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The Story Behind The Style - Harlem


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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Story Behind The Style - Harlem

I had been in Harlem for a few hours and just hadn't found anything to shoot. I finally gave up and decided to head back to Soho. After walking a few blocks down Madison Ave ,around 120th street, I see this gentleman - I literally stop in my tracks. I introduce myself and ask to photograph him. He says yes in a voice that sounds exactly like Ray Charles speaking voice. As I'm shooting he is telling me proudly about his community work and an upcoming Harlem bike race he is helping to organize. As I finish shooting I ask him about the suit he is wearing. I guess I was expecting to hear something about how he bought the suit back in the 70's and has been wearing it every Sunday since then. That is definitely not the story I got.

"I got this suit in 1990, I was dealing drugs then and one of the girls I sold drugs to threw this suit at me as payment. She would usually steal $20 or $30 bucks and give me that but this time she just threw this suit at me"

I can't make this stuff up, I can only hope to remember it until I can write it down. His story was not hard to remember.

Comments on "The Story Behind The Style - Harlem"


Blogger argos said ... (8:15 AM) : 

proof that clothing is a form of currency.

Those shoes...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:42 AM) : 

He looked dandy! One of the most well-dressed seniors I've seen... The shoes are really unique. I'm really digging the straw hat.


Blogger Mike Paget said ... (8:49 AM) : 

Those shoes are unreal - is that white out, or polish?


Blogger Francois said ... (10:08 AM) : 

Amazing story, before long they'll make a film out of your blog!


Blogger positive_negative said ... (10:18 AM) : 

Wow, I don't know what to say about that other than it caught me off guard that someone as polished as he with the face of everyone's beloved grandfather sold drugs of all things more than a decade ago.


Blogger Gina said ... (10:31 AM) : 

Great story. Great photos!


Blogger The G Manifesto said ... (11:44 AM) : 

smooth style....thats really all there is to say.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:53 AM) : 

not only does he look like a gent , but the truth of his life makes the suit that much better... and he's more legit than many other "frauds" in suits


Blogger you've got everything now said ... (12:26 PM) : 

carpe diem shoes? gotta keep the pimp hand strong!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:12 PM) : 

He's absolutely dashing. The story and photo prove that proper dressing is less about pricey labels and such, and more about self-esteem. I was struck not by the suit, which is nonetheless lovely on him, but by that amazing face and the inherent dignity in his posture. Simply amazing.

And bravo to The Sartorialist for his excellent eye and robust skills as a photographer. Not enough has been said about the routinely excellent and sumptuous photographs on display here.


Blogger you've got everything now said ... (3:41 PM) : 

ps could the hem of those pants be any more perfect????


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:49 PM) : 

wow...people never fail to surprise you.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:11 PM) : 

The hem on the pants are insane.

And it looks like white shoe polish on the shoes.

Now I am wondering how the drug addict girl who used it as payment got the suit to begin with!



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:41 PM) : 

please, i just wanna know what you mean by "carpe diem shoes". English is my third language, that's why, even though i know the carpe diem "style" in poems, is it just to say that its old yet nice style of shows, just wondering


Blogger Natalie said ... (6:23 PM) : 

What a great story. And he where's the suit well.


Blogger JA Firebrand said ... (8:19 PM) : 

shocking that there were no other gems in harlem but this makes up for it - 10 folk. ah, if only I could decide which is more memorable, the story or the shoes. the suit and the hat are smooth for days on end...


Blogger Gigi said ... (8:19 PM) : 

Very dapper. Love the story!


Blogger jamyla / oyin mama said ... (9:37 PM) : 

WOW!! i wasn't expecting that, either.


Blogger Anastasia said ... (9:50 PM) : 

what a cool man - great suit, it sits so well on him! he looks proud in it!
that white polish is caked on isnt it??!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:07 PM) : 

this is the best post i've read so far on this blog.

love the shoes...


Blogger Fnarf said ... (10:44 PM) : 

It definitely looks like a pair of brown shoes that have been turned into two-tones at home with white-out. I don't think regular white polish cakes on that thick. Great look, though. That hat is a freak.


Blogger mingster said ... (1:14 AM) : 

i love his glasses, i wonder if there's a story behind them as well


Blogger don't quote me on this said ... (2:56 AM) : 

Look at that, it fit too!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:35 AM) : 


like him a lot!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:24 AM) : 

Pharm techs in Walgreens don't dress this well, so I'm guessing this guy is a rep for Pfizer. What a marvellous story. I didn't know Medicaid allowed a barter option.

The things you learn on the net these days, and on a fashion blog, no less.

I dig the do-it-yourself shoes.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:10 PM) : 

WOW! Another great pic. I completely agree with anonymous_1:12: It's all about the carriage of the man.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:56 AM) : 

He looks pretty sharp, but I still can't enjoy that knowing that he is wearing a stolen suit which he got by wrecking people's lives. What a shame.


Blogger Jammie said ... (3:14 AM) : 



Blogger MARIA H said ... (8:18 PM) : 

Elegant outfit, funky story; very Harlem.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:49 AM) : 

I sure like the suit. Harlem is a long history of style, it is the way we dressed that made or broke our spirits often.Where he made his living not so nice,but many things we did was not. The clothing thing is not a surprise to us who lived in the Harlem world of things.The story behind the style a nice touch.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:54 AM) : 

this is by far your best story. i miss your trips to harlem and brooklyn.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:01 PM) : 

Harlem man dressing to kill, cleaner then the board of health; Harlem man with his James Brown kind of taylored look a dream lover kind of looking guy. He dressed his ass off and made style a fashion, Harlem man isn't he fly as sharp as a razor blade's edge.
Harlem is a setting of, and for many delights sure enough clothing is a plus in the sight of the beholder of styles and grace and in that man of Harlem dressed up look you captured it the Bird, The Cat, the Flash at one of its best.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:23 PM) : 

i really hope his story about the suit is true.


Blogger apk said ... (1:10 AM) : 

all you people who are shocked about this pleasant old grandfather selling drugs need to wake up and snap out of your sheltered lives..this is reality for people without money having grown up in a culture and neighborhood where it like candy


Blogger Jazzbuff630 said ... (5:52 PM) : 

Is this the only guy in Harlem you could find on that day? This is the kind of character that "amuses" the people from foreign lands that come to visit us uptown. What about the Harlem natives who are the investment bankers, lawyers,executives, etc. who are "clean" as a mofo every day? I sit on the bus every day
on my way to work, and see the look of shock on the people who get on the bus further downtown. Yeah, baby, that's Purple Label.
And it didn't fall off a truck.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:00 AM) : 



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:37 AM) : 

this story just made my day!
it is amazing!
during wonderful days i go to my office (the brewery) out of city through wonderful chestnuts streets, and for next 8-9h. sit here at the promo zone.
your shots are my sunny window into the world!
with love from kiev,


Anonymous Mike Carreiro said ... (2:58 AM) : 

Super stylish. I wonder if the whiteout is covering up a miss spelled word.


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