Fit for a King: Movie-Inspired Attire

With the Oscars just around the corner and various other cinematic award shows come, gone and on the horizon, everyone is looking forward to the winners on-screen and on the red carpet! However, Toronto-based Art Director/Photographer Kareem King has taken the movie awards hoopla and his personal style one step further by hand-picking four outfits inspired by three of this year’s contenders.

Now before you say, “Wait a minute that doesn’t look like Leo’s suit or Ben Stiller’s sweater,” inspiration for Kareem King is so much more than just a literal interpretation – it encompasses mood, colour, and overall effect. So let’s take a look at how this talented individual uses his visual creativity to approach his wardrobe choices.

Veronica Hufana: Are you a movie buff?

Kareem King
: You can say that. There isn’t a movie bad enough that I won’t finish once I begin to watch.

VH: So what was it about this year’s Oscar contenders that prompted your most recent shopping excursions?

KK: It was more of a situation that escalated. My original intention was just to pick out a few items of colour. It was hard visualizing what outfits worked just by looking at the store displays. So I used a movie as a reference. I started with “The Wolf of Wall Street” because I had just seen it. It was the freshest in my head. So I picked out an outfit that I would be comfortable wearing if I were a character in that movie.

VH: And things just snowballed from there?

KK: Pretty much. I soon started to “see” other patterns of dress and started to reflect upon other movies I’ve seen at the time. It wasn’t just idle spending. These were clothes that I needed at the time. Perhaps that was a little justification on my part though.

VH: Ha! No worries. What stores or labels proved to be the most successful on your new found quest for cinematic style?

KK: Any place with a discount! Kidding. I started with my go to place, Zara.

VH: Hey, “diva-on-a-diming” it. I can respect that!
 So Zara, really?

KK: I like their fit, provided that they’re not sold out of my size.
 Same goes for more brands that I wear. 
There wasn’t any particular stratagy to picking one brand over the other; I
was just walking down Queen Street going from store to store to see what I would see.

VH: Were you surprised by any particular store that was able to meet your needs?

KK: Perhaps one. I didn’t intend on shopping at Penguin originally. After picking out one or two shirts, I just kept the theme going once again.
I was determined to not wear black/grey all the time. I don’t think they even had anything in black or grey.

VH: Then they’re right on trend for spring! Tell me more about your general shopping approach.

KK: Set a budget. Look for sales. Avoid redundancy, meaning don’t buy anything that looks similar to what you already got at home. I always try to add items that make multiple outfits, never a piece that could only be worn with, for example, a specific shoe or accessory.
 Also, I don’t shop when things are fresh. Kinda like going grocery shopping on an empty stomach. I feel the season out.

VH: Master the “mix-n-match”. I’m also pro-versatility. So based on the four Oscar looks you have photographed, which of these looks are you most proud of?

KK: Only time will tell. Certain combinations serve as day-to-day wear, while others just for going out. I really might like one to start, but might get sick of wearing it all of the time. It’s like when you’re going through photos of yourself and you can’t tell if those photos are from the same day.

VH: Fair enough. How about at this very moment?

KK: “The Wolf”. I was lacking in the “dress code” department for quite some time.
I had dress clothes, but they felt very formal, like I was heading to church or something.

“The Wolf”: Everything by Zara. Watch by Emporio Armani.

VH: Which was the hardest look to put together?

KK: The “Joaquin Phoenix” was the hardest to put together.
 I tried so many sweater and shirt combinations before I was happy.  The rarity of the colours made it difficult to make each item reusable outside that specific outfit.  They had to match each other and at the same time potentially go with something I had at home.

“Her”: Shirt and Sweater by Original Penguin. Chords by Zara. Shoe by HUF.

VH: And the easiest?

KK: “Walter Mitty’s Secret Life”. It’s really just the sweater and jeans I wear all the time.
 It was more functional than anything.
I have that sweater in multiple colours.

“Walter Mitty’s Secret Life”: Hat by Kareem King. Sweater by Zara. Tee by Franklin & Marshall. Levis 501. Boots by the Hundreds.

VH: Tell us about your system of cataloging your outfits.

KK: I began to take pictures of what I want to wear so that they don’t end up in the back of my closet.  I also give them nicknames to remember them by.  I happened to be watching a bunch of movies at the time so that’s why they have movie nicknames.  When it’s time to hang everything up and put them away, they’re not going to be organized by outfit, but by colour and style.

VH: Now assuming you don’t always shop with the movies in mind, do your wardrobe choices in this particular instance reflect your taste in movies?

KK: No not really.  There will always be different themes when I’m shopping.

VH: Would any of these looks make the short list for the red carpet if you were given the chance to attend?

KK: Probably not.  That’s the black, grey and white’s time to shine.

VH: Who will you be keeping an eye out for on the red carpet?

KK: Any man bold enough not to wear the standard issued tux without overdoing it.  I browse a few of conservative men’s style magazines, Esquire, GQ and what not.  I never pay attention to any magazine that tries to sell “what’s hot in the streets”.

“Walter Mitty’s Ordinary Life”: Shirt by Original Penguin. Sweater and Chords by Zara.
Shoes by Polo Ralph Lauren.

VH: Who or what are your non-cinematic style influences?

KK: Wacky entertainers and bulky athletes.  I say to myself, “I’m not going to dress like those guys”.

VH: Hahaha! And what of the things you emulate or aspire to?

KK: I want to be well dressed in every situation as long as I am still functional in what I wear.  I don’t want to be so stylish that people copy my individual style though. That kind of defeats the purpose.

VH: Agreed.  So, as a Creative Director/Photographer, is your general taste in clothing a more accurate reflection of who you are (your personality), or what you do (your job)?

KK: It’s more a reflection of my personality for sure.  I hardly think about work when picking items out.

VH: Back to the Oscars. Who do you think is taking home the gold?

KK: Matthew McConaughey for the “Dallas Buyers Club”.

Well, let’s see if Mr. King’s Oscar prediction is as stellar as his personal style!


  • Company: Kareem works at and owns a design and production company, One-Nyne ( It’s been around 10 years as of October.
  • He studied Technical Illustration at Sheridan, and Graphic Design at George Brown.
  • No stranger to the fashion scene, Kareem has conducted several fashion photo shoots for models and local celebrities.
  • Fave places to shop: Proximity dictates his shopping options a lot of the time. So, Tiger of Sweden, Original Penguin, Zara, and of course Fred Perry are his immediate standbys.
  • Fave brands: Lyle & Scott Superdry. But if he really wants to treat himself, J. Lindeberg and Burberry.