Beauty and The Beast

This beautiful dad cap with its embroidered red rose reminded me of the enchanted one from Beauty and the Beast.  Unfortunately, it’s no longer on Forever 21’s website but there is a similar cap in a lavender color available. But, if you’re looking for something more like what I have in my photos, check the Pinterest link below.

The cap spawned an idea to create an outfit where it would be the focal point so I ditched my signature bold colors and prints for something more neutral for that to happen. Overall, I was aiming for something casual yet, also, urban. I think I succeeded.

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As I tried my best to link the proper items with each brand, some items may be outdated or sold out, so I attached links to similar items.

Outfit Details:

Cap: Pinterest; Jacket: Target ($27.98); Sunglasses: Aldo; Henley Shirt: H&M ($9.99);

Shorts: ASOS ($24 +); Watch: Invicta; Shoes: Macys; Bag: Banana Republic ($138)

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Photography by Alex Zebrowski

Kickin’ It Old Skool

“I wore my sneakers but I’m not a sneak; My Adidas touch the sand of a foreign land; With mic in hand, I cold took command; My Adidas and me close as can be; We make a mean team, my Adidas and me” – My Adidas by Run-D.M.C

This look started with a bag – Aldo’s Tiezzo Midnight Crossbody bag to be exact.

I just finished wrapping a photo shoot inspired by late 70’s and 80’s fashion and needed a boom box for one of the looks. I searched everywhere [(local thrift stores, online, Facebook Marketplace, etc…) looking for one but found zilch (bummer…)]. After the photo shoot, I visited the mall to window shop for a bit. It was there I saw it sitting on the shelf at Aldo. I was in awe but disappointed I never thought to look here of all places for it. I mean, Aldo is one of my favorite stores! Ugh! How could I not?! Frustration aside, I bought it by convincing myself to schedule another shoot, but, this time, specifically inspired by early hip hop culture. And, that was settled.

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Photography by Ashshanae Darden

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Tiezzo Boom Box Crossbody Bag – Aldo Shoes ($60)

Gold Chain – The Gold Gods ($39 – $119)

Vintage Glasses – Giant Vintage [(Since I bought these at a Kiosk in the mall, I linked a vintage website that carries an assortment of old school glasses ($12 – $30)]

504 Cap in Wool  – Kangol ($39 – $55)

Jacket – Adidas

Samoa Sneakers – Adidas

Joggers – Zara [(The specific ones I am wearing I bought nearly a year ago, but I linked a similar one for you. ($29)]

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Diversity in Fashion: Why Representation Matters

Diversity in Fashion: Why Representation Matters

“I didn’t think I could wear something like that and actually pull it off until I saw you,” is one of many statements I have heard since starting my Instagram over two years ago. Guys – specifically, men of size – have been inspired by fellow influencers and I for our uninhibited, no holds barred, approach to all-things fashion. Given the absence of plus-size men in runway shows or within the glossy pages of editorial magazines, how could we know what is possible or what we are capable of pulling off [fashion-wise]? Before Instagram, we were seeking peers with similar body types for fashion and lifestyle advice we weren’t otherwise receiving. Instagram gave our community a voice, allowing us to connect with other like-minded individuals while challenging and evolving the industry’s narrow views on beauty standards.  

We’ve been through it before. You see this amazing looking button-up online and you want to purchase it. So you drive to the mall hoping to try it on, only to realize it doesn’t fit as you imagined it would. In fact, it’s so tight you can feel the buttons stretching near your belly and see your skin through the gaping holes. “Did you accidentally grab the wrong size” You ask yourself. You check the label, but sure enough it says it’s an XXL – so what gives? You begin thinking you’ve gained weight. Perhaps you should have lain off those doughnuts from yesterday or lost those 30 pounds you said you were going to lose months ago. Either way, you are dying to get this shirt, so you proceed to ask an associate if they have it in a size up. Unfortunately, they do not, she tells you. After taking a quick look at your body, she adds “all of the sizes are in European as well.” You don’t understand what that means for you so she explains the clothes run smaller than normal. Disappointed, you leave the store empty handed, but feel a sigh of relief knowing it’s not you; it’s the brand that doesn’t fit. 

As a bigger guy this has been a common experience I’ve had at trendy stores like Express, Top Shop and Zara. Many of their clothes may not fit regularly or go beyond an XXL, while stores that cater to the Big and Tall demographic only carry basic and outdated attire. It’s frustrating when you want to be fashionable but don’t have the available resources to do it. Furthermore, as an influencer, it’s even more disheartening when someone asks how he can duplicate your look, but you’re unable to muster a response because you’re wearing a little bit of everything, both old and new, from any place you’ve shopped over the last five years.  

…there’s hope…

 Although the fashion industry has yet to embrace PS men, our efforts have not gone completely in vain. In fact, ASOS, one of the largest online retailers for urban wear, recently launched its own fashion line for the bigger guy. In honor of its debut and to show its commitment, ASOS invited a select group of fashion influencers (including myself) to New York for a showcase in late February. At the presentation, we were astonished by the quality and range of apparel featured in the collection. We were also pleased that ASOS took it a notch further by using models who exemplified our actual body types. For the first time, we felt someone had been listening. Finally, we had trendy fashion (up to XXXXL) within reach and backing by a major company.  

Still, though progress has been made, we have much more work ahead of us. The industry may never take our cause as seriously as it has for women, but, whatever happens, our future success is contingent upon how we choose to mold it. In such a short time, we’ve already made an impact and won’t be discouraged by a few road blocks and setbacks. We’re not a trend that’s going away anytime soon. We started this movement and we’re here to stay for the long haul.

Our representation matters

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Looks by ASOS

Photography by Collis Torrington

Models in featured image (from left to right): fatchuckbass, denzalexander, francisleebaker, abearnamedtroy, goodboyfashion, marquimode, thebigfashionguy, dghramm, jonnyonthego and theprepguy.

 

plus size luxe

Will there be any luxury brands for Plus-size men anytime in the near future?

How can we expect luxury fashion designers to create clothes for plus-size men if they still have yet to embrace the $20.4 billion dollar market for women [1]? It’s not as if they cannot cater to us, but more of an unwillingness to do so. I am sure they have calculated the numbers and understand the growing demand, yet the industry has not budged. It makes you wonder, what gives?

In my opinion, I’ve always felt high-end designers choose not to tackle the plus-size movement because of status and exclusivity. If they outright said “you’re beautiful just as you are,” they would have no reason to sell you more cosmetics or waist-trainers. Being entangled in our self-worth is how they make money. And, as long as they are around, there’s always something you need to improve or fix. It’s why a slightly overweight young girl might watch Victoria’s Secret Fashion show and wonder why none of the women have a body like hers. It’s the very same reason why Melissa McCarthy[2] and Leslie Jones[3], who, in spite of being highly successful in Hollywood, have struggled finding designers to dress them for award ceremonies. The fashion industry thrives on perpetuating this ideal body with no room for anything else, but, the times are changing. 

The body positive campaigns started because we were fed up with being told we weren’t adequate. We knew there was nothing wrong with us. We were pretty enough. We were handsome enough. We were skinny enough. Or fat enough. We were – simply, enough. We didn’t need validation from others because we knew it deep down. We felt it radiating through our souls, permeating through our skin. We were beautiful and wanted to combat the shame we felt for loving ourselves.   

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Going back to the original question, I am not worried whether there will be luxury brands representing PS men in the near future. The fashion industry has heard our cries and concerns but has fallen short. Existing luxury designers may never cater to our demographic but that’s not going to stop us from moving forward. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the community is when it wants something done, it doesn’t wait. When we didn’t find ourselves featured in magazine spreads we became the models we wanted to see via Instagram. Instead of complaining when there were no Angels with curves in seductive lingerie rocking the runway, we created our own show to celebrate our beauty [4]

We’re not waiting on the rest of the world to jump on the bandwagon, rather we are pressing forward and creating the changes we seek in an industry that has long ignored us. Our community has needs to be met and there are people and companies already listening. For example: women have the trend-setting Torrid, while Oublier and Volare specialize in fashionable clothing for big and tall men. 

We, the PS community, are tired of being told “No” and are doing everything in our power to ensure we are heard, even if that means breaking down a few doors to get there. 

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snap-back: h&m; shirt: pacsun; jacket: calvin klein;

joggers: zara; gloves: express; backpack and sandals: gucci

Photography by Alex Zebrowski



[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2016-05-10/plus-size-could-save-retailers

[2] http://www.redbookmag.com/fashion/interviews/g787/melissa-mccarthy-interview/?click=list#last-slide

[3] http://time.com/4386271/leslie-jones-ghostbusters-premiere-christian-siriano/

[4]https://www.buzzfeed.com/jazzmynerobbins/regular-women-recreated-the-victorias-secret-show?utm_term=.vjp7o0BOw#.jjM8ajP3x

Holiday Gift Guide for Guys

During this Holiday season, stores are having big sales, so if you’re looking to buy gifts for your father or yourself, the time is now to find great deals. But, if you’re concerned about what to wear to your grandmother’s family dinner or your friend’s Ugly Christmas sweater party, worry no more. I’ve taken the liberty of creating a list of my favorite items for you. Take a look below. (Click on Item Descriptions for direct links to websites).

1.       A+ Archibald Winter Fashion boots $44.99 (Up to Size 13)

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2.       Men’s Soho Cobbler Boot $49.99 (Up to Size 13)

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3.       Light-Up Fair Isle Grey Xmas Sweater $32.99 (Up to XXL)

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4.       Camel Wool Blend Coat $208.60 (Up to XXL)

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5.       Slim Rose Silk Tie $49.99 (Buy 1, Get 1 $19.99)

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6.       Wool Blend Sweater $14.99 (Up to XXL)

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7.       Women’s Blanket Multicolor Coat $59.99 (Up to XXL)

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8.       Bar III Oh Deer Print Dress Shirt $31.99

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9.       Moose Print Bow Tie $24.99

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10.   Cap $12.99

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11.   Xmas Tree Knit Hat $12.99

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12.   White Skinny Chino $31.00 (Up to 44 waist)

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13.   AEO Waxed Anorak $118 (Up to XXXL)

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14.   Michael Kors Parker Nylon Tote / Parker Travel Bag $104.25 and $111.75

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15. ASOS Charcoal Hold All $46.00

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16. Piegara Bracelet $11.99

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Additional Photography by Alex Zebrowski

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Desire

“The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t let them put you in that position.” ― Leo Buscaglia

The following conversation is with a guy I met on dating app.

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 “You’re too young to have that much belly” he said to me as we drove to Walmart. Without thinking too much into it, I replied with confidence “I like it just the way it is.” Disappointed, he shrugged his shoulders and responded, “Okay.” For a couple minutes, there was an awkward tension in the air as neither of us spoke. Eventually, we would move past it and discuss everything from jobs to living situations, family and politics.

After leaving Walmart, we decided to grab a bite to eat at Wendy’s. He ordered a chicken sandwich and a salad while I ordered a small fry and medium tea. As I began to dig into my cup of fries, he made the disparaging comment under his breath, “It’s probably because of the carbs.” Immediately, I stopped eating and screamed,

 “I AM FAT!

There I said it. Whoopy-doo! Tell me something I don’t know already.”

[Okay, so I actually didn’t say that out loud (It was far less dramatic but I was thinking it)].

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I found the entire situation to be baffling because he knew I was a heavier guy prior to us meeting. In fact, we met on an app dedicated to bigger guys and their admirers so I assumed my weight wasn’t an issue. Unfortunately it was, but I wasn’t going to let him rain on my parade. I oozed with the sex appeal of a jar of chunky peanut butter. I was an amazing catch, but not in the business of convincing.

As a bigger guy, it hasn’t been the easiest of journeys navigating through the gay dating scene. On occasions I felt I was a pariah because I wasn’t the ideal standard of beauty: athletic, muscular or skinny. I remember reading a caption online of a person tugging on their love handles in response to the question, ‘“You’re so pretty, smart and funny – why are you single?”’ For many years, I was that person, attributing my weight to my loneliness. It’s how I convinced myself losing fifty pounds or having a six-pack would solve all relationship woes. Boy, I was wrong.

There will always be someone who is not interested in me for whatever reason. I’ve learned it’s best not to take it personally and to accept we all have our preferences and not everyone is our type. All I can do is be the best version of myself and find others who appreciate and love me for who I am. I was foolish for thinking I needed to change for others to see me as beautiful in the first place. If I was content with who and what I looked like, why did it matter what anyone else thought? Because when I looked into the mirror, I saw someone dashingly attractive. Why would I change that for the approval of others? As my friend Kelvin said to me once, ‘“I ain’t changing for nobody”’ and if I had a dating mantra, that’d be it.

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Photography: Alex Zebrowski

 

FREEDOM

freedom \noun\: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint; the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved; liberty; independence.
  
  
You have to look in the mirror and see yourself. If it feels good, then I know it’s for me. I don’t dress to be stared at, I dress for myself. – Iris Apfel
 

Never say you can’t wear something because you think it won’t look good on you. How can you come to such a conclusion without giving it a try first? Style is about discovering what you like and what you don’t, what works for you and what doesn’t. It’s creative, intuitive and hard work. Nonetheless, if you keep an open mind and remain curious about yourself, you can create your own.

When shopping I give all clothes an equal opportunity to impress me. I don’t pay attention to gender, what’s trendy or what’s appropriate for my age, instead I look for pieces that speak to me. If I find it compelling, I will consider it. I think people get so caught up in what others/society may think without listening to their inner voice. Quite frankly, you have to zone everyone else out, follow intuition, unleash your inner Rihanna and dress for yourself. 

What inspires me you ask?

Typically, I answer with my mother, but I think inspiration is everywhere. As Mrs. Apfel would say, “Sometimes you step on a bug and you get inspired.” and her words couldn’t be more truer.

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– wardrobe-

flat-cap: h&m; paisley patterned button-up: kenneth cole; suspenders: express; ascot: antonio ricci; watch: target; striped pants: asos; slip-on loafers: stacyadams

Photography by Robert Roys of A flash Away Photography

Website: www.aflashaway.com

Instagram: @learn2obey