Detroit Stylist Marv Neal Shares His Fashion Tips

Marv Neal grew up in a multigenerational home full of stylish women. He recalls a childhood marked by images of his great-grandmother, a seamstress, measuring waists and sewing hems while clients perched on crates. With ease, he can rattle off which woman in his family was known to adopt which type of style: His oldest aunt was ’70s disco glamour while his own mother was more ’90s cool.

“[Fashion] was just always around,” Neal says. “I feel like it was innate for me to get into it.”

As a boy, Neal enjoyed a master class in style, and today he’s a wardrobe stylist, working with individuals and publications, and he’s even added a few movie and TV credits to his impressive résumé.

In April 2022, Neal assisted costume designer Keia Bounds on culling just the right looks for the second season of the Starz drama BMF. The show follows the rise of the infamous Detroit crime family led by brothers Demetrius and Terry Flenory, who operated most notably in the 1980s and ’90s. The production team descended on Belle Isle with trailers full of looks, and Neal was charged with tapping local staples like Hot Sam’s in Detroit to fill in the gaps with pieces like alligator dress shoes and slick suits for that unique brand of old-school Motor City magic.

“It was five days of easy work, of what I already do. It was really, really cool,” he says.

His first and greatest love is fashion coverage in magazine articles. He appreciates the opportunity to progress a specific story while spotlighting, in some cases, a dozen different looks (such as Jalen Duren’s for Hour Detroit’s feature on the Detroit Piston). He says, “I like to see my work in publications, because that’s what I dreamed of doing.”

Whether working with an individual who wants to revamp their wardrobe or on a closed set, Neal says fashion and style can be deceptively intimate. “Getting into people’s psyche is always a thing, figuring out who they are, what they like.”

Here, Neal talks must-have closet staples, his favorite trend, and the future of fashion styling.

My personal style is…

I’m a street style guy. … I love a nice pair of sunglasses, and I like clean lines. I try to keep it simple.

My most beloved fashion era is…

The ’90s. It wasn’t as loud and bold as the ’80s. Especially ’92 to ’98, I call it the golden era. It was the best for gym shoes. At one point it got real high-end driven: Coogi, Moschino, Versace. That was my time in high school, where everything had to be name brand, your jeans had to be name brand. I don’t know … it was just a certain look.

My most important piece of shopping advice is…

Buy what fits. Dress your body. No matter if you’re 600 pounds down to 110, buy what fits. And don’t be scared of a tailor or seamstress, somebody bringing some stuff in or letting it out. Undergarments are important as well; I think women need to get back to that.

Three staples that should be in every man’s closet are…

A denim button-down shirt, a black suit, and a nice watch.

Three staples that should be in every woman’s closet are…

A black dress, a white blouse, and a nice pair of stilettos.

My favorite trend right now is…

I’m not mad at the oversized look. I feel like I’m just at the age now that I don’t want to really pull it off or try it, but I like to see the younger generation do it, the men and the women, the baggier feel.

The future of fashion styling looks like …

Expressive. Fashion is subjective, so there’s no wrong thing to do. So, I feel like the future is in the love of expressing yourself.


This story is from the February 2024 issue of Hour Detroit magazine. Read more in our digital edition, and click here for fashion tips from other Metro Detroiters featured in MI Style.  

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