Style and Fashion

A fresh look at the denim shirt

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Today’s look is all about the denim. I know the red tie on this particular look is the one but forget about it for a minute and focus on the denim shirt. All eyes on denim!

Now that I have your undivided attention, let me start by saying that I am assuming every man reading this post has a denim shirt in their wardrobe. Is that a resounding yeah, or a nah? If you already have one then I guess you are winning, but if you do not have one, then I strongly suggest you go out and get one now.

Denim is a garment that automatically conjures the preceding word “casual” in fashion. The denim shirt itself has re-emerged over the past few years as a strong essential in men’s wardrobe. An essential that has done very well for itself when speaking casual. Because denim is so synonymous to casual wear, people rarely look at ways and means to spruce it up for that extra flair.

Don’t get me wrong, a denim shirt by itself (without blazer) with a pair of contrasting jeans or chinos looks good. When worn correctly, it is the stuff casual wear is made of.

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What you may not be aware of is that you can actually build up this strong essential to give you an amazing and relaxed smart casual look. A look that wouldn’t break the bank but still harness the versatility and style required to break the rules on pairing garments. The thing about breaking rules in fashion is that when you get it right, people automatically know that you know what you are doing. You have an edge over others which is what any man with interest in their looks should aim for.

As mentioned, the denim shirt works well as a standalone garment but I personally prefer the idea of using it as a layering garment as I strongly believe that’s when you get the most out of it. You can pair it in many ways appropriate to the season and the occasion.

I have put together a look that showcase my idea of dressing up a denim shirt!

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The look:

Blue jeans
Beige blazer
Washed blue denim shirt
Blue jeans
A pair of beige slip-on shoes to match the blazer
Stripped red tie
Red pocket square

If your aim is to have a more quirky and different looks then I suggest you replace the tie with a bow tie. As I have said in previous posts, the bow tie always delivers a look no other garment does.

And if you are wondering just where or what occasion to rock this look to then I strongly suggest you start with your casual Fridays at work. Because it is casual Friday does not mean you have to turn up at work with an AC/DC worn out t-shirt with converse. I mean all that has its place in your dress code cycle but please leave that for the concerts and gigs. Rock this look on a casual Friday and you are guaranteed to still turn heads when you head to the bar after work.

 

August in Africa Summer Festival 2015

African art, craft, food, music and culture are fast taking roots in London and beyond. You only have to pop into any event with a slight connotation of African culture during the warmer months of the year to see the different style and designs of Ankara and Kente garments donned by men and women alike. Not that these two fabric types are the only African cloth but these are more easily recognisable due to their vibrancy and the amount of people who wear them. In fact there are so many other African textiles well worth exploring such as Akwete cloth, Ukara (both from the Igbo people of Nigeria), Aso Oke Fabric, Adire (from the Yoruba people of Nigeria), Mudcloth from the Bambara people of parts of Mali, Guinea, Burkino Faso and Senegal, Kitenge and Shweshwe from Kenya and South Africa respectively. Did you know that the earliest surviving African textile discovered dates back to the first Century CE? This was discovered at the Archaeological site of Kissi in Burkino Faso.

African food itself is becoming a staple for many as new restaurants serving different African cuisines continue to pop up in the city. That is all nothing compared to the way Afrobeat (a highbred of Jazz, highlife and funk) with West African origins, have taken hold of England. There’s no way you can go to any night club in central London without at least a handful of Afrobeat songs being played to an appreciative audience.

So it came as no surprise when I walked into the Covent Garden piazza area on Saturday the 1st of August to hundreds and hundreds of people happily floating in and out of the area. Covent Garden was truly alive with vibrant coloured garments, delicious smelling food and upbeat sound of music that is unmistakably Afrobeat. The atmosphere was electrifying to say the least.

Because I did not have the opportunity to dive into a massive plate of Jollof rice and Plantains, I was particularly looking forward to being entertained by the lyrical specialist and poet that is Alim Kamara. This young man has a way of playing with words like no other. I have been fortunate to see him perform live on several occasions and he always delivers. In fact he was the only act of the day I could vouch for based on experience. To my disappointment, I was too late and I missed his performance. Imagine my dismay. However, Fuse ODE who performed just after I got there made up for this disappointment. Fuse ODG has become a household name in the UK with big collaborations with Wyclef and Sean Paul in “Antenna” and “Dangerous love” respectively. One of the things that made Fuse ODG a standout act to me is his thirst to show Africa as a thriving continent with much more to offer than the stereotypical and outright wrong image of the continent. His music or should I say movement does not only have good beat but carries a political message and a message of hope for a new Africa.

The event came to a fitting end with the fantastic and soulful performance of the Nigerian French singer and songwriter, ASA. I mean I could write a whole blog post about this woman’s performance and it wouldn’t be enough. Listening to her serenade the crowd with songs such as “Fire on the mountain”, “Eyo” and many more beautiful ones highlights an influence of great artists such as Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. Her performance left the very diverse crowd from different background wanting more and a great example of how African cultures have impacted this great city of London.

The festival itself was organised by the Africa centre that has a 50 year history with the aim of promoting Africa’s cultural diversity outside the continent. It literally provides a hub for creativity, innovation and business in all matters pertaining to Africa.

In case you are one of the unlucky ones who did not get to see this wonderful event, make sure to check out the pictures below. Leave a comment and question! And if you were there, then feel free to add to the conversation by posting a comment below. Ta

 

 

Dressing up a rainstorm – Brit style

Ok not exactly a rainstorm but I’m sure you know what I mean.

They say the surest way of striking a successful conversation with a Brit is to start with the weather, preferably over a cup of tea. To certain extent, we are a bit obsessed with talking about the weather. Outsiders think we moan when it’s wet, when it’s hot, when it snows or even when the leaves fall. I mean it is true to a certain extent but for the most part, we just like talking about something that everyone can relate to and the weather fits perfectly.

Did you know 2012 was the second wettest year for Britain since records began? 2012 had an average rainfall of 1,330.7mm and only 6.6mm short of the record set in 2000. There you go, bet you did not know that did you? Thought you would appreciate a completely unrelated trivia. You are welcome! #Sideeye.

Anyway back to the issue at hand. Whiles the weather is completely out of our control, what we wear through the seasons is and that is where this post comes in.

Just because the heavenly precipitations aka rain has not yet completely relented does not mean you have to go through your wardrobe to dig out your raincoat or other heavy garment. It is true that the unpredictable weather can be cruel at times when you least expect it but let’s not panic just yet. I recon you can still look the part without wrapping yourself with too many layers.

I have put together a few photos of two looks that I think are versatile and practical for the season. A friend and brother Oliver Kumawu was kind enough to model with me to demonstrate these looks.

Oliver opted for a smart-casual look whiles I went for a more business friendly look.

There are three key ingredients to explore in both looks, which are as follows:

Blazer

You have to have the blazer. The appropriate use of a blazer can easily transform a casual look into smart-casual, and smart-casual into smart. Every man should have at least three blazers in their wardrobes bearing in mind colours that are versatile.

Oliver opted for a velvet blazer which he pulls off very well. Velvet itself is a statement fabric that speaks volumes of the owner. Get it wrong and you would be sorry you ever considered it an option at all. But get it right and you‘re the man, literally. Wear one of these on a wet and cold day and you won’t need additional layers as the weave of the fabric is very close together restricting air flow which in turn keeps you warm.

I on the other hand wore the first half of a midnight blue wool blend suit. Because the jacket is contemporary and close cut at the shoulders and waist area, I am able to mix and play around with it with different combinations with relative ease.

Trouser

Oliver wore a burgundy/redish pair of classic chinos whiles I went for a grey with a hint of brown lightly stripped pair of dress trouser.

Shoes

I wore a pair of brown tasselled loafers whiles Oliver went for a pair of blue suede wingtip oxford lace up brogues which complement the colour of his shirt. The fact that his shoes are suede perfectly suits the texture of his velvet blazer.

Oh and the pocket squares gave both looks an extra dimension of suaveness.

So there you have it. Whiles we wait for summer to make a grand entry for 2015, we can still look the part for the remaining few days of the wet and slightly chilled weather.

Photography by Cano

The look

Black velvet blazer – M&S
Coloured Chino – John Lewis
blue suede oxford lace up brogues – M&S

Midnight blue jacket – FCUK
Stripe dress trouser – Zara
Brown Tasselled loafers – Paul Smith

Family is the word – Stepping out in style

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Family is a word that evokes so much feelings and emotions that cannot be summed up in words but rather shown through actions.

The oxford dictionary defines family as “a group consisting of two parents and their children living together” or more aptly “a group of people related by blood or marriage”.  The term blood by itself (in the second definition) is enough to conjure a feeling of belonging and one of real connection. A connection even nature itself cannot undo.

Family is the most basic but yet most important unit of any society.

I personally think that family is God’s way of teaching us how to relate to him through service, accountability, challenging each other in love. Love which when nurtured properly within the family can be extended to people outside of it.

A happy celebrant!

 

As it happens, I was blessed with amazing sisters, one of whom was graduating after completing a degree in Criminology and Criminal justice.

I know right, you can imagine the excitement laced with feelings of accomplishment after all those sleepless nights burning the midnight oil.

Seeing my sister graduate was a moment of pride, joy and absolute pleasure for the entire family and celebrations were in order as we thank God for his mercies.

My Dad, Ed senior and my other sister Jennifer were both in attendance too. Knowing Jennifer, she might try to outshine everyone else in the ceremony including the celebrant. #sideeye

Jennifer trying to outshine her sister #Sideeye

Not that I was competing with them but I wasn’t going to look like a tramp in their midst. So for this reason, I was going to turn up in style.

 

As you would know by now, I love my suits and always look forward to wearing them at any given opportunity.

I personally think a suit adds an extra dimension to a man’s look no other garment does. A business suit or lounge suit is the most common of suits. Although this kind of suit is common, it doesn’t mean it has to be monotonous and boring.

So in this occasion my style idea was ‘simple with a twist’ or a ‘cool classic’.

I only wanted two colours, well strictly speaking, white does not count as a colour as it is not found on the colour wheel so midnight blue was my colour of choice for the occasion.

Midnight blue is one of those colours that go with almost everything. I say ‘almost’ loosely as from the top of my head I cannot think of any other colour that does not go with it. I think it’s so versatile that you can wear it all year round, day and night, summer or winter.

I recon it’s a good investment so if you do not have a blue suit (especially darker hues), I suggest you go out and get one now. You won’t regret it, ever!

Ok back to the look. As I said above, I was aiming for the ‘simple with a twist’ ‘cool classic’ look, which means one colour only.

With my white shirt providing layering for the suit, there was only going to be two accessories with this look, white pocket square and a watch. No necktie, bow tie, lapel pin or even collar tips.

Ok, in hindsight maybe I could have added a collar tip to give my collars a bit of character but that’s it, nothing else. With my shirt buttoned up and pocket square squared up my idea of simplicity is complete.

Now to add a little twist to the mix, I opted for a pair of white high top leather all-star converse. I could have gone for a pair of brown or black shoes with matching belts but that would make me look just like everyone else. With two folds on my trouser, I made sure the converse was in full view. The reason I chose converse over any other pair of white trainer is that converse in general carries that classic look and they are streamlined and fitted instead of being bulky. This I think goes well with my look. The converse on this occasion is the statement piece.

So next time you put one a suit, think of inventive ways of wearing it. Push fashion boundaries to make a statement.

The look:

Suit – FCUK

Shirt – TM lewin

Pocket Square – M & S

Trainers – Office by Converse

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