The Way We Wore: Black Style Then

Click on the headline for more

One of the hot items on Esquire’s senior fashion editor Wendell Brown’s desk is Michael McCollom’s The Way We Wore: Black Style Then. This fabulous re-release includes photos from the 1940s to the present of African-American style.

The Way We Wore: Black Style Then beautifully chronicles the style contributions of African-Americans and how that style has influenced international fashion culture. There are numerous styles presented in terms of hair, accessories, and clothes of virtually every form.

In The Way We Wore: Black Style Then, designer and professional photographer Michael McCollum provides a fashion archive of African Americans – the famous and the not so famous – from the 1940s through to today.

Chock-full of images celebrating the sartorial splendor of African Americans from the 1940s through today, this trendy tome will have you gagging on the eleganza of fashion icons including Oprah Winfrey, Iman, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Tracy Reese, Kimora Lee, Portia LaBeija, and more.

The principle is simple. On the one side, there’s Michael McCollom, the African-American designer and photographer. One the other, there are all the people he asked to dig through their photo archives to find a portrait illustrating their idea of style. Not fashion—style. Then he compiled it all.

Doing it your own way and doing it well. Without constrictions from mainstream fashion, black style has always been about pushing things forward. From the Harlem Renaissance through to hip hop, this book, put together by designer and photographer Michael McCollom, chronicles African-American style from the 1940s to today.

What I truly love about this book is its candid look at fashion. It feels very personal and unique and its great to see the transformation of fashion over the last half a century or so!  Some outfits are dynamic and outrageous—elaborate hairstyles and chunky shoes, enormous earrings and funky glasses (I really wish I could pull off some funky glasses).  Other styles are striking in their elegance and composure, just take a look at some of the pictures I have included below.

From leotards to harem pants, Michael McCollom’s collection of photos reveals the daring side of African-American fashion.

Spanning seven decades of not only clothes, but hairstyles and accessories, which McCollom himself admits comprises “the good, the bad and the awful,” THE WAY WE WORE is a fascinating and often hilarious visual document of the chic, frequently outrageous and undeniably influential impact of African-American tout ensemble on world toggery.

The Way We Wore: Black Style Then by Michael McCollom (Glitterati Incorporated) explores the diverse, undeniably cool individual styles of African Americans throughout the 20th century, focusing more on everyday people than celebrities or big-time trendsetters. Featuring photos that seem like proto-Saratorialist street shots, the result is a book that will surely be among the best-looking of 2014.

“From prim ponytails and pumps to afros and aviator glasses, African-American style from one decade to the next has always been stunning and inventive. Michael McCollom has pulled together an extensive collection of original photographs, all featuring black men and women looking their ‘best’ in wonderfully original clothing, hairstyles, and accessories from years gone by.”

In The Way We Wore: Black Style Then, Michael McCollom chronicles African-Americans fashion from the 1940s through today. Featuring snapshots of over 150 black men and women's most unforgettable "style moments", the book includes personal photographs taken from the author’s own family and circle of friends including Oprah Winfrey, James Baldwin, Iman, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Tracy Reese, Patrick Kelly, Kimora Lee, Bobby Short, Bethann Hardison, and Portia LaBeija, among countless others.

Published by Glitterati Incorporated, McCollom’s book is filled with decades old images of cool looking Black folks. Many of the images are from McCollom’s personal collection and feature African-American designers, models, entertainers in all their splendid glory of the era: huge afro’, butterfly collars, psychedelic colors and attitudes.

In The Way We Wore: Black Style Then, Michael McCollom chronicles African Americans fashion from the 1940s through today. Featuring snapshots of over 150 black men and women’s most unforgettable “style moments”, the book includes personal photographs from the author’s own family and circle of friends including Oprah Winfrey, James Baldwin, Iman, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Tracy Reese and countless others. The book is a joyful romp through fashion history. This glorious collection will be a delightful addition to your personal library.