Suit Up—Or Shut Up: Charles Oakley on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in NBA Style

Photo Credit: Jesi Kelley

Charles Oakley represents the old school. Although the six-foot-nine power forward was a clotheshorse, he was also one of the hardest-nosed players ever to wear warm-ups—and he still takes suiting up seriously. "When we get a contract, that's our job," he says. "You got to come to work and be a professional—and look like a professional." In other words: You wear a suit.

The outspoken 45-year-old former All-Star was one of the few players who voiced support for the NBA's dress-code, which was instituted in 2005, and when we sat down with him to discuss the state of NBA style, he couldn't hide his displeasure at professional basketball players' slovenly ways. "Why would I want to look like someone laying on the sidewalk can't get no food, can't get this, can't get that, can't get a suit and wear it on a consistent basis?! It's embarrassing." As with any career, however, Oakley knows that dressing for the job is not enough to help you excel. "I'm not going to sell all that," he says, breaking into a smile. "I hope no one's going to buy $20,000 worth of clothes and think that means they'll get 20 points that night. Just shoot."

Check out the photo gallery to see which players, coaches, owners, and announcers meet Oakley's sartorial standards—and who fouls out.


"Clyde's got his own style. The thing about Clyde is he's consistent you know—a trendsetter in all ways," Oakley says of the Knicks Hall of Famer turned color commentator, who's never quite shaken the fashion flair of his 1970s heyday. "I'm like Clyde in a way. I don't change styles because someone else said this or that style is in. I don't get into that—I wear my suit, I wear my jacket, I wear my shirt and ties. I'm not going to go out and buy this every six months because somebody said it's a style. I'm just going to get what looks good on me. My style is what I like."

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