Sporting his favorite fitted blue button-down shirt tucked into khaki pants, Anthony Perry, Instructor in Spanish, layers a suit jacket on top to complete the ensemble. Although Perry feels quite comfortable with his look, it took him a long time to gain this confidence.
Perry describes his style as “urban” and “utilitarian.” He prefers functional outfits that can hold his wallet and keys, and he dresses in layers because he finds it difficult to walk around in a heavy coat. Not only is Perry’s fashion sense practical, it also reflects his development and growth as a person, as he dresses in a way that allows himself to feel more in control of his own self expression.
“There’s a stereotypical look for a black male, and I don’t know if I necessarily fit that… But I think that my dress is a reflection of how I feel, a reflection of the level of comfortableness I have with myself. I put on what I like – so whatever makes me happy, I wear,” said Perry in an interview with The Phillipian.
Growing up, Perry’s wardrobe was heavily dictated by his mother. Even throughout high school, he would take his mother’s opinion into consideration when dressing himself.
“[My mother] emphasized that what you wore was a reflection of not only who you were, but of who your family was,” said Perry. “So there was always a very conscientious way of dressing [in my family]. You understood that, most of the time, people could interpret or look at you a certain way based on how you dressed.”
Perry continued to dress formally when he began working at St. George’s School, a boarding school in Rhode Island with a strict dress code. During this time, a simple suit and tie defined Perry’s style. It wasn’t until he met his husband that he began to dress more casually.
“[My husband] said, ‘You are too formal,’ and I think that sort of influenced my dressing down, but not to the point where I wore T-shirts or jeans or flip-flops all the time. I still want to be formal sometimes, because I’m a teacher and I have to have a certain persona, but it’s sort of formal with a dress-down look,” said Perry.
In recent years, Perry has made a conscious effort not to worry about other people’s opinions, instead focusing on his own sentiments concerning his clothing choices.
“Because I dress for myself, and I have a certain way that I dress, I’m not thinking about ‘Oh, what will people think about what I’m wearing?’ I’m thinking, ‘Given how I feel today, what will make me the most comfortable?’… If I feel like today’s gonna be a rough day, sometimes I dress up more so than I normally would. But if I feel like today is a chill day, or a day when I only have one class, then I’ll wear khakis, an untucked shirt,” said Perry.
Over time, Perry has accumulated a wardrobe of plain T-shirts and button-downs that can be paired with practically any jeans, khakis, jackets or boots. He prides himself on having a streamlined array of clothes that can easily mix and match, instead of having clothes that only go well with one other piece of clothing.
Perry said, “Before, I would just think, ‘Ooh, I like this shirt. I want this shirt.’ And I reached a point where I started to think about my wardrobe. I would think, ‘I like this shirt, but is this shirt going to fit in with what I wear?’… And so I think that part of the growth process for my style is that I started to think larger. I started to think about the wardrobe and not the specific process.”
Besides switching to warmer boots and more layers, Perry has not adjusted his style since arriving at Andover.
“I feel like my style choices have been a growth in my comfortableness with who I am as a person… I don’t want to be performing for other people, like ‘This is how we dress in New England, you should change how you dress’… I want to continue to be who I am but also incorporate aspects of New England, like my L.L. Bean boots, because there’s snow. But I don’t want to give up how I express myself, and who I am,” said Perry.
Although Perry has never considered himself a fashion icon on campus, his students have noticed his style in an everyday context.
“The man knows how to dress,” said Jonathan Jow ’16, a student in his Spanish 400 class. “He somehow comes to class every day wearing outfits that reflect his character exactly.”