Most stylish New Yorkers: Mel DeBarge

The DJ has a knack for putting his own modern spin on classic garb.

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  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    "This is a look that I've put together with the goal of being able to wear it...

    "This is a look that I've put together with the goal of being able to wear it to work and then straight to a corporate event," says DeBarge of his Hugo pants and Ralph Lauren shirt, both of which he bought on a recent trip to London.

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    DeBarge props up a Boss Black leather computer briefcase. "Just because it's a...

    DeBarge props up a Boss Black leather computer briefcase. "Just because it's a work bag doesn't mean it can't be interesting and fun," he says. "Guys, don't be afraid of color!"

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    This purple Ralph Lauren tie patterned with pink polka dots is one of DeBarge's...

    This purple Ralph Lauren tie patterned with pink polka dots is one of DeBarge's favorite neck pieces. "Although it's a strong piece, it doesn't stand out to a point that it makes everything else unnoticeable," he explains. He secures it with an Ovadia and Sons rifle tie clip.

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    "Shoes to me make an outfit, and this particular outfit would not have been the...

    "Shoes to me make an outfit, and this particular outfit would not have been the same without these low-top Nike sneakers," says DeBarge. "They just scream sun, good weather and movement, plus they match my bag!"

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    DeBarge gets down in a Ralph Lauren plaid button-up shirt and drawstring pants...

    DeBarge gets down in a Ralph Lauren plaid button-up shirt and drawstring pants by Hugo Boss.

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    "It's always good to have this kind of shoe for when you have another piece in...

    "It's always good to have this kind of shoe for when you have another piece in an outfit that needs to be balanced out by a more classic element," notes DeBarge of his timeless Sebago lace-up loafers.

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    A dapper fedora from J.J. Hat Center (310 Fifth Ave at 32nd St; 212-239-4368,...

    A dapper fedora from J.J. Hat Center (310 Fifth Ave at 32nd St; 212-239-4368, jjhatcenter.com) ties DeBarge's outfit together. "It's the same color as my pants, and the ribbon matches the loafers," he points out. "Complete!"

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    DeBarge used these mustard-colored Levi's corduroy pants as the focal point of...

    DeBarge used these mustard-colored Levi's corduroy pants as the focal point of his outfit and balanced them out with a Club Monaco blazer. "This would be very appropriate for a dinner in East Hampton or a daytime polo event," he notes.

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    This plush red rose pin is from local accessories label Adeen NYC (adeenyc.com)

    This plush red rose pin is from local accessories label Adeen NYC (adeenyc.com).

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    "What I love about these shoes is the military reference: They have a...

    "What I love about these shoes is the military reference: They have a combat-boot attitude, but the simplicity of an evening on a sailboat," DeBarge muses about his Vane for Sebago kicks.

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Bold red pants from Tommy Hilfiger steal the show from a Ralph Lauren Purple...

    Bold red pants from Tommy Hilfiger steal the show from a Ralph Lauren Purple Label safari shirt.

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    DeBarge sports an Obama pin for "a very personal touch" to his outfit. "I think...

    DeBarge sports an Obama pin for "a very personal touch" to his outfit. "I think it explains itself," he declares.

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    These Hugo lace-up boots are super versatile, and not just because they...

    These Hugo lace-up boots are super versatile, and not just because they transcend seasons. "I've worn these with denim, cords and a variety of different colors," says DeBarge. "I've never been afraid to mix it up a bit!"

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

"This is a look that I've put together with the goal of being able to wear it...

"This is a look that I've put together with the goal of being able to wear it to work and then straight to a corporate event," says DeBarge of his Hugo pants and Ralph Lauren shirt, both of which he bought on a recent trip to London.

Mel DeBarge; DJ, music enthusiast and connoisseur (meldebarge.com); Bronx

His personal style: "Classic but with my own original twist. I tend to go for pieces that are not so much just trend- or season-based, but rather timeless looks that can be worn in different ways on different occasions. Following trends is really not my first priority. As the saying goes, 'fashions fade, style is eternal.'"

His inspirations: "It's more of a 'when' than a 'who,' per se. I feel like '80s styles and palettes are what really raise an eyebrow for me. The color combinations and fabrics from that era are inspiring to me, and then I try to modernize it and make it my own. The funk and R&B artists of the time were free-spirited enough with their style to start trends and fashions alike—artists like Rick James, Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy, Phil Collins, David Bowie and so many more. But what makes it that much more special is how these trends can still be reworked to once again be relevant on a fashion platform."

Favorite stores: "Definitely Nom de Guerre (640 Broadway at Bleecker St; 212-253-2891, nomdeguerre.net) because of its fabrics and cuts. It tends to bring back timeless pieces like fisherman jackets and the like. What makes Nom de Guerre stand out is the way it makes a piece of clothing that you can wear for several occasions and still feel it's appropriate and relevant enough to withstand the ever-changing winds of fashion. Another one of my favorite stores is Ralph Lauren (109 Prince St between Greene and Wooster Sts; 212-625-1660, ralphlauren.com). The store itself has an atmosphere that makes you feel like you're at home. And of course, Ralph Lauren is a brand you can always count on. If I had one piece of advice for anyone, it is to go purchase anything of out Ralph's current Aztec-inspired collection. Opening Ceremony (35 Howard St between Broadway and Lafayette St; 212-219-2688 * 1190-92 Broadway between 28th and 29th Sts; 646-695-5680 * openingceremony.us) is where I go for style inspiration that is out of my comfort zone. It caters to everyone from New York City punks to A-list models to bikers to chic downtowners and still manages to be relatable and accessible in terms of its style and designer choices. I'm particularly a fan of the footwear selection."

His signature item: "This is a hard one because anyone would tell you that a great button-up shirt can make an outfit, but this can also be said about the right shoe. I, however, am going to say the shoe makes the outfit. I also love my trademark purple bow tie. I just don't wear it as much now because the bow-tie look is getting to be too mainstream and trendy."

Favorite designer: "I'm super excited about Ovadia and Sons (ovadiaandsons.com). As a brand, they have managed to create all the classic menswear essentials and accessories that are extremely well made, with the highest regard for quality."

How he describes New York style: "It's like no other. What I love about it is that on any given day, you can see a man wear a full double-breasted suit with a pocket square that matches his Nike Jordan No. 3s and it works!"

How his style has evolved through the years: "I can safely say I've always been curious about styles all across the fashion spectrum. Whether I understood it or not is a different issue, but I have definitely grown into a style that defines who I am in my everyday life. That being said, I guess I can pinpoint the different stages of my style transformation on how the clothing started to really take a fit of its own, and how I have opened myself to a wide range of styles, colors and designs. I think it is very important to not let the clothes wear me, but to be comfortably and confidently wearing the clothes."

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