James R. Sanders is a fashion editor, celebrity stylist and host of Styled by James, the popular live talk show. Sanders originally caught our eye when he was featured on the Chubstr feed on Instagram. Fiercely unique with a gorgeous rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic, he channels idols like Bianca Jagger, Muhammed Ali, Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane through impeccable hand-tailored looks fitted for a larger frame.
You can find Sanders’ work in Vogue Italia, L’Officiel, Glamour, GQ, Blavity and The Huffington Post. You can also catch the Styled By James talk show on YouTube or further fashion inspo on his Instagram and Tumblr.
Name: James R. Sanders
Location: New York City
Hometown: Atlantic City, NJ
Brand: I am a stylist and my hashtag is #StyledbyJames
Where can we find you on the web? You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Wear Your Voice: How do you describe your style? What informs it?
James Sanders: This is a fabulous question. I would describe my style like this: if Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane conceived a child and that child was thick in the waist and cute in the face, he’d probably be me! In other words, my personal style now is minimalist rock and roll. Which is funny because a few years ago it was very Mad Men — I wore a shirt and tie to everything, even just to go to the laundromat. Major fashion influences include anything from the ’70s. I love jersey and linen and I am becoming obsessed with knitwear — like seriously obsessed. I love leather and suede and I die for exotic skins like crocodile, python and stingray!
WYV: What initially inspired your career in fashion?
JS: Fashion was something I stumbled on. I thought I was going to be a lawyer. I loved watching Sex and the City and I thought to myself, “how friggin’ awesome would it be to have Carrie’s job, but with fashion — instead of sex.” So I pursued fashion writing, and then public relations, and then styling. I started styling celebrities and then editorials for magazines and the rest, I guess, is history.
WYV: What would you be doing if you had taken a different path?
JS: I would probably be a backup singer. My grandmother was a professional singer and I’ve always wanted to do background vocals for good singers. A dream job would be to sing background for Faith Evans or Anthony Hamilton. I pursue everything whole-heartedly, so I would eventually be my own artist, but I think of background singing like an internship. To me, it prepares you for when it’s finally your turn.
WYV: Who are your three top StyleCrushes?
JS: StyleCrushes? Hmmm, first on my list is Bianca Jagger, because in the ’70s her style epitomized high voltage glamour. Muhammad Ali because he was one of the best-dressed men of his time. And lastly, I have to add Marc Jacobs because not only is he a brilliant designer, but his personal style pushes boundaries.
WYV: Where or whom do you shop?
JS: I shop everywhere — but lately, it’s been thrift shops. I’ll clean the garment and then re-purpose it if it’s too small. I’ve been known to buy two of a shirt that I absolutely adore and then make one larger and longer. As for direct stores, I’m a fan of Gulliva, King Size, Asos and JC Penney. I also live for Bergdorf’s for accessories and Barneys for shoes.
WYV: Which designers would you be most excited to work with in the future?
JS: It’s always a pleasure to work with the people at Chanel. They are the best in the business. I love working with Valentino and Saint Laurent is always fun too. In terms of New Yorkers, the Rebecca Minkoff people are really cool and Prabal Gurung is always awesome. A dream client would have to be Michelle Obama after she leaves the White House. I feel like people are still going to be looking at Michelle because she’ll have more freedom over her fashion. Working with her as her stylist would be amazing because I’d be able to show who she is now, which would surely be her truest self. I’d also love to work with Erykah Badu. I think she’s such a creative person and I’d love the opportunity to style her for something. And lastly, I’d love to do for Bette Midler what Law Roach is doing for Celine Dion.
WYV: How can the body-positivity movement be more inclusive of male and other masculine bodies and identities? How can the media?
JS: I think the mainstream media is slow to the curve — that’s always been the case with everything. Believe it or not, the media is always the last to talk about a trend, and that’s a shame. So with that being said, I think the media needs to see more and diverse plus men in fashion in order to see that this isn’t a thing — it’s a lifestyle.
WYV: Who would you like to see more of on the runways and on tv or the big screen?
JS: I’d like to see more plus men on TV and in film, but in situations where they’re not only the funny fat friend. When this happens it creates an expectation that’s unfair, but typical. I’d also like to see more Blacks in lead roles. It’s a great time to be Black in Hollywood, but it isn’t enough.
WYV: How do you wear your voice?
JS: It took me a lot to get to where I am today — sartorially. This is me at my most confident. I believe that fashion and style is for everyone. So when I wear something, I am making that statement. That doesn’t mean that you’ll see me in a speedo anytime soon — even if I weighed 140 pounds, I still wouldn’t wear one — but it does mean that style can be whatever you want it to be. I know fashion and because of that, I am able to wear things that play to my strengths without me being embarrassed by my weaknesses. I am who I am and every time I put on an outfit, it’s reflected.