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Keep It 100: The Emperor’s New Clothes

Shameika Rhymes

Dear Shameika,
My guy is awesome in so many areas; he’s supportive, considerate, passionate, giving and more. I’m talking damn near Harlequin romance/fairy tale levels here! But one area where he isn’t so awesome is in the fashion department. Whew! Now don’t get me wrong, his clothes aren’t embarrassing or anything, they could just stand to be a bit more “hip.” You see, he’s a big guy who at one point was an even bigger guy but now since he has lost all that weight, he either still wears some of his larger clothes (I managed to put a stop to that!) or he dresses too plainly or too conservatively. To give you an idea, remember Laurence Fishburne’s character in Higher Learning? Yep, that’s bae. I don’t want him in a bunch of “urban gear,” but I don’t want him out here dressing like The Professor, either! How do I approach my boo about leveling up his wardrobe?
-Clothes Do Make My Man

Dear Clothes Do Make My Man,
Let me get this straight; you are complaining to me despite having what every last woman out here is so desperately trying to find in a man: one that acts right, is supportive, giving, considerate and is passionate and romantic?! Hell, some of us are still trying to get a return text from our crushes. And yes, I’m clearly bitter about that since this is the second letter that has made me bring it up. But let me keep it 100 with you: if this man is all of that and consistent with it, you have a unicorn, plain and simple. Please write back and tell us where you found this unique specimen.

Now let’s get into the reason you are writing. Your man seems to be everything you want and need on the inside, but the dressing on the outside isn’t so appealing. While I’m not sure how long you have been dating, what I do know is unconditional love or lust goes hand in hand with acceptance. You can’t barge in screaming, “Let me upgrade ya!” I mean you could, but he’s probably going to side eye you and start considering an escape route.

Picture it, if you’ve ever put on a lot of weight, you’ve more than likely developed a sense of insecurity about it. When dealing with low self esteem of that sort, folks will often hide in plain sight beneath layers of clothing. Kudos to him for losing the weight, but perhaps your guy just isn’t confident in his new body yet. He gave you what you wanted by not wearing his larger clothes anymore, but because he’s been a plain Jack for so long, he may not even know where to start to put some pizazz into his wardrobe.

I’m going to assume this man is grown enough not to be wearing cornrows that have gotten fuzzy and in need of a re-braid, and I assume he’s old enough to not be out here wearing his pants hanging down past his ass with his underwear showing — so conservative isn’t a far reach if he’s above the age of 25. I mean, bow ties seem to be a popular item these days, but Professor Maurice Phipps from Higher Learning sweater vests are another thing.

Since your guy traded in his comfy larger clothing, then you’ve obviously had a conversation with him about what’s hanging in his closet. Let’s be honest, how would you feel if he told you he didn’t like the way you dressed? What if he told you he hated those leggings that shouldn’t be worn outside the house because leggings aren’t pants? Or he hated your attempts at dressing like Olivia Pope? Maybe he just wants to see you in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt and you like to wear vintage dresses and pearls with heels all the time.

Perhaps, just like your wardrobe and anyone else’s, it boils down to a reflection of his individuality. Some men just aren’t into changing a style that they took the time to cultivate over a span of some years. Who knows how long it took him to find the right bow tie/vest/plaid blazer combo? While others are glad to play a Ken (err Jay-Z) doll and let their Barbie (err Beyoncé) dress them however they see fit, you have to realize that most men do not like to be told what to do, so you have to tread lightly here.

Here’s an idea, how about the two of you go on a romantic shopping trip for lingerie, and while you are in the mall, stop off in a men’s department store and casually mention some of the pieces you find “sexy.” You might even convince him to try it on and then “ooh” and “ahh” over him because men are suckers for praise and will do anything to make you happy. Shoot, make him smile and give him a happy ending in the dressing room if you need to, but I digress.

After a few more trips like this (happy ending not necessarily needed every single time), start gifting him items that you love. Eventually, he will start to trust your sense of style and let you guide him to the promise land with a little pop in his wardrobe. Just don’t forget to supplement all this curated fashion with lots of praise, telling him how he looked so hot and sexy in his new form fitting t-shirt.

Most men don’t realize that you don’t have to break the bank to wear stylish clothing, so make sure you introduce him to brands his wallet can afford. Start small, take his ass to the outlets, get him some jeans, a nice shirt and jacket then hop over to a shoe store for some stylish sneakers and call it a day. Who knows, when he’s feeling confident and sliding across the floor looking in the mirror singing “I Feel Good,” by James Brown, then that might be a sign to do a temperature check to see if he’s even open to a makeover.

The key here is this: don’t let him know that you hate his wardrobe and that you are trying to change him, because he will zip that Members Only jacket up to his neck and you won’t be able to pry it off of him.

In the event he still won’t budge and insists on rocking his dad jeans with the old school Nike Monarchs (shout out to Spice Adams), then you have to decide if what’s on the outside is more important to you than being with a man that returns your text messages and actually puts forth the effort in your relationship so there’s no confusion.

Keeping it 100 with you, I think you have a winner already. Clothes do not always make the man. It’s just extra ish to take off when you are in a hurry to get to the bedroom. Good luck!

If you have a dilemma you need help solving, drop me a line:

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