Dress Smart – dapperQ Academics

Inspired by “Black Dandies Fashion New Academic Identities,” our new series “Dress Smart” will be featuring masculine-of-center genderqueer and transmasculine dapperQ academics.

“‘Stylin’ out.’ That’s how Monica L. Miller, an associate professor of English at Barnard College, describes the way black people have used dress to expand definitions of blackness, gender, and sexuality. Men in particular have “styled their way from slaves to dignified human beings,” she writes in Slaves to Fashion (Duke University Press, 2009).
The first book-length study of black dandyism, Miller’s work is part of a growing scholarly interest in how clothes fashion our lives. It also signals the blossoming of black dandyism—fedoras, silk ascots, flashy socks—on the streets of major cities. Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Outkast’s Andre 3000 have made it cool to rap in Polo shirts, bow ties, nerd glasses, and boat shoes. The NBA’s LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Kevin Durant pull off dandyish without being pretentious. And now black dandyism is trending in the halls of academe.” – Stacy Patton via Black Dandies Fashion New Academic Identities.
In our third installment of “Dress Smart,” we’re showcasing the dapper stylings of PhD candidate Kai M. Green:


Kai Greene1
Outfit Details:
Green sweater with zip-up collar from The Gap; Blue and white checkered button-down shirt from The Gap; Grey beenie from H&M; Beige Crate jeans from Oakland’s very own Black Queer owned Show and Tell Concept Shop; Green and white Nike Dunks from the Nike Outlet
My style is a combination of Cali swag, New England Prep, and Church Boi. I have always liked to look good. My favorite times of the year were when me and my mom would go to pick out our Easter outfits—this was a serious event because whatever you wore to church on Easter would surely be the outfit preserved in photo albums for years to come. If you weren’t on point, you’d better believe family wasn’t going to let you forget, “that one year when you came out looking a hot mess.”


Outfit Details:
American Rag slim-fit black corduroy jacket from Macy’s; Level Ten black and white design shirt from Macy’s; Polka dot bow tie from Ross Dress For Less

My father has the style of a smooth OG. His pretty always mattered to him and he took a lot of time posing and talking to himself in the mirror. He showed me how to do it—how to look good and how looking good may not always, but can sometimes make you feel good.
A lot of times poor people and people of color get berated for not having our “priorities” in order when it comes to our finances. Why do you look so good? Why do you look so nice if you’re poor? The assumption being that if you have limited finances you don’t get the privilege of thinking about your personal aesthetic.

Kai Green2

Outfit Details:
Green Beenie from Target; H&M green sweater from Buffalo Exchange; Boots by Fossil from Fossil Outlet; Levis jean shirt from Buffalo Exchange
I dress for less, but always to impress; to impress upon myself that my body, queer, trans, Black, and ever-changing, is worth adoration and the adornment of my choosing. Us Black, queer, POC have always challenged the status quo when it comes to fashion. We have always taken things that dominant society despises and we deem them beautiful, like the Afro, or our Black skin period.


Kai Green3
Outfit Details:
Teal v-neck shirt by Alfani from Macy’s; Charcoal red plaid vest by Sovereign Code from Macy’s; Grey Windsor cap from The Gap; Bklyn Boihood “Boi” pin; Grey scarf by Unica from LA Fashion District; Reading Kara Keeling’s Book, “The Witch’s Flight: The Cinematic, the Black Femme, and the Image of Common Sense”
Fashion changes just like we do, I have always liked bright colors and bow ties, I have been known to do a lot of color coordinating, but as I have gotten older and just a bit more swag, I have become more comfortable with and excited about mixing things up in terms of color patterns.
My staple wardrobe item used to be the sweater vest which I held on to like some folks held on (and some still hold on) to the Jheri curl. The sweater vest held for me the essence of where I came from and how I was raised which was about 50% prep school (I did go to a boarding prep school in New England) and 50% church boi. (I did grow up in and still go to Black evangelical church in Oakland.)
Kai Green4
Outfit Details:
Red beenie from H&M; Checkered Orange and white shirt from Old Navy; Red dress slacks from Express Men; Black leather dress shoes from Aldo
I don’t like jewelry other than earrings, which I keep simple, either one or two stud earrings at anytime. I spend less time on jewelry and more time on ties, bow ties, scarves, and suspenders—Those are some of my favorite things. You can make anything pop with the right accessories.I spend a lot of time in academic settings and like many of my other comrades; I struggle with being in the University, but not of it. Our bodies as queer POC are always already under some of the most harshest scrutinizing from administrators, students, and colleagues.  My fashion, like the way I move through academic spaces, takes pieces of what is deemed appropriate professional attire, and then I like to dirty it a bit. And by dirtying it, I mean I make it more beautiful by adding a little spice—you might call this a dialectical approach to fashion.
Kai Green5
Outfit Details:
Levis jean jacket from Ross Dress For Less; Orange knitted bow tie by  Krochet Kids International from Oakland’s very own Black Queer owned Show and Tell Concept Shop; Blue and white checkered button-down shirt from The Gap; Orange wool sweater from Target.Bio: Kai M. Green is a filmmaker and a spoken word poet who examines through film and poetry questions of gendered and racialized violence. His most recent film, “It Gets Messy in Here,” is a 32-minute short that examines the lives of transgender men and masculine identified women of color and their bathroom experiences. Kai is a PhD candidate in the department of American Studies and Ethnicity at The University of Southern California. He is currently writing a dissertation that will serve as one historical/ethnographic account of Black LGBT lives in Los Angeles. Kai is committed to creating consciousness raising art and scholarship. You can also find a copy of my review of Monica Miller’s Book by visiting clgbthistory.org.

*All photos except for the bowtie photo in Photo ½ and photo 6/7 were taken by Shot Appeal Photography

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