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Sentimental Sunday: Dad, a Man of Style

It’s Sentimental Sunday and this daily blogging prompt allows genealogy bloggers a chance to focus on a sentimental story or memory about an ancestor, or a wonderful family tradition. Today is Father’s Day 2012 and my fondest memories this weekend have been about my father and his smooth swag and style that were captured in some 1940 photos I recently scanned to my computer!

 Cock your hat – angles are attitudes.” — Frank Sinatra

Dad in his Fedora, 1942

Dad in his Fedora, 1942

Frank Sinatra’s quote above sums up exactly how my father wore his FEDORA (in the photo to the left) – cocked at an angle with attitude. Daddy LOVED his fedora hats and wore them with their pinch-front teardrop-shaped crowns, front brims “snapped down,” and back brims “snapped up!”

As I researched online this past week about the type of fashion my dad wore in the 1940’s, and about his favorite fedoras in particular, I discovered that this hat was actually a female fashion item in 1889. The heroine in the play — Fedora — wore a hat that was similar to what is known as the fedora today.

This hat finally became popular with men by the late 19th century for its style, of course, but more so for how it protected their heads from wind and weather. The fact that wind and cold weather is not a norm in Texas, leaves me with the notion that dad’s love for fedoras came from him seeing how good Hollywood stars like — Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, and Frank Sinatra — looked wearing them!

Dad's classic look in 1942

Dad’s classic look in 1942

From the top of his head to the bottom of his feet, dad was a man of style! As you can see in the photo to the right, he’s wearing one of his fedora hats, a dark-colored jacket lightly padded at the shoulders, plain white shirt, a patterned tie, and a hankerchief in his jacket pocket. He completed this ensemble with light-colored straight leg wide-trousers that tapered at the bottom, and a pair of wing-tipped shoes. Another look that became popular among African American and Latino men during the 1940’s were zoot suits! Remember those? A zoot suit consisted of high-waist wide-legged tight-cuffed trousers and a long coat with wide lapels and padded shoulders.

Scanning these photos of my father, brought back memories of a FABULOUS interview a former business associate and I did with national best-selling author, TV host and fashion expert, Lloyd Boston, about his book MAKE OVER YOUR MAN in 2003! This book was a first-of-its-kind style guide for women on how to bring out the very best in the men they loved. This interview also gave us an opportunity to chat with him about another book he wrote that we enjoyed as well, MEN OF COLOR: FASHION HISTORY FUNDAMENTALS.

Dad, a man of style, 1942

Dad, a man of style, 1942

Hmm . . . you’re probably wondering how in the world did an interview with fashion icon, Lloyd Boston, come about? Well, what most readers of this blog don’t know is that I owned a couple of popular online reading communities, as well as a niche online book promotion service  from 2000-2009. Random House (Broadway Books Division) asked if we would like to join their promotion of Lloyd’s new book for holiday 2003. We said yes and the rest as they say, is history!

Our interview with him was WONDERFUL and confirms for me that my dad, and other men of color like him during the 1940’s, were trend setters when it came to their style. So I share some of our interview with Lloyd Boston with you below. Enjoy and Happy Father’s Day!

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Reprint: Internet | Interview with Lloyd Boston, author of
MAKE OVER YOUR MAN

Q: You were born and raised in New Jersey; attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, and Rutgers University in New Jersey. Then you’ve spent a considerable amount of time in New York. Have you noticed a marked difference in the attention to fashion and style of black men in these different areas of the country?

L. Boston: Men of color have a decidedly different flare in each US city. Many Detroit guys feature “hook-ups” of matching sets–down to the shoes. Some New York men do the layered, more Urban thing–with perfectly clean shoes being the stand-out piece. And in spots like Atlanta, men generally prefer a status bend–where the designer is clearly identifiable. In any instance, we twist what is current, making it our very own–and totally valid.”

Q: What are some of the key elements needed for building a fashionable look, and do black men naturally have a style of their own?

L. Boston: The classics are a great formula for a “fashionable look.” Think Brooks Brothers, think Everett Hall, think Tommy Hilfiger’s new “H” Collection. Flat front pants, solid suits in 2 or 3-button models, timeless loafers, boots, and lace-ups with a high shine, and the turtleneck in solid black (cashmere if you can). If you have nothing else, these staples will serve you.

Our style as men of color is certainly a visceral reaction to the world around us. Is it inherent? Some may argue no. I feel that we create clothing ensembles in a unique way, based on our need to remain visible in a society that often renders us otherwise.”

Q: Speaking of black men having a style of their own, isn’t that exactly what you were trying to capture in your first book on men’s fashion titled, MEN OF COLOR: FASHION HISTORY FUNDAMENTALS?

L. Boston: It was simple. The very book that I’ve always dreamed of having on my own coffee table. A first-of-it’s-kind ode to the history of black male style which could never be removed from the annals of American history.”

Q: One of your desires in MEN OF COLOR, was to perpetuate a positive image which would identify men of color as influential figures in the history of fashion. Was this desire for fulfillment in a particular area or was this an open desire for African American men in general?

L. Boston: This was an all-inclusive desire. From the shoe-shine man at my corner, to Quincy Jones and Samuel L. Jackson–all of these men have moved our style along. Thus, moving along American style in an edgy way. We own this, and need to continually document it.”

Q: No doubt the fashion community was intrigued by your book, MEN OF COLOR, and learned a great deal about the effect Black men have had on all areas of fashion. But how well was this book received by those outside of the fashion industry?

L. Boston: Many people found it fascinating, especially those outside of fashion, for they have always seen this, but never really knew how to put a finger on it. So it validated an energy that always existed, in an unapologetic way. This I love most.”

Q: Though you write for the masses, do you have a target audience in mind with your books?

L. Boston: For this new book, women are my focus. I think that smart men will pick it up on the sly.

Q: Yes, the target audience of your new book, MAKE OVER YOUR MAN, are women! What prompted you to write this book about the world of men’s fashion for women?

L. Boston: I wrote this book because it has never been done. Women seemed hungry for the knowledge–and I certainly had it to give. The tough part was what not to write, for there is so much to offer.

Q: All of the photos, helpful Q&A’s, retail resource and celebrity interviews make this a wonderful book! How long did it take you to write this one and you must to tell us which celebrity man was your favorite to work with?

L. Boston: It took a little over two years in total. My favorite celeb was actually not a celeb. I loved working with the “women’s roundtable discussion” at the top of the book, which included my very own mom. They were honest, funny, and real.

Q: I must say that Tommy Hilfiger’s contribution to your book is impressive. I read somewhere that you met him at a mall appearance where he offered you an internship in graphic design with his corporation which in turn provided you with a scholarship to finish your college studies. Looking back from the moment that you met him to now, how has he personally been involved with your rise in the fashion industry?

L. Boston: Every step of the way, he has been my mentor, friend, and guide. We are still close to this day, and will consult for the brand from time to time. He is an amazing man, and a blessing in my world. Wouldn’t be here without him.

Q: You’ve been the former Vice President of Art Direction for The Tommy Hilfiger Corporation for nearly a decade. You are the style contributor on the NBC Today Show and host of E! Entertainment’s Style Network. You are a frequent contributor to shows like TheView and to publications like Entertainment Weekly and Vibe, and you’ve recently earned a place on Crain’s “Forty Under 40” list of notables. You made the Los Angeles Times best-selling list for MEN OF COLOR and now you have another excellent book out that I’m sure will be a best-seller in no time at all. Whew! What’s next for Lloyd Boston?

L. Boston: Rest! And my new website just went live. So check out my website!

Q: We’ve checked out your new website and it looks fabulous! Thank you again for chatting with us. We were a little nervous about interviewing you for fear that you would pick up on some fashion faux pas vibes from us via the Internet (smile). Take care Lloyd and . . . we wish you continued success in all your endeavors!

L. Boston: You guys are great–and stylish to boot. Thanks for thinking of me. Stay close, the ride has just begun!

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Source Citation:

Harris, Marlive & Ann Brown. Interview | Lloyd Boston, author of  ‘Make Over Your Man.’ Dallas, Texas: The GRITS COM Literary Service, December 1, 2003.

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