Nana-Kofi Siriboe

You remember that “good, good friend” that I referenced in my Barns Courtney post? Well, he and I were having another conversation about well-dressed men (a surprisingly often conversation topic, actually) and he told me to look up a man named Kofi Siriboe. I did. I quickly made the executive decision to write another blog post because I found an outfit that I’m quite certain most men can pull off (regardless if they think they can or not).

Kofi Siriboe (more accurately: Nana-Kofi Siriboe) is a Ghana-American model and actor. He signed up with Wilhelmina Models and Vision Los Angeles to begin his modeling career, then began showing up in films and T.V. starting with The Longshots (released in 2008, directed by Fred Durst). Since then Kofi has had several roles in movies including Prom (2011), Whiplash (2014), Straight Outta Compton (2015) and Girls Trip (2017), as well as several repeating roles in television shows including Awkward (2014 – 2015) and Queen Sugar (2016 – present), which gave him attention (and several NAACP Image Award nominations).

Having nearly been selected as PEOPLE’S Sexiest Man Alive in 2017 (and during 2016 ESSENCE proclaimed him that very title), Kofi Siriboe has quickly cemented a legion of fans for his roles in both Queen Sugar and Girls Trip while also establishing himself as something of a fashion icon. I mean let’s be honest, the man’s outfit sense is impeccable. I was talking with Caleb (my good, good friend) and while we were fangirling, he sent me the picture I’ve attached below. That’s where the idea for this particular outfit set came from.

Now I have to be honest: most of the outfits that I’ve found this man in aren’t what I would call “normal” street wear. They’re a bit more flamboyant than what most men would be willing to wear out on the streets and I will not be dealing with those today (though I will probably come up with some variations of those outfits in the future, once I have more experience). This outfit was shot for Essence Magazine for the November 2017 issue, and the outfit in question’s components are listed below.

Photoshoot for Essence Magazine, November 2017
  • Sweater: Deaver Mohair sweater by Dim Mak ($475.00)
  • Pants: Levi’s 501 Taper Fit ($79.50)
  • Socks: Hugo Boss ($17.00)
  • Shoes: Vitale Monk Strap by Bruno Magli ($500.00)

Now I’m not expecting people to shell out nearly $500.00 for a sweater (unless of course you’re Tan France, in which case thank you for reading my blog!). No, as college students it’s quite hard for us to afford something quite that hefty. In fact, it’s nearly impossible for some of us to shell out that amount of money for textbooks at the beginning of the semester. So with that being the case, how are we going to put together an outfit that looks just as well thought and competent as this one?

It’s quite simple. We explore the concept of “hero pieces”. A term that I once heard on Queer Eye, meaning a piece of clothing that is a staple. It’s a piece of clothing that you own which can carry a whole outfit, something that ties it together. For this example, I’m going to go the less-obvious route and point out the pants.

Kofi Siriboe is wearing a plain pair of Levi’s 501’s (in a tapered fit). Something simple, clean and classic. A pair of pants that go with nearly everything that you can pull out of your wardrobe, and a pair of pants that won’t break your bank when you go to order them online. Since they fit correctly they force the eyes to pay attention to the rest of the outfit, drawing the eye out so that the observer notices that the entire look is well-thought and put together.

That being said, this blog will take something of a similar route to the previous one, and attempt to lay out several options for the pieces of clothing, none of which are as expensive as the one’s he’s wearing (save for the pants) but will ultimately achieve the same effect.

So, on to the outfit.

The Sweatshirt: Working from the top down (which let’s be real, is going to be the way that I do every single one of these), the first thing that we find is the sweater. This – more than anything else – is the statement piece. It’s the one that grabs the observer’s attention and is the “pop” of color that shows how well the whole outfit works. It’s not quite the hero piece (remember, that’s the one which ties the whole outfit together), but it serves to seize attention and serve as something of a talking point.

The sweater that Kofi Siriboe wears is from Dim Mak, a record label and lifestyle brand which was started by Steve Aoki (I swear, if you haven’t heard of him you should probably fix that), and was part of an extremely limited run, retailing for $475.00 and is currently completely sold out. Now, both of the sweaters I’m going to recommend are near the $100.00 dollar mark, but that’s because a good sweater is one of the most socially-diverse pieces of clothing you can own. Wear it wherever you want, and you (for the most part) won’t look out of place.

Now comes the definition of “mohair” wool. Derived from Angora goats (theories state the evolution of the goat began in Tibet, where then the Angora goats migrated to Turkey). This goat has a much thicker “shag” style coat, and produces wool that is much softer than traditional sheep’s wool, and has a special luster and sheen as well. Being such a prized textile, it is used in high-end clothing. If you’d like to read more on the production/history of this particular textile, there’s a plethora of online sources that detail the history and production of this extraordinary fabric.

  • NNO7 Ed Block 6370 Crewneck Wool Blend Sweater: What I love about this sweater is the sheer simplicity of it. Whereas the one Kofi wears in his press shoot has colors and patterns and a lot of interest, this sweater relishes in the simple color-blocked pattern running horizontally across the torso and the elegant, slimming fit. The colors themselves are simple (black near the shoulders, light brown and then finally tan around the bottom of the torso), meaning that this sweater works best with a pair of dark blue denim pants, preferably in a slim fit (I’ll talk about that later). It should also be noted that this sweater is not mohair, but rather a blend of wool types.
  • Marine Layer Colorblock Crewneck Sweatshirt: So I guess I’ve decided to make two different outfits (that’s definitely going to be a theme for me, so I apologize), and I found this sweatshirt while I was shopping for an outfit this winter. For a long time I’ve been searching for the right way to introduce more pastel colors to my wardrobe – you know, this was before I wrote my blog post on confidence – and this sweater grabbed my attention right away. It wasn’t the material it was made out of (in this case, 60% cotton, 40% polyester), but rather the colors. I loved the way the pink stripe offset the light beige at the bottom and the dark navy blue at the top. It would work perfectly with either a light blue jean or a dark grey pant (just make sure they’re slim fit).

Before we move to the next section of this outfit, let’s address one more time the idea of “pants”. With a sweater (admittedly, a larger piece that gives the illusion of more bulk at the top of a person) it is usually much better to wear a pant with at least some type of taper. That way you don’t look like a small child dressing in his father’s clothes. A good fit streamlines the outfit to the point that it looks deliberate, not that you just got lucky.

The Undershirt: Unfortunately, this is the one piece of the outfit that we can’t see. I understand that – because this is a modeling shoot – it’s more than likely that he’s not wearing anything under that sweater, but in a practical world that wouldn’t make sense. Wool isn’t the most comfortable thing (especially when it gets colder and some of the sweaters ya’ll are going to find will let wind pass through quite easily.

That being said, there’s an easy solution (and one that is quite applicable in other realms of fashion as well). They’re called base layers.

Since this blog focuses on “ideal” fashion choices and not ones that are the most practical for everyone, when I mention base layers ya’ll should immediately think about merino wool (damn, I guess we’re talking a lot about wool today). Merino wool is produced primarily in Australia – though that is by no means the only place – after having the first merino sheep introduced to the country in 1797. The already selectively-bred sheep underwent further breeding and soon the production of high-grade merino wool was one of the main exports of the country. Since then it’s become a high-fashion staple as well as enjoying a niche market with more utilitarian industries (i.e. manual labor, outdoor recreation, military, etc.) for it’s naturally anti-microbial properties as well as amazing natural moisture-wicking.

  • Icebreaker Anatomica Long-Sleeve Crew: When we begin to talk about base layers, personal preference plays a large part of the pieces that I’ll begin to recommend. Personally I’ve fallen in love with Icebreaker’s Anatomica crewneck, specifically because the wool blend they use won’t overheat quickly. Granted, I’m designing this outfit for colder temperatures (i.e. fall or early spring), but this merino wool base layer will help store heat while still remaining breathable and comfortable under the sweater.

Like I said above, the search for the right base layers is a deeply personal one, but the one piece of information you need is that 150-weight merino wool is going to be your friend. Aside from that, go nuts.

The Pants: OK, unless you have the legs of a Greek Olympian it’s more than likely that your pants won’t fit the same way as Kofi’s. Let’s be real: actors have the time and money to make sure they can work out all day, every day. That doesn’t limit us to badly-fitting pants however. You wanna know how that person at work has clothes that seem to fit perfectly no matter what season it is? I’ll tell you.

It’s because they have a tailor. Boom. Done. Argument Over. A tailor should quickly become one of your best friends once you leave college/high school simply because they can take nearly any piece of clothing you own (pants, a blazer, a suit, a dress shirt, etc.) and make it look like it was custom-fitted for your body. That’s the case with any pair of pants that you buy. You should get them fitted properly so that they show off your figure. That doesn’t mean skinny fit, but it does imply that your pants should have some sort of taper just to show off the legs that you’ve been given.

  • Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Men’s Jeans: I know, I’ve talked about these before. But they’re pretty much the only jeans you’ll ever need! I’m also attempting to stay as close to the reference photo as possible, and since we aren’t all built like Kofi, I’m going to recommend the 511’s. This means that the jean will be slim from hip all the way through the leg to the ankle. Something that I also love from Levi’s is that they are incredibly committed to using less water in the finishing process. It isn’t perfect by any means, but they are committed to using less water (and have a promise to make 80% of their products using Water>Less technology) by 2021.

The Shoes: In the photo attached above, Kofi is wearing a style of dress shoe commonly called “monkstrap”. Coming from when monks would wear double-strapped sandals, these shoes evolved when those same monks realized that they didn’t want to do yard work in open-toe sandals (go figure). That led to the development of close-toed shoes and, much later, the resurgence of the monkstrap shoe as a common and sensible choice for the modern businessman sometime during the 20th century.

Since the shoes above are single-strap, we’re going to choose an example of black, single-buckle shoes (copying the style of the picture above) to complete the first look. After that, I’m going to attach another pair of sneakers. Since this outfit sits right on the edge of “business” and “casual”, sneakers are certainly not an option which should be thrown away out of hand.

One more note before we get to the shoes: figure out what socks you should wear. The dressier shoes should have a pair of tall, grey socks to add a tiny bit of depth (not black, because then it will just look uniform), while the sneakers should have a pair of no-show socks worn underneath, lending it a much more comfortable, laid-back vibe.

  • Florsheim Belfast Single Strap Monk Shoe: These shoes are elegant. Since they’re a monk strap, no laces hold the shoe closed. The clasp is adjustable, affording the wearer some levels of adjustment should the shoe become uncomfortable over time. These shoes come out of the box broken in, so that they’re comfortable to wear for longer events without having to spend the time wearing them prior to ensure that they’re comfortable. Also, most monk strap shoes on the market are well over $200.00, so with this option we’re keeping things more affordable and still dressed-up.
  • Vans Classic Tumble ComfyCush Old Skool: Taking a sharp left out of “nice, elegant, cocktail party clothing” and heading off towards “grungy sk8r-boi”, the classic Vans profile adds a level of bravado to an outfit that dress shoes simply can’t. With these, you’d do best to avoid wearing them in any sort of business casual even, keeping them safe for walking around town or getting coffee with friends (or on a study date). The ComfyCush sole within these shoes also helps with this, keeping a level of cushion for a much longer period of time than some of the other, more basic Vans models. When you’re wearing these shoes, you’ll want to cuff the bottom of the jeans. It will add a tiny bit of flair to the outfit overall, and keep things clean enough for a chilly fall day with friends.

These outfits were an absolute joy to put together, keeping me busy for hours as I tried to track down sweaters, the correct color and cut jeans, researching base layers and trying to find ways to make sure the shoes work.

Photoshoot Look: NNO7 Ed Block 6370 Crewneck Wool Blend Sweater, Icebreaker Anatomica Long-Sleeve Crew, Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Men’s Jeans, Florsheim Belfast Single Strap Monk Shoe

Around-Town Outfit: Marine Layer Colorblock Crewneck Sweatshirt, Icebreaker Anatomica Long-Sleeve Crew, Levi’s 511 Slim Fit Men’s Jeans, Classic Tumble ComfyCush Old Skool

The goal of this blog post was slightly different from the previous “celebrity shot”, in that this one does attempt to tell the reader what to wear (at least a little bit more). That’s purely because of the way that sweaters tends to fit. They’re larger pieces, looking oversize just because of the way they’re designed, so the pants and shoes have to work to keep the rest of the outfit from looking too big. That’s why I’ve recommended slim/taper fit pants and shoes don’t add too much bulk (i.e. dress shoes and sneakers). Everything is slimmed down and clean, meaning you could wear this outfit to a nice dinner with a special someone or to hang out with family once this quarantine is over. Take your pick.

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