Channeling the spirit of Sofia from The Color Purple, I say this: “I loves Idris Elba, God knows I do! But I’ll kill him dead fo’ he ever wears that suit again.”
This well-meaning picture (click link to see the “colorful” ensemble), which comes directly from the Idris Elba Facebook fan page and accompanies a special Happy Valentine’s Day message to all the “single ladies,” was promptly met with snickering from women in my news feed, who were baffled as to how Elba came about leaving the house in a smedium jacket so tight, he couldn’t even fasten the top button; a pair of red skinny khakis, which taper so tightly at the ankles that I am convinced that someone had to sew him in them, and a pair of Skippers? I am literally typing this and shaking my head at the same time. It’s like he got a suit from the Steve Harvey line and shrunk it accidentally in the dryer. He looks like Valentine’s Day, 1976: The smooth sounds of Barry White’s “I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little Bit More, Baby” coast out of the second floor window of the family home and four-year-old Elba is sitting on the front steps, alone, in an outfit his mama made him wear (and told him not to get dirty), looking like at any moment he is about to break out his marbles and get a game of hopscotch cracking.
Seriously though, as much as I love Elba to death I have to admit to raising an eyebrow or two over some of his fashion choices as of late. Besides this suit (and I use that term “suit” loosely), there is also this outfit, which was featured on the cover of this month’s issue of British GQ, of a bearded Elba posted up on a motorcycle in some sort of outlaw meets sailor getup. I guess he is supposed to be a contemporary take on James Dean, however, he just ends up looking more like Easter Sunday, 1978: Grandma is snapping peas and humming along to Mahalia Jackson’s “How I Got Over” on the record player and six-year old Elba is at any moment about to break out the little red bouncing ball and get a game of jacks popping.
I remember a few years ago, I was at work, having a non-work related conversation with my boss. We were discussing a guy, whom we both knew professionally. This mutual friend, for all intents and purposes, is a true definition of a dandy. No pimp suits and snug, funny patterned blazers here. This guy was all about the tailored suits with simple lines and colors, beautifully folded pocket squares, nice cufflinks and spit-shine and buffed leather loafers. Not too many men could touch our mutual friend’s suit and tie game. And knowing his way around a bow tie definitely added to his overall sex appeal – not that we were checking for him or anything. Just saying. Anyway, while our mutual friend was crushing them with the suits, his casual “hip” wear always was disastrously flat. I’m talking about bulky basketball sneakers matched with hideously-colored sweaters and dad jeans, which were always two inches two short from the ankles and made in washes that I thought went out with the Fat Boys. We were pondering how someone so fashionable in one regard could also be such a fashion turn-off in another, and she made the most simple yet brilliant observation: some men only look good when they look clean.
I do not consider myself an expert on men’s fashion (some would rightfully argue I’m not an expert on women’s fashion for that matter), but I definitely feel like this is the case for Elba. While I appreciate his daring and youthful looks he has been trying to do as of late, I also feel that that his simple and classic looks are a huge part of his swag. And instead of Wiz Khalifa, he should probably think Denzel Washington. Nothing screams confidence and strength more than seeing a 6-foot-tall Elba with a nicely-lined goatee and a casual – yet well-fitted – suit jacket and slacks. And nothing screams desperate-for-attention more than that Valentine’s Day suit jacket.