For this week’s installment of Style, we are proud to feature Brooklyn native, Bilal A. Sheikh.
Bilal has a fantastic sense of style and is known for bringing affordable style inspiration to his Instagram followers.
We had a chance to interview Bilal and talk to him about his personal sense of style, his Instagram account and any style advice he can give our readers.
Congratulations on getting over 15k followers on your Instagram page! What do you think sets you apart from all of the other Instagram accounts out there? What made you start your account and what were some of the challenges you experienced when you first started? What are some of the cool things you’ve experienced because of your Instagram account?
I really did not think my Instagram page would reach this many followers because I didn’t start my page with that intention. I’ve had an interest in dressing well and looking presentable on a daily basis since I was very young. My focus has always been to try and create a style that would set me aside from the crowd.
One day, I just began taking pictures of my outfits and posted them on my social media sites. Over time they started to become highly liked. I wanted to share my outfits with others to inspire them to come up with ideas of their own.
From there, every new professional picture became even more liked than the last. That is how I began to gain a lot of followers. I believe what really sets my account apart from others, and the main reason why I have reached so many followers, is that when people see my page they see fashion/style that is within their reach.
They can easily get ideas, put together and afford the outfits that I post.
One of the biggest challenges I came across was getting my pictures taken. It is hard to have a photographer around when needed. But with the help of my co-worker, Jermaine Essuman who is also a fashion enthusiast, I was able to get my pictures taken and come up with different shots to capture the essence of my outfits. Through Instagram, I have become a men’s fashion idol for many, and it makes me really happy to be able to help others look and feel good about themselves.
One of the coolest things I have experienced through my account is promoting various brands and getting free items in return.
ESM is all about style. If you could describe your personal style in one sentence, what would it be? Do you think there is a difference between “style” and “fashion” or are they the same thing?
If I could describe my style in one sentence it would be: Using clothing with a variety of colors and patterns to put together distinct combinations.
I believe every style is unique regardless of what it is or who it comes from. I love to challenge myself to try new things and see what different pairings I can come up with.
There is a definitely a difference between style and fashion.
Fashion is a trend that is set in society and eventually fades away to make room for another new temporary trend. On the other hand, style is a personal asset that stays with an individual forever. Fashion creates rules, and style tends to bend them. I believe in style more than fashion, and that is the vibe I aspire to give off from my pictures.
Like myself, many others enjoy the originality that comes from style.
What advice would you give readers who are also trying to develop their style on a budget?
My only advice to readers would be they shouldn’t be afraid of putting together different brands.
Style does not come from designer clothing. You can pull different pieces from various brands and create a wonderful outfit. Do not limit yourself to specific brands or even colors, explore and come up with outfits that make not only you but also your pockets comfortable as well.
Do you think growing up in New York/Brooklyn has affected your sense of style? If so, how?
Growing up in Brooklyn, New York has definitely impacted my sense of style.
New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world, which gives you the opportunity to see so many different and wonderful tastes and styles.
Being able to see all of these different ideas on a daily basis, gives you the motivation to bring something different to the table, and stand out from the mainstream crowd.
Do you have a favorite look on your account right now? What is it?
I have two favorite looks. One is wearing plain chinos and a button down with a nice tie. The second is wearing chinos, a button down and a blazer with a nice pocket square and lapel.
An example of the first on my account is where I am wearing basic colored light gray chinos and a white button-down, which is a very simple outfit. But then the tie I am wearing, a pink and blue plaid print, gives the outfit a nice kick, and makes even the basic colors look good.
An example of the second on my account is where I am wearing khaki colored chinos with a white button-down, again plain and simple. But I threw on a black blazer with a red pocket square, black red and white lapel pin, with red shoes, which ends up giving the outfit a fresh and modern finish.
What are some of your favorite brands? For our readers who like your style, do you have mainstream, affordable brands you can recommend?
Some of my favorite affordable brands are Forever21, H&M, Zara, Aldo & Spring shoes.
Others on the not-so-budget-friendly side are Club Monaco, Burberry, Gucci, and Del Toro Shoes.
What’s your philosophy when it comes to accessories for men?
I personally believe accessories complete an outfit, for both women and men. It is one of the essential parts of creating an outfit. It can turn a good outfit into an awesome outfit.
For men, accessories can be as simple as matching belts with shoes. Or you can add watches/bracelets or even just a pocket to a blazer, to let an outfit stand out.
Has your style developed as your Instagram account has developed? If so, how has it changed?
Without a doubt. My sense of style has definitely developed more as my Instagram account developed.
I have been able to come up with new and diverse ideas from following many amazing fashion pages and reading all of the advice they have to offer.
Just like these pages have allowed me to bring something creative for others to enjoy, I hope my page can do the same for my followers.
Do you have any style icons? Who are they and why?
I admire individuals who aren’t afraid to be themselves and are comfortable with their own original style.
One such celebrity, whose style I respect, is Kanye West.
I admire his courage when it comes to wearing whatever he wants to wear without being uncomfortable and with confidence. He wears clothing you normally won’t see anyone else wearing, and yeah that may be because he is a celebrity but I still think his style is different and original, it doesn’t follow the “trend”.
One such Instagrammer who I consider a style icon is Blake Scott.
His style gives off such an original and fresh feel; he seems comfortable in any and everything that he wears. A lot of the combinations he makes in his outfits aren’t seen anywhere else, and that is because he isn’t afraid of standing out or doing something different.
That’s what I like, for people to be comfortable and happy with whatever they wear, and Blake Scott does that extremely well.
At ESM, we have a list of “Style Essentials” or pieces that every man should have in his wardrobe. Do you have your own list of style essentials? What are they?
There are different professional and casual essential items I believe men should have in their closets.
Some of the more professional essential items include a few basic button-down shirts, with a few blazers in different colors. You can make many different combinations with a handful variety of blazers and shirts.
One should also definitely have a few ties, if not a lot, then at least 2 or 3 basic colored ones such as black or navy.
Some causal essentials I have are white tees, which you can never have enough of, 2 or 3 comfortable pairs of jeans, a good pair of black sneakers and different color polo’s.
Lastly, having a watch is a must for me, for both professional and casual wear.
What does the future hold for Bilal Sheikh?
Right now I am focused on developing my career.
I am working towards becoming a certified public accountant and in a few years I hope to have a set career. A fashionable lifestyle has always been a passion of mine, but right now I am not looking to develop in the fashion industry professionally.
It is like a hobby, which I enjoy keeping up with and learning from. I love inspiring and helping people to come up with outfits and feel good about the way they dress. So for now, you will continue to see my daily outfit posts.
Who knows, maybe in the future I’ll find a way to work with my style sense professionally.
To keep up with Bilal A. Sheikh, you can follow him on his Instagram account at http://instagram.com/bilal1990.