Whether it’s as a dope MC or a fashion forward style icon, there’s no doubt Raekwon will go down as one of the greatest to ever do it. Nearly twenty years after cementing his status as a fashion don by rocking an epically rare Polo Ralph Lauren “Snow Beach” pullover in the video for Wu Tang’s “Can It All Be So Simple”, Rae is still a sartorial trailblazer.
We recently caught up with Rae following the album release show for his excellent, new soul spiced LP, The Wild ahead of his tour with the Wu Tang Clan, and had him run down a few of his style philosophies for us. Just check out some of the rapper’s recent Instagram flicks, which could double as mini how to’s for anyone looking to perfect casual minimalism.
Raekwon’s style advice is way simple: You don’t need to own a lot of stuff, so long as every piece is top quality. So, it’s time to learn how you can also be effortlessly swaggy in six easy ways, Wu Tang style.
IT ALL STARTS WITH A CLEAN TEE
One thing my moms always told me before I left the house was “be sure you got a clean T-shirt on.” It sounded funny to me at the time, but now I realize that you can be basic and not have a lot of stuff and still look fly. Growing up, we weren’t in the type of area where people had a lot of money, so we had to make sure every piece was good quality and worked with the rest. To properly be the man, I think it’s just about getting the right basics, so that means a clean T-shirt, jeans that fit well and don’t bunch up at the bottom, some quality footwear and to top it off, a good leather. Also, I should mention that you gotta have a good haircut, real clean.
THE CLASSICS NEVER GO OUT OF STYLE
You should have at least one cashmere sweater in a basic color, for that rich look. In terms of footwear, you can never go wrong with a boot like the Wheat Timbs or for a more sporty look, some Nike Air Force 1 Uptowns, which we wore for damn near like 15 years straight back in the day. Another great look is Clarks, which you can dress up or down. The desert boots work nice for a cleaner, more polished look while the Wallabees always go with rugged jeans and a nice thin sweatshirt and a chain. All of these things are always on eBay and will always be good investments.”
AT THE OFFICE, WORK YOUR WAY UP FROM THE BOTTOM
When it comes to looking professional, you gotta have nice khakis, again nothing that bunches up at the bottom, and the right shoes. I’d say for a more casual office you can’t go wrong with some Stan Smiths or a New Balance. No stupid colors, just white or blue or black. For most any outfit, you need to get it right on the bottom and work your way up. Spend good money on shoes and pants, and then if you have some left over, get a more expensive shirt.
KEEP IT CASUALLY COOL ON DATE NIGHT
You want to look put together, but very natural. That means a nice outer layer, like a trench coat or a leather, and again, proper footwear and nice jeans. You can also add accessories like a clean military belt, or something with a big buckle on it. But to really top it off, you need to have a fresh haircut and you gotta smell good.
ACCESSORIZE WELL, SMELL BETTER
In terms of a watches, a heritage brand like Omega or Rolex will always look good on your wrist. But for me, coming up as a kid, Panerai were always my favorite because not everyone had one and they had a special look about them—and they lasted a real long time. And last but definitely not least; you gotta have a good smell about you. Cologne is key. For me, that’s Cartier Declaration.
WHEN IN DOUBT, KEEP IT MONOCHROMATIC
If you are strapped for time or just traveling a lot, wearing all black is always gonna work for you. It makes an impression in the day, and it works well at night for more of a club setting. When in doubt, just pack a lot of things that are the same color and you can change them out to create some new looks. That’s always been my philosophy on tour, and it worked out so well I applied it to my day to day.