I was recently interviewed by Luigi Amante, President & Editor-in-Chief of EssentialStyleForMen.com. Essential Style For Men is a website dedicated to providing a multitude of services/products and entertainment for men, all in one go. They also recently interviewed one of my style icons, Mr. Angel Ramos. So it was definitely an honor to be featured on the same platform. In my interview we discussed my career, style, and the future of the blog, so please check it out below:
How long has the blog for The Dapper Advisor been around? What were some of the initial challenges you experienced starting the blog? Now that it’s been around for a little bit, what are some of the rewards you have experienced so far?
The blog has been around for about two years.
I created it around the same time I started my first internship in graduate school. During that time I was the youngest and the only man of color in all of my courses. As a result, it did not take long for me to realize the way you dress says a lot about you.
So in an effort to be respected and taken seriously by my peers and supervisors, I made the conscious decision to dress for the role that I was aspiring for.
A challenge I faced when I started the blog was developing my own writing style and creating original content.
At first, my blog was just a collage of other well-dressed men, along with some occasional photos of myself. However, in an effort to refrain from continuously re-blogging images of menswear styles, I started using it as a platform to monitor my style evolution. As the blog evolved I also began to educate fellow young professionals about menswear and dressing well for their career.
In terms of rewards, (aside from the usual rewards that are associated with blogging) my most satisfying reward is being able to actually inspire others. For instance, whenever I get an email from a reader about how my blog has helped them land their dream job or even inspired them to improve their style; it motivates me to keep creating content.
What really interested us about your blog was how you started developing your style on a very minimal college budget. Tell us about this time in your life. Where did you go to find pieces that you could use?
During that time, I was a graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs.
I had aspirations of becoming an Academic Advisor and one my mentors gave me some advice that eventually changed my life. He said, “Dress for the career that you want, and not for the job that you have.“
Therefore, I figured it would be in my best interest to wear a shirt and tie while interning since that was what student affairs professionals wore.
However, I quickly realized building an entire new wardrobe was very expensive, so I started shopping in local thrift stores. Then, I got all of my thrift store purchases tailored to fit my body.
What advice would you give readers who are also trying to develop their style on a budget?
Developing your style on a budget is actually very attainable.
There are tons of resources that offer reasonably priced clothing such as eBay, Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, and of course, thrift stores.
I think it is important to learn the rules of menswear first, then develop a good relationship with a tailor because fit is essential.
ESM is all about style. If you could describe your personal style in one sentence, what would it be?
I would describe my style as classic, modern and professional.
Do you have a favorite look on your blog right now? What is it?
My favorite look on the blog is from last winter when I wore a vintage shearling jacket and suede Jodhpur boots.
Now that you’re at a point in your career where you’re making more money, where do you go to find your clothes? Do you combine high-end stores and more common stores? Do you have a favorite place to shop?
Even though I am making more money, I still enjoy shopping in local thrift stores and finding great deals.
In fact, shopping in thrift stores has become one of my favorite hobbies. However, when I am not shopping in thrift stores I like to shop in Zara, Suit Supply, Carson Street Clothiers, Uniqlo, and MrPorter.com.
A lot of the looks on your blog have you wearing a coat and are a little more formal. Do you have a go-to look when you want to wear something a little more casual?
Due to the nature of my career, the looks that I post on the blog are geared towards more professional outfits.
However, when I am not at work I usually wear one of my favorite leather jackets, a henley, and some boots or a pair of shoes. I am not really a “jeans and t-shirt” kind of guy.
Has your style developed as your blog has developed? If so, how has it changed?
My style has matured a lot over the years.
I used to experiment with a lot of color blocking and I wore a bunch of accessories like lapel pins, colorful pocket squares, and tie clips.
However, I feel since then my style has matured. I tend to wear more neutral colors and I rarely ever wear accessories anymore.
Has your life been affected by your blog? If so, in what way?
My life has positively been affected by the blog in more ways than one.
Not only has it created an outlet for me to freely express my creativity, but it has also connected with a lot of inspiring individuals.
Do you have any style icons? Who are they and why?
My style icons are Bill Cosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Pharrell Williams, and Dan Trepanier of TSBmen.com. These men are all stylish individuals that have an incredible work ethic, great character, and consistently inspire me to achieve my goals.
At ESM, we have a list of “Style Essentials” or pieces that every man should have in his wardrobe. Does the Dapper Advisor have his own list of style essentials? What are they?
What does the future hold for Akil McLeod and the Dapper Advisor?
The future is looking very bright!
In the past few months, I’ve been able to dedicate more time to some of my new passions and The Dapper Advisor blog will begin to reflect that.
I recently purchased a sewing machine and started tailoring my own clothes. I’ve also taken an interest in interior design and plan on sharing some photos of my new apartment.
I would say the biggest change in the future for the blog is the new design that I’ve been working on. I feel like my blog mirrors the many transitions of my life and as I’m transitioning again, my blog will reflect that.
Jacket by H&M, Shirt by Uniqlo, Pants by H&M, Shoes by Nike Air Jordan
A couple days ago, while visiting friends and family in NYC, one of my friends asked me if I ever dress down anymore. The question made me laugh because it’s only been about 3 years since my style has changed, but I understood why she asked because I was infamous in high school and college for only wearing snap back hats and street wear.
In high school, I worked a part-time job as a telemarketer. During that time $10 an hour seemed like small fortune for a 16 year old. So I saved all of my checks and literally blew money fast on sneakers and street wear brands like Supreme and 10 Deep. Then when I came to college, I continued those same habits and spent all of my work-study checks on clothes and sneakers. In fact, by my junior year I had acquired over 70 pair of shoes and my dorm room looked like a footlocker storage room. By then, I was considered a hard core “sneakerhead” and started re-selling shoes to bring in extra income.
I eventually sold the majority of my collection and used that money to build my current wardrobe. However, there are still some nights that I pull out a pair of my favorite Jordan’s and really “dress down”.
Photo Credits: Rashawn Colton @rashawn89 on IG @ Twitter
Trench Coat by Zara, Shirt by H&M, Jeans by H&M, Shoes courtesy of Trask, Hat by Bailey of Hollywood (thrift)
This past weekend I came home to visit my mother and enjoy the long holiday weekend. After shopping and joking around with my mom all day, my brother Rashawn asked if I wanted to do a photo shoot on the Brooklyn Bridge. Now although I have a mild fear of height’s, I was still excited to re-connect with my first photographer.
Rashawn works in the television industry and has worked for major networks such as BET, MTV, MTV2 and VH1. In fact, he finished shooting the new seasons of @mtvgirlcode and Wild ‘N Out over the summer, and is currently working on the set of VH1’s Black Ink Crew. His story is definitely very inspiring. However, he is also a very talented photographer and was actually the first person to ever take my photos for the blog, seen here.
For someone that was raised in New York City, I must admit that it was my first time ever walking on the Brooklyn bridge, but it was a great experience and now I understand why it is such a huge tourist attraction. Rashawn had a great vision for the shoot and has inspired me to start thinking more creatively in terms of blog posts (more on that later).
Photo Credits: Rashawn Colton @rashawn89 on IG @ Twitter
Suit by Vintage (thrift), Shirt by Stafford, Tie by Vintage (thrift), Shoes by Florsheim
I purchase A LOT of clothes from local thrift stores. In fact, not a day goes by without me wearing at least one thrift store find. The best thing about shopping in thrift stores is the fact that you never know what you will find on any given day. At first, I just sifted through racks in search of familiar brands like Ralph Lauren and Burberry. However, nowadays I get more excited when I find unique items like a suit cut from a rare fabric. I have never seen this fabric before and trust me when I say, I have become very familiar with vintage fabrics over the past couple of years.
When I purchased this suit the jacket fit well, but the trousers were bell bottoms. Thats how you know this suit is truly a vintage piece. In fact, the trousers were one of my first tailoring projects. So instead of going with my usual aggressive taper, I decided to go with a fuller cut since it is a fall/winter suit and I figured I would need the extra legroom for days that I have to wear thermals underneath. Honestly, that is probably the biggest perk about tailoring your own clothes. You can alter them as much as you like and practically re-invent them at a moment’s notice (more on that later).
This suit has so many subtle undertones that it can easily be worn with various different shirt and tie combinations. There are strands of blue, orange, brown, and gold. Therefore, making this one an ideal fall/winter suit.
Photo Credits: @bangalid93 on IG & @Kenny6ear on IG
Disclosure: I received the Seiko Astron GPS Solar watch as part of a sponsored post for Social Stars #AstonElite. The photos and opinions are mine and not indicative of the opinions or positions of Seiko or Social Stars.
For as long as I could remember I have always loved watches. I remember receiving my first watch as a gift from my mother when I was just 5 years old. It was just a plastic watch that never carried the right time, but I wore every day and hardly ever took it off. It eventually got ruined due to water damage because I refused to take it off during baths. However, it was one of my first introduction’s to manhood because a watch is a man’s most essential accessory. Therefore, when the opportunity came about to review the new Seiko Astron GPS Solar watch, I could not refuse.
Speaking as someone who owns a relatively large vintage and modern watch collection, I have become very particular when it comes to watches. To my surprise and satisfaction, this piece probably has everything that one could need in a quality time piece. Seiko has created a watch that receives GPS signals and identifies the time zone, time, and date using GPS satellites. Once it identifies your time zone, the hands automatically adjust to the correct local time with Atomic Clock precision. In fact, as soon as I opened the box, it set the date and time for itself, it was actually an amazing sight to see and is easily my favorite feature.
Another feature that really stood out to me is the fact that it is powered by all types of light. Therefore, you never have to worry about changing the battery or adjusting the time during vacations. So not only can this feature save you money in the long run, but it can also save you some time as well. See what I did there?
In terms of its styling and design, I was extremely impressed with its sleek and modern design. It was also very comfortable and can easily be worn all day long. The chrome accents give it a great finishing touch and the fact that it glows in the dark makes it even more appealing. I also appreciated the fold-over clasp instead of just a basic buckle because it provided more of a luxury feel.
My only suggestion would be to spend some time with the manual and learn all of its capabilities before handling, because it features a lot of technology and can seem very intimidating for some. However, all in all, the Seiko Astron is definitely something that would make any man (or woman) very happy and I think it is the ideal travel watch since it adjusts itself according to the time zone.
Suit by House of Darby, Shirt by Stafford, Tie by Bergdorf Goodman (thrift), Shoes by Andres Marseilles (thrift), Pocket Square by Vintage (thrift)
This is definitely not the first time I wore this suit and I am positive that it won’t be the last. I wore it a couple of months ago here, and a few months prior to that here. With each wear I realized that my tie played a huge difference in the overall look. Of course, that may seem obvious for some but it was something that really stood out to me after browsing through these photos.
This time around I embraced some color and incorporated a colorful pocket square instead of my usual white linen square. I also opted for a pale blue dress shirt instead of one of my favorite white dress shirts. The blue paired nicely with this vintage rep tie and it served as a better canvas to accentuate the plaid pattern in the suit.
A couple months ago, I paired the same suit with a vintage geometric tie by Brooks Brothers and I didn’t think the color combo could get any better. It was definitely one of my more “matchier” moments.
This is probably the simplest option of the three. It was the first time I wore this suit and since the spring just began, I felt that a cotton knit tie was essential.
Which combo is your favorite?
Waistcoat by Vintage (thrift), Shirt by Stafford, Tie by Vintage (thrift), Jeans by H&M, Shoes courtesy of Trask, Watch courtesy of Talley & Twine
I tend to wear earth tones all year-round, similar to how I wear white denim. This waistcoat was one of my favorite vintage finds from last year, and I honestly could not wait for the right time to bring this piece out again.
The blend of browns, green and orange just scream autumn. In fact, it is probably my most versatile waistcoat. When the weather gets colder I could wear it with a blazer or I could dress it down with a henley and a denim jacket.
Special thanks to Trask for sending me these suede hunter green loafers. I decided to go sockless and was still amazed by how comfortable they fit. The leather smelled rich and expensive when I took them out of the box, and I was especially impressed with the overall construction. Like I previously mentioned, I wear earth tones all year round but even more often during the fall and winter months, so these came in at the perfect time. I can’t wait to pair these with some of my new leather jackets and sweaters.
Hat by Bailey of Hollywood (thrift), Waistcoat by Vintage (thrift), Shirt By Christian Dior (thrift), Tie by Vintage (thrift), Trousers by Hart Schaffer & Marx (thrift), Shoes by Cole Haan (thrift), Watch by Talley & Twine
If you are a long time reader of this blog, you know I have always appreciated a quality waistcoat. Some of my favorites are seen here, here, here, and here. Ironically, I purchased all of them from various thrift stores, and this one is no different. However, this one in particular was custom made and it features all of the bells and whistles such as mother of pearl buttons and additional pockets.
The first time I wore this waistcoat seen here, I wore under a corduroy sports coat. In fact, using a waistcoat as a layering piece is one of my favorite fall options. However, the weather was very nice today so I decided to wear it as a separate.
In other news, I am still sharpening my tailoring skills and I recently tapered these trousers. It is not much of a difference from the last time I wore it seen here, but I like the way this fits a little more. So stay tuned for a DIY tutorial on how to taper pants.
Suit by Vintage (Thrift), Shirt by Stafford, Tie by Vintage (thrift), Shoes by Zara
I usually visit local thrift stores on my lunch break, but yesterday I decided to check out the Upton Hall Art Gallery at Buffalo State College. I was enamored by most of the paintings and sculptures that our art students created. It helped me realize how sophisticated our relatively small art program is. In fact, if I could rewind time I would have studied fine arts instead of criminal justice.
I spent about an hour just appreciating their work, and it even inspired me to start painting again. While I was a Graduate Assistant, my supervisor and I painted (sometimes huge murals) during stressful times. It quickly caught on with the rest of the staff, and we all realized that painting alleviated stress in the workplace.
Below are just a few of my favorite pieces. I am actually going to inquire about purchasing a couple of them because I am still decorating my new apartment (more on that later).
Suit by Zara, Shirt by Tailor4Less, Tie by Vintage (Thrift), Shoes by Cole Haan (thrift)
Even though the fall is my favorite season, I still found myself being unprepared for the sudden change in weather. It is much cooler than I expected and this grey wool suit would have been a much better option, but I am still happy that fall is finally here.
These cap toe brogues by Cole Haan are my work horse dress shoes and I think they just continue to get better with age (minus that scar).
Suit by Suit Supply, Shirt by Stafford, Tie by John Ashford, Shoes by Florsheim (thrift)
It’s no surprise that brown, blue, and green are some of favorite colors to wear all year-round, but I enjoy incorporating some black every now and then as well. I just rarely ever do it, especially when it comes to black shoes. When I first started building my wardrobe, I constantly read that a quality pair of black shoes are essential for every man’s wardrobe. However, at the time I found myself wearing brown or burgundy shoes with just about every outfit. Nowadays, I find myself reaching for a pair of black shoes more often.
This black tie was the very first tie I ever purchased. I spent about $30 for it and at the time I thought it was a great deal. Today, I usually spend $1-$3 for all of my ties, even for the “luxury” brands.
These black cap toe oxfords are also a thrift store find. They were about $10, and it only makes me laugh to think that I spent more on my tie than I did for my shoes. You live and you learn!
Suit by Stafford, Shirt by Stafford, Tie by Jos. A. Banks (thrift), Shoes by Andres Marseilles (thrift), Briefcase by Vintage (thrift)
Nothing screams “ready for business” more than a chalk stripe suit. For some reason, I always associate chalk stripes with bankers and boardroom execs. In fact, every time I wear this suit, I feel like I should be hosting a meeting with the President of a Fortune 500 company.
It has been quite a while since the last time I wore this suit, seen here, because I hated the way the trousers draped over my shoes. Fortunately, I managed to taper the legs and add a 1 1/2 in. cuff. I also slimmed the body of the waistcoat so that it could create a more flattering silhouette.
Also, when wearing a power suit like this one, you should pair it with a no-nonsense briefcase to hold all of your important documents and or laptop.
In Chapter 1, I talked about finally making the conscious decision to learn how to alter my own clothing. And if you follow my instagram acount, you’ve noticed that I started posting some of my finished projects. A few weeks ago, I started with dress shirts and simply slimmed the sleeves and the body. Then I moved onto tapering trousers and adding a cuff. Fortunately, my mother was a seamstress in Trinidad, so she gives me pointers and helps me avoid making silly mistakes. So with her help and the occasional youtube video, I am getting better with each alteration I perform. I will eventually post tutorial videos on the blog but for now I am still perfecting my craft. Similar to when I taught myself how to play the guitar over the summer, I continue to come to the realization that consistency is key!
Wearing white pants after labor day was once considered a fashion don’t. However, today it is common to see people wearing white, all year-round. In fact, after browsing through my archives, I realized that I wear the same white denim jeans all year round. Mainly because I really love the way they fit, especially after getting them tapered and shortened.
There are so many rules in fashion that it is almost impossible to avoid breaking several of them on any given day. However, I think it is pretty safe to say that wearing white after labor day is no longer considered a fashion don’t; at least for me anyway.
I recently got the opportunity to interview with Jonathan Ly of StoryLeather.com. Story Leather makes custom made to order leather cell phone cases, wallets, and totes. All of their products are handmade and constructed with genuine leather. On the story leather blog they have style stories where they interview bloggers, and I was fortunate enough to be this week’s feature. So please check out my interview below and be sure to shop Story Leather for all of your custom leather needs.
Story Leather: On your blog you had mentioned that you had made the conscious decision to dress for the role that you were aspiring for, “How did you know what to wear?”
Akil: I learned what to wear by modeling my wardrobe after the respected veterans in my field. In higher education professors, deans, and presidents tend to dress relatively conservative and business oriented. Analyzing what key players in my professional industry wore provided me with a realistic vision of what my wardrobe should consist of. However, because I started my career at a young age I decided to construct my wardrobe based around classic menswear pieces, but with a modern fit. By doing so, I gained the respect from my peers and supervisors, all while gaining the respect and trust from my advisees.
Story Leather: You’ve also mentioned that thrift stores we’re your best option, “With thrift stores being so random in their selection how did you go about finding what works?”
Akil: Thrift stores are extremely random in their selection, especially the ones that I regularly visit. However, the keys to success for shopping at a thrift store lie in having the patience to sift through cluttered clothing racks, as well as having the knowledge to decipher quality brands and fabrics. Although most items found in thrift stores are vintage and outdated, menswear has remained relatively the same over the years. Therefore, visiting a tailor and making minor alterations can help eliminate the fear of wearing something that clearly looks like you found it in a thrift store.
Story Leather: When did you make the decision to become the Dapper Advisor? Was it influenced during your time as a student or afterward?
Akil: I decided to become the Dapper Advisor while I was a student in graduate school. During that time, I became very interested in style and dressing well for my career. So I started the platform as a way to monitor my style evolution. It eventually became a platform to share my style and menswear knowledge with others as well. As I was finding my own personal style, I found that many of my peers wanted to improve their style, but did not know where to begin.
Story Leather: As the Dapper Adviser, what are a few simple rules that every young professional can follow when trying to dress the part?
Akil: When I first started doing my research on style and menswear in particular, I tried to follow all of the “menswear rules” that I found on the Internet. However, as I began to learn more and created my own style, I found myself breaking a lot of those said rules. Now, the only rules that I “abide” by is never leaving home without a watch (even though I rarely check it for the time), keeping my shoes clean and polished, and staying well groomed. I have learned that a nice outfit can be ruined if it is not accompanied with a fresh haircut.
Story Leather: Lastly, “How do you adapt your own style to the ever evolving fashion world?”
Akil: Although the fashion world is ever evolving, it does not have much of an effect on my style. I do not view myself as a trendy individual. I appreciate diverse styles but I believe in keeping things simple and only wearing clothes that look good on me and flatter my body. I think a key component in finding an authentic personal style is staying true to the things that you enjoy wearing, not “adapting” to emerging fashion trends. Not everything is a style fit for me and I’m okay with that.
Story Leather: Did you have any final thought’s you’d like to mention to any young professionals out there?
Akil: Being a young professional can be tough, especially if you start your career at a young age like I did. Therefore, it is important to remain confident in your abilities as a professional. I enjoy wearing a good suit and tie to work, because I am able to leave lasting impressions with a lot of people. However, I believe that there is no substitute for hard work. In other words, a nice suit and a smile will definitely open doors for a young professional, but having a relentless work ethic as well as being knowledgeable in your field are the things that will really help you gain the respect and admiration of others.