GQ has blessed us with their annual Most Stylish Men list, and you’ll never guess what all these gentlemen have in common!
Surveying the roster, we have the two biggest rappers not named Kanye West, a guy surfing his second straight Best Actor nomination, the (masked) face of the latest Marvel superhero blockbuster, an Instagram specter with hordes of teen fans, the DJ behind two of last year’s highest-charting summer jams, 25 percent of the world’s biggest boy band, and so on. Surely this is a list of talented, even interesting, jamokes, but to argue that “style” is their unifying theme reads as open farce. The correct answer is: they’re extremely famous at this present moment.
Them slick magazine boys corralled a bunch of semi-recent Trending Topics and retroactively knighted them as style icons. This is the squad you get when you need to pander to disparate reader demographics, return favors to some thirsty publicists, plant the seeds for future deep-dive profiles, rub the backs of familiar GQ buddies, and plop in a dollop of product placement and advertising. Then just slap them with some ad-hoc labels that don’t closely track any of your stated principles of style, and voila! A glossy magazine feature, plus a whole slew of collectible covers. I can’t blame them. Men’s lifestyle magazines function as the ever-thinning, increasingly translucent middleman between consumer and brand, reader and PR. Still, it would’ve been heartening to see some less brazenly famous people in there. People known more specifically for their, ah, style.
As humble bloggers with no vested interests muddling our vision, we wanted to check if these picks held up to closer scrutiny.
Russell Westbrook plays basketball like a mutant gifted with freak hops and confidence. Fittingly, he also dresses like discarded X-Men costume concept art.
I don’t even think he’s the most stylish guy on his own team (I’ll take Durant). But I am willing to celebrate Russ anyway, because I think that his outfits come from the same twist of his personality as his playing style: stink-eyed, unapologetic, inimitable. GQ consistently blogs about Russ, almost always to point out the particular oddness of a recent outfit, while unconvincingly assuring us that this is the rare aberration from his general swag, resulting in verbal wincing on the order of “we like him, we really do like him, just not this time.” Or that time. Or this time.
This isn’t an actor—it’s someone summering in Saint-Tropez, trying to take his mind off his floundering hedge fund, fresh off his morning coffee-in-a-yacht.
Eddie seems like a talented, low-key guy known to rock a sharp suit. But this particular look was cobbled together from the results of a “rich guy shiney fabric ;)” Google image search. To confidently rock the wardrobe of the 0.00001 percent must require great courage and poise; praise The Natural.
To be fair, Drake spent the last few months racking up style points: popularizing the “Dad About To Take An Ill Sunday Afternoon Nap” look, helping legitimize personal coziness in public, executing charmingly average (and impressively turtlenecked) dance moves in his “Hotling Bling” video, etc. They even gave him the one nickname that doesn’t make me cringe: “The Coziest Baller.” But then he had to go and ruin a decent NBA photo with this ugly-ass jacket that mars his dope OVO owl logo with some eyesore Kobe imagery. We find some conciliatory pleasure in the fact that a potentially classic image of Kobe was ruined by a jacket with his own face on it. Mamba Out.
“Lucky” “Blue” “Smith”
Because I refuse to believe that this is a real person, I will offer some theories of his origins.
This is the ghost of a mall teen who learned how to remain visible in Instagrams. This is an experiment in melanin deprivation. This is the lightest Pantone chip made flesh. This is the physical embodiment of #AllLivesMatter.
If the premise of this feature is to celebrate style—loosely, a particular man’s skill in selecting, combining, and rocking garments—maybe we could choose a better candidate than this guy whose style merits can, by GQ’s own admission, be completely attributed to his action-figure looks. Suburban hoodrats don these exact looks charmlessly. So let’s celebrate this spring’s coolest accessory: the right genome.
One of my favorite rappers earned his keep by surviving these wide-brim hats and the dopey nickname “Lord of the Brim.” I do have to admire him for ingenuity: who could have guessed that the key to pulling off a fedora is to simply pair it with a blunt?
My naive assumption was just that those two accessories completely canceled each other out. I look forward to the eventual sponsored-content tribute to his hat line.
Idris Elba comes close as you can get to an unimpeachable celebrity; can’t really hate on Stringer Bell. Though I have to wonder if the magazine owes him praise more refined than the idea that he “radiates masculinity.” In our aspirationally woke era, capital-M Masculinity is less obviously something for readers to strive for, and certainly something harder and harder to build an entire magazine around. Maybe you could actually explore the component traits he radiates (does he look confident? effortless? use your words) instead of packaging them into such vague, soon-to-be-ineffectual terminology.
Odell Beckham Jr.
OBJ’s style missteps occur primarily on the top of his head, according to Deadspin’s official podcast platform. Personally, I think widehawks can be pretty cool, so go lob your complaints at those guys.
Though I try not to get too salty about cultural appropriation—most of these issues are intellectually murkier than the Outrage Machine would have us believe—it’s hard not to chuckle at this Gap-Year Chic.
Keep your DSLR safe in those Himalayan conditions, and I hope you enjoy Oxford in the fall.
GQ’s advice—“pack a little less before you fly, shop a little more when you land ... and do as the locals do”—is best taken if you are not a famous person, and if you don’t want to fumble through local traditions and offend said locals as quickly as possible. At least we have this heartening reminder that it only takes a massively famous U.S. DJ to travel the world over, gathering up all these lovely exotic pieces from faraway lands, to make these styles relatable. Diplo’s just here to fill out the magazine’s travel vertical.
The editors said from the get-go that they’d ignore “Hall of Famers” like Ryan Gosling—read: we have to massage some new egos—so they settled for the cheaper model, who happens to have starred in Deadpool, still (somehow) showing in a theater near you. Shoutout to the real MVP, Reynolds’ publicist*, for getting his guy onto this here list.
Harry Styles and Aziz Ansari
The most damning praise you could offer these two is that they approximate my own style of dress. When I first read this list, I was dressed exactly like Mr. Styles, GQ’s so-called Prince of Prints: tropical print, black skinny jeans.
As for me and Aziz, the list of similarities abound: Tamil immigrant parents, paralyzing indecision, dads with the same exact jobs, hedonistic attitudes towards food. Basically everything except for the price tags on our garments. Try to tell us apart:
So unless you’re deliberately seeking out the unwashed blogger look, you don’t need to look to either of these dudes for style tips.
GQ has provocatively hailed one suit-wearing head of state over all the other suit-wearing heads of state, largely due to his lush head of hair. (Again, hooray genes.) Somehow, though, they overlooked his signature look.
Hopefully he’ll be game for a shiny profile between now and next year’s list.