Style Icon: Dress Like Rocco Katastrophe

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Rapper, producer, and co-creator of the wildly popular trans male quarterly print magazine, Original PlumbingRocco “Katastrophe” Kayiatos has a killer eye for style that is on par with his ability to successfully merge art, advocacy, and business. He describes his style as a “balance between classic old man and teenage thug.” Rocco has one of those “je ne se quoi” urban styles that is indefinable, often imitated, but never duplicated. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take a couple of pointers from him.

If you like…

Here’s the thing about fashion icons like Rocco. Those with a unique and coveted style don’t give up their fashion secrets easy. Why would they when defining and refining your style is a personal journey that can’t be bought at the Gap? When I asked Rocco for specific shopping suggestions, he replied, “I have some favorite online shopping spots, but I don’t wanna tell.” He explained further, “I am also a stickler for authenticity, like I prefer a bow tie you have to tie yourself, [and] I don’t care for fake vintage rock t-shirts. I remember when Hot Topic came into existence and I nearly lost my mind. I couldn’t believe that people could buy their teenage rebellion in the mall. I was horrified. ” Spoken like someone who truly appreciates fashion as an art form that is not to be, as Amanda Brooks once said, “studied and copied to the point of mainstream assimilation.”

Music video for Rocco’s track “Let Me Go.”

So, what advice does Rocco have to offer? Well, first is to give your style some thought. “Most days, before I approach getting dressed, I like to think of my point of fashion so I can narrow down what part of my closet I will be dealing with. Even when I am just wearing something basic, like a white tee and jeans, I still have a narrative attached to it,” he says.

Also, Rocco demonstrates that you can use outside inspiration in defining your personal style. “I read fashion blogs regularly and have some of my own fashion icons that I look to for inspiration and reference, like Pharrell Williams and Ernest Hemingway.”

And for those of you looking to skimp on the shopping, Rocco says, “I shop everywhere and constantly. I travel a lot, so I get to shop at boutiques and thrift stores all over America. I love things that are limited and not easily attained. I love hunting for things that seem special and unique.”

As far as specific store recommendations, Rocco likes Sir New York (also one of our favorites), which designs “the cutest tank tops ever!” He also recommends www.tallmenshoes.com  for dress shoes; they carry shoes for small feet and short dudes that can add up to 4″ in height, as well as “good looking wingtips.” He adds, “Jeans, I pretty much stick with Levi’s 510 or 511, but, I did just get the nicest pair of jeans from Raleigh Denim.” Also, kids Nikes – “just as cute as the adults [but] 2/3 the price!”

Now for dapperQ’s suggestions. If Rocco’s style inspires you, then you must write your own personal fashion narrative and then research, sniff, hunt, thrift, yard sale, and flea to achieve a unique version of “Rocco swag” made just for you. It may sound tedious, but you can certainly make a bros hunting date out of shopping. Just look at the fun that cool kids Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs from Street Etiquette are having on their day of thrifting.

Big cities like New York are packed with amazing thrift and curated second hand shops, as well as weekend flea markets. But, finally the small city has a fashion advantage. Thrifting for quality pieces has become a trend in larger cities, which has driven prices up. In smaller cities, most folks are shopping at the mall, so flea markets and thrift stores are not frequented as often and are thus offering items at dirt cheap prices.

Anita Dolce Vita

Fashion and culture blogger featured in Newsweek's Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Curve, Autostraddle, MTV/LOGO's AfterEllen, SF Weekly, Globe & Mail, DIVA, GO Mag, Beijing Review, and Bosnia's Manjine.BA. Education/Credentials: University of New Mexico (B.A., magna cum laude); New York University (MPA, top marks); SUNY Downstate Medical Center (BSN, cum laude); NYS RN.

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