European brands are taking note of the 1950’s cool trend and it shows in their Spring and Summer 2012 collections. Designers Bottega Veneta, and Trussardi 1911 feature looks with loose suiting, casual cuts and lines. J. Crew also captures the trend with colored patterns and well-made denim. But it was Black men who defined ’50s cool. It was in Black men’s attitudes and talents that took classic fits of this era to another level. These men had swagger for days and didn’t take an uniform approach to their style of dress like some of their White counterparts—it was all in the details not the finishing.

While grooming remained dapper and clean, the shirts, open suits, sports coats and casual slacks gave a relaxed and effortless look to anybody who donned the trend. The little details were what brought looks together like shirts with embroidery, hats paired with a shirt and pants rather than a suit—and of course, emphasis was put on accessories—watches, glasses, and belts. Five men in particular were true ’50s cool ambassadors: Sammy Davis Jr., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Harry Belafonte, Miles Davis, and Chuck Berry

Rapper Theophilus London and emcee-turned-actor Mos Def represent the offsprings of ’50s cool. London’s tailored creased—not pleated, slacks and jackets bring together a style reminiscent of the style pioneers before them .Mos Def— now known Yasiin Bey— does well incorporating ’50s cool into his already eclectic wardrobe. The rapper-actor played Chuck Berry in Cadillac Records and used the iconic artist as inspiration on and off camera emulating Berry’s eccentric ’50s rock and roll look. Both artists are microcosmic examples of the quiet confidence and relaxed style of so many Black men today and yesterday.

—James Sanders