If Tristan Wilds had held on to it, the massive Malcolm X T-shirt he lived in as a kid might actually fit him now.

Printed shirts were trendy in the early '90s (as they are today), but the Staten Island native took the fad a few too many sizes up, drowning his school-size frame in the revolutionary's huge mug. "I had nothing that matched," he says with a laugh, "but I wore it anyway. I was a wreck." Now 18, the actor is experimenting with sizes that fit. At his flashiest, he prefers Burberry suits but also sports Billionaire Boys Club and his growing sneaker collection with pride.

Best known as Michael Lee on HBO's The Wire, Wilds' calling card is his ability to make his increasingly malevolent character likabel. Even when he's traning for (or committing) murder, walking away from every helping hand, he elicits sympathy. Regardless of his fate on The Wire's fifth and final season, though, Wilds' career is pushing forward: He's starring on Law & Order in January, and he'll soon appear in the big-screen adaptation of the book The Secret Life of Bees. There is also early talk that he'll be reunited with Jay-Z post-"Roc Boys" videos, playing his nephew in a short film. "It's bittersweet," he says of The Wire series ending, "but it's time to move on." Both with his closet and in his professional life, Wilds keeps growing.

KING: Was there an individual you used as a style role model growing up?
Tristan Wilds: Watching the older dudes in my neighborhood, I would always see different styles. But my dad, when he dresses up, goes all out! I'm talking about a hat, getting his suit done up, a bag, nice shoes.

What kind of shoes
Gators! There are also some industry dudes whose style I love, like Jay-Z, Diddy, Pharrell. They show that you don't always have to be business, all dressed up. They show that you can be comfortable but be fly, too.

Share an embarrassing fashion secret with us.
It gets really, really cold in Staten Island, but when I was younger, I never wanted to wear long johns. But now, I wear long johns!

No shame in that. So, you're 18 now; what is your look
Honestly, I don' think I have a look yet. It's a mix of different things, because I always like to try various styles and see how something different looks on me. So I can't say I have a look right now.

Check out more of this interview, photos, and details on the styles shown here, in the Mar/Apr '08 issue. Get it on newsstands now or click here to subscribe.