Five years ago, if you’d have asked us to tell you who or what A$AP Rocky was, we’d have guessed it was a new straight-to-DVD take on Sly Stallone’s boxer saga.
In 2016, however, all eyes are on the 27-year-old rapper straight outta Harlem. From dealing drugs to major record deals, Rocky’s shot to fame both for his critically acclaimed verses and his much-aped personal style. Part-street Goth ninja, part-high fashion killa, his ability to mix cult streetwear garments with top-tier designer labels is as enviable as his knack for spitting bars.
Apart from that one dodgy collaboration attempt – for which we probably berated him a little too harshly – it’s been pretty much plain sailing for A$AP, who’s proved (with the help of stylist Matthew Henson) that he’s every inch the modern-day style icon.
Want to look fire? Take your cue from Harlem’s finest.
Get (The Right) Fit
We’ve come a long way from 1990s hip-hop’s more is more approach, which – although evident in mounds of chains and crosses that could double as murder weapons – also extended to rappers’ choice of fit. XXL sizing was as integral to being a credible MC as making bread. Vanilla Ice anyone?
A$AP Rocky’s clothes, however, fit, and they fit well. And so should yours. We’re all for a slightly roomier leg, a slouchy overcoat or a longline tee but there’s a line between laid-back cuts and drowning in fabric.
Take your cue from Flacko and dress for your body shape. That means no mile-long swathes of fabric if you’re slight, and no skintight, postage stamp-sized T-shirts if you’re carry a few too many pounds.
Accessories Are Everything
Look past A$AP’s more blindingly obvious (yes, those diamond grills) methods of self-adornment and you’ll find a couple of universally valuable accessorising lessons worth heeding.
Namely, aim to be a master of many accessories, not just one. Whether a cap or beanie, circular gold-rimmed sunglasses or heavy black angular acetate shades, there’s seemingly no accessory Rocky can’t pull off.
That’s not an invitation to throw on everything and the kitchen sink at once, though. Think of accessories like rings, watches, chains and sunglasses as a means of putting meat on your look, stacking them up if your clothing skews minimal and dialling them down if your threads are already doing enough talking. Easy does it.
All-Black Works, Always
Something of an unofficial uniform for A$AP, all-black-everything isn’t just a dress code, it’s damn near a sartorial religion.
Rocky doesn’t just fall back on all-black when all else fails, he worships at its altar, turning monochrome dressing into an art form whether turned out in sharp tailoring or bust-up jeans and a bomber.
Of course, he’s not the first. Rock stars and rappers have hailed black-on-black for years, taking advantage of the fact that no matter how you riff on it, it’s pretty hard to mess it up. (Especially useful when you’re living out of a suitcase.)
So why exactly is all-black the best thing since this really weird interview with A$AP? Well, because it’s the ultimate blank canvas. Want to strap some bling on your wrists? It’s easy with an all-black base. Got a brightly coloured bomber or a pair of statement trainers you want to give some airtime? A$AP’s shown it’s a cinch on both counts.
Strip your look back to black and you’ll be able to pull off almost anything.
But Fear No Colours
OK, so you’ve successfully avoided looking like Mr. Motivator so far in life (congrats), but can you really get away with yet another season decked out solely in navy, black and white? Probably, but it won’t win you a podium position.
Step forward A$AP, the man who – when not acing all-black – gives masterclasses in wearing colour without looking like a clown (admittedly, he’d probably make pretty cool clown).
Rocky knows the importance of grounding a look when straying into unfamiliar territory, so he anchors his ballsy Balenciaga florals in ‘Wild For The Night’ with white shorts and a baseball cap, and sets off light neutral pieces against a background of black for red carpet events.
The key to pulling off bright colour is muting everything else you’re wearing it with. So if you’re pushing the boat out with your outfit’s palette, make sure it’s cushioned with shades less likely to steal the show.
And please, one eye-catching colour at a time. You’re not a Rubik’s cube.
(Good) 1990s Vibes
If you’re old enough to remember eyebrow piercings, frosted tips and adidas popper pants, then you’ve probably watched bemused as menswear’s most important designers have mined the decade for inspiration over the past couple of years.
But sidestep all the bad and the ugly and you’ll see the 1990s gave us a few styles worth salvaging. Make like A$AP and channel the finer moments of the decade that style – almost – forgot. Take your denim a tone lighter, wear your snapback backwards and mix a little grunge with your minimalism with a classic flannel shirt.
Make Your Presence Felt
As a self-described “pretty motherf*cker”, A$AP isn’t exactly the epitome of modesty. Which is good, because in his game wallflowers finish last.
Hold up. We’re not suggesting you march around calling yourself beautiful. Nor are we suggesting you try to make winter sports headwear happen. But what we would recommend is tapping a little of Flacko’s self-belief – so next time you’re not convinced that printed shirt looks good, just ask yourself what would A$AP do? (Look in the mirror and call himself ‘pretty’, probably.)
Is A$AP killing it? Or is there no need for Kanye to quake in his Yeezys just yet?
Drop your thoughts below.