My full-time job is writing about menswear, but my other full-time job—the one I don’t get paid for but still do for, like, eight hours a day—is watching TV. I love TV! And 2023 was a fucking great year for people like me, who Google things like “where to find jason oppenheim gucci shirt selling sunset season 7″ on my tiny screen while Selling Sunset Season 7 plays on my bigger screen in the background.
From reality TV to scripted dramas to scripted TV that was also sort of reality (I’m looking at you, Jury Duty), this year was absolutely major for leading men, and, as a result, menswear worthy of a leading man. Loyal Esquire readers will know how deeply Kendall Roy was on his style game in the final season of Succession this past spring, turning out quietly luxurious Loro Piana and Tom Ford looks paired with a mental breakdown every Sunday night. Across the pond, Ted Lasso‘s Jamie Tartt went a different route with loud, in-your-face luxury, from Stone Island coveralls to Dsquared2 accessories.
Daisy Jones & the Six took it way back to the rock and roll scene of the ’70s with denim shirts, fur coats, and heeled boots, while The Last of Us brought us into the post-apocalyptic landscape of the not-so distant future, where Pedro Pascal slays mushroom zombies while wearing a flannel-lined trucker jacket. And who could forget The Bear of it all, proving that the perfect white tee and a solid pair of Birks should never go overlooked?
If this year was any indication, we’re headed to even brighter, better, more stylish futures on TV in 2024. But for now, let’s take a walk through the eight best on-screen menswear moments of 2023.
1. Succession‘s Kendall Roy
One of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my entire life is pick just one outfit of Kendall’s Season 4 rotation to highlight. When a man is falling apart inside, slightly manic, and still lacing up his Tom Ford sneakers and putting on a brave face under his cashmere hat every day, there are a lot of options to choose from. Previously, I’ve ranked all of Kendall Roy’s best outfits, so I suppose the most ethical, mathematically-accurate way to do this would be to pick his highest-ranking look from Season 4: the Funeral Fit.
Ultimately, this outfit is not only quintessentially Kendall, but quintessentially 2023. It represents the new age of menswear and leading-man dressing that began this year—and, honestly, began with Succession. Kendall’s $8,895 Loro Piana overcoat is the poster child of the “quiet luxury” trend that blossomed earlier this year (and, in fact, was so influential that it sold out, but similar styles are still around). And Kendall really did put some thought into this perfectly-tailored, chic-as-hell look for his father’s funeral, from the dark sunglasses to the leather shoes. Kudos, Ken.
2. The Bear‘s Carmy Berzatto
When Season 2 of The Bear dropped earlier this year, it was all anybody (myself included) could talk about. The show was a leader in conversations about the state of menswear in 2023, and with good reason—these chefs are dressed nice.
What is it about a troubled leading man that makes him dress so well? Like Kendall, Carmy—an actual menswear connoisseur, on the show—never had a bad look. Costume designer Courtney Wheeler shared with Esquire that every item of clothing on every character was intentional, and Carmy’s standard uniform of a plain white tee, work pants, and chef shoes says everything about how modern fashion dudes dress.
It’s all so thoughtful, so careful, so clean; the white tee isn’t just any white tee, but the 215 Loopwheeled T-Shirt from Merz B. Schwanen, meticulously tried and tested to be the perfect fit on Jeremy Allen White. The pants aren’t just any pants, but pants that every guy who likes clothes will know: Dickies 874 Flex Work Pants. And then there’s the shoes. What does someone who is on his feet all day wear? Birkenstock Tokio Super Grip Leather Sandals, of course.
3. Ted Lasso‘s Jamie Tartt
Jamie Tartt: footballer by day, fashion god by night. In a year of quiet luxury, one man was brave enough to be brash, loud, and logo’d up.
Earlier this year, I ranked Jamie Tartt’s best outfits of all-time, but there’s one from Season 3 that truly takes the cake. Somewhere in his closet full of Gucci track jackets and Stone Island shirts, past his boxes of hair bleach and tiny silver earrings and more than one crossbody bag, Jamie Tartt scrounged up an outfit that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Glossy black puffer vest: on. Dsquared2 hat that says “ICON” and absolutely nothing else: on. Nike waistpack that nearly perfectly matches the orange of his hoodie: ON!
This guy is every bit the star athlete, a haughty boy-prince getting paid a king’s salary and seemingly spending every last penny on new designer clothes, and he wants you to know it. These are cool, trendy, modern brands on a cool, trendy, modern guy who doesn’t give a damn about subtlety or understated drip. And when he can turn out looks like this, why should he?
4. Daisy Jones & the Six‘s Billy Dunne
Whether you love him or you hate him or you love to hate and hate to love him, Daisy Jones’s leading man, Billy Dunne, had some pretty damn killer outfits.
His go-to ensemble of a Canadian tuxedo is considerably dressed-down when you consider the wide-ranging looks that rockstars—real or fictional—were wearing back in the ’70s, but still, he managed to make denim-on-denim cool in its own right. His style is nostalgic yet refreshing to the modern viewer, bringing us back to a decade that was once reviled when it comes to fashion, but is finally getting its due.
5. The Last of Us‘ Joel Miller
There’s no excuse for not knowing how to dress, because if Pedro Pascal’s Joel Miller can look ruggedly handsome in the midst of a zombie apocalypse at the end of the world, then you can, too.
This look is a great one for any guy anyway, but even more so when put into context. If you’re on the run, fighting a deadly fungus-slash-virus-thing, and you’ve basically lost your will to live but you still need something warm and durable—and, hell, stylish—what do you reach for? Flint and Tinder’s Flannel-Lined Waxed Trucker Jacket, of course. It’s realistic and therefore perfect. Guys, hold on to your trucker jackets or stock up on ’em now, ’cause you never know when the end of the world will arrive, and you cannot be caught looking basic.
6. Selling Sunset‘s Jason Oppenheim
When it comes to Selling Sunset, everybody talks about what those women are wearing. Granted, if I showed up to the office in a diamond bra, elbow-length leather gloves, and a patent mini skirt, I’m sure it would be talked about, too. But today, we’re talking about the Oppenheim boys.
In a sea of feathers and jewels and studded stilettos, the founders of the Oppenheim Group are keeping it comparatively simple, but no less fashionable. Brett and Jason turned out look after look this season, from Brett’s Prada bolo tie to Jason’s Gucci monogram silk polo. It takes a lot to keep up with the ladies of this realty group, but with looks like this, it’s clearly not an impossible task.
7. Beckham‘s David Beckham
Between Jamie Tartt and David Beckham, I’m starting to think soccer players just know menswear better than the rest of us. David Beckham has always been hailed as a fantastic dresser (if you watched his Netflix documentary, Beckham, you’ve seen him in everything from a purple suit at his own wedding to a simple black tee and jeans at the airport), and even in between documentary footage spanning his entire life, he was dressed to the nines in a quietly chic, sophisticated waffle-knit henley. This is a guy with an expansive closet (and, yes, knitwear hanging in said closet), and I’m willing to bet that every article of clothing in there is fire.
8. The Other Two‘s Cary Dubek
Cary Dubek would hate ranking number eight on this list so much that he would probably spiral into a full-blown, week-long meltdown, go live about it on his Instagram, lose thousands of followers, and then, somehow, get a movie deal out of it. But that’s show business, baby.
The Other Two‘s final season was about fame and clout and the ridiculousness that arises from fame and clout, and all of that was very neatly conveyed in the first episode of the season, when Cary rolled up to his movie premiere in an electric blue plisse suit. No shirt under. And his sister was wearing the exact same outfit.
To make things even better, this isn’t a bespoke suit, nor is it some trendy, up-and-coming designer. It’s fucking ASOS, because, well, of course it is. I see you, Cary Dubek.
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