My Love For the Summer Suit

I learned a lot of things from living in New York City this summer. For starters, never trust the subway. Literally never. But any New Yorker can tell you that one.

What I also quickly learned is that there is a go-to uniform for all businessmen. No, it’s not a requirement that they dawn themselves in this attire daily, but rather, it has become a habit that all businessmen residing in their cubicles in the Financial District have come to live by. Gone are the days of the black and white suit. The new uniform of today’s businessman? The blue summer suit.

Navy, Royal, Sapphire—my commute to work each morning became an adventure through the 50 Shades of Blue. And frankly, I was totally here for it. Black and white is too old fashioned. Blue suits, on the other hand, are the perfect summer option. The shades are plentiful and the styling options are endless. Pair them with a brown dress shoe, a white button up and tie? Or pair them with a white sneaker for a more relaxed look? Either way, I’m in support.

So midway through the summer, I fell deep into the summer suit black hole online. And what I discovered shook me to the core. Summer suits of all shades and styles filled my photo gallery soon after. What’s not to love? A professional look that fits the laid back theme of the season? Count me in.

So after much research, it came time for me to join the trend and purchase a summer suit. But being the outrageous personality that I am, I knew that a simple blue suit wouldn’t be enough. No, I needed something that would leave my fellow New Yorkers speechless. That’s where Opposuits came in.

The brand, which was launched in 2010, was founded by Jasper Castelein, Jelle van der Zwet and Guus Bakker. Their goal was to create suits that were the complete opposite of boring while still focusing on impeccable fit and style. And they certainly accomplished that. With options available for men (up to a size 45” waist!), women and children, Opposuits combined entertaining patterns and prints with professional style for a true masterpiece.

So which suit option did I pick to wear on my last day of work this summer?

Yep, I snapped. The Tropicool suit was the perfect option for me and I loved wearing it to my last day of work at Clevver.com. And with the looks of the weather, with the heat still in full force, it looks like I may get a chance to wear it again before the summers up. But thankfully, Opposuits has playful options for all year round. Keep this brand on your radar: They’re the real deal.

New York Fashion Week: Carlos Campos’ Spring/Summer 2019 Collection

Imagine a crossover between teenage Carrie Bradshaw (from The Carrie Diaries, not Sex and the City) and Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada with a dash of every character from The Bold Type thrown in there. That’s exactly how I felt as I entered my Uber and embarked on the way to New York Fashion Week: Men’s this past Monday.

I’d never been to a show at New York Fashion Week before, let alone any runway show. And so, I was quaking—yes, quaking—at the thought of what I was in store for. Spoiler alert: It was one of the most glamorous days of my life.

As I entered Industria Studios at around 3 p.m. for Carlos Campos’ runway show, I was in awe of those around me. Never in my life had I seen such fashion-forward, stylish, immensely creative men. After a few minutes of waiting in line (in front of me was the former editorial director of a huge menswear magazine and behind me was a well-known fashion influencer), I entered the showroom to find that I was seated in the front row. Yes, I was as shook as shook can be.

Needless to say, the show was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It was the perfect way to kick off NYFWM and the perfect show to be my first. And now, let’s get to the good part: the fashion. Here are my top five favorite looks from Campos’s spring/summer 2019 collection that he presented.

Courtesy of Carlos Campos New York

#5: An Amarillo Yellow Summer Wool Suit with Silk-Satin Shear Tank

I am obsessed with the color yellow as of recent, so you can only imagine how happy I was to see it showcased in Campos’ collection. After the first look entered the runway, I knew instantly that a full-on yellow suit would be coming and I certainly was not disappointed. I love the shade of this suit and the pairing of the white sneakers with it, as well as the sheer top. It blew me away and still does each time I look at it.

Carlos, if you ever need a plus-size man to create this look for, please hit me up.

Courtesy of Carlos Campos New York

#4: Deep Navy Cotton Striped Women Geo-Western Shirt and Deep Navy Cotton Striped Slim Leg Trousers

My fourth favorite look had a much more mellow color scheme than the amarillo yellow suit, but what I loved so much about this look was the mix of patterns. I love the wider navy stripes placed against the thinner deep nave striped trousers. It gives off a sort of optical illusion that’s perfect for the runway and for the camera. Plus, the fit of the outfit is perfect and once again, the white sneakers with a splash of orange on the bottom are a great compliment.

Courtesy of Carlos Campos New York

#3: Pale Sienna Tailored Semi-Raglan Wool/Cotton Bomber and Pale Sienna Fine Twill Wool Bespoke Tailored Trousers with Amarillo Yellow Piping.

The yellow piping on this bomber blew me away. For starters, the wool trousers are exquisitely made. Paired with this simple yet chic jacket and I was 100% sold. I’m not always on board with a monochromatic outfit but the small pops of yellow really made this stand out amongst the rest of the collection.

Courtesy of Carlos Campos New York

#2: Pale Sienna fine Twill Wool Double-Breasted Coat with Cream Color-Blocking, Cream Fine Twill Wool Bespoke Tailored Trousers and Cream Silk-Satin Shear Tank.

This was undeniably a fantastic way to end the collection. The double-breasted coat is simple yet perfectly crafted by Campos. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love color-blocking, and although that usually means (for me, at least) bright colors against each other, I think the white against cream color-blocking in this ensemble was fabulously done.

Courtesy of Carlos Campos New York.

#1: Pale Sienna Brushed Sateen Double-Breasted Belted Wool Suit with Amarillo Yellow Silk Stain Shear Tank.

This was only the second look to come down the runway and yet easily was my favorite. For starters, as I’ve already made clear, I’m obsessed with the yellow against the pale sienna with the white sneakers. It’s a truly genius combination. But what I love most about this ensemble is the belted wool double-breasted blazer. Before the show even began, I saw someone in a belted blazer and thought to myself, “Wow, I need to purchase something like that!” So you can imagine my delight when this walked down the runway. There isn’t one thing about this look that I would change or, to be honest, about the entire collection.

Campos’ collection was simple, chic, and sophisticated all wrapped into one. I was so honored to be able to attend the show and I can’t wait to follow his designs closely in the future.

“Project Runway” Winner Ashley Nell Tipton Talks Plus-Size Designing

Ashley Nell Tipton was much more than just another contestant when season 14 of Project Runway premiered. I could tell right from the very first episode—as could many others, obviously—that she was a rising fashion nova who was going to pave the way for plus-size designers to come. And boy, did she do just that.

After weeks of impressing the judges with her top-notch design skills (I’ll never forget the unconventional challenge when she made an entire dress just from Polaroid photographs), Ashley made it to the finale and had the opportunity to present a collection at New York Fashion Week. And, in a Project Runway first, she presented a plus-size collection that was bright, exuberant, fun, and, most important, game-changing.

For Ashley and the entire fashion community, this marked a huge step towards inclusion of diverse body types on the runway.

“[Growing up], I was very limited on what I could wear/buy so I used to create my own clothing. This was my motivation to become a designer,” Ashley told Hard at #Werk in an exclusive interview. “I wanted to create clothing/choices for those of us whose choices were limited!”

And create choices she sure did! After winning the season (which, TBH, was no surprise to me), she’s worked on a plus-size collection for J.C. Penney, created a jewelry line for K&M Accessories, and even released an eyewear line in 2017. Needless to say, she’s #SlayingIt and, through it all, she’s never stopped fighting for the plus-size community. But as all full-figured fashionistas know, this has never been an easy task. For Ashley, it’s been difficult even when she was on Project Runway winning the show.

When asked if she ever felt pushed aside or looked down upon for being a plus-size designer on the show, Ashley said, “Of course. Just look at some of the comments Tim Gunn has made. No-one really understands this market and what we are dealing with. It’s time for that to change…The curvy/plus-size community needs choices…”

She added, “Not only am I creating for those of us who have not had choices but I also am working to overcome bias in the perception of the market. ‘It’s none of your business what I choose to wear’ is the number one bias [I face].”

But through the trials and troubling moments, Ashley has pushed through and stayed dedicated to her mission of representing plus-size women in the industry. Her ANT Premier Clothing Line includes items that are so hard to find in plus-sizes or designed in ways that complement larger body types including suspender pants, bodysuits, and more. It’s super cute and pretty affordable as well.

And although Ashley has designed primarily women’s clothes up until now, I have some great news for all you guys out there: an Ashley Nell Tipton menswear line may not be too far off!

“I would love to [design a menswear line]! Any companies out there? I am ready!!”

Um, yes, please!

So what advice does Ashley have for aspiring designers? Get educated, stay humble, and never stop improving your skills.

“Find a niche—get an education!” she said. “I am tired of people trying to shortcut the process. You must learn how to design before you can become a designer. Sorry—that’s reality. It’s competitive out there and you must have the skills necessary to become successful!”

Ashley certainly has the skills #skillz and we’re so excited to see what’s next for this game-changing designer.

4 Plus-Size Influencers Share Their Biggest Fashion Struggles

Often times, the fashion world is far from welcoming when it comes to the inclusion of plus-size men. Despite the fact that approximately 3 out of every 4 men are considered to be overweight or obese, the runway fails to reflect these truths. But, despite this tragic lack of representation, a rising group of men is fighting to be included in the fashion narrative. These men are bold, empowering, and inspiring — especially for me.

These 4 men are not only starting a dialogue and conversation, but they’re slowly revolutionizing an industry that is on the brink of change.

Along the way, they’ve had countless hurdles to jump over and struggles to bear through. In an industry that can exclude you based on size, this is no surprise. But as I begin to lend my voice to fight for their mission, their stories of the trails they’ve faced and overcome are nothing short of motivational.

In line with Hard at #Werk’s mission, I spoke with 4 of my favorite plus-size male bloggers and fashionistas about the strides they’ve made since joining the world of fashion and styling.

Michael-Anthony (@TheBigFashionGuy)

“I have to try my best to continually overcome the negative stereotypes that big men are sloppy, lazy, and dumb. I combat that by providing uplifting, inspiring, and fashion-forward content that motivate men of all sizes to always put their best foot forward.”

“Another hurdle I always try to tackle is that big men cant be fashion forward or trendy. True Big & Tall men’s clothing within the mainstream fashion industry is still very much nonexistent and is light-years away from being on the same trend level as women’s plus size collections, and even further away from bringing on the same taste and trend level as industry slandered size clothing brands. And to tackle that hurdle, I do my best to depict on-trend and fashion-forward content and provide men of size with the resources to shop for and develop the same looks on their own.”

Riccardo Onorato (@guyoverboard)

“It’s happened to me as a fashion blogger that brands loved my style — the way I make my content, my images. But, when I said ‘Ok, I would like to collaborate with you … these are my sizes,’ on the other side the answer was, ‘We do not have these sizes.’ This was very sad.”

“I hope [that that] is a warning to make the fashion industry understand how the inclusion of the sizes is a really important step that needs to be done. In other cases, I was more direct and I would tell the brand to think about a plus-size clothing line otherwise many other guys like me wouldn’t have had the opportunity to know and appreciate them. But I know that the road is still long.”

 

 

Daniel F. Grimsley (@franknthecity)

“One of the most difficult hurdles I have had to overcome as a plus-size man working in fashion is being visible. As a plus male in fashion, we find ourselves working harder to be seen in the industry and even harder finding clothing that is on trend. Because of these reasons, men of size are not being properly represented in the world of fashion yet. We have a plethora of work to do, but we are going to continue to push for inclusion, change, and acceptance from the wonderful world of fashion.”

 

 

 

Ady Del Valle (@adydelvalle_)

“One of the biggest hurdles I have and still need to overcome is being the biggest male model in body size in the industry that’s active in the industry. It is a constant battle to prove myself while still staying true to myself and what I stand for, which is for inclusion and diversity in the fashion industry. This is something I fight for every day so the generation after us has an opportunity to pursue their dreams without the roadblocks we have now. I want to use my voice, my presence, and platform to show that we can and we will.”