An older person’s guide to dressing up for Sole DXB without looking like someone’s dad

Our resident stylist gives us the do’s and don’ts when it comes to the UAE’s premiere street culture festival

BERLIN, GERMANY - MARCH 31: New KAWS x Air Jordan IV sneakers buyer looks at the shoe during the sale at "Overkill" sneakers store on March 31, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. Several dozen die-hard sneakers fans have taken five days out of their lives to put their names on a list and maintain their presence in order to buy the limited-production shoes. 50 pairs went on sale on March 31 at Overkill, one of only three stores in Germany to sell the shoes. At EUR 350 a pair the shoes carry a hefty price tag, but many of the buyers will resell them, for prices they predict could reach EUR 4,000. Sportswear companies like Adidas and Nike have hired famous designers for limited-production sneakers as the appetite for the shoes by sneakers fanatics has grown into a niche market over the last few years. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
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Once upon a time I was cool and young. OK, scratch that – I was never cool, but I was definitely young. I liked trainers and hip-hop, and even saw Public Enemy live. I liked to cut loose on the dance floor, and enjoyed wearing clothes my parents wouldn't be seen dead in.

Fast forward an alarming number of years, and my youth is gone, dance floors are best left off limits, and the rise of social media means we are all looking to millennials on how to dress. Most of the times this isn't an issue, as common sense and an aversion to drafts means the riskier outfits are left to youngsters, while still folding key trends through our wardrobes.

With Sole DXB taking place this weekend in Dubai, serious sneaker heads will be descending on the city, and the cool kids will spend the weekend listening to some seriously good music, wearing some seriously good trainers. Now in its seventh year, Sole DXB has become the place to be for underground culture, and the cooler alternative to the commercial, big name music acts that regularly grace our shores. With the likes of Nas and Roxanne Shante taking to the stage this weekend, it will be a memorable event. Therein, however, lies the problem.

Being of a vintage to actually know who Roxanne Shante is without having to Google, my initial reaction to the news was delight that finally I would get to see a name from my formative years. Then it dawned on me that if I was older, then so too would be the rest of the audience. Which raised the terrifying prospect of being in a gaggle of middle-aged men all dressed like their kids. How many, I pondered, would try and dress ‘yoot’? For the sake of dignity, family harmony and not having to delete Instagram accounts, please allow me to offer a few tips to getting through the weekend without being a laughing stock.

No baseball caps

The joy of Sole DXB is that it is open to anyone who wants to stroll around in the sunshine and hang around for the music in the evening. Living as we do in a sunny country, sunglasses and sunscreen will be a must. Regardless of the practicality, if you are over thirty, do not – I repeat – do not attempt to wear a baseball cap. A cap worn facing front, or backwards, does not magically restore youth and does not make you look cool. You will only look like you are wearing your son's hat. Even Jay-Z is starting to look shaky in a baseball cap, and he sells the things.

Accept your limitations

Despite it being a three-day sonnet to trainers, do not give into the pressure of buying a pair to “blend in”. While Dior and Gucci will both be on site with exclusive (read expensive) versions, and the big collectors of the region will be snapping up hard-to-find purchases, unless you happen to have Kuwaiti collector KicksTQ to offer advice on what to buy, just steer clear of the whole topic. Be gracious in defeat and wear different shoes instead.

Old school is not always a good thing

Enjoy the live music, nod your head and enjoy yourself, but please no faux gang hand signs, no white man's overbite (regardless of ­ethnicity) and definitely, no hectic dance moves. You may have been a B-Boy back in the day, but no one cares that you can throw suicide or lock. Likewise, trousers hanging off hips, Tupac bandanas and basketball tops.

Accept your age

Speaking from the wrong side of forty, the best part of being officially an adult is knowing when to let ­something go. Sole DXB is the opportunity to put this philosophy into practice, and enjoy the music and atmosphere without trying to join in. This is not so much about the quagmire that is cultural appropriation, but the rocky road that is youth absorption. Being around elements from our youth does not roll back the years. Deal with it.


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