Greenville-based style consultant Fredrick Dean considers himself an accidental success, with one caveat—he has always dressed to impress. This philosophy paid off in a big way on multiple occasions, affording Dean a lifestyle far beyond his imagination. Today, he leverages his own life story and infectious personality, convincing young people to use wardrobe as a springboard to their dreams.
“My grandfather started telling me early on to look sharp in public,” recalls Dean. Following that advice to the letter, Dean showed up for his first job—second-shift production work in a factory—wearing dress slacks and a dress shirt. When ribbed by his co-workers, he explained that he didn’t even own jeans. In less than a month, he was tapped to head a new quality-control division. “I was completely unqualified,” laughs Dean, “but the boss said ‘I want someone who looks like you.’ They hired me because I was polished, not qualified. My granddad cried when I told him,” says Dean.
When a model friend convinced him to escort her to a movie audition, Dean was the only person in a crowded hallway of wannabes who was wearing a suit. “I had just purchased my first Giorgio Armani suit,” he says, “and the next thing you know, I was cast in a movie. Again, I was completely unqualified, but I inadvertently caught someone’s attention by simply looking sharp.”
Although Dean’s corporate career was long-lasting and successful, his accidental movie role led to a busy concurrent career as a model, one which he’s had for more than 20 years. Consequently, you may have seen him in ads for Tommy Hilfiger, L.L. Bean, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Verizon, Gulfstream, BMW, Home Depot, Biltmore, Belk, and many other well-known brands.
Today, Dean is retired from the corporate world and still does a little modeling, but spends most of his time on private style consulting and giving back to the community. In his philanthropic pursuits, he aims to make a broader impact than the one his grandfather made on him, albeit using the same message as his foundation. Today, high schools, colleges, and universities across the Southeast bring him in to help their students navigate the unpredictable paths lying ahead, in part, through sartorial choices.
A popular speaker at career day and similar events, Dean catalyzes students with his humble nature and obvious success. After relaying his personal journey and the great fortune that one simple rule brought him, Dean tells students, “When school is over, you don’t dress the same. Your wardrobe should change.” He also warns them, “Some of us think we should follow the trends, but there’s a classic way of dressing that never changes.” This simple advice saves a fortune over the course of a lifetime.
With his audiences, Dean shares that he grew up shopping in the dollar stores, but now consults privately with professional athletes, politicians, CEOs, and the VIPs they refer. Like him, his clients look polished, and with his help can recognize the best cuts, fabrics, and timeless wardrobe pieces.
Dean relays a story about a student who mistakenly believed that leggings were appropriate for a job interview, simply because they cost more than $100. He addresses this by holding up a $900 pair of Kiton jeans, while actually wearing far less expensive dress pants to speak at their school. “They learn,” he says, “that just because something is trendy or costs a lot doesn’t make it appropriate.”
Dean cares little for notoriety and doesn’t advertise his style consultancy, JusDean. Gregory’s on the Go owner and longtime Greenville resident David Gregory joins Fredrick on the JusDean team as an advisor for formal wear. Realtor Lindsie Sink is also key to the group, consulting on professional ladies wear. JusDean clients range in age from 25 to 75, but Dean’s focus is mainly on effecting change in young adults. He promotes having the right wardrobe, and the doors that can open, while also exposing students to life lessons about things like credit and real estate. His goal is to equip them with tools for success, and an important mindset they don’t always get at home: “Look sharp,” he says, “and ignore any ribbing you get for it.”
Of his wide-eyed audience, he simply says, “They are listening . . . and if I can get one or two, I’ve done my job.”
For more info on Fredrick Dean, visit jusdean.net.