BIG in Fashion: SWIM

BIG in Fashion: SWIM
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Photographed by William Harper, Makeup by Kinshasa Hunter, Styled by James R. Sanders, Fashion Assistant Keyonna Butler

I used to hate summer clothing and I was petrified of beach clothes.

It had nothing to do with the fact that I was, and am, a big and tall male. It had more to do with the fact that I hadn’t discovered online shopping yet. I spent my time combing Macy’s and JC Penney’s – both of which are great but limiting at times especially in the 90s.

My choices were small (unlike my size) and I didn’t want to wear anything that looked frumpy, especially not on a beach.

When I discovered new brands and educated myself on fit, my whole life changed. I went from not wanting to go to the beach, to sitting in a cabana in Miami and arguing with the waitress who acted as if I should have asked for a Diet Pepsi, instead of the regular.

I’m a firm believer in the fact that people have a right to put whatever they want in their mouths, so if I decide to drink Pepsi, “that’s my prerogative,” in my Bobby Brown (from the 80s, not current Bobby Brown) voice.

I can do what I want to do!

It was 90 degrees outside and the heat always makes me want to fight, but I kept my composure and employed a passive aggressive angsty tone in my voice a la Brenda Walsh – my favorite 90s self-righteous It girl from Beverly Hills 90210.

The Instagram photo had to be taken. I was wearing Randolph New York and the blue mesh matched the blue Pepsi can perfectly.

I never got to take the photo, but the swimsuit was everything. Here are a few of my favorite beach/summer brands you ought to know.

James is wearing Trunks by Tommy Bahama, Shirt by Bad Rhino, and Sandals by Birkenstocks

Tommy Bahama has been on my radar ever since I discovered online shopping. They've carried larger sizes since forever. It didn't take them a long time to realize that men of all sizes should look good (rolls eyes at smaller sized brands).

Their price point is absolutely worth it. I'll be writing another column on their denim - the perfect pair of blue jeans, but their trunks as seen here, epitomize that look and feel of summer with the quality of resort and the versatility that comes with well made ready to wear. The design team does a good job of using color, creating schemes with hues that compliment each other. I can't stand a pair of trunks that don't go with anything. Such is not the case at Tommy Bahama.

James is wearing BadRhino shirt and trunks with Birkenstock sandals

James is wearing BadRhino shirt and trunks with Birkenstock sandals

Photographed by William Harper

BadRhino does practical fashion well, but what makes this brand unique is their ability to infuse classic styling in the garments. As big men you can never have both - at least you couldn't in the past. BadRhino, the British brand with a cool Bond-like attitude make you want to purchase from them because they walk the line of stylish quality best. Their shirting is heavy with thread counts of infinity, treating the skin to a luxury experience.

With a strong collection of classics, BadRhino is for the stylish man because only a stylish man would know how to interpret modern classics to fit their own aesthetic.

James is wearing Shirt by American Eagle Outfitters, Trunks by ASOS and Sandals by Birkenstock

James is wearing Shirt by American Eagle Outfitters, Trunks by ASOS and Sandals by Birkenstock

Photographed by William Harper

There was this shirt that I kept seeing everywhere. It's black and white with brush strokes as the print. It was one of the most popular shirts of the season - and with good reason, American Eagle Outfitters, the brand that has been successful largely for their Americana flair and simplistic silhouettes - keeps creating cool pieces that work for several occasions.

In vibrant, young colors, American Eagle Outfitters spring offering is smart and quirky. But the fact that they carry sizes that range from small all the way to XXXL shows how smart they really are.

James is wearing shirt by American Eagle Outfitters with Trunks and Scarf by Vilebrequin with Sandals by Birkenstock

James is wearing shirt by American Eagle Outfitters with Trunks and Scarf by Vilebrequin with Sandals by Birkenstock

Photographed by William Harper

I've been on the search for the perfect fitting swim trunks. I'm a hard person to please when it comes to fashion. I wanted them short - but not shaped like a speedo. The interior needed to be comfortable, wet or dry, and I wanted a chic design with matching drawstring.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Guess what? Brands spend most of their marketing budgets trying to convince you that they can do the above, and so much more. But if Vilebrequin says it, you better believe them. I found the perfect pair of swim trunks from them - a pair that had everything I wanted and so much more. And, as Keke Palmer would say, "but the gag is..." I don't even like green.

James is wearing cover up, shirt, trunks, and necklace all by Randolph New York with Sandals by Birkenstock

James is wearing cover up, shirt, trunks, and necklace all by Randolph New York with Sandals by Birkenstock

Photographed by William Harper

A sandal that works in the summer and the fall? I didn't think it was possible until Birkenstock. Honestly, the heritage brand has been around for years. Rough, rustic, soft, and engineered to fit any foot - Birkenstock's competition doesn't quite measure up.

Here, in summer brights, the rubber and leather make steps easy, even in sand. The design never changes because classics never go out of style. Still with new variations and fresh skins and textiles, Birkenstock finds a way to surprise - and that's a great thing.

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