Fonzworth Bentley aka Derek Watkins, the Morehouse College grad and one-time personal assistant to Sean “Diddy” Combs, has stepped out of his mentor’s shadow to become a respected authority on style and fashion. As the author of “Advance Your Swagger: How to Use Manners, Confidence and Style to Get Ahead” and host of MTV’s Jamie Foxx-produced reality show “From G’s to Gents,” Bentley is on a mission to prove that you can be suited up and hip at the same time. Do you think your man has what it takes to join his gentleman’s club?
As told to Qianna Smith
“A gentleman is someone who knows how to be himself in all social situations. A ‘G’ is someone who, by any means necessary, legitimate or not, does what he needs to do to survive. Don’t get it twisted, though, there is a ‘G’ in every gentleman,” says Bentley, pictured here with Jay-Z at his New York 40/40 Club.
Bentley was recognized by GQ magazine as the First Gentleman of Hip Hop, so we asked this fashion aficionado to tell us what stylish staples every man should have in his closet, and he dishes,
“President Obama’s confidence and style starts with his integrity and that has been absent in our politics. His inauguration is confirmation that America and the world has been starving for this,” says Bentley.
During tough economic times, Bentley suggests that men looking to empower their lives should: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean on him not with your own understanding, and have strength. In all your ways, acknowledge him. He will direct your path straight.”
Wondering how your man can reach his full swagger potential? Bentley, who has been working with pal Kanye West on an album, says: “Swagger is multifaceted. I believe you need Manners + Confidence + Style = Swagger. Think about it: if you have style and confidence, but you are rude, no one wants to be around you. If you are confident and mannerable but don’t dress appropriately for the occasion, you won’t gain entry.”
Curtis James Jackson III, better known as 50 Cent, step onto the scene via gangsta rap, but the former drug dealer turned multimillionaire has earned respect and world recognition for demonstrating both his street and business savvy. Ranked No. 26 on Forbes magazine’s 100 highest paid celebrities list, the rapper banked $100 million dollars in 2008.
“The teaching and lessons in my book are not optional. In this day and market, folks need to be over qualified for entry-level positions. A different level of excellence is now necessary. These tools will give you that competitive edge in this global economy. I want to be known for being a part of the solution, not the problem,” says Bentley.
Ladies, are you struggling with a brother who borderlines “thug,” but has gentleman potential? If so, Bentley has some suggestions.
“First, your man needs to make the decision that he wants to be a gentleman and a better man; it starts with him. Having a strong spiritual foundation is important, because it’s no secret we are living in the golden age of disrespect. You need proper etiquette in various settings, from a job interview to a dinner party; Not only for you to feel comfortable, but for people to feel comfortable around you. A lot of great networking happens at different types of affairs and you may or may not be invited because of your etiquette.”
Wondering how André 3000 was able to go from dirty south rapper to one of Vanity Fair magazine’s best-dressed men? “It was natural for him,” says Bentley, “As he had to move in different circles, he was smart enough to know how he needed to be received in the room. André has also retained his own unique spin on being appropriate for the occasion.”