I'm not sure I could name more than a handful of Devendra Banhart's songs. Still, I follow the singer-songwriter and visual artist obsessively on Instagram, where he posts Art Deco–inspired concert posters, snapshots of his life on tour—and outfits upon stylish outfits. In one photo, Banhart wears a graphic-driven linen ensemble made by Brooklyn-based designer Alex Crane. In another, it's a fleece-y overall from the cult-loved Japanese label Snow Peak. And in a personal favorite of mine, he pairs high-waisted navy pants with a washed-out blue tee and a chunky gray cardigan. (An indigo bandanna is effortlessly wrapped around his neck, too.) His personal style oscillates between eccentric and minimalist—sometimes meeting somewhere in the middle—and it all looks fantastic. There is something I find deeply alluring about Banhart's dedication to both ends of that spectrum. He has a knack for mixing individualistic motifs with familiar silhouettes in a way that feels bold and fresh without veering into Gucci-level maximalism.
Like many artists, Banhart's image and personal style have evolved and shifted throughout his career. When he first started to make a name for himself in the early 2000s, he had long hair and a bushy beard and wore deep-V-neck tees, suede vests, and the occasional bow tie. (The aughts were a different time.) But my first real introduction to Banhart and his music came in 2011, when he starred in an ad for the upscale eyewear brand Oliver Peoples. The video was shot in the Hollywood Hills at the John Lautner–designed Garcia House, and set to Banhart’s song "Brindo." He frolics around the iconic midcentury house and swims in its gorgeous pool with his then girlfriend—all while looking quintessentially Californian and effortlessly cool.
That particular ad seemed to mark a shift in Banhart’s style. In the years to come, a new uniform of sorts emerged: worn-in crewneck sweaters, well-cut suits, obscure graphic prints, and lots of handkerchiefs. Everything he started to wear felt laid-back but still looked razor-sharp and put-together. Every time you think you have his closet figured out, he'll throw a curveball by donning a pair of hunter-green coveralls or a lavender-shaded kimono. On stage, he brings a similar unpredictability, too. One night he'll perform in a ratty white tee and fuzzy pink cardigan (à la the late Kurt Cobain), and the next he'll be in a brown suit with a black turtleneck, looking more English professor than cool-dude musician.
Outside of the devil-may-care attitude to Banhart's style, the thing that I admire most is how it always feels like an extension of him. Like his music and his art, it feels delightfully meandering and surprising. He seems aware of the general direction in which menswear is headed but pays no mind to it. If it overlaps with his own taste, perfect—and if not, then so what? Banhart appears to be living a beautiful and idyllic and art-filled life—and his personal style is just more of the same.
Originally Appeared on GQ