April 24, 2008
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It's late on a Saturday night and Vanderbilt has just earned a victory over Auburn when Shan Foster returns to the court to visit with friends and family, who watched the senior score 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
While his teammates are mostly dressed in hooded sweatshirts or polos after the game, Foster comes out of the locker room looking like someone you'd see on the cover of GQ.
Whether it is his favorite - the black pinstripe - or any one of his assortment of suits, which ranges "between 10 to 15," Foster's appearance can be summarized in one word: stylish.
The tradition of wearing a suit after every home game dates back to Foster's freshman year, but he believes the process began much earlier. He credits his parents for instilling in him the desire to dress professionally.
"My mom and dad tried to instill in me that it was always important to look professional, and it's just something that stuck with me," Foster said. "The main reason (I started dressing up) was that my mom and my dad taught me to be professional in everything that I do. The way I speak, the way I dress, the way I carry myself of that sort."
Stuck, it certainly has. The conclusion of each game brings intrigue about what Foster will wear next. It also brings a new set of compliments from the many autograph-seekers and fans who swarm Foster when he returns to the court after each game.
Foster's propensity for style certainly is not lost among his teammates. In fact, they are as intrigued as anyone to see what custom suit Foster will pull out of his closet next.
"He wears suits all the time, and you never know what he's going to have on," senior guard Alex Gordon said. "He dresses up for every game, and it is interesting to see what he is going to come in wearing."
Gordon also believes that Foster's attire speaks to the character he has and the type of person he is.
"He is a formal guy and he likes to be presentable, verbally and in the way he dresses, and I think that speaks of his character and the way his parents brought him up," Gordon said.
Foster's fashionable appearance after home games has also brought a new set of challenges from his teammates.
Since his freshman year Foster has not only been battling the opposing team on the court, but he also has been battling his teammates for wardrobe supremacy. During his freshman year it was Mario Moore and Julian Terrell. Last season it was Derrick Byars.
"Derrick and I (challenged each other) a couple of times," Foster said. "Sometimes he'd beat me out and sometimes I'd beat him out. I remember that he had this white pinstripe suit that he'd wear and whenever he wore that it was just hands down. There wasn't anything I could do to top that."
As for this season, Gordon and his teammates have received similar challenges from Foster, but if there is one thing they have learned, it is that challenging Foster to a fashion contest is one battle they can't win.
"We wouldn't compete with him for a minute," Gordon said. "He has too many suits. He could wear a different suit for weeks straight."
Even though his teammates know they can't compete with his wardrobe on a game-by-game basis, Foster's stylish dress has led to more players wearing suits after home games.
"Hopefully it is a tradition that is starting," Foster said of his teammates dressing up. "Those are guys that have their own personalities and they kind of dress accordingly. Different guys wear different things for different reasons."
Although he says he doesn't follow styles and fashion that closely, when you ask him about his collection of suits his vernacular makes you question your own knowledge of formal wear. With a collection that ranges from three-button to four-button to long suits, Foster's collection is enough to dwarf that of most anyone else, but just where does he get these suits?
"I have an aunt who owns a formal wear store, and she is the one who supplies me with all my suits," Foster said.
Like the majority of college seniors, Foster has no idea where he will end up after college. Whether he will be able to continue his basketball career in the NBA is yet to be seen, but if given the chance to play at the next level, Foster leaves little doubt that he will have no trouble living up to the NBA dress code set in place by NBA Commissioner David Stern. In fact, as his collection of suits continues to grow, he may become the new poster child for the dress code.