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Akin Bethea Teaches Clients How to Dress for Impact

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Photo by Joe Del Tufo

Akin Bethea, 33, of Wilmington, is an image consultant skilled in making a memorable impression through style choices.

Describe your style.

Raw, creative and unique.

Your mission:

We focus on exuding the highest level of self-confidence in every client we style. I am also a creative director and tastemaker for Atypical Society, which helps emerging creatives and small businesses connect with their target audience.

Your introduction to fashion:

It’s always been part of the fabric of my life. My grandfather owned a boutique on South Street in Philly. He had a very African, ethnic-inspired wardrobe, with lots of patterns. My grandmom is an artist who designed and sewed her own clothes. My mom has great style and dressed me in corduroys, loafers and sweaters when I was little. I didn’t dress like the typical neighborhood kid. And I modeled from the time I was 15 until I was 23.

Your top three style icons:

Rappers and composers Andre 3000, Fonzworth Bentley and Kanye West.

Akin Bethea

Akin Bethea

Where do you shop?

I’m a thrifter because I like vintage clothes, especially Retrospect in Philadelphia for 1970s fashions. And, of course, our local Goodwill and Salvation Army stores. I also love COS, for their tailoring.

Wardrobe item every man should own:

A tailored suit. Black, navy blue or charcoal gray.

What’s worth the splurge?

Gaudy rings. I have some really dope rings, including a pyramid ring and an Indian chief ring. I am looking for my boombox ring, which I unfortunately misplaced. And my Del Toro platinum silver loafers, Italian-made.

What’s the oldest item in your closet?

My purple Aztec-print poncho from the 1970s. Original wool, heavy and well-crafted. I found it at Retrospective. Every time I wear it, people turn their heads.

Your best-ever wardrobe find:

From Zara, a one-piece black romper suit that looks like a karate gi, with an asymmetric front cut. I bought it in 2015 and I will keep it as long as I can fit into it.

Best grooming tip:

Invest in beard oil, beard wash [and] beard conditioner. And a wooden beard comb. Moroccan oil gives a man a glow.

Who’s the sexiest man alive?

The model and actor Tyson Beckford. He transcends gender, race and age. He has it, no matter what.

Fashion no-no:

The wrong jeans with the wrong shoe type. Boot-cut jeans with sneakers drives me crazy. It doesn’t sit right. Plus, oversized suit jackets. C’mon, men. Get it tailored.

Tips for caring for clothes:

Know which items to fold and which items to hang up. Fold jeans, sweaters [and] T-shirts. Hang up trousers, jackets [and] shirts.

How many pairs of shoes does a man really need?

I recently gave away a lot of shoes—at least 60 pairs. Now I have about 50 pairs, although there are only about 15 pairs I wear regularly.

Favorite fragrance:

YSL for men. I got some for my birthday, and it does the trick for me.

Why is style important?

Style has longevity. It’s unique to the individual. It embodies who you are, your character, your lifestyle. The first thing a person sees about you is your appearance. You can look like you own the building without saying a word.

Related: CEO Logan Herring Talks Menswear From Suits to Sweatsuits

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