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When stylish sports stars want to score points in their fashion games, they look to Courtney Mays. Los Angeles-based stylist is responsible for the off-court and red carpet wardrobes of NBA players DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Love and Chris Paul as well as former NFL player Jeremy Kelley, the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts and Blackish‘s Anthony Anderson, to name just a handful of clients.
“Athletes are the ultimate menswear influencers. I often use the anecdote that men are not coveting the tuxedos worn on red carpets, but the game watching experience is such a universal event,” Mays tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Basketball players are superhuman — there is fantasy in that — but they are recognizable figures not hidden behind masks and padding. They and their wardrobe seems more relatable. Fans can actually find the clothing they are wearing, or dupes of them.”
Sports devotees looking to emulate their favorite athletes’ aesthetics need only to scroll through Instagram to see who’s tagged in CP3’s looks, for which Mays favors a mix of luxury designers, high-end streetwear labels and mall names, such as Wales Bonner, Fear of God, Isabel Marant, Pyer Moss and Todd Snyder as well as Banana Republic, Club Monaco and Cos, to name a few.
Mays adds: “Athletes as trendsetters is not a new phenomena. Sports have always influenced culture and vice versa — think Allen Iverson, Dennis Rodman, Walt Frazier or Magic Johnson. I think the fashion community is just now recognizing the power of the athlete and I hope that we continue to see the shift in that celebration of athletes as an influencer.”
Using style to spotlight social justice and politics is key among clients including Paul, who will executive-produce Why Not Us, the ESPN+ docuseries centered on an HBCU men’s basketball team.
“[He] and I have really become intentional about the ways we use fashion as a vehicle to talk about issues important to [us]. For the past few years, we decided to champion not only Black designers but Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I really believe we have pioneered this moment where HBCU’s are becoming more recognized, at least in the fashion space,” adds Mays.
“During the NBA bubble we coordinated his customized game shoe with tunnel looks that celebrated schools from across the country,” she continues. “This style journey, I hope, will transcend with other celebrities to use style as means to amplify larger issues, whether it be mental health or sustainability. I’m less interested in putting a client in the most sought after runway look and more interested in how we can use fashion to create change.”
The menswear consultant is “powered by music” and informed by her degree in art history and street style culture around the world. “I am often reminded by my mother’s and father’s attentions to detail when getting dressed. Always a lapel pin, always a beautiful bag or well-tailored suit. Style was always ingrained in me and I draw from those moments while working,” she says.
Before landing on speed-dial of the Phoenix Suns point guard and others, Mays previously worked for designer Tracy Reese, “pining after her, as she was the first Black woman to show at New York Fashion Week.” While working at Reese’s Meatpacking District store in New York, Mays was inspired to apply for an internship at a styling agency after meeting an intern who worked that company. “Quite literally a day later, I was pulling jewelry for Ciara [to wear] on David Letterman,” she says.
After interning tirelessly for over a year, Mays began assisting star-loved wardrobe stylist Rachel Johnson, “who I consider the pioneer of the athlete style movement, if we’re calling it that. Her clients ranged from Jamie Foxx to LeBron James. This experience began my career journey with style in the sports world,” says the longtime New Yorker.
As for her own wardrobe, the stylist says, “If I could wear a suit, a sneaker, all of my jewels, and a red lip everyday, I would feel most confident!”
Ahead of launching her own online boutique of curated essentials, Mays took time to share her favorite summer-ready men’s style must-haves in the midst of the NBA playoffs, which end July 22. Below, check out some of the best men’s fashion picks approved by the L.A. stylist.
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1. Mini Fisherman Beanies
These versatile knitted caps are ideal for throwing onto disheveled hair during every season. “Amazon has the best and most affordable in every color,” says Mays.
2. Illesteva Georgetown Sunglasses
“The lighter the tint, the better,” says the L.A. stylist of these Illesteva Georgetown oval lense sunglasses, which she reaches for specifically when working with clients.
3. Cos Relaxed Fit Organic Cotton T-Shirt
Mays says she looks to minimalist-chic label Cos for affordable staples. “I often say that just because my clients have ‘disposable incomes,’ does not mean they need to spend it all on clothing,” she adds. This sleek organic cotton shirt from the H&M-owned brand boasts a relaxed fit and dropped shoulders for laid-back days.
4. ’90s Scrunch Socks
Chunky socks “elevate and give a little throwback to all of your sweatsuits,” suggests Mays. These gym-ready socks are available in a variety of colors and offer enough slouch without looking too bulky.
5. Diamond Vintage Lapel Pins
For those black-tie soirées, Mays suggests finishing your lapel with a bejeweled brooch, which has been a go-to red carpet accessory among stylish men. A playful vintage lapel pin — like the Chopard floral brooch that client Anthony Anderson wore to this year’s Golden Globes — is perfect “for your tuxedo moments,” she says.
If you can’t find the right decades-past accoutrement, this crystal-embellished palm tree brooch by Dolce & Gabbana makes an equally stylish substitution.
6. Luxe Pinky Rings
Mays loves decking out her clients in decadent pinky rings. Her go-tos include a “Mejuri gold and onyx pinky signet ring for day and a David Yurman diamond pinky ring for night.”
7. Nike Air Jordan 1 Mid Sneakers
The stylist regularly outfits her clients in Nike Air Jordan 1 sneakers with eye-popping hues, like this throwback style featuring a mid-height design and the swoosh and other details in bright teal.
8. Todd Snyder x Champion 7-inch Camo Cutoff Sweatshorts
Mays looks to New York-based Todd Snyder for sharp suiting, and the luxe designer recently teamed with iconic sportswear label Champion on a range that blends right into her athletic clients’ wardrobes. This pair of soft French terry cutoff sweats offer an elevated take on your worn-in gym shorts, thanks to the raw-edge hem and convenient pockets.
9. Bottega Veneta Woven Weekender Duffle
Mays suggests upgrading your basic gym bag for this Bottega Veneta leather duffle featuring the luxe fashion house’s signature intrecciato weave.
10. Byredo Bal D’Afrique Eau de Parfum
Mays says she’s a fan of Byredo’s cult-favorite Bal D’Afrique fragrance, a floral, Africa-inspired scent with top notes of bergamot, African marigold and bucchu; middle notes of violet and cyclamen; and a base of vetiver and Moroccan cedarwood.
11. Byredo Treehouse Candle
To create a stylish summer setting at home (or perhaps to get her clients in a fashionable mindset), Mays loves lighting up Byredo’s Tree House candle, a woody and aromatic fragrance that has a leather base, top notes of bamboo and pimento, and middle notes of labdanum, myrrh and spice.
12. Fear of God Essentials Taupe Coach Jacket
For those balmy summer nights, this lightweight taupe jacket from Mays-approved luxury label Fear of God’s exclusive Essentials line for PacSun.
13. Patek Philippe Nautilus Watch
As seen on client Chris Paul, the L.A. stylist says luxury timepiece maker Patek Philippe’s Nautilus watches in gold are her favorite way to finish an ensemble.
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