Detroit Pistons head coach Flip Saunders is accustomed to being on the sidelines, but when it comes to fashion, he jumps right into the game.
Saunders’ wardrobe is full of “conservative tailored suits with a little bit of a flair,” says Herman Masters, manager of Paul Cicchini Custom Clothier in Birmingham, where Saunders is a frequent shopper.
“More than anything, I think a lot boils down to what I think is really comfortable,” Saunders says. During games, Saunders needs to wear something that won’t hinder what he does. “I never sit down – I am usually racing up and down the sidelines; I want something that is somewhat comfortable.”
Saunders is open to taking some fashion coaching tips himself, although not from his family. “Everyone is afraid,” he says. “They don’t want to give the wrong advice â€¦ if we lose, then they don’t want to be blamed.”
Saunders sometimes consults Masters or Ray Hines at Cicchini, and Mike Browe at LeConte in Rochester Hills. “We direct him,” says Masters, but Saunders knows what he likes. Masters suggests hues that will look good on TV, which include shades of blue, yellow, and rust.
Masters says Saunders is more adventurous when choosing ties, opting for those with lots of color and patterns. Favorites include Vitaliano Pancaldi, Dion, and Tino Cosma.
In addition to custom clothiers, Saunders shops at such standbys as Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and Macy’s. When accessorizing, he turns to cufflinks and watches to add zip to his suits. A favorite pair of cuff links with a “little basketball player on it” was given to him as a gift when he arrived in Detroit.
Saunders’ job is to size up his players’ skills on the court, but he doesn’t shy away from giving his opinion on their fashion sense after they hang up their jerseys. He says a few are standouts.
“Chauncey [Billups] is good,” he says, and “Rip [Rick Hamilton] is, of course, good, but [Antonio] McDyess is the one who seems to pull everything off,” he says. “He looks good if he’s wearing cutoff shorts with a shirt.”
But the Pistons have a little friendly advice of their own about their coach’s threads.
“The players will comment that they like [my] suit,” he says, “but most of them will comment on my tie.” Most outspoken is McDyess, since he and Saunders stand next to each other during the national anthem.
When asked if he has a lucky suit he dons on game days, Saunders says with a laugh: “I haven’t come up with that yet. If I did, I would wear that one 82 times.”