Justin Theroux claims he doesn’t “have any skin in the game when it comes to fashion.” The fashion world, it seems, would beg to differ. The 51-year-old actor has been to the Met Gala, aka fashion’s biggest night, “a bunch of times,” he tells me over the phone. And though this week’s trip to the CFDA Awards was his first, he attended at the invitation of Thom Browne, who’s won menswear designer of the year three times and begins his two-year term as chairman of the organization—long version: the Council of Fashion Designers of America—in 2023. Throw in Theroux’s impeccable street style and it’s clear that, even if he's not vying for his own award at an industry event, he’s got at least a little skin in the game.
“I don't know,” he tells me. “I mean, I don't consider myself a clothes horse or someone who's constantly reaching out and taking the pulse of what's happening. But I definitely love observing street style, particularly in New York. It’s unique.” He points to the DIY aesthetic borne of youthful economic necessity—“mixing and matching things that you're getting at Salvation Army or whatever with one sort of grail piece that you saved up for”—as a particular favorite, one that he emulates to this day.
“It's not my nature to wear all one designer,” he says. “It's always mix and match, obviously pouring in the gray, black, and green palette just because it's easier to do a load of laundry.”
“I'm very much a person who likes a uniform,” he continues. “I like simplicity of choice. Several pairs of boots, a couple of pairs of sneakers, a couple of good jackets. And I think Thom has a similar aesthetic.” He’s quick to acknowledge the designer’s avant-garde creations, but for Theroux, when it comes to Thom Browne, it all comes back to one uniform: the suit.
Theroux encountered Browne’s version in the early aughts, right around the time Browne first hit the New York fashion scene with his take on tailoring. The shrunken silhouette—tight through the body, with cropped trousers and sleeves—feels familiar after two decades, but it was something of a shock when first introduced. Well, a shock to most. To Theroux, who spent the ‘80s scouring thrift stores for suits from the ‘60s that he could buy on the cheap and then customize to his liking—“that sort of Mad Men aesthetic, which was really more of a downtown, dressed-up punk look”—it was almost like déjà vu.
“When I saw them, I thought, ‘Oh, these are great,’” he explains. “They’re very tight fitting, they hold you. They’re very sort of binding, not in a bad way, but a grounding way. And that's what I like about those suits. They make you feel like you're planted in the ground.”
He continues: “I feel held in those suits. I feel confident in them. They're really good. And the manufacturing is so well done. Every stitch feels like it's made of cable. Nothing's going to give on that suit.”
Browne dressed Theroux in one such suit for one of his first big red-carpet appearances in New York, back in the day. So, it’s no big surprise that, for the CFDA Awards, Theroux opted once again for what he calls “the quintessential Thom Browne suit.” The 2022 version was a three-piece, with a heavy oxford shirt and even heavier brogues. “I just felt very taken care of in that suit,” he says. The effect was strong enough that he was sad to take it off after the event. But bummed as he might have been, his dog—and Esquire cover star—Kuma was probably thrilled to have him back home.
She wouldn't have been waiting up for him if Theroux had played things differently that evening. “I almost took her, threw her in a jacket,” he says.
“When we went for our fitting, I brought her,” Theroux explains. “It was so adorable. She really has that Thom Browne aesthetic going hard. His showrooms are just stunning looking, with the big slabs of gray marble and neon lighting and slanted blinds. She fit right in. And she got herself a Thom Browne jacket. Say no more about Thom Browne: He makes clothes for dogs, so his heart's definitely in the right place.”
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