Here’s a little history lesson for you: plain white T-shirts first appeared in the late 19th century, when some manufacturer decided to split the union suit into separates. And originally, they were meant to protect one’s finer outer layers from the perils of, well, sweat.
Like boxers for your chest.
But the rules have changed in the past century. The undershirt has, on occasion, been called to take sartorial center stage. Like before bed. Or between takes on set. Or during takes, for that matter. And throughout it all, some brave, overtly stylish men have succeeded in proving that these baser layers can be worth way more than their thread count.
Memorial Day might have marked the unofficial start of summer, but since the real deal doesn’t start till later this month, there’s still plenty of time to get prepared.
And these newly minted June issues won’t let you forget it for a second.
Likewise, in our grand tradition of surveying the broader field of menswear journalism, we’ve thumbed through this month’s crop of printed swimwear, whites, lightweight fabrics and otherwise uncategorized eye candy, just for you. You know, in anticipation.
Fact: it takes quite the set of cojones to pull off wearing a Hawaiian shirt.
Also fact: most men don’t have ’em.
That being said, there are some real pros out there who do. And right now, we’d like to honor these brave souls who’ve unwaveringly taken up the charge. Through painstaking research—no scene left unexamined, no paparazzi shot ignored—we’ve uncovered the best and boldest examples of tropical-print artistry. A testament to confidence, these men are standards to aspire to. (At least when it comes to visually making a statement.)
The prospect of celebrating summer’s inaugural weekend might have you toying with the idea of spending the entire three days in a pair of shorts (especially if you plan on being poolside the whole time).
But going pantsless is a deceptively tricky move—wrought with pitfalls and misconceptions.
More often than not, they’re considered a necessary evil. Tom Ford famously said that a man should never wear them. Inevitably, someone will rib you with that moldy chestnut about never taking a man in shorts seriously. But in the right hands—er, on the right gams—they can be serviceable, arguably even stylish. It’s been done before, to varying degrees of success.
So, as menswear anthropologists, in our quest to find out how we got into this pantsless existential crisis, we present to you:
It’s a big day for basketball, with March Madness finally kicking off this morning.
And it’s been a big week for basketball here on Kempt, with our own bracket pitting icons of the sidelines against one another in our quest to name the most stylish NCAA basketball coach ever. You can catch up on the first-round action here, the second-round action here and yesterday’s Final Four here. But you’ll have to tune in tomorrow for the grand finale…
Yesterday we learned that the turtleneck can be your friend. Today we’re tackling an even more perplexing item: the sweater-vest.
Lately, a lot of #menswear ink has been spilled over the down vest—especially regarding the relatively novel idea of wearing one under your suit jacket or blazer. Aside from bringing up some fit issues, it reminded us of the original under-blazer vest, usually knit in an argyle or fair isle pattern (like this one). Donning an armless sweater can be treacherous waters—not helped by the fact that its most recent champion was one Rick Santorum. Luckily, we’re here to help with this handy guide:
From time to time, a man may sustain injury.
It might happen in battle, or result from powerful exertions of strength or—in the case of Brad Pitt—in the course of rescuing one’s daughter from a treacherous ski slope.
But no matter how you come by your injury, the important thing is to wear it with pride. This pic comes from last night’s Critics’ Choice awards, where Pitt did just that. It’s a simple, functional cane (conveniently coordinated with his black tux), but was our favorite thing on the red carpet for the simple reason that it made him look more interesting.
When your baseline is being Brad Pitt, that’s no easy thing.
Some new pics from Terrence Malick’s long-delayed Tree of Life made it to the web today, bringing a healthy dose of 50s style along for the ride. By all accounts, the movie gets pretty far out there (there are dinosaurs, for starters), but anything that casts Brad Pitt in the Ward Cleaver role has earned our $12. We’re crossing our fingers for a khaki-themed voice-over.
Mind-boggling surrealism is nothing new in Japanese ads, but it usually tends to the hyperactive, instead of the meditatively crazy.
This Softbank spot comes from Spike Jonze and it seems to have caught him in the middle of a domestic streak. It focuses on the strangely tender relationship between the paternal Brad Pitt and his charge, an infantile Sumo wrestler. We’ve watched it five times now, and for some reason we can’t look away. We’re not sure if it’s the relationship we want with our bank, but it’s nice to see Mr. Jolie show his non-bloodthirsty side.
If you’ve walked past a newsstand this past week, you might have seen an uncharacteristically craggy Brad Pitt staring back at you. And, for once, it isn’t CGI.
The special effects come from the photographer and photorealist painter Chuck Close, apparently at the request of Mr. Pitt himself. We don’t doubt that Pitt can get whoever he wants to take his picture, but Close isn’t a glamour artist like Annie Liebowitz, and the result ends up looking positively Eastwood-esque.
*Bastards* is Tarantino’s take on war movies—specifically *The Dirty Dozen*, which deserves a post all its own—and rumors have been swirling around it since the script leaked onto the internet. Since then, there’s been a steady stream of casting rumors, including *The Office*’s B. J. Novak as “the little one,” torturey director Eli Roth as Donny Donowitz a.k.a. “the Bear Jew,” and, of course, Mr. Jolie playing Lt. Aldo Raine, the group’s leader. In other words, it’s classic Tarantino madness, with equal doses of ultra-violence, obscure filmic references and general profanity.
And anyone interested in army boots and coarse wool coats is about to get a big boost of inspiration…and maybe even sales.
It seems there was a bit of a delay in getting the latest tribute to the King of Cool off to the printers; a certain Mr. Pitt who had signed up to write a foreword about his idol never managed to come up with anything except “Angelina ate my homework.”
Well, the book—*Unforgettable Steve McQueen* is finally here, and it was well worth the wait. In place of Brad’s encomiums it has the best collection of McQueen pix we’ve seen yet —and that’s saying something. If you only buy one McQueen book for your Ultimate Gentleman’s Library, this should be it.
Also worth noting: the book is actually French (subtitle, *Inoubliable Steve McQueen*); seems celebrating our style icons is yet another place where the Frogs have us beat.
*Photographed by our fearless lensman, Patrick McMullan.*
Gosling, a Chet Baker fan and accomplished jazz guitarist in his own right, sported one of those signature Tom Ford single-breasted, peak-lapel three-piece suits we’ve been musing on lately, in a new incarnation. His was a steel-hued silk and linen herringbone number with oversized patch pockets, worn with a white-collared tan and gray checked shirt and black leather shoes also from Ford’s closet. Adorning his lapel was a special tribute to unfortunate pal Heath Ledger in the form of a black ribbon designed by his sister Mandi, Gosling’s date for the evening.
*Photographed by our fearless lensman, Patrick McMullan.*
The *New York Times* may feel no affection for it, but Brad Pitt seems solidly behind the three-piece suit surge judging by what he wore to the 13th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards
in L.A. the other night. Of course there are two mitigating factors: a) he’s *Brad Pitt*, and b) his threads are by Tom Ford.
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