The conservatively attired person is automatically assigned certain attributes; intelligent, clean, dignified, professional and urbane. The casually dressed person—especially if pimped out in hip-hop-inspired gear—is also subject to being labeled: thug, drug dealer, threat, unsophisticated, criminal, most likely to be profiled, highly likely to catch a case. That’s not fair or right but it is exactly how folks think.
Wolf or sheep?
Visual clues can mislead or be misinterpreted. The kufi and kente cloth-wearing person might be deemed culturally aware and enlightened, but he may not know Malcolm Little from Stuart Little. The community activist—resplendently robed in causes—trumpets equitable treatment for the downtrodden but runs a terror dome at home. The Gucci, Rolex and Lexus may spell a-f-f-l-u-e-n-t or p-r-e-t-e-n-t-i-o-u-s, but more often than not it also spells b-i-l-l-s, national debt-sized ones.
What’s your style profile? Are you duping the latest fad, hoping to gain a persona envied by others? Are you on the leading edge of tastefulness or just leaning over the edge? Did you choose your persona or are you hoping your clothes, car and house will do that for you? Did you buy the person you are presenting to the world as your authentic self? If you did purchase your image, does the store accept returns? If so, you might want to hurry and get your money back.
Don’t follow the crowd, don’t appropriate a bankrupt style; you’re destined for greater heights than that. Concentrate your efforts on acquiring the inimitable accoutrements that defy fads, labels and time: a love supreme, healthy body and the wisdom of a sound mind. There is nothing more powerful than being comfortable in your own skin. Save the faux for fur. Peace. Think.
Munson Steed / Publisher of Rolling Out Magazine