I have my misgivings about the upcoming release of Lincoln on Nov. 16th. On the one hand there’s so many fists-shaped like-hams ways everything could go terribly, maudlin, wrong with the combination of Steven Spielberg at the helm and Disney controlling the purse strings, but on the other hand Daniel Day-Lewis has thrown all his Acting (with a large, bold capital “A”) weight behind the project. Beyond being a thespian of the semi-batty, pre-talkie variety, DDL has also earned himself a reputation as a maker of bold sartorial pronouncements that have ranged from something like a gypsy bandito to victorian gigolo. So before he takes office it’s worth reflecting back upon the sometimes unhinged, often controversial, but always fascinating style choices of our next President.
Unlike most leading men who dress like they’re drawing up plans for a McMansion, starting with casual, often gaudy pieces and trying for respectability solely through the price tags and their all too transparent attempts at blustering nonchalance, Mr. Lewis always begins with the right foundation: tailored elements. Often the subsequent scarves upon scarves, organ grinder hats, and lurid color pairings can lead him into dangerous, Elton John lawn party, territory but when he keeps it simple and allows the vintage inspired DDL flair to remain in the details, great things happen. For example this sharp to lethal, flannel, pinstriped, DB, suit that he’s paired with a very subtle spotted tie and this optic herringbone top coat that gets turned out with woven fedora that looks like it’s gotten just the right amount of stomping.
Here are 2 instances where everything starts out in prime form but somewhere along the way medication was misplaced and mild mania was allowed to have its day. A 3 piece suit and tonal tie, hard to argue with that, unless the suit happens to made of your great aunt’s curtains. A one button, shawl collar tux with contrast piping seems to be just the right sort of thing to set a gentleman of discernment apart on the red carpet, but brown suede shoes? Sir, it would appear that you just forgot your black calf oxfords underneath your desk at the office.
With anyone taking as many risks as Mr. Lewis, fiery crashes are sometimes to be expected. At his worst his predeliction for bygone suiting elements can have a bad costumey affect leaving him looking like a pedophile from a Charles Dickens novel. A dark brown corduroy blazer and houndstooth newsboy cap seem would difficult staples to stink up but DDL manages to light the entire kit into toxic flames but putting that Barbie Dreamhouse, pink shirt and florid necktie/scarf mutant underneath it. Dame Dench’s open mouthed scream of terror says it all here: the embroidered shirt with the striped bull fighter pants with the red belt; Mr. Lewis, bulls are not the only animals that ensemble is enraging.
Evan Widhu is a Men’s Wear Buyer in New York. He would wear any of the suits from There Will be Blood but draws the line at the glass eyes and top hats of Gangs of New York.