Dress Code: Joseph Hines’ Guide to Dressing for Success

    It’s been said that “clothes make the man,” but it’s probably more accurate to say that clothes can make everyone in the room look at the man— and when they see someone with style and self-assurance, they’re going to be drawn to him.

    That positive impression isn’t just important for in-person connections— from a job interview to a networking event—says Atlanta-based style expert Joseph Hines. Presenting a good image “allows you to scale yourself,” he points out. “You can only be so many places physically, but digitally, you can be everywhere.”

    Now running his own company, Affluent, Hines—whose @mr.jhines Instagram account has more than 100,000 followers—has helped more than 1,000 clients stand out from the crowd over the past decade or so.

    Among those he has worked with are athletes Devonta Freeman and Dwight Howard and artists such as Lil Baby and Jermaine Dupri. In addition, he has co-founded The Standard, a community connecting high-performing men for coaching, networking and exclusive clothing.

    Hines came to the fashion world by accident—or rather, by injury. As a boy, he saw himself as the next Kobe Bryant, devoting countless hours to basketball with an obsessive commitment (“I was the guy who would go to the gym and try to make 1,000 shots”). Growing up in a single-parent household, his fashion sense was dictated by the hand-me-downs he got—usually tall tee-shirts.

    Going into his senior year at college, he broke his left arm in the same place twice in six months. The repeated double fracture left him with no feeling in his hand, something he tried to hide from his coaches. Then, one day in practice, “I picked up the ball, and it was the first time basketball ever felt like work.”

    Standing out
    Hines’ sports rethink precipitated a major change in direction. At Georgia Southern University, he was invited to apply for a place in the Pathways to Success leadership development program, which he won and accepted. He remembers when a group of older members walked into the dining room together, all dressed sharply.

    “It wasn’t [for] church. It wasn’t an event,” Hines says. “They just chose to dress up every day. The lunch lady stopped serving chicken; the girls stopped talking at the table. I became fascinated about what caused that response, just based on how they presented themselves. Everybody knew something was different about this group of guys.”

    Hines channeled the same drive he’d had for hoops into menswear. He read all the style magazines he could find and went to a luxury retailer where he begged the “one guy that looked like me” to teach him about fashion. “I just wanted to learn how to dress better… to dress how my mentors were dressing and get that response.”

    RELATED: Suit Up

    So, you’ve got a budget of around $2,500 to suit up for finding a job or starting a new career. Here’s Joseph Hines’ advice on your best investments for a good corporate look:

    Suits. Two: one navy and one gray, because they are interchangeable and give you more outfit options. Go for a wool between S110 and S120, which are both durable and breathable.

    Shirts. Four: two in white and two in baby blue; they will go with pretty much any suit. Go for Egyptian cotton.

    Tie. Either a solid navy or a solid chocolate brown—sharp without being too loud.

    Pocket square. Look for white or solid baby blue; it will elevate your style without being distracting.

    Shoes. A cap-toe pair, either in black or chocolate brown. Again, this will give you multiple options and looks.

    Care. Be sure to ask to have the shirts steam-cleaned and laundered when you take them to the cleaner. Keep the bags when you buy your suits to protect them from damage. They need to be dry cleaned only once every six months or so; in between times, you can put the shower on and steam them.

    There was a lot of experimentation: going to college classes in a suit and working out what to wear to an after-party: “How do I still maintain a certain level of aesthetic while not being off-putting for that environment?” He recalls once being taken on one side by a college mentor who advised that Hines’ mixing a gray suit with a prom vest wasn’t working. “It kind of hurt, but I really digested that information.”

    Now with lots of experience, he keeps two main principles in mind when guiding clients to their best look.

    Know your affinity. You have to understand who you are and what kind of world you move in, Hines says. If he’s working with an athlete or an entrepreneur, someone outside of a formalized environment with a fun personality, “I’m probably not going to put them in a full suit and tie because if they’re used to wearing sweats all day, it’s going to be such a drastic transformation between their everyday.” Instead, he might suggest a suit that has drawstring trousers with a jersey fabric—something “a little bit more casual.”

    Keep your authenticity. Dress so that “you don’t feel like you’re stepping outside of yourself,” while also looking to “create something unique to you.”

    That requires being willing to stretch beyond your comfort zone— something guys can find challenging. “I don’t want to change who I am” may be the reason for the resistance. Or, “I don’t want to have to change or do something that’s not me.”

    Hines has learned to navigate this reluctance from some of his clients. He will ask them whether they are doing something differently in business now than the way they used to do it five years ago. “You didn’t change the business, but you probably got more efficient at the business that you’re in,” he will tell them. “So, if we can teach you how to do what you’re doing now more efficiently and at a higher level, would that make sense?”

    It’s all part of personal development, he says. “Without change, there’s no growth and there’s no progress.” Clients come around when they start “understanding how important perception is, and how people see you and how important the clothing and how you show up into these rooms are when people are receiving you.”

    Body types

    Stretching style-wise doesn’t have to be extreme. Hines says he wouldn’t try to put someone who is reserved and laid back into something “super-aggressive and loud,” maybe like a red suit he personally loves, “because that’s not going to agree with who he is,” Hines explains. But he might put that person in a navy with a raised pin- stripe, “something unique, but not so loud and overpowering to where he feels uncomfortable when he’s wearing it.”

    Perhaps the most important single lesson in dressing well is to do the right thing by your body type, Hines says. And that requires letting go of the “slim,” “regular” and other fit labels.

    “If you’re a bigger guy, on the heavier side, don’t worry about trying to get a slim fit because all it’s going to do is make the fabric tighter on you,” he advises. “Instead, get a normal or regular or looser fit that’s going to fit slim on you.” Remember, “the fabric never lies,” he adds.

    Finally, if you can’t find something that works off the rack, go custom. “Be willing to invest in your image because I promise you it will pay back dividends… versus spending loads of money on suits that still don’t fit you great: you’re blowing out the crotch, you’re blowing out the elbow of the jacket, and you end up spending way more money in the long run than just investing in a good piece in the beginning.”


    With styles constantly evolving, what future fashions do well-dressed men need to be aware of?

    “We’re definitely moving towards more of a relaxed aesthetic,” says Hines: think flared trousers, looser cuts. He sees that trend as a correction from styles having gone “too tight, too short.”

    The answer: “Stay in the middle so that, regardless of where the pendulum is swinging, you’re in style.”

    From an interview with Louis Carr

    Share post:


    * indicates required


    More like this

    Top 10 Affluent Black Neighborhoods

    Discover the wealthiest Black neighborhoods in the United States....

    Herman Dolce Jr. Says Debt is Ignorance to Financial Liberation

    Herman Dolce Jr. isn’t a social worker anymore, but...

    Tyronne Stoudemire Leads Charge for DEI in Corporate America

    Four years after George Floyd’s death spurred many American...

    Black Tech Saturdays Bridge the Racial Wealth Gap

    Black Tech Saturdays are building a community seeking to...