this will have on everyday Black men and their fashion sense, or in some words, lack thereof.  Jay-Z talked about changing the game of your style quite awhile ago, and Mrs. Carter sung about upgrading her man, but is has yet to take hold.  However, sometimes the right voice(s) can influence something different, and while everyone doesn’t have to run out and start getting custom suits and shirts, getting one or two nice suits is something that can be done without too much fan fare.  God, I lament the passing of Today’s Man so bad.

I have heard [horror] stories of men who believed that a white t-shirt and jeans is perfect and acceptable fashion and I am relieved that men have stopped wearing t-shirts that look like they are three sizes too large and fit like dresses; listen to the lyrics by Andre 3000 in the remix of “Walk it Out.”  Now, with a tuxedo jacket or other type of blazer and some high-end jeans, the t-shirt might get a pass.  It pains me to see brothers, and the older they are the worse it hurts, wearing their pants sagging down past their waists, especially when they have a woman by their side and a child in tow.  Whether they realize that children suck up everything, they are not giving their children sterling examples of what to look for in a mate/man.  And the women seem not to raise the issue with the men at all; maybe it’s that they are looking at the totality of the reality of taking one day at a time and not thinking that if one or more parties change their attitudes and behaviors, that they can achieve and participate in some of the glamorous lives that they see other people living in television shows and movies.

Back in the day, there was a standard of dress that most people stuck to, including even criminals, in which a suit was standard and so was a tie; in some cases they also rocked a hat.  Men purchased suits and had an extra pair of pants thrown in.  One of the greatest organizations to give African Americans the ability to believe in themselves, the Nation of Islam, mandated that the men wore suits and ties and carried themselves in a dignified manner.  Say what you want to say about them, but any man trying to sell you a copy of The Final Call and/or a bean pie looked like you could put him in just about any professional setting.

And women, just because you are with a man doesn’t mean that you can’t lead the charge, my boss’ wife bought him the suit that he wore to his first job interview after college.

The other day, I was watching the movie “Before I Self Destruct” in which Mr. Curtis Jackson, (50 Cent) plays a guy who resorts to a life of crime in order to take care of his academically gifted little brother after their mother is accidentally killed in a drive by shooting.  At one point, his character Clarence is dating a woman and she decides one day to dress his little brother up just like him.  He reacts a lot differently then she imagined, continually asking “what were you thinking” because he knows that his brother has a chance to really have a wonderful life; at the age of thirteen, he has already been accepted to Harvard, MIT and a couple other prestigious places.  That says something to the issue of dress, perception and life.

But since the song now has elicited some major branding tie-ins, most notably for some light beer, I am wondering how many people will be moved to emulate both entertainers in the song and get their suit and tie game on.

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