The Roaring Twenties have been revived as the world prepares for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, which opens in theaters on May 10th and promises to be one of the biggest films of the summer.
Those who’ve read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, or viewed one of the previous film adaptations, know what a crucial role style plays in the story. The character of Jay Gatsby, who’ll be portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio this time around, is always immaculately dressed. Heck, the guy owns an entire closet of custom-made shirts — he’s a baller.
And he’s sure to make a lot of guys want to imitate his look this summer. A bunch of prominent designer labels, including Brooks Brothers, have anticipated this trend and produced Gatsby-inspired collections.
Now, it’s important to note that a full-on Gatsby-ization of your daily wardrobe is highly inadvisable for the vast majority of regular (and even fairly fashionable) guys. It’s bad enough being “that guy” who wears a suit to school or the bar when everyone else is in streetwear. It’s even worse when you dress up that suit with a cane and a straw boater hate or fedora (the rule still applies: never wear fedoras).
When what you’re wearing is better described as a costume than an outfit, you did something wrong. There are, however, a few simple ways you can incorporate some elements of Gatsby fashion into your daily style without looking like you’re trying too hard.
Here’s what I recommend:
Tidy up that face
The unshaven look favored by many (lazy) guys today wouldn’t fly in the 1920s. Beards are out, too. If you want that Gatsby look, you need to go with a sleek, clean-shaven look or a trimmed moustache (which isn’t advisable unless you’re ready for everyone to mock you for being a hipster). While you’re at it, toss your five-blade cartridge razor in the trash and learn how to wet shave like a real man.
Find a good tailor
Before you rush out a buy a bunch of new clothes, take a look at what you already have in your closet. One of the hallmarks of 1920s fashion — and one that’s sadly been lost in the passage of time since then — was clothes that were made to measure.
Today’s off-the-rack suits and dress shirts rarely fit the body as snugly as they should, since they’re produced for a mass market that’s, frankly, often obese.
Try taking your best shirts and suits to a local tailor and having them slimmed to a more form-fitting and attractive fit. You’ll be surprised at how much better they end up looking.
Step your shoe game up
I’ve heard more than a few times that one of the first thing women notice about men is their shoes. I don’t know if it’s actually true, but I do know that way too many guys are walking around in beat-up sneakers and skater shoes.
Men’s dress shoes aren’t just for wearing to job interviews and funerals. You can (and should) wear them with khakis and even dark jeans.
I wrote an article earlier this year about the two pairs of dress shoes every man should own. Go read it.
If you want to be really bold and go full Gatsby, consider adding a pair of two-toned shoes to your arsenal of footwear.
Pocket squares are your friends
As I said earlier, it’s a really bad idea to make the leap from jeans and a t-shirt to a white, double-breasted suit and bowtie. Take baby steps.
Instead, get yourself some nice khaki pants, a button-down shirt and a navy or gray blazer. Then, dress the whole thing up with a pocket square. And, if you think you can pull it off, a bowtie would work in this situation, too.
When shopping for pocket squares, look for patterned linens rather than shiny, one-tone silk. The former passes the Gatsby test; the latter is what dudes who rent tuxedos for prom wear.
Round sunglasses were all the rage in the Gatsby era, so toss out your imitation Ray-Bans and buy yourself a pair of circular shades.
Keep in mind that round lenses don’t look good on every face, though. In general, guys with round faces should avoid round glasses.
Consulting this chart can help you figure out if round glasses will work for you, but nothing’s better than actually trying on different frames and seeing how they look in person.
Get to know seersucker
Break away from boring fabrics and introduce some seersucker into your wardrobe.
This doesn’t necessarily mean going out and buying a seersucker suit like a true southern gentleman. The reality is that there are very few scenarios in which wearing a seersucker suit is appropriate these days.
Seersucker shorts or a seersucker blazer are a more reasonable alternative — just don’t wear them both at the same time!