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The Urban Gentleman
(above Tyler Williams and KeKe Palmer)
Here’s your checklist:
- Buy ticket
- Secure a car or ride.
- Choose the tuxedo or suit
- Make pre and/or post prom plans
I’ll give my two-bits of the pre and/or post plan later, let’s start with the attire.
Prom Attire for Solo Guy:
Some people feel a tuxedo is the only thing a guy should wear to prom. I feel like a tux or suit is appropriate depending on the person, the budget, preference, etc. I cannot make that decision for you, you’ll have to figure that out on your own. But I’m assuming if you choose a tuxedo you’re renting (unless you have the money and plan to attend more black-tie events) and if you choose a suit you’re buying. For the average guy, I feel like prom is a great opportunity to purchase a well-tailored suit that you can later wear to interviews and other events. For formal events like Prom I always feel like the simpler the better. This is not Easter Sunday below the Mason-Dixie line, so there is no need to search for the most fashionable (and colorful) suit.
When choosing a suit opt for darker colors: black or navy are the best. Gray, chocolate, and maybe, just maybe a light khaki-ish or tan color. But honestly black is best, and if you feel black is too plain then choose a pinstripe black suit.
The key, the KEY to choosing a suit (by my standards anyway) is the material -or- the look of the material. I understand that everyone cannot spend $800 or more to purchase a top-notch silk suit. But even with a budget of $100-$200, you can buy a suit that looks rich (trust me I’ve done it). The way to get a inexpensive suit that looks like it cost atleast $500 is to focus on the material, all top notch suits have a bit of a sheen to them. When the suit hits the light at a certain angle it should have a slight shimmer. These suits are extremely hard to find in a discount suit store, but they are there… you just have to search. (Though I suggest having a budget of atleast $200 plus tax).
Once you start your “suit hunt” in the store there are two things you should do to decipher the quality:
1.) feel it- it should be soft (not stiff)
2.) hold a section of the suit in your hand and pay close attention to how it looks against the light- it should have a sheen
The suit is your core. Once you have secured it then you need:
- dress shirt
- tie and pocket square
- belt and socks
- optional: vest
White is the best choice. If you choose a color, it should be a light hue, like light pink or light blue. If you’re an innately stylish guy that likes to go a bit harder you may choose a pinstripe shirt, which can easily liven your look without making it seem like there’s too much going on.
Tie and Pocket Square:
The colors of the tie and pocket square are dependent on you. Choose a color the compliments your complexion or eyes. If you have darker skin- golds and deep reds look great. If you have blue eyes- blue accessories would be nice, green eyes- green accessories. If you want a safe choice choose black, you can not go wrong with black.
Popular tie designs: paisley, polka dot, velvet bow-ties
Obviously dress shoes… I don’t care how different you want to be sneakers are NOT okay for the prom (unless you’re known as the “class clown”). The shoe color should compliment the suit.
Belt should be the same color as the shoes.
Socks should be the same color as the suit or shoes, unless you’re trying to be different. In that case they should be the same color as the tie /pocket square and it can be in any style or print.
Vest should match the suit or tie/pocket square.
It’s always nice to have a date when attending a formal event, it completes the experience. However having a date usually involves more planning.
Here’s your checklist:
- Purchase tickets
- Ask someone to go with you (if you haven’t already)
- Secure a car with driver or a car for you to drive with date. (I understand you may be on a budget, but try to get the nicest car you can afford)
- Ask your date what color she’s wearing. If she has the dress have her send you pictures of it or if she’s getting it made ask her for a small swatch of the fabric.
- Choose the tuxedo or suit
- Make pre and post prom plans (nice/upscale restaurant before)
- Order the corsage (the wrist corsage is usually preferred)
- Review the plans with your date
- Make plans for photographs (usually taken at the prom)
When you’re attending the prom with a date you really only have two options:
1. coordinate with her
2. wear a neutral color that will match with anything.
When you are with a date you do NOT want to upstage her– she’s spent hours and hours picking out the perfect dress. Your suit should compliment and highlight her dress. It’s better to keep it classic, meaning your best bet is to wear a black suit.
There’s two main looks that go with the two options above:
1. black suit, shoes, sock, belt, white shirt -and- a tie and pocket square that matches her dress.
2. black suit, shoes, socks, belt, bow-tie, white shirt and pocket square.
If you want to wear a color suit, check to see which color best compliments your dates dress:
Brown Suit: pink, orange, or yellow dress
Khaki Suit: black, blue, pastel/ powder colors- lavender, light blue, or light pink dress
Navy Suit: red, yellow, pink, white, brown, fuchsia, or purple dress
Gray Suit: blue, purple, green, and solid/jewel-tone colored dresses
Here’s a few examples of how to coordinate one of the color suits with a dress:
- Your date has a black dress: you wear a khaki suit, white shirt, black tie and accessories.
- Your date has a pink dress: you wear a navy suit, white shirt, pink tie and pocket square, brown accessories (shoes, belt, socks).
- Your date has a green dress: you wear a gray suit, white shirt, green tie and pocket square, black accessories (shoes, belt, socks).
Also, review the notes above for the “solo guy” on how to choose a suit or tuxedo.
Review, the best places to buy a suit.
It’s proper etiquette to go to a upscale restaurant before prom- you know, the kind if restaurant you only visit on special occasions. If you don’t have the funds for it then try a nice, but less expensive restaurant. For example there’s Pricci, Maggianos, and Olive Garden- all good Italian restaurants. Pricci is the type of restaurant you should take your date, but if you don’t have the funds Maggianos would be a less expensive yet adequate enough back up. However, you do not want to go to Olive Garden for prom. Instead, if times really are hard, you should setup a nice dinner at your house or maybe even a family friends house (if it’s nicer). Get a white table cloth, a few candles, roses, and create your own restaurant. You can order from Olive Garden and have your little brother or sister act as the waiter.
Just go home… no, I’m kidding. Usually after prom you’re hungry, you know all that dancing and partying has left you quite famished. There are a couple common after prom options: change clothes (if you brought them) and hang with friends at a cheap, but good diner (like Waffle House) or attend a prom after-party. I recommend the first, it’s just better. You can eat for cheap, relax, reminisce on the prom highlights, and maybe even make plans for the next night. It’s also a time to take more pictures and just be goofy and have fun! If you go to an after-prom party be safe– seriously though people are crazy these days, so if you go to a party make sure you know who’s hosting it and don’t drink alcohol. It’s always sad to hear the after-prom tragedies on the news–kids drinking and going to jail, fatal car crashes, etc.
Some teens also rent hotel rooms on prom night, I’m just going to be blunt about that– this is not your wedding night, so don’t try to take her virginity. I hope that wasn’t too forward, but seriously there’s plenty of time for that and prom night just shouldn’t be that night. But if you are sexually active then take condoms- wrap it up! There are just too many diseases out there!
For Restaurant Reservations: Opentable.com or call the restaurant.
For Corsages: FTD.com or order from your local florist (that’s the best option). Oh and remember that it’s best to buy a wrist corsage, the pin corsage may damage her dress.
So let’s review…
Suit or Tuxedo and accessories- be sure to get it tailored if buying. If you’re renting a tuxedo you should secure it atleast a month in advance.
Ticket (s)- order from school
Dinner Plans- make a reservation
Photographs- usually taken at prom, if not make plans
Car or Limousine- reserve in advance.
Corsage- order around 7-12 days in advance.
Extra Cash on hand- you never know what may come up (after prom meal, tips for valet, etc)
Personal camera- you or your date should atleast have a disposable camera to capture the memories.
Sometimes its easier to make these plans with a group, for example 2, 3, or even 4 couples go together. This also helps to cut cost down (limousine rental). If you choose to go in a group make sure that every gets along well- you don’t want to ruin someones prom night:-)
More prom etiquette: just be on your best behavior, be a total and complete gentleman- open the doors, make sure she orders first, she should sit before you do, if she gets cold put your jacket around her, and cover all expenses. (If you do split cost- usually its the photographs and maybe the limousine depending on the arrangements made.)
I hope that helps make your prom planning easier. Good Luck, have fun, and be safe!
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A little background: Vernon played football for the University of Maryland and now plays for the San Francisco 49ers.
Vernon: Last weekend I attended ESPN the Weekend in Orlando, but on a typical day, I’m working out to get ready for the upcoming season as well as watching and supporting my brother Vontae get ready to be drafted into the NFL in April.
Does the daily routine ever get boring, do you sometimes wish you were doing something else?
Vernon: No, I am living my dream of playing in the NFL and playing football.
So if you weren’t playing football, what would you realistically be doing right now?
Vernon: If I wasn’t playing football I would be into fashion designing and interior decorating
I heard you were an art major in college, that’s different- what made you choose that over say Business or even something like Health? Let’s be honest here was it because you thought it would be easy A’s?
Vernon: Actually, I had a dream about art, and my counselor suggested I give it a try. After taking some classes, I loved it and switched majors. Art is relaxing and allows me to show my imagination and thoughts on canvas. I usually paint what I see at that time or images that just come to my mind.
I’m an artist… I feel like I’m an artist in every sense of the word- I paint, draw, design… music, photography, fashion, and design literally consume me and I couldn’t imagine life without those things… Who are you as an artist Vernon? Do you even really consider yourself an artist, if so, what type of artist are you?
What inspires you?
Vernon: Myfamily. Because of them I strive to be well rounded and to be the best at everything I do.
I heard you were at New York Fashion Week? How fun! How did you like it? What shows or events did you go to?
Vernon: I had a blast! I joked with somebody and said this is like the Super Bowl for designers. I went to Organic, YIGAL AZROUEL, William Rast, William Rast After party, and Madea Goes to Jail premiere, LuxuryFashion.com party, and of course I did some shopping. It was my first Fashion Week, but it won’t be my last. It really fed my creative side.
Of all the shows/events you went to what was your favorite? Why?
Could you see yourself being a fashion designer? What would you name your clothing line and what type of clothes would you design?
Vernon: I could see myself as a fashion designer I would probably design suits and shoes. I don’t have a name for it but maybe could incorporate DUKE, the nickname that my family calls me, into it somehow.
In general who are your favorite designers?
How would you describe your style? Describe how it has evolved from let’s say high school to now.
Vernon: I prefer a certain fit in my clothes (not too tight, but not baggy), and I like to stand out a bit from the other guys. I’m not afraid to wear bright or unusual colors either. In high school I used to put fabric paint on all my shirts and cut holes in my jeans. I used to paint my sneakers too.
Is it hard to be an athlete and be stylish? Why or why not?
Vernon: It gets a little hard sometimes because a lot of brands don’t make their clothes big enough to fit me. Then again, I’m able to have things made or tailored, so It’s probably easier for us than it is for other big guys.
If you had to take the wardrobe and style of any person right now, who would it be and why?
Vernon: I would take the wardrobe of Kanye West because he thinks outside of the box and is very creative. I wouldn’t do the skinny jeans or the hair cut, though.
What’s your favorite trend right now? What do you do, besides reading The Urban Gentleman, to keep up with the current trends?
Vernon: To keep up with the trends I read all the men’s fashion magazines, GQ, Men’s Vogue, Esquire and Details. I also try to look at clothes that are different and how I can apply my own style to the designer whether it’s a well known brand or upcoming designer. My favorite trend is embellished jeans. Oh and I love how sneaker brands are being more creative too.
What tips can you give guys trying to stay in shape?
Vernon: Be consistent, get on a strict regimen, eat healthy and always include cardio.
What’s your general workout routine during your off season? Any favorite health foods?
Vernon: Usually, I train heavier during the off-season because during the on-season I really want to focus on injury prevention workouts. I usually work out three days a week — Monday, Wednesday and Friday — focusing on mostly upper-body work. I incorporate resistance bands quite frequently, which I feel has gotten me really good results.
I also incorporate Deep Water speed and conditioning training. I am inside the pool in 15-16 feet with a harness around my waist that keeps me afloat, with water weights on my ankles. I do a number of drills and water stretching first. I then must sprint in a running motion 25 yards at a time from one end of the pool to the other with some rest in between. This workout is low impact and puts no stress on my body. Again, its a long season and off season, so we want to stay fresh as possible.
Another workout that I love is called, KNOCK-OUT! Knock out can be compared to a one on one street basketball game, but it is done on the football field. Other athletes participate in this workout; there is a quarterback and defensive back or linebacker against a receiver or tight end. The ball is placed on the 3yrd line, the receiver (me) can only run 4 different routes. The defender can play however he likes. The receiver must catch the ball in a small window in the end zone. Points are rewarded to the person with the most points from catches in the end zone. Defense vs. Offense, the defense can get points from either catching interceptions or batted balls. This exercise helps concentration levels on the field, similar to the concentration you need to have in the red zone. The drill is fun and adds a competitive element to the workout, which I think is needed because I am a competitive person.
Usually, I’ll have egg whites, turkey sausage, fruit, and oatmeal for breakfasts. For lunch I’ll have some grilled chicken or a turkey burger with veggies, fruit and wheat bread. Between lunch and dinner it’s often a protein bar, and then my evening meal is pretty much the same as lunch.
Here’s a sort of random question, but what do you do to maintain your dreads? What products do you use?
Vernon: I use beeswax and I get my hair twisted every two weeks
Anything else you want to say?
Vernon: Hard work equals success. Just work and study your craft and God will open doors to bless you.
Many guys have asked me how to wear their scarf, and I’m finally displaying 3 options.
First start off by folding your scarf from a square to a triangle, then choose from one the styles below:
The Modified Basic.
I am currently very gradually trying to smarten up my wardrobe, and I would like to wear more trousers (casually) rather than jeans, with fitted polos, nice shirts, blazers etc. However, I am finding it difficult to find some suitable footwear for such a smart casual look. I like boat-shoes, and will be picking up a navy or brown pair, but they are more kinda summer wear. I find most loafers, mocs to be too formal, so I was wondering to you have any advice on what type of smart-casual shoes can be worn with trousers.
Hi (Urban Gent’s name- who’s from England),
- boat shoes (sebago/sperrries)
- “dressy sneakers”
- vans (like Pharrell)
I see that you’re already halfway there since you have purchased a pair of boat shoes (sebagoes/sperries). After securing a pair of those then the type of casual shoe you wear is totally dependent on your style. I am personally a big fan of oxfords- there are so many different styles of oxfords and they easily smarten up the wardrobe.
- very casual wingtip lace-up
- moccasins (only if this fits your personality)
Here’s a link of examples from Urban Outfitters: click here. Since the pound is almost double the dollar you can easily order from there (but I think you have to add $50 to the total order)… I really like the Schmoove Oxford, the Generic Surplus Oxford, and the Ben Sherman Vacations Lace-Ups.
Drivers are basically the everyday casual shoe for the man that pretty much doesn’t wear sneakers anymore unless he’s going to the gym or participating in an outdoor activity (that’s sort of my view on it anyway). I don’t like all drivers because some tend to look a bit old and dated, but there are plenty that are sleek and stylish- check some of the drivers out at Neimans: click here. From that page I like the Gucci leather driver- 3rd row number 4, the other Gucci leather driver- 5th row number 4, and the Cole Haan venetian moccasin driver- 5th row number 1…. Also I know alot of men that really love the Ferregamo drivers. You don’t have to buy those exact shoes, but those just give you an idea of the styles that may work for you.
If you want a shoe that is, perhaps, a step between sneakers and oxfords then you could try a “dressy sneaker”… basically like a leather converse or designer tennis shoes- Hugo Boss, Lanvin, etc etc (preferably in a solid color).
** this question is a little dated (about a month and a half– so the shoes I’m referring to may not be there anymore or in the same order, but you can still get the general idea).