There is not a long history of good NFL Draft suits. Think about Brett Favre’s country boy chic in 1991, sitting on his bed in jean shorts, or Keyshawn Johnson’s 1996 flowy white arrangement. In the last decade, two-tone garnishes were fashionable: Trent Richardson in an awful brown around his lapels in 2012 and Dante Fowler in 2015 with bad lapels and a double bowtie catastrophe stick out. From aggressive, out of touch pinstripes to unusually bland pattern choices, football players are often our gaudiest fashion offenders.
The bar sometimes is in hell. Yet, as the years move on, talent innovates. And at last night’s 2021 NFL Draft, we saw more of the modern flourishes that might turn the event into the red carpet fashion runway the NFL yearns for. Football can be stylish, too. At least, this year’s crop of players are trying to prove that they belong in the conversation. There’s nothing as courageous as LaKeith Stanfield’s titillating Oscars jumpsuit. But, the boys are trying…for the most part. (The less said here about the vaunted class of quarterbacks, most of whom came dressed to kill the local prom, the better.)
Trey Lance, the No. 3 pick this year, told me before the draft he didn’t want to do too much with his look. Basic was fine by him. “I’ve been looking at my suit hanging in my closet for a couple weeks now,” he says. It came with Christian Louboutin loafers, a dazzling Cartier buss down watch and a navy finish on the suit with darker, designed lapels from the bespoke company Pantheon Limited. “It’s nothing too crazy, though. That’s just not really my personality. I saw Jaire Alexander’s suit from a few years ago and he had a red version of this, a little bit different, but I loved it. And I wanted to go with it.”
A great draft suit is all about the flashy accoutrements. Jaylen Waddle’s custom plaid and patchy double-breasted suit (from Brand Williams) was the most unique thing on the red carpet. He mixed a few of his favorite patterns together, along with bedazzled Nike Dunks and an equally loud chain. It was delightful. His ambition for his look was to be cozy and comfortable. “I ain’t gon’ lie,” he told me. “A lot of suits be uncomfortable. I really wanted to make sure I’m comfortable, however long I’m sitting, as long as I’m comfortable, I’m good. I can sit in this thing all night.”