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Shades of Black

BLACK IVY: A Revolt in Style

BLACK IVY: A Revolt in Style by Jason Jules and Graham Marsh is a coffee table book. That’s precisely where it’s been in the year since I received it as a Christmas present. I’d browsed the photographs several times over the year but had yet to stop to read the accompanying words. Until now. I’m mad at myself for not getting to it sooner because it was a delightful and inspiring read and a fitting first book of the new year.

I’d put the book on my list for Santa in the fall of 2021 after reading several articles that used it as a jumping-off point to discuss masculine fashion in broader or more contemporary terms. I’m not a fashionista, but I think about my outfits, the pieces I like, and what goes well together. One of my seldom-used boards on Pinterest is called Sartorial Game. I save hip sweaters and shoes that come across my Instagram feed in a collection. I get dressed for work even when that means taking just a few steps into my home office.

Through BLACK IVY, I can contextualize the clothing that resonates with me and why it feels so cool. I love a short sleeve button-down popover shirt. I prefer a cub collar on my full-length dress shirts if I can find one. Give me a beautiful sweater with a visible tee poking out of a collar. I want to pair these items with fresh sneakers, though the style’s originators would’ve likely preferred a hat as their touch of flare.

I felt both affirmed and encouraged by the stories and clothing of those civil rights-era cats. I wrote notes to learn more about Ted Joans, Noah Purifoy, and Jacob Lawrence. Images of Dignity by Charles White will likely be another read shortly. Thelonius Monk will be my Throwback Thursday music this week. I sought out the A Great Day in Harlem documentary.

I’ll soon be re-injecting Malcolm X (in both book and movie form) into my veins. I’ve got a date with Jazz on a Summers Day this Sunday, which will be a fitting end to my winter break.

And as I return to my routines next week, I’ll be thinking about which pieces go together. If clothes make the man, what is in my closet representing all shades of me?

Understated. Observant. Thoughtful. Clever. Kind. Undeniable. BLACK.

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