Ten Essential Ways To Look Good by John Legend

When John Legend brought us the idea of giving our readers Ten Essential Ways To Look Good, we were intrigued. John presents to Sarah J. Edwards a candid list of tips, including appropriateness, elegance and good health, proving he’s a strict and promising life coach.

The original story was first published in BLAG Vol. 2 Nø 6 print edition in 2006, this is an edited version.

Singer / Songwriter John Legend poses in London for photographer Sarah J. Edwards. The portrait is head and shoulders. John wears a striped button down top and soft-tailored green jacket.
John Legend photographed by Sarah J. Edwards

Interview and Photography by Sarah J. Edwards

Art Direction by Sally A. Edwards

Styling by Harris Elliott

Styling Assistant: TC

Hair and Make Up by Tara Hickman

Location: West End, London


John Legend is living up to his name. He arrives at our shoot on what is officially the UK’s hottest day, barely breaking a bead of sweat. He is getting ready to release a new album, ‘Once Again’, produced by none other than Kanye West, Will.I.Am, Raphael Saadiq and his good self, it is the follow-up to his hugely successful debut ‘Get Lifted’, which earnt him three Grammys and sold over 2.6 million copies worldwide.

He’s also got a great reputation for style and presentation so, we thought it was only right to set him a challenge and have him bring you his Ten Essential Ways To Look Good.

Over to John...

This is in no order, I’m just going to say them.

Nø. 1

I’d say just be next to a good looking woman, that’s one, because no matter how bad you’re looking, if she looks good, she’ll make you look better. Why not?

Nø. 2

Go to the gym. You know, it’s not going to kill you! Stay in shape, do a little running, a little bit of boxing, whatever it takes. Lift a little bit of weights, just take care of yourself.

Nø. 3

Don’t smoke too much or drink too much coffee. It’ll make your teeth look terrible. You don’t want your teeth to look terrible, ‘cause women look at your smile and they know they want to be with you. If your teeth look terrible from a lot of coffee and smoking, then, not sexy.

Nø. 4

Don’t look like you’re trying to hard to look good. So, you have to pull off this balance of looking good, actually working to look good, but making it look like you didn’t work at all to look good. You know, relax in what you’re wearing, don’t super trick it out trying to make everything match perfectly, you know. Just don’t overdo it, don’t over match.

Nø. 5

Don’t try too hard to be sexy, ‘cause again, it’s not sexy if you’re trying too hard to be sexy. If it seems like you calculated it, then it’s not sexy anymore.

Nø. 6

You have to dress for the occasion. For me, when I’m just walking around the East Village, I’m in my jeans, t-shirt or a button up, my sneakers, sunglasses whatever. But then you’ve got to know when it’s time to dress up and put the tux on or whatever, and be appropriate for the occasion, but still cool.

Like when I go to black tie stuff, I’ll wear a tux, but no tie or something, be a little bit different to everyone else. It looks just like you’re relaxed in whatever the situation, just really elegant and relaxed at the same time.

Nø. 7

Blending. I think blending things, like blending a little elegance with a little ruggedness at the same time is good. So like, my hair is unkempt, or has an air of being a little bit unkempt, but it’s also lined up and got a contained chaos. It’s like nappy but it’s still neat in some ways. Kinda combining those two things at once is usually a good way to think about style. Not too much elegance, not too much ruggedness. A mix of it.

Nø. 8

Being healthy. Getting a rest. Getting enough sleep at night, drinking water. You’re skin will look better, your eyes will look better. White guys: don’t tan too much. That’s one of my tips. ‘Cause it’s bad for your skin! It looks good for a little while, but it’s gonna wear on you, like five or ten years down the road, and it doesn’t wear well, so just be your colour and look good, you know.

Nø. 9

Transport. See in New York, we don’t care about cars, everybody rides a cab or a subway, but in LA, you’ve got to have a nice car. I like really nice cars, but not super flashy, again, don’t look like you’re trying to hard, don’t trick it out. Don’t put every kind of rim and gold plating on everything, it’s just looks gaudy and stupid.

Nø. 10

Don’t wear too much jewellery, it just looks silly after a while. Wear clothes that fit, like I’m not part of the whole baggy [scene]. Don’t wear it like two sizes too big – your shirt down your thighs – you know. Wear some clothes that fit, the whole ‘80’s...90’s hip hop baggy thing is over with. Rappers dress nice now, Kanye, Common, Jay-Z, everyone’s dressing nice. So you ain’t gotta dress like back in the ‘90’s hip hop, it’s not cool!