It's well known that Virginia Commonwealth University's head basketball coach, Shaka Smart, dresses, uh, smartly. Likewise, it's been reported that his $1.2 million contract includes a $10,000-a-year clothing allowance. Now, thanks to some recent digging by the university's student newspaper, The Commonwealth Times, Richmonders finally know exactly where Smart gets all those nice suits he sports courtside.
It turns out the coach is a regular at the Richmond location of Beecroft & Bull, a high-end menswear shop in the River Road Shopping Center where a blazer will run you at least a grand. The store, where the motto is "Dress better than you have to," showed up in receipts Smart submitted for reimbursement to the university, the student newspaper reports.
Store manager Tom Tatum confirms that Smart's been a customer since he signed on with VCU three years ago. Tatum doesn't want to reveal too much — customer confidentiality and whatnot — but after a little coaxing, he agrees to share four tenets of Shaka-style fashion:
1. Be modern and on trend. Smart has exiled pleated pants from his wardrobe, adopted dress shirts with cutaway collars and moved toward tailored, slim-fit suits. And even though this is Richmond: No bow ties. Ever. "We try to go very metropolitan," Tatum says. "I don't see the bow tie working, at all."
2. Go for an Italian cut. Avoid suits that give a sharp silhouette in favor of soft, sloping shoulders and a smooth drape to the fabric. Tatum explains: "It's all soft through the suit, but it fits the body, you know?"
3. Contrast patterns. The cornerstone of Smart's style is his ability to mix patterned shirts with patterned suits in an understated way, Tatum says: "Nothing is too strong. He's very understated, but well appointed, so there's a nice pop."
4. Generally, just don't be a schlub. Some coaches are dressing down for games. Smart isn't, and Tatum thinks that's helping take him places, he says: "Yeah, he's a fantastic coach, but hopefully his clothing is getting him noticed too."