NBA Stylist Courtney Mays on the Best Suits You Can Actually Afford

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Kevin Love, Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan / gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic/Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Line up all of 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 in 2018. Courtney Mays is one of the stylists responsible for that shift. With her clients Chris Paul, Kevin Love and DeAndre Jordan, Mays has helped turned the arena tunnel into a new kind of runway; the place where you can spot the hottest sneakers, flyest 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. Check out the second installment below, the first installment here—where Courtney tackles track pants and man bags—and give us a shout on Twitter with new Q’s.

How do I understand my own personal style? —@dominic.holder.15

Courtney Mays: Identifying your style can be simple. Especially once you realize style is an evolution and it’s OK to treat this process as trial and error. Keep trying, keep taking risks, be open to stepping outside the box and inevitably your style will find you.

Examine your closet. What are your favorite pieces? Do they fit well? Is there a color scheme? Your style might already exist but just need a little refining.

Let’s just break down men’s style into three general categories. Classic, Trendy, and Sporty. Again, these are general categories. Take a look in your closet. What do you have the most of? Once you know where your style lands, then find a few style icons who fit in that space. For example, if your closet is filled with polos and dark jeans (i.e. classic), you might look at guys like David Beckham or Michael B. Jordan for inspiration. If you’re a bit trendier and your jeans are distressed and your shirts are printed or you love loud colors, find someone like Lenny Kravitz or Odell Beckham Jr. for inspiration. And if you’re a gym guy, or you just live in joggers and sneakers, it’s someone like Kanye West or Chris Paul who will provide you with the most useable style inspiration.

If you can figure out what category you are, it seems to me you’ve found your style. There it is!

Who makes the best suit under $1,000? —@wheresmyrealtor

Mays: First, we should all let go of the notion that $5,000 suits are the only way you can look like a Tom Ford model. Fit is key. That’s my answer for everything. No matter the price of the clothing, the fit is what makes you look like a street-style star during Pitti Uomo. I’m a huge fan of brands like Banana Republic, Club Monaco and Suitsupply. BR makes extremely affordable suiting with modern silhouettes that are made with breathable, performance fabrics. This also makes traveling with suits quite simple. Here are a few of my favorites right now!

br navy
Banana Republic

Banana Republic navy suit, $508

Buy Now


Suitsupply houndstooth suit, $499

Buy Now

br gray
Banana Republic

Banana Republic Monogram suit, $746

Buy Now

How do I get your job?

Mays: That’s a heavy question. Intern. Intern. Intern. Gaining experience and learning from the people that came before you is invaluable and integral to becoming a part of this world. You will find out quickly that Instagram is an illusion and that it takes a lot of hard work, long hours and perseverance to finally land in your dream job. I’m still learning that lesson myself.

Being 6'8", it's hard to find clothes. Any tips or tricks for finding clothes that fit? —@treecrozier

Mays: Totally get it. Fashion unfortunately has not yet truly expanded its proverbial palette to truly include the big and tall client. It’s ridiculous. Hell, we’re just now figuring out plus-size women’s clothing and the average woman is a size 14! Go figure.

A couple thoughts...

1. Until Rochester Big & Tall can make clothes for us and not our 65-year-old Uncle Fred, stay away from there—and stores of the same ilk. Note to self: Go help Rochester Big & Tall.

2. Most people would tell you to stay away from online shopping, but I think it’s your best resource. Just look at measurements before you buy, or plan to have things tailored, and you’re golden.

3.  Find a bespoke tailor who can make you a couple classic, versatile suits. It is absolutely worth the investment.

4. Don't be afraid to shop off the rack. So many designers are making oversized collections (see: Fear of God, Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang) which may fit you. Maybe size up to accommodate sleeve and pant length and then make some simple alterations elsewhere. For denim, companies like 3x1 and Levi’s are making longer inseams in cool styles. Other tall-guy friendly retailers I love include Good CounselOublier and Oddball.

And one more thing! Buy unfinished trousers at traditional retailers like Brooks Brothers or a department store. This means you control the length and often the store will provide the alterations. It’s a sure thing.

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