Famous Lagos clothier and creative head of the Texen brand, Mr. Tex Egbedi is one of the old hands in clothing business in Nigeria. Dressing tastefully has always been a strong point for him. With the changing times and with the way trendy is pushing against the boundaries of classic, we sought his advice on how best to wear men’s clothes and accessories.
Should men wear socks with traditional outfit?
I am going to answer your question in such a sensible way so that people can use their discretion to decide on how they want to dress. I don’t want to be so hard because one thing you must understand is that there is so much laxity in fashion-particularly men’s fashion. Today people wear burgundy blazers. When fashion was very conservative, nobody would touch that but today, people are wearing them and they are well worn, well received and well applauded.
To answer your question, here in the south, I don’t imagine anyone wearing the Urhobo or Itsekiri traditional outfit and wearing a lace up shoe or socks. That will be outrageous and even nauseating. I wouldn’t recommend it.
Then for the Yorubas of the south west, a lot of them have been so used to wearing their garments right. I give it to them because style has been with them. If you look at old pictures of somebody like late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, he was always well put together. They know that when they wear the agbada, they wear shoes without socks. Some of them especially the Moslem Yorubas now borrow from the north and wear mules. The Core Christian Yorubas wear slip-ons a lot, loafers, and Pam sandals.
In the south south, it is advisable to wear your traditional outfit with a pair of loafers without socks. And if you are wearing the senator suit, the loafers and monk strap will do. And you know this outfit has been elevated to the status of a universal outfit and those who wear it now, wants to wear it in expensive fabrics like the pin stripe. I wouldn’t expect anybody who takes his time to dress in such expensive outfit would want to diminish the look by wearing ordinary slippers! Your shoes are so strong in your total outlook. If you are going out to a serious wedding and you decide to wear slippers or sandals because you want to appear casual, it is acceptable but nowhere should your feet be seen tucked in socks!
Socks are now popping colours. Do you subscribe to it especially with formal suit?
You must accept the fact that boundaries have come down and people are beginning to make adjustment. Now you are talking about being conservatively stylish. In the past, it was not allowed. If a guy is wearing red it has to be subtle. Age appropriateness is something I will like to drive in because my definition of a well- dressed man is someone who knows what to wear and when. If a guy belongs to a certain profession, whether at work or relaxing, he will have to stick to colours that are subtle. And it also applies to you as you get older and more mature. You see, it is expected that all these people who wear trendy things as they grow older, they will mature into wearing classic styles. It comes with age.
We are talking about timeless serious garments here. I always tell my house designers that for every colour, there is a feminine and masculine shade. Look at a colour like burgundy, burgundy today is no longer the fire red that it used to be. It’s something like cognac, deep red. When a guy wears this, it’s okay. With such colours, you can wear them with blue suits not necessarily light shades. Here in Texen, we know our clients and their psyche with regards to style. Many of them would not wear those loud colours. It has to be toned down.
What are the major classic colours for suits and how far can you stretch boundaries to accommodate trend?
You can allow versatility in colours more with blazers not suits; burgundy blazers, margarine blazers etc it all depends on how you are able to keep things together- the shirt, the trouser, the tie so that it can be an interesting and attractive mix when people look at you. Some people are naturally good at dressing well. Some others take time to seek advice when they come to shop. It takes a lot of courage and confidence for someone to say, teach me.
With suits, we are still hemmed in a lot to the basic colours of black, navy blue, midnight blue, brown, beige and grey but grey has several shades. I watched an award ceremony recently and the compere had a red suit on. Frankly speaking, maybe because I am in the business, I admired him for breaking out of the convention of black and brown. But I also know that that such suit has a very short life span. But for that specific show, it was okay. I also met somebody at a dinner who wore a purple suit. I liked it under the night light but I’m afraid you wouldn’t want to wear that in the day time. So if you are going to stray out of these colours, you have to be very careful where you are wearing them to. They could be acceptable in some of these awards ceremonies, entertainment shows etc, but for a more sober show, business dinners, it might just be out of place.
Let’s look at bow ties, what are the rules of the game?
With bow ties, we have two different types, the self knot and the knotted bow ties. But a lot of people tell you they prefer knotting the tie themselves because it is swanker to know how to knot it. I agree with them because this way, you get the size you want if you don’t want the tie to wear you. And today, makers of ties ought to know that the tie mustn’t stretch beyond the edges of your eyes. If you want to get your bow tie right, you also want to consider your natural features; your neck height, your face, your chest etc. Some of these knotted bow ties don’t fit everybody. It should hang down from around the edges of your eyes. And if you are able to knot your ties, I think people respect you. I get that kind of respect.
In sophisticated parties, cocktails, if you take off your bow tie, it shows you are done for the day you get some kind of respect.
Bow tie is becoming a bold and respected trend in this country. I like it when I see the new generation wearing bow ties; people like OC Ukeje. For others bow ties have become their signature style; people like Mr. Biodun Shobanjo, Mr. Chris Ogbechie, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi etc.
What are the rules for shoes and belts?
The first rule for shoes and belts is that they have to be the same. There is no two ways about it. The textures can be different one can be leather and the other exotic skin but the colours must be the same. Also, we should know the kind of belt head to wear for suits. Belt with the big heads are not suitable for suits.
Secondly, you can’t wear belts and suspenders. You have to choose one. I get very upset when I see people dress that way. Whether you are a comedian or a governor, you should ask questions. It will build your knowledge base.
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