Akil McLeod | Men's Fashion Blogger
Tell us about yourself?
My name is Akil McLeod and I am Founder and Creative Director of the men's fashion blog, DapperAdvisor.com. On my site, I blend men’s style inspiration with men’s style information, to provide practical style advice for those that are making the transition from college student to young professional.
How did you develop your own sense of style? who and what inspired you?
My style really took years for me to develop and I think it will continue to evolve as I get older. I was originally inspired to improve my style when I started my career in Higher Education as an Academic Advisor. I was 22 years old at the time and I was still finishing up my Masters program at SUNY Buffalo State. So in an effort to differentiate myself from a college student to a professional staff member, I decided to dress for the role I wanted and not the role I had. I wore a shirt and tie to class instead of my usual sneaker and hoodie outfits so that my professors and peers could see me in a different light. Another thing that inspired me was the response that I got from those around me. People started treating me differently when I wore a shirt and tie, they would open doors for me, address me as sir, and even start random conversations. Unfortunately, all of these things never happened when I wore Jordan's and Nike t-shirts.
I've noticed that men's clothes are expensive! How do you manage a healthy budget?
Clothes can definitely be very expensive, especially when you're first starting to build your wardrobe. However, a couple things that helped me is treating clothes as an investment and understanding that personal style is like a marathon and not a sprint. In terms of treating clothes as an investment, I always prefer spending a little more on certain things like shoes and outerwear because it will last a lot longer. For instance, a $180 pair of shoes will last twice as long as a $90 pair of shoes, but a $360 pair of shoes can last a lifetime. Also, when it comes to understanding that developing your style is a marathon and not a sprint, it really means that you have to think about making purchases that can last the test of time. That's why I try not to get caught up on trends and fast-fashion pieces. Instead, I always keep things classic and versatile so that I can wear my clothes 5 years from now if I really wanted to. Trust me, I'm sure a lot of guys will regret spending their money on those long t-shirts and $800 sneakers.
On your website, you mentioned that there is a lack of diversity within the male fashion blog industry, what role does your blog play in resolving that issue?
When I first got interested in style and building a professional wardrobe, it was almost impossible to search Google and find men that actually looked like me. Fortunately, that has changed quite a bit with the advent of social media and men's style blogs. However, my blog helps resolve that issue by showing others that young black men can indeed dress well AND be highly educated. In fact, you can even call it the new stereotype!
What advice do you have for young black boys who want to experiment with their style, but feel confined by the social/fashion norms within African American culture?
We are living in some serious times and as a result, you will definitely be judged and even stereotyped, because you're black. However, since we only get one chance to make a first impression, why not make it a good one? Be proud to present yourself well and don't be afraid to wear a suit every once in a while. Most importantly, don't worry about what others think because they might not be ready for it yet but trust me, they will be asking for your advice eventually!
What makes you original?
I am original simply because I am not afraid to be myself and live my truth. I am proud of the man that I am becoming and when I'm 80 years old I'll be happy to look back at my life knowing that I did things my way!