For years, there has been a rift in the thought by some African-Americans as to what is professional dress. The sixties showed African American conforming to the social norms of the workplace. Straight-laced suits and ties fell strictly in line with their white counterparts.
The 70’s brought about a change, where afro’s and bell bottomed pants dominated the professional African American dress. This was mainly because of the radical Black Power and Civil Rights movements which was the love child of the turbulent fifties and sixties. The 80’s showed a return to more subdued professional dress of the African American male with the 90’s doing more of the same.
With the millennium came and resurgent of everything that was culturally relevant. African Americans felt more confident with themselves and were not as ashamed to relinquish our flare for color, style and glamour on the rest of the work.
The surprising thing was, the rest of the society thought the same way. Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karen New York (DKNY) and other upscale designers saw that urban street where was not just adored on the street corner, but also embraced in the office place. This also led the way for many African American designers and labels to get their foot in the door.
One of our nation’s fastest rising and most visible African American fashion moguls is Sean ‘P.Diddy’ Combs. Combs’ clothing line “Sean Jean” was founded in 1998 and has taken on the likes of Tommy, Abercrombie, and Pierre Cardin in everything from sales to window time at Macy’s.
This line has become one of the most famous lines in hip-hop and un-arguably, that most famous launched by a celebrity, it was only a matter of time before the his hip and urban street savvy style surpassed it’s urban street personal and bombarded its way into the suits and styles of business life.
Russell Simmons is yet another established African American mogul who has taken the street wise street wear from the curb and and infused it into the business district. Some would say that being the older brother of Rev. Joseph Simmons, better known as "Run" of Run-DMC would have given him and ‘in’ on discovering what was hip. That is not entirely the case. Simmons has street credibility on his own right. He began his career by promoting such famous rap act as Kurtis Blow and went on to found Def Jam Records where LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys became famous.
Def Jam was not the only thing that made Simmons famous. Been only one of his many companies, Simmons established Rush Communications to umbrella a movie production house, management company, advertising agency and a clothing company called Phat Farm. Though the line is expensive it has found homage in the streets and has recently made its way into the boardroom.
My overall suggestion when it comes to incorporating you personal flair at your place of business is to be true to yourself without compromising professionalism.