Dapper is a term that is thrown out in excess nowadays. While the dictionary definition is “neat and trim in dress and appearance,” I only grant this compliment for those who far exceed the baseline definition and stand out among the sea of male fashion boredom. Jacob Clayton, founder and CEO of Iconic Impressions, is well deserving of the term! Best known on social media as @Image_Ambassador, Jacob has been dishing out style advice for curious gents for a few years now. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jacob to pick his brain on a few things…
Black MensWear: When did you fall in love with fashion?
Image Ambassador: I fell in love with fashion at a very [young] age. I have always been infatuated with colors, patterns, and textures. I had a natural knack for styling myself and even when I couldn’t afford the clothes I wanted, I made sure the clothes I had were well taken care of. I drew fashion inspiration from TV, movies, and magazines and took a real interest in fashion at 15 years old. There was something about dressing well that made me feel more confident, professional, and attentive.
Black MensWear: Confidence is my favorite word to associate with suits and ties. It’s something about seeing yourself in the mirror ready to conquer the world in that tailored suit! As an image consultant, what gave you the confidence to help other people?
Image Ambassador: I’ve always had the gift of styling and my entire life people would ask me to help them piece outfits together or at the least ask me for advice. When I went to college, I was considered one of the best-dressed men on campus and my peers talked me into starting a fashion blog. Once I realized fashion was a gift and coupled that with a passion for helping men present themselves to the best of their ability, my business was born.
Black MensWear: It takes something deep within to convince a man to take on full-time entrepreneurship. What made you finally decide to take that leap?
Image Ambassador: I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and started my first business as a stylist in 2015, my junior year of college. I promised myself at 21 years old that when I graduated, I would get a job in the menswear industry and gain as much experience as possible with the intention to quit by the age of 25. I got my first job at Brooks Brothers selling suits, then left to do made-to-measure at Men’s Wearhouse, and finished my retail career at SuitSupply. I learned a lot about men’s suiting and style along the way but had to ask myself, why do this for someone else when I can do this for myself? I quit my job in March 2018 and it is arguably the best decision I’ve ever made. It is tough running a business on your own and it is a constant hustle, but it brings me joy that a job can’t.
Black MensWear: So, what is the first thing you seem to address when doing an image consultation?
Image Ambassador: I have a list of questions that I ask my clients during the fitting process to make sure their needs are met. First, I’ll ask what the occasion is. It’s important that I know what they need to be styled for in order to move forward. I need to know if it’s for a wedding, funeral, work, gala, etc. I’ll then ask them what they have in their wardrobe that fits or needs to be replaced. I believe men should purchase staple pieces first before investing in statement pieces. I’ll finish by asking them questions about their personal style to find out what their taste is in order to guide their choices.
Black MensWear: It’s important for consultants to remember that it’s about the clients’ style and preferences, not the consultants’. I know too many that try and change the client, rather than provide a solution that they can be comfortable in. Now about your suit line, C. Scott. What about it are you most proud of? What separates you from everyone else?
Image Ambassador: What I love most about my suit line are my fabric selections and attention to detail. I have made it my mission to find the best mills with the best fabrics in order to ensure I always provide a quality garment. I also love the customizable options that I have available for my suits and have been able to satisfy my customers’ needs 100% of the time because of it. My goal when I sell a suit is to give the customer an experience they can’t find anywhere else. A man can buy a suit from any store, anywhere, but he can only get the J.C. Scott experience when shopping with me.
Black MensWear: I feel that! What is your fashion staple?
Image Ambassador: My fashion staple, as simple as it may seem, would have to be a tailored navy-blue suit. The level of professionalism associated with navy blue suits and the versatility they have with combinations is almost endless. I can wear the full suit with virtually any color shirt and tie for a business professional look. I can wear the navy blazer with a pair of khaki or grey slacks and a button-down shirt for a business casual look. Or, just wear the pants with a dress shirt when I have a last-minute meeting.
Black MensWear: I be tryna tell folks! That navy-blue is the MJ, the LeBron, of the suit game!!! What is your take on colors?
Image Ambassador: Every stylist and clothier should have a basic understanding of the color wheel. That understanding will allow you to put combinations together that contrast or complement each other! Color is everything to me and I appreciate outfits the most when there is an amazing color pop or color block involved.
Black MensWear: Is there a such thing as being too bold?
Image Ambassador: Would you rather fit in or stand out? I love men that are bold, confident, and creative in their combinations, but I don’t like men that are extra and excessive. You can still be bold and not what we call in the industry “peacock” in which men intentionally dress flashy to simply show off or attract women.
Black MensWear: HAHA the peacock! It’s funny when you notice that person, but you respect em nonetheless. With your lane being dapper day in and day out, I gotta ask…How many pair of jeans do you own?
Image Ambassador: I hate this question because I’m always embarrassed by my answer haha. I only own 2 pairs of jeans. I have 1 black pair and 1 blue pair that for the time being, get the job done.
Black MensWear: I suckered you into that one bro! LMBO But that’s one more pair than I expected you to say…Aight Jacob, leave the people with your best piece of advice…
Image Ambassador: For anyone looking to break into the fashion industry, my advice would be to find a job or mentor in the industry in which you can gain experience! The fashion industry is extremely broad so determine what you want your niche to be. I have always had an entrepreneur mindset and would suggest you gain enough experience until you can one day quit and start your own business or brand. If you’re ready to start that brand, my advice would be get started now! I know people who want to start their own businesses, but they’re waiting for the perfect time and that simply doesn’t exist. You will never feel like you have enough money, experience, or resources but at the end of the day, you just have to jump! Be inspired by your environment, find a way to add your own unique twist to tradition, and trust the process.
NeAndre Broussard is the founder of Black Menswear, focused on changing the negative narrative to a positive image of the African American male. Granting exposure to those already dressing the part, Black Menswear provides visual inspiration to those seeking to upgrade the statement of their appearance. Since 2016, they’ve been on a mission to raise the bar and eliminate substandard representations of the Black male.