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Devin Birkes: The Man Behind The Suit

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

For those of you who might not have heard of Devin Birkes, he is the most dapperly-dressed kid on campus. Whether you’re bringing him to a date function or seeing him walk to class, he makes sure to always look presentable while rocking an aura of confidence and friendliness. You know you can always strike up a conversation with him.

When I met with Devin, the 6’5″ all-American kid (you know, the one your parents would love if you ever brought home), he greeted me at the door and was eager to talk about suits, bow ties, and business as we sat down in his modernly decorated apartment.

Name: Devin Birkes

Year: Junior

Hometown: Orlando, FL

Major: Hospitality

Her Campus (HC): What’s your involvement here at FSU?

Devin Birkes (DB): I’m really involved in athletics here, particularly with basketball. In addition, I’m [also] very active in [Alpha Kappa Psi], a business fraternity here on campus. At AKPsi I’m the Sports Coordinator; I run all the sports, which I facilitate through FSU, and try to put on some local events.

HC: Did you know you wanted to be involved in these organizations when you first came to FSU?

DB:  I knew I wanted to do something with sports, and it’s taken a couple years to get to where I really have an impact. [With] AKPsi, I now work with almost 200 individuals doing what I love to do, and on top of that, I still get to play and be a part of it, [which is really neat].

HC: Have you been playing sports all your life?

DB: Ever since I was three, and all the way through my senior year of high school, I’ve been playing basketball.  I also played [water polo for two years].

HC: Do you think playing sports will help you with business in the future?

DB: Definitely! You learn a lot playing sports, especially basketball, because a lot of it is [teamwork], and [communicating] with your co-workers and teammates — that’s how you win. That goes for anything, whether it’s sports, working on a project, or even the military. [Playing sports] also teaches you how to be a leader, to be a follower, [how to] listen to instructions, and it also gives you that competitive nature — [the drive] to compete and want to do better, even if it’s friendly competition; to see who can sell more or bring in the most revenue.

HC: What’s your five-year plan for the future? What do you see yourself doing?

DB: Hopefully [I’ll be] working with Disney, doing events for them. I currently work there now in two different restaurants, but hopefully soon I’ll get an internship with the various event groups they have at Disney, [preferably in] the sports field. I applied for a couple of those, but really [I just want to] get my foot in the door with events and start working on these bigger things, [so I can] really start shaping my future. [Then] one day maybe [I’ll] even [run] sports for Disney or ESPN; I’d love to do College GameDay, work on the break down, set up, and run that event — it would be a lot of fun!

HC: Since you’d like to work for College GameDay, is there anything you’d want to change or add to it?

DB: I definitely wouldn’t change anything, but [as for] what I would add… that’s a great question. The experience is so much fun as it is, but I might try to make it even bigger! [I’d] maybe try to get more people involved. I mean, there’s already tons of people involved, but [I’d] maybe try to get even more people into it, you know, like people who might not want to come out because it’s too early in the morning. But really I’d know more once I’m there to see what I [could] bring to the table.

HC: Awesome! So, moving on to style, where did you learn how to dress so well?

DB: I come from a big military family, and growing up, my dad, who was a commander in the Navy, always had us dressing “smart.” My hair could never be long, always clean, [and] for the longest time I could even have sideburns, but by the time I got to middle school we had to change that [laughs]. However, I’ve always taken pride in how I dress. I’ve always liked looking good. It was one of the few [ways] I could fit in growing up; it was tailored to you, and it would look good. As far as bow ties go, two things kind of happened: one, I went [to] a semi formal event that actually called for bow ties, and I spent a great deal of time before the event learning how to tie one [laughs]; and two, my cousin, who was a Marine (we are very much alike, almost brothers, even though he’s 10 years older than I am), would always be rocking suspenders with a bow tie — everyone was so impressed, [and I] wanted to follow suit. So those were my two inspirations for learning to tie [a bow tie], and I’ve been looking good ever since. [Laughs]

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HC: Do you have a favorite article of clothing that you own?

DB: [I] like a lot of things that I own, but [because] I’m 6’5″ it’s really hard to find clothing, so when I do find anything that fits, especially in tall, it becomes my favorite. [Laughs] But I guess [my] favorite, favorite would probably be dressing up, looking clean, looking good, [and] looking nice — so I’d probably say my suits!

HC: Where do you buy most of your suits and ties?

DB: [I] buy JoS. A Bank [suits], they have awesome deals — like buy one suit get three free — [so] I have quite a few [of those], which is great. [For] shirts, basically anywhere I can find  them long enough, so they don’t look funky [laughs]. The problem is, even though I’m tall, normally things [come in] big AND tall, so it’s really hard to find something in large, tall. Once I find something in large, tall, I’ll get it from wherever. As far as bow ties go, [I’ll get them] anywhere that’s cheap, really, like a bow tie [for] under $30 or $40 dollars; Macy’s, Dillard’s, JCPenney has a lot, I’ve gotten some great deals at Brooks Brothers, and also JoS. A Bank (but mostly just Macy’s and Dillard’s).

HC: Well, they all look great! Do you ever think there is a wrong time to wear a suit?

DB: If it’s really hot out and there is no A/C, I would not recommend wearing a suit, but if the occasion calls for [you] to be a little bit classier, I don’t think you can go wrong.

HC: Where’s the wildest place you’ve ever worn a suit?

DB: A movie theater. [Laughs] I had an event earlier that night that called for a suit and [then] a date later on, [so] I didn’t have time to change. [I] had to go to the movie theater in a suit, which was pretty funny. [Laughs]

HC: Going off of that, do you have a “date outfit,” like maybe a lucky shirt, or something?

DB: [Laughs] A date outfit? No. [Again], usually just something that fits, and doesn’t make me look funky; whatever is comfortable.

HC: Are you more of a graphic tee person or a polo person?

DB: I would say polo, [especially if I’m going out on a date]. I don’t have too many graphic tees, mostly polos.

HC: Is style an important quality that you look for in a girl?

DB: Yeah, I mean I definitely want her to look good. I believe [dressing nice] says a lot about a person: it tells you they can take care of themselves, they may be more confident, and [they’re] “going places,” — that kind of thing. I definitely [think women] that know how to dress [are] a good thing!

HC: What’s the biggest mistake you see guys make when they wear suits?

DB: If they’re trying to dress professionally, and they wear a blazer with khaki pants, it’s not very professional. As far as a bow ties go, I’m pretty biased toward tying it yourself [as opposed to] buying a clip on. I feel like if you’re going to wear a bow tie, take the time to do it right; you take the time for everything else, so why not follow through and finish [this]? But it’s also simple things, like clothes being ironed, and not having wrinkles in them. [You have to] make sure to straighten that out because that’s probably the biggest thing. Just keep things looking good, looking smart, [and] looking together.

HC: Bow tie or tie?

DB: Bow tie!

HC: Is there a certain suit color you prefer to wear to interviews?

DB: Navy blue.

HC: Do you prefer red ties or blue ties?

DB: Red ties, because it makes a statement; it’s a more powerful tie, especially with a navy blue suit. I was told growing up, [and even] in my classes now, that it’s your power suit: the navy blue suit, with a red tie — that’s power. Nowadays, especially in the business world, you need the advantage anywhere you can get it, and if you look powerful, you look confident, and people will view you more as a leader. The people that work under you [also] need to trust that you’re going to lead them, and what you wear says a lot, because communication is only three percent verbal and 97 percent non-verbal.

HC: What’s the best advice you’ve received growing up?

DB: When my dad was a Navy pilot, he survived a crash landing in Hilo and was paralyzed from the neck down. The doctors told him he’d never walk again, much less fly, and my dad said, “Well, to hell with you;” three months later he was walking, three months after that he was running, and 3 months after that he was back in the cock pit. That really taught me that nothing is impossible, and anything you want, you can achieve. Even if it’s against all odds, keep fighting and never give up. I really took that to heart. When I had my basketball injury back in 8th grade, the doctors told me I’d never play sports, at least not at a competitive level, and I said the same thing to [them], “to hell with you.” I was the first person [— that they had heard of — ] with that injury [who] was able to come through and play high school and collegiate sports again. That’s probably the best advice [I received], and it wasn’t so much advice, but rather a lesson I learned from just listening.

Mia Lepp is currently beginning her third year at Florida State University as a double major in Marketing and Media Communication Studies. She is a writer and has a passion for traveling the world. When she's not writing about the latest going on at FSU she is a part time yogi, and trying to find inner peace at her favorite hot yoga class.
Her Campus at Florida State University.