A Fashion Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 18, 2010

Civil Rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great man, whose words, thoughts, actions and teachings united African Americans during the tumultuous era of segregation and racial intolerance.  He taught both whites and blacks to see the real value of human beings and illustrated that our differences did not have to separate us but improve the overall condition of the human spirit. Dr. King’s untimely death was such a blow to Americans but forced the country to move towards healing and unity.

The Civil Rights titans of that era were style icons in their own right. Often opting for finely tailored suits, blazers and accessories to make them more distinguished. Dr. King, Bayard Rustin, Sammy Davis Jr., and even Malcom X were partial to skinny ties.  Malcom X’s horn rimmed glasses were the inspiration for the Ray-Ban Clubmaster, which is still worn by celebs like Diane Kruger, Michael Douglas, Chace Crawford, Scarlett Johnasson, Jennifer Garner, Beyonce, Blake Lively, Robert Pattinson, Natalie Portman, Penn Badgley, Mary Kate Olsen and many others.

Bayard Rustin’s skinny knit ties are super trendy right now with celebs and socialites adopting it as part of their red carpet ensemble. His black rimmed wayfarers are also forever in style because of Ray-Ban Wayfarers.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also an impeccably dressed man. He often chose dark suits with French cuffed shirts and skinny ties. As a distinguished gentleman, Dr. King accessorized with white handkerchiefs and solid ties during important speeches but loved accessorizing with patterned ties during informal affairs. His calm and cool confidence came through loud and clear.

The famous orator was also a fan of cufflinks, frequently wearing them with his crisply pressed white French cuffed button downs. He individualized his style with beautifully made fedoras. Though men in this era are partial to straight front pants, Dr. King’s choice of pleated pants was in line with ’50s style, since most men, including politicians went for that style. With a sharp crease on the front of his pants, Dr. King always looked put together regardless of whether he was in a suit or a tweed blazer and trousers.

“Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prominent leader in the American civil rights movement who sought change through non-violent means.  As a pastor and leader of a movement, Dr. King, Jr. encompassed a classically conservative style.  His two button, single vent suits with a monochromatic tie gave an authoritative appeal to his audience,” says Ebong Eka, menswear designer and owner of Mi Chiamo Eka.

No one will forget Dr. King’s contributions to African Americans or American culture. Because of his work in preaching tolerance and non-violence as well as mobilizing prominent leaders, both African American and Caucasian to come together for the greater good, we now have an African American in the highest office of the United States.  I salute Dr. King in style with this fashion tribute. Below are a few of my picks of how to incorporate Dr. King’s style into your daily style.

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