Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade is well known for his garish sense of style, arriving at various high-profile games in everything from hot pink pants to Dwayne Wayne-ish flip-up glasses. Last week, Wade received criticism (read: lots of jokes on Twitter) for arriving to Game 4 of the Miami Heat's series against the Chicago Bulls in a suit with pants that went well above the high-water trend and towards something akin to capri pants. The look emphasized just how bold Wade is willing to be to make a fashion statement.
Given that the Heat take the postseason very seriously, it's easy to wonder how Wade has the time to seek out these off-the-beaten-path looks in the midst of the most important portion of the basketball year. The answer, naturally, is that he and his stylist picked out all his outfits for the playoffs ahead of time. From a Business Insider transcript of an ESPN Radio interview with Calyann Barnett, said stylist (via TBJ):
"Before the playoffs even started we went through all of his looks, straight through the finals," said Barnett. "And every look is set already...and I already know what he will wear for the next game and the Finals."
When asked what Wade looks for in an outfit, Barnett confirmed what many of us already knew. That is, Wade wants to be different, saying "he loves to have fun, loves to try new things."
This is smart planning, because important NBA players have their hands full with responsibilities at this time of year and need to find various ways to make their lives more convenient. (LeBron James selected his MVP outfit well before the announcement.) Picking out gameday clothes ahead of time is one way to do that, although it's unclear if Wade and Barnett expected each series to go seven games and have carried over outfits from one series to the next. I hope someone is keeping a calendar — this could get very confusing.
Yet, while this plan makes sense on a practical level, it's also necessary to note that Wade's style is worth talking about because of how impractical it is. Like other dandies through time, Wade uses his clothing to express aspects of his personality. It's worth considering what this decision communicates about Wade.
A classic view of style dictates that a man dress for the occasion, which Wade is most certainly not doing in picking out all his clothes ahead of time. In some ways, this makes Wade a "blank slate," a sort of celebrity style icon who comes across as a paper doll dressed on-trend by a knowledgeable stylist. This definition doesn't entirely fit Wade — his looks cohere, in general. However, there is something to the idea that putting together an outfit in advance ignores the context of the postseason. If the Heat were to face an elimination game against the Pacers, for instance, it might not make much sense for Wade to show up in a hypercolor dinner jacket. Some occasions call for sober looks, and the man who ignores those social moors may come across as oblivious.
Then again, maybe that's a good thing for a two-time NBA champion who relies on a psychological edge to succeed. It's a cliche that athletes should take their situation one game at a time, to avoid the pitfalls of negative thinking and the totality of the challenge at hand. In other words, dressing in the gaudiest manner possible regardless of the situation communicates that Wade is above the fray, someone who stays true to himself no matter how difficult a situation seems. He says that, while the opponent may have a numerical advantage in a series, he is Dwyane Wade, established NBA superstar. He doesn't have to dress for the moment, because he is the person who defines the terms of any single game.