He earned himself the nickname “Clyde” due to his unique style. He favoured wide-brimmed fedora hats long before they were popular, much like the hat Clyde of “Bonnie and Clyde” favoured wearing. As Frazier commented in a GQ interview, Clyde was not only his nickname because of his style, but because, “[he] used to steal the ball like Clyde robbing a bank”.
Born March 29th, 1945, Frazier had a promising start as a football player. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, Frazier didn’t see a lot of African-Americans getting opportunities to play football. Although Clyde was offered football scholarships, he accepted a basketball scholarship to Southern Illinois University instead, which helped start him on the road to NBA fame.
Frazier may be known for his outstanding point-guard skills, but he is certainly better known for his unique sense of style. His most notable fashion accoutrements were his Rolls Royce, his mink fur coat, and—of course—his wide-brimmed fedoras. Despite being teased by his teammates for wearing an untrendy wide-brimmed hat, the fedoras eventually came into fashion and people realized that he wasn’t out of touch; but that Clyde Frazier was a trend-setter.
Frazier’s closet boasted forty-nine suits, including one made of seal skin! In our day and age, PETA’s angry mobs would throw red paint on you for daring to wear such an item, but in 1970s New York City it seemed that anything went. Frazier even had a cow-skin suit, but his closet also contained items such as professional-looking, basic, black suits. He believed that fashion was a huge part of the NBA, and that the professionalism of the players needed to be maintained on and off of the court.
Shown in the photo above, Frazier took many chances with his fashion statements. His Rolls-Royce spoke for itself – it was shiny, massive, expensive and luxurious. It would have been impossible to ignore the 6’4” well-dressed Frazier cruising through the club district of New York City in his Rolls-Royce. Also in the photo is Frazier himself, showing off his trademark hat and distinctively unique style. His wide-lapel trench coat was masterfully mixed with subtle printed trousers. Frazier’s high-collared shirt ties the look together, allowing the other pieces to speak, and not overshadowing his overall look. His heeled leather boots add flair to the outfit, along with his accessories like the massive ring on his right hand and his oversized sunglasses. It is clear from his comfortable lean on his car and playful smirk that Frazier owned his fashion. Instead of the outfit wearing him, he wore the outfit and commanded attention.
Walter Frazier’s 2010 book “Rockin’ Steady: A Guide to Basketball and Cool” shows many photographs of his impressive clothing collection. Frazier’s book talks about his clothing collection from his forty-nine suits to his fanciful fur collection to his fifty pairs of shoes—everything from loafers to lace-ups. Of course, for a man of the NBA, fifty pairs of shoes might not seem shocking.
For more information about Frazier’s indelible style and extensive photographs of his fierce outfits, check out his book (which is available on Amazon).