You Got the Stylez

Photo by Katie Hayes Luke for NPR

I’ve been staring at my computer screen for the better part of the morning trying to untangle the jumble of thoughts in my brain in order to bring you a post. I’m trying to go off coffee this week as part of some cleanse situation Page McBee has talked me into. This is the first morning and I already broke– I’m making a pot now. I just won’t put cream in it. If anyone can do a half-assed cleanse, I can!

While we’re waiting, you should know that the charming fellow to the left is Raphael Saadiq. He plays the old style R&B musics, was born and raised right here in Oakland, CA and is a Taurus, which means he’s awesome. You should also know that he has the perfect stylez. Sometimes he sings smooth songs directed at ladies, but there’s all sorts of gossip flying around about him being queer, which would really round out the awesomeness. I’d never heard of Raphael Saadiq until last week when my friend Kate said “have you heard of Raphael Saadiq??” Turns out I had, but I knew him as one part of Tony! Toni! Toné!

This whole “telling a story” angle is weird, isn’t it? This is what happens when I don’t have caffeine to organize my life. It’s like 12:30 and I can’t form a cohesive thought unless I use a narrative structure.

Yesterday in one of my ongoing conversations with IBC fellow blogger and thoughtful human Page McBee about gender and culture and all of that fun stuff, I remarked that I had never known a straight man to say that he wanted to be a woman. I mean in the way you see someone and you’re so enamored of something that they do or some way in which they are in the world that you just want to be them,  or vamp whatever that unnameable aspect of  IT-ness is from them. I think that all the time about a range of people– other women, men, and people at various places all over the gender spectrum. I think that about Raphael Saadiq. I don’t want to meet him, I don’t want to know him, I want to BE his ass.

Case in point [bear with the annoying ad at the beginning]:



Yes! Let’s take a walk! Ok! Whatever! Let’s totally walk! Also, HOW CAN I BE YOU?

So what is that “it” factor? For starters it’s fashion. I mean, Raphael Saadiq doesn’t make a SINGLE slip-up in his visual presentation of himself.


Doesn't this kind of look like the life President Obama could have had if he weren't so into changing the world?



So this basically makes me want to die and be reborn as Raphael Saadiq. Who do I speak to about making that happen?



White turtle neck, V neck sweater, black leather jacket. LEARN THAT BUSINESS!


Beyond actual fashion though, there’s a certain chilled out self-possession he presents and I think THAT’S the “it” factor. And that’s the difference, or maybe the complimentary aspect, between fashion and “style.” Raphael Saadiq has great fashion sense, but more than that, and maybe more importantly than that, he has the STYLEZ.

He carries himself well. And uniquely. And openly.



Look at that relaxed bearing. Oh, and yes that's 100% "Rudy Huxtable" next to him.



In charge on stage. Raphael Saadiq to his audience: "No worries, I'm just being cooler than you'll ever be."


You can nail every fashion point in an outfit, but still lack style. I actually see a lot of “rich girls” who have this problem. I saw one yesterday. She was trying super hard to pull off a NYC all black rock ‘n’ roll look and completely missing the mark. She had all of the aesthetic technicalities worked out, but she just didn’t have any style. It’s like when glam rock came back for a hot second and all those lanky straight white guys were trying to pull off glamorous gender ambiguity without understanding anything about the concept of gender as it relates to masculine privilege. They didn’t seem comfortable. They seemed like straight dudes who were costumed and insecure and wearing an air of aesthetic superiority to make up for it.

So I’ve obviously had my coffee.

People notice good fashion, original fashion, and god forbid, bad fashion, but I for one look away pretty quickly if the person lacks a certain something– self-possession, confidence, ease of being.



Le Sigh



Point being, if you want to know how to have the stylez, look at people who make you feel like you want to be them. I don’t know why I’ve never heard a non-queer guy say that they want to be Eartha Kitt (stay tuned for more on her in the coming weeks), but I absolutely want to be Raphael Saadiq, James Dean, and a young Paul Newman. The it factor knows no gender spectrum. It shows up in whoever it so chooses and inspires any and everyone regardless of physical, ideological, gender, and socio-cultural differences. And thank goodness for that.











About Michael von Braithwaite

Does it look like I'd wear it on a boat, at an eccentric person's estate or accompanied by a peacock on a chain? Yeah, I'll probably buy that.


  1. Leo Plass

    Diggin’ the turtlenecks.

  2. amal

    couple things…1). why would you go off coffee? 2) i want to be james dean and patti smith from when she was in paris but at the same time be able to rock a turban and giant sunglasses with a certain “i’m on the french riviera, and don’t you forget it” vibe. seriously. who do we speak to about this happening?

  3. Yes, Le Sigh! I can completely relate to this post. Add a skirt, tights, and some boots or low heels, and this would be my dream look. And, oh, to be able to dance with that brand of cool…

    I think that truly stylish men carry it for these reasons:

    1. They’re not covered in distractions (beads, sparkles, dangles, and bangles)

    2. They’re expressing personal style rather than the style of the moment.

    3. They don’t feel pressure to wear a new silhouette each season.

    4. They never buy into stupid ideas that pink is the new black.

    5. Their hair only changes incrementally.

IBC LOVES your brain, and we encourage thoughtful, lively discussion. We will, however, moderate comments that are abusive or disrespectful. Stay classy!

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