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Mixing Hip-Hop And Style For The Modern Renaissance Man

Hip-hop has evolved. The sound is always changing, but so is the look. It’s moving more and more from the streets to the boardroom with pioneers like Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, Diddy and Nas heading up their own empires.

The men at the forefront of the business are maturing, and the man who wants the hip-hop style has to mature now, too. It’s time to do away with the stereotypes but keep it real and grounded in the scene. Here’s how the modern hip-hop fan best presents himself as the multi-faceted, multi-talented creature that he is.

Find a piece and rock it

If a man really wants to make an entrance or get his presence noticed, then he needs to be recognizable. The best way to establish a recognizable style is to give yourself a signature piece that’s a frequent recurrence in your outfit choices. It doesn’t have to be something as outfit defining as a certain shirt, as that can limit your flexibility. Nor do you have to wear it all the time with every single outfit. Just the right accessory, hat, pair of shoes, or belt can give a unique “you”-ness to anything you wear. If there’s one talent prevalent in the hip-hop world, it’s self-promotion. You might not have your own label to rep but you definitely have your own tastes.

Don’t be afraid to be bold

Gone are the days where you had to hide behind black tees and nondescript clothes that pushed away the air of pretense while ensuring your outfit said essentially nothing about you. Not only are bold and bright colors becoming much more of a mainstay in the world of hip-hop, they’re also often a better choice. For darker-skinned men, if you have a warm skin tone, then you can read here how light colors create a contrast that much better flatters it. You don’t have to go all the way like Cam and start repping pink as a choice for men, but you shouldn’t be afraid to wear a little more brightness, either.

Let the logo do the talking

Rap culture is all about signifiers. There’s meaning to be read into every lyric on a good track that contributes to a broader image. The exact same can be said about the fashion. Labels aren’t just a marketing trend. Our favorite hip-hop fashion brands are more than just a logo. Good streetwear brands are a callback to the culture that they were born out of. Wearing one of your favorite artists’ clothing collabs, becoming a more common occurrence every day, is a shout-out to your tastes. On the other hand, there are brands like Gucci Mane and Travi$ Scott that have made their indelible mark on hip-hop culture worth considering as well. It’s all about finding what you want to signify, then letting the logo do it for you.

The hat is the great communicator

There are a few “pieces” in the hip-hop wardrobe arsenal that have become part of the stereotype. The hat is one of them. But a good hat might be considered essential in a good streetwear outfit. So, if you want to do it right, then you need to put a little effort in. Don’t just get the cheapest headwear and treat it as the easy way to complete an outfit. Go old-school with a snapback if you want to show your “vintage” and you’re going for a more mature look, too. Make sure you have a selection on-deck, as well, so you can color coordinate and make sure your head doesn’t look jarring paired with your body.

Know how to tie a tie

As mentioned, hip-hop has moved in large part from the hungry, angry cry of rebellion and expression of street culture into a whole new level of music. Those roots are still there and still very real for many up-and-coming artists, but rap has penetrated our culture much deeper than that and has acted as the roots of many men who have long left the streets and started business empires of their own. Finding the balance to the rap culture in your outfit is essential. A good suit and knowing how to pull off (and put on) a tie should be part of the diversification of your look. They’re a low maintenance investment that with a simple switch can transform a whole outfit.

Keep it age appropriate

Are you getting on in years? A few more grays in the hair than there were last year? Then don’t go trying to keep it fresh with graphic tees and distressed jeans all the time. At best, you will look like you’re trying to hold onto youth that’s fast fleeting. At worst, you will look like a poser. Age into maturity gracefully by better reflecting it in your fashion choices. The cardigan sweater has, of late, become the versatile tool of all kinds of men, even when it’s not particularly cold. A scarf has plenty of cool appeal for the slightly older man, too. A look of wisdom and establishment has a lot more appeal than a guy trying to be younger than he is.

Bling’s still powerful

Even for the older man wearing those more subdued, classy apparel choices, there are few signifiers more powerful than something that shimmers under the light. Again, bling has become something of a stereotype in the world of hip-hop. Some men embrace it and go as garish as possible, peacocking with undeniable success. However, you can keep it much subtler while still representing your success. Look at the kind of simple, but loud hip-hop chains available here and other places. As far as the aforementioned signature pieces go, there are few that work as well. If you’re in a more formal setting, a watch shinier than the usual might be a more fitting option, too.

Shoes should be a class above

There are two points of the average hip-hop streetwear outfit that should get a lot more attention than the rest. The first is the hat. The second is the shoes. Even when you’re toning down the street elements of your outfit, a good pair of brown leather brogues are going to make you look a cut above the rest. But what about when you’re showing off those rap culture roots a little more clearly? Then it’s all about making sure no-one else is aping your look. There is a plethora of exclusive designer sneakers that get released every year. You have to get up pretty early and be willing to spend a pretty penny to end up with a pair, but thankfully there are sneaker resellers like here that can be your ticket, too.

Don’t overcomplicate things

Rap can be loud and it can be abrasive. It’s part of the appeal, but when it carries over to your clothing, that appeal can be lost. Don’t feel like you have to combine every element we’ve mentioned above in one outfit. You don’t have to have the jewelry, the designer shoes and the bomb hat on all at once. Nor do you have to layer your hip-hop accessories with your more subdued stylings so heavily. Keep it simple, rely on your more basic, even bland staples to let the high-points of the outfit really carry across.

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