NBA Stylist Courtney Mays on the Difference Between Cozy and Lazy Style

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NBAE via Getty Images

Line up all the famous men shaping fashion trends today and chances are the majority of them are going to stand well over six feet tall and have action-figure abs. NBA pros haven’t always dominated the style conversation, but they certainly are today. Courtney Mays is one of the stylists responsible for that shift. With her clients Chris Paul, Kevin Love and DeAndre Jordan, Mays has helped turn the arena tunnel into a new kind of runway—a place where you can spot the hottest sneakers, sharpest suits and best bags in the game.

Because we know you want to look just as fly as an NBA guy, we’ve asked Mays to answer some of your style questions. This month, get her advice on how dress cozy without looking like you’re wearing a Snuggie, how to upgrade your winter style on the cheap and more.

How can I update my style this winter without spending a ton of money?

Courtney Mays: Winter is the most wonderful time of the year—for style! You can literally hide your PJs under an insanely beautiful jacket and you’re golden. Outerwear is key here and a lot of retailers have interesting takes on classic silhouettes that won’t cost you a fortune. A bold-color topcoat or puffer in a cool fabric will do so much for your style.

Experimenting with layers is also a great way to look amazing without necessarily buying a whole new look. Wear your coolest pair of trousers with your favorite basic crewneck tee, then add a denim jacket as a cardigan and a camel overcoat on top of that. Throw on a great hat, maybe a scarf or a bandana and—boom—you’re a style icon. More is more! Wear all of your favorite stuff at the same time, in interesting combinations and, I promise, good things will happen.

I’ve been really inspired by the nostalgia of collegiate sweatshirts and varsity jackets lately. Show a little school spirit by wearing your college hoodie with tailored trousers or wear a varsity jacket over joggers and a crewneck sweatshirt. It’s such a fresh combination and the elements involved are incredibly affordable. Thrift the collegiate stuff to get that lived-in, Take Ivy vibe without spending a ton.

asos design wool

ASOS DESIGN wool mix overcoat in window pane check, $135

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asos design

ASOS DESIGN extreme oversized duster jacket in black with back stripes, $60

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Who are some up-and-coming designers I should know about right now?

Mays: Now this is the question I live for. It’s crazy how we get stuck on our go-to department stores or mall retailers and forget that there are so many amazing new creatives with so much talent. Also, going a less conventional route while shopping will practically ensure that you won’t have the same thing on as the rest of your crew.

Right now I’m loving Todd Patrick, Death To Tennis, Edwige Pierre and Stefan Grant. I would say they are all blurring the lines between streetwear, sportswear and tailoring and playing with color and fabric in exciting ways.

I love the way NBA players dress, but it's hard to pull off those outfits in real life. How can I take cues from their style without going full Russell Westbrook?

Mays: Is it? Is it really hard to pull off? I think style is so much more about confidence than it is what you have on, or who has it on, or how much it costs for that matter. NBA players aren’t some sort of mythical creature who happen to just look cool in anything. They’re regular guys with the same insecurities as everyone else. Now, OK, they have insane physiques—some of them are literally 7 feet tall—and maybe there’s a few extra zeros in those bank accounts, but hey, If Russell Westbrook can wear a crossing-guard vest and call it fashion, then hell, so can you. Why not? Who gon’ stop you?

If no amount of confidence is going to get you in a crossing guard vest, here’s what I’d say: Pay attention to the guys who have more of a classic, streamlined look. Guys like Kevin Love, JJ Reddick and Mike Conley. Or just pay attention to the silhouettes that work for your body type rather than trying to recreate the exact brands and pieces. Maybe you buy the cropped trousers in navy instead of cherry red. Maybe you get the topcoat in black and white check instead of leopard. You can tone things down while holding onto the original idea.

DON’T of the month: Streetwear overload.

Mays: Don’t go brand heavy just for the sake of it. Buying a head-to-toe Supreme look doesn’t make you stylish. Also, don’t use winter as an excuse to dress lazily. Yes, wear the cozy layers but keep them tailored and neat.

DO of the month: Edit, edit, edit.

Mays: As most of us are moving into the really cold months, take some time to purge and sort your closet. When you can see what you have and know what fits, it makes getting dressed so much easier. And you know what you need the next time you go shopping.

The style steal: Boot socks, Sherpa hoodies, Jordan 1 Lows.

Mays: I’m fully obsessed with really chunky, even scrunchy socks, like full-on Saved by the Bell. Not that I would actually suggest wearing them over your pants—but a flash of ankle is cool.

I’m also loving the Sherpa hoodies that are everywhere. Banana Republic has one that’s killer. It reminds me of an old school North Face fleece, but maybe a bit cleaner.

While traveling in Europe this fall, I noticed all the well-dressed men had on low top AF-1s—even with trousers. (The trick is going for a slightly fuller leg and cropped ankle.)


1970'S Logger Thermal Socks, $32

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Stock X

Jordan 1 Low White (2015), $70

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Best dressed: PJ Tucker.

Mays: I really like what PJ Tucker has been doing this year with his look. I think his love for fashion shines through in what he wears (instead of looking like a guy whose stylist is telling him what to do). I’m not going to say it’s exactly right all of the time but he’s authentic and I love that.

My runner up is Jordan Clarkson. He’s like the NBA’s Luka Sabbat. He’s just young and cool and effortless. I love the clear frames, the rolled skullies. He takes a lot of risks but also searches the archives for a one-of-kind Nike, Supreme, Off-White. He always looks like he’s having fun!

courtney saves
A street-style shot saved to Courtney’s phone / Courtney Mays

My last save: Mr. Turtleneck.

Mays: I loved this image as soon as I saw it. It’s just such a cool outfit and I love that the guy isn’t 23 years old either. Turtlenecks are an NBA style staple. They might make you think of Steve Jobs but they’re so elegant and fashion forward. Wear them under a suit like this fashion week hero, or even just with a pair of jeans and boots.

What to read next: 12 Boots to Show Winter Who’s Boss. Give us a shout on Twitter with your style Qs and we’ll consider including them in a future column.

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