Mens’ Style Friday – Lessons from the NBA

posted in: Inspiration, Style advice | 6

You may remember my interview with Cedric Frederick, an old friend who used to play basketball in the UK (he is 6’6″ and still very athletic). In response to a previous post about best dressed sportsmen he wrote to say:

“In 2005, the NBA (the US professional basketball league) introduced a game-day dress code for players that changed the hip hop style of dress to absolute style and interest! The transformation of the players’ images and the game itself has been remarkable!”

The link Cedi makes between dressing smartly and playing better is very interesting.

And I think it works in all walks of life. I am convinced that presenting ourselves as effectively as we can, dressing well, helps others take us more seriously, and of course this boosts our self esteem. Also any excuse for featuring gorgeous, tall, high achieving men!

Cedi mentions the “hip hop style of dress”.  This might include

  • loose trousers that settle over the low hips
  • voluminous shapes that make the wearer appear even larger and potentially more intimidating
  • shirt not tucked in
  • outsize jewellry over outwear
  • sportswear
  • sports headgear (sometimes more than one)
  • huge hi-top trainers
  • a very casual and relaxed look
  • highly masculine
  • often combined with music with aggressive, masculine lyrics
NBA before dress code
Typical Basketball player dress

These voluminous styles look very American to me – especially the sportswear, caps and long, baggy shorts. Even when my ex-husband played (in the 1970s) the style of shorts and footwear associated with basketball were very particular – footballers were in short shorts.  The outside jewellry and some of the other elements are associated with the black hip-hop culture, and when the NBA introduced the dress code ten years ago they were accused, by some, of racism.

On its site the NBA includes a rather dull picture of Kevin Garnett in a dark suit and tie. While this is an acceptable business look, it is also staid and middle of the road. While rich, young black men who want to get to the top do look good as an English gentleman, my view is that you can still live within the rules and look a lot better.


What do you think of these two? I think they both look amazing. Well fitting, tailored suits, but in gorgeous pastel shades associated with femininity. Then there is that flowing scarf worn by Wade – flowing, sensuous and dandyish – and what looks like a textile broach. These guys are so confident in their style, achievement and masculinity that they don’t need the crude assertion of the hip-hop look. These beautiful, successful, stylish men have nailed a new aesthetic and personally I think it is wonderful.

Want to see more (I do!). Here are LeBron and Dwayne together, arriving together. Wade looks like a fashion model in head to toe, monochrome orange – it’s beyond brave but he looks amazing in the colour and although I would have prefered dark brown or black leather shoes I think the cardigan over a polo shirt is a marvellous business-casual look. Men can look great in colour but it takes some confidence to pull it off. James had chosen a much more traditional look but the stunning white shirt with a black jacket, with toning deep khaki tie and trousers and shoes. The tie pin, sunglasses and white handkerchief make this outfit stand out.

NBA style.
Wade and James arrive together


The rules do not have to be seen as restrictive, but rather a framework which allows a man to look professional, individual and very attractive. Here are three top class players who have dressed within the rules, but with such verve, style and beauty. Just wow!

What do you think of their style? And is it appropriate for a sports body or employer to ban certain looks?




6 Responses

  1. mrsmole

    I don’t understand why anyone would choose to dress as a hoodlum whether they are a professional ball player or a singer. I also don’t understand why female singers dress more skimpy and hooker-like when they have fabulous voices. It is almost like the more skills a person has, the more they want you to focus on their poor sense of dressing and in the end it all becomes a uniform for all…can anyone tell a rapper from a basketball player? Love seeing the men in suits and co-ordinated outfits…skip the hip-hop hoodlum look…they have the skills and cash to look the best they can, not the worst…just my opinion.

  2. Annieloveslinen

    Great examples of how clothing can enhance appearance, both men would look good whatever they wear as they have great physique and posture, booted and suited they’re stand out fabulous.

    Mmm, got me thinking that I should make something in orange. Too funny.

  3. Alli

    They look fabulous in that last picture! (and I love his little matching orange bag, hehe ) Now I want an orange shawl collar cardigan for myself. :D:D:D

  4. mik

    Ok, well; forgive me Kate, if you don’t like my comments. But you did ask. First, what has NBA ballers to do with a AngloSaxon Brit and her sewing blog? I mean, I suppose that I get that you’re commenting on them due to your friend Cedric Frederick? Well, frankly I’d never heard of an UK basketball team. But ok. Why don’t you do a blog about them? That would be really interesting to read about. What kind of fashions do they “sport”? Who are they? I’d be real keen to know.

    Now, I happen to think that ALL the photos of the players, not just the colorful ones, look good. Is it appropriate for a sports body or employer to ban certain looks? Well, it depends. Is it racist? Maybe. If it were women being told that they can’t wear tight jeans and plunging necklines, would that be sexist? Maybe.

    I’m a bit confused about the rapper/hip-hop references. “Cedie” isn’t an African American male. Neither are you, for that matter. The pictures you posted referencing the NBA players supposedly as a reference to hiphop culture aren’t. The first picture of DWade (that’s what he’s referred to in our community, btw) looks like a simple shirt and trousers. If it’s a bit large, it’s probably because he’s a tall young man, has nothing whatsoever to do with hiphop.

    As for the other two pictures, well, one guy looks like he has on a tee shirt and jeans and a cap doing something in his personal life, and Kobe has on a jersey…not the Lakers…so he’s probably showing solidarity with the team whose colors those are…looks like maybe the Celtics. What’s hiphop about that?

    And, even if it was “hiphop” so what? If you or Cedie or anyone else doesn’t like it, then don’t wear it.

    Lastly, that first “comment” equating hiphop with hoodlumism really burns me. Those kind of comments are racist, and ridiculous.

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