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Worn sockless and rolled up, or with a cardigan as a makeshift waistcoat, the traditional rules of tailoring are being ripped up by business casual and the relaxing of formal attire. But actor Matt Bomer is showing the purists that you can have your suit both ways – looking good either buttoned up like the classic old rat pack days or worn smooth and casually as if the blazer jacket was something you could go to bed in.
With such a versatile and adaptable suit game, it’s probably no surprise then that the role Bomer is most associated with is the constantly besuited con artist Neal Caffrey in White Collar (coincidentally his second most famous role is as a stripper in Magic Mike, where the costume choice was the exact opposite). With a slim frame, quiff hairstyle and cleanly shaven square jaw he has the genes to pull it off, but it also takes some style chops to consistently make it work.
Did we mention Bomer likes tailoring? Why he hasn’t appeared in the TV show Suits is frankly a travesty of casting, but while we struggle to get over that, we should mention that his colour of choice is either navy blue or black and that sometimes he shakes up the suit with a jumper or turtleneck underneath. The footwear always complements the rest of his outfit so is usually a merry-go-round of plush loafers, white sneakers and polished Oxford shoes.
If on the very rare occasion Bomer is going casual, the look is very dressed down – usually just a denim jacket or cardigan thrown over a T-shirt.
Inspiration: Cary Grant, Yves Saint Laurent, Don Draper
Go-To Brands: Todd Snyder, Calvin Klein, Ermenegildo Zegna
Follow Him: @mattbomer
Black & Blue
Some say that putting black and blue together is one of the cardinal sins of fashion. This is because the two colours are so similar that they can blend into one dirty puddle. It’s also nonsense. The combinations can work well and often, and the key is to contrast through textures as Bomer does here with black jeans, a cotton polo and a woollen blazer. Then roll those trousers up for a smart-casual, garden party look and you’ll never fail to impress.
Bomer isn’t really one for jazzy patterns but he does pull out a bold shade every now and again. The red on the roll neck really pops against the black suit, although it’s worth noting that when it’s worn under a blazer or suit jacket, your knitwear needs to be a slimmer fit or else it’ll make you look far bigger than you are. As usual Bomer has nailed it in what is a sleek and slightly adventurous outfit (for him at least).
No More Mr Nice Guy
In the film The Nice Guys, Bomer plays a smooth hitman who ends up brutally murdering a number of people. But Bomer himself is a nice chap and looks every bit of it here at the premiere of the film in a slimming black suit paired with a white shirt, in what is one of the oldest plays in the history of tailoring. The classic theme continues with a simple pocket square and a wider tie knot.
Take Me To Church
While we have to admit that there is something ecclesiastical about that contrasting white roll neck collar, we don’t expect the village vicar to look this good at a Sunday service. The varying grey tones on the blazer and trousers break up the outfit, and the white and cream sneakers are matched well with the white on the roll neck. When it comes to footwear, cleanliness is next to godliness.
The DL On The DB
There are some hard and fast rules when you start to play with the double-breasted suit. Firstly you want peak lapels, then make sure the jacket is tapered round the waist so that it’s not too boxy. A successful DB comes down to balance, so opt for a six button closure which achieves the ideal middle ground. Bomer has ticked all of those boxes, but we’d suggest that you get the jacket cut a little shorter, giving it a more contemporary feel. The saving grace are the flecks of blue in the grey suit that match his blue shirt and silver tie.
While it is still far behind the white tee in the list of the best basics of all time, a simple burgundy T-shirt is a versatile and adaptable neutral basic that can go with most dark looks (although we wouldn’t pair it with light grey tailoring). Here it’s looking resplendent underneath a checked blueish grey blazer and Bomer keeps the colour running in the shoelaces of his chunky hiking boots.
While we feel that those of us blessed with a jawline as sharp and angular as Bomer shouldn’t cover it up with facial shrubbery, the flecks of grey in his facial hair do make the actor look a lot more interesting and distinguished. Colour co-ordinating with the chunky blazer and lightweight roll neck is a great play and Bomer always likes to tuck something away in that chest pocket, smartening up his structured but nonchalant range of blazers.
The Green Party
Two button double-breasted suits are relatively rare, but as Bomer proves here, they can work. Along with the green hue (we’re going to hedge our bets and call it moss), it actually achieves the impossible and makes the traditionally stuffy DB look casual, a result that is further completed by the knitted polo shirt up top and white sneakers down below.
Suiting A Three-Piece
Dare we call this outfit peak Bomer? With those baby blues, the guy is always going to suit the colour and the three-piece is him all over. Keep the top button done up when standing and go for a slight break on the trouser hem – three-piece suits look a little odd when the hem is cropped. A knitted tie is also a good option as the added chunkiness and texture tones down the suit’s inherent formality, keeping things from looking too uptight.
Black Tie To A Tee
For someone who looks like he popped out of the womb in a three-piece, it’s no surprise that when Bomer wears black tie it becomes something very special indeed. The diamond pattern on this dinner jacket is surprisingly subtle, and the plain trousers help to neutralise it further. Take note of the jacket’s lapel, too. Arguably the most elegant form of jacket collar, the shawl style is just that little bit more glamorous than the peak and works especially well with black tie. If it worked for Connery’s Bond, it can work for you.
After five minutes of eye-straining, we’ve figured out the polo Bomer is wearing here is a subtle purple, which breaks up the all-black along with his brown shoes. Purple is a difficult colour to pull off – go too rich and you risk looking like a Prince tribute act. Whilst a lighter shade works really well for summer, a darker shade is your best bet as it can act like burgundy and makes for a great neutral basic.
Cream Of The Crop
Brightly coloured suits tend to work better in lightweight summer fabrics like linen, as Bomer shows off here. Beige is one of the most versatile summer suit colours, working equally well with pastels or richer tones, such as this elegant blue shirt. It’s a smart casual suit, so feel free to dress it down with a knitted polo, or, if formality calls for it, put on a sturdy pair of brogues.
So it turns out that Bomer isn’t completely glued into his suits. When out and about the city, the suit comes off, and into his comfy and relaxed clothes Bomer goes. This fleecy Armani tracksuit top, loose light-wash denim and white Adidas high-tops combination is a good example. But the star of the show here is undoubtedly the 1960s-inspired round orange sunglasses, which look ace on Bomer’s square and annoyingly well-proportioned face.
The only way that quiff is staying up like the Hawaiian wave it was meant to be is if Bomer keeps it cool (seriously a sweaty brow can ruin a grooming regime in no time at all). So off comes the blazer and on comes the knitted polo, which can look just as smart and dandy as long as you wear it with pleated or dress trousers and the ultimate smarter than casual tool – a pair of leather loafers without socks.
Bane In Blue
Tom Hardy’s character Bane in The Dark Knight Rises didn’t need help looking colossal, but the sheepskin camel coat he sported in the film definitely made him look like an otherworldly beast. Bomer has a very similar coat here, but in a more understated blue, and it works by making the fairly slim actor look more filled out. It’s a rough and ready piece that would be hard to get right over the top of a suit, so a pair of straight leg jeans, knitwear and boots is the correct path to go down.