Some might say that seeing draft day hopefuls arrive at the red carpet in their NFL draft suits is the Oscars of football. With the eyes of the world watching, the parade of players, prospects, sportscasters and sponsors sets a style stride and gives the rest of us some ideas on what to shop for in men’s formalwear. This year, players showed off up for the NFL draft in bespoke suits with custom tailoring to fit the biceps that will soon be making them millions of dollars.
Dressing the part of an NFL hopeful means having a play-by-play strategy that follows rules but takes a few risks, and this group of guys hardly broke a sweat when rising to their formal occasion. Here’s how the best-dressed among them broke from the pack and made us double take in their NFL draft suits.
Colorful Sports Jackets
The NFL draft suits sported by the 2018 prospects made one thing clear: they’re all about bold color. In the great tradition of team spirit, prospects spun the spectrum of sportswear shades and red was a sure favorite.
Jaire Alexander of Louisville wore a dark-red fitted jacket over a double-breasted shawl-collar vest in a matching shade. With a bright white shirt and black bow tie, he pulled to the front of the leaderboard. He wasn’t the only man in red, however, as cohorts Vita Via of Washington and Saquon Barkley of Pennsylvania showed up in crimson and deep burgundy.
Going for the luxury brand name was Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. His green Gucci suit complemented a shirt patterned with Gucci motifs, a Gucci belt, and Gucci shoes. Josh Rosen of Manhattan Beach, CA played color more subtly in a slim-fitting blue suit with matching tie. But, no one took the color dare more seriously than Ohio State’s Denzel Ward ‒ he showed up in a dazzling shade of purple!
Who says a suit jacket lining should be undercover? NFL prospects certainly don’t. Bespoke jacket linings were show-off pieces for more than a few of the players. Bradley Chubb of North Carolina stole eyes with a luxurious satin galaxy print, holding it open for paparazzi photo ops. Lamar Jackson lined himself with a Gucci logo print, and Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama won the best big brother trophy for lining his white suit coat with his little sister’s drawings.
Beside these stand-outs, others lined their jackets with more traditional patterns, florals, stripes, plaids, and solids.
Wide ties look great on men with broad shoulders, a fashion fact not overlooked by some of the hopefuls who dismissed bow ties in favor of generous knots. Tremaine Edmunds of Virginia Tech wore a paisley silk tie that claimed a few inches of space, teaming it with a powder-blue jacket, vest, and iridescent pocket square. Frank Ragnow of Arkansas took a wide twist to his tie, too, which was appropriately light blue (one of official colors of his new team, the Detroit Lions). Not all ties were wide ‒ the skinny tie lives on in new versions made from interesting materials like leather and scuba.
NFL prospects are an educated bunch, having completed many years of college. The prep school style was a good look for Josh Allen of Wyoming, who sported a dark velvet jacket, a simple maroon tie, and loafers with no socks.
Leighton Vander Esch of Boise State has a perfect prep-school name, so it’s no surprise he played the part in a sharp plaid suit with gold buttons, plum tie, and frilly pocket handkerchief. Shaquem Griffin of Central Florida also forgot the socks and sported a pair of wire-rims just as a school dude should.
Fashion isn’t all about clothing, and these collegiate athletes used accessories perfectly to complement their NFL draft suits. Some of the players fused street style into their looks, wearing gold chains, cufflinks, and expensive watches in brand names like Shinola and Rolex. Derrius Guice of Louisiana wore a bright red Gucci belt bucket with his beige suit and bias-striped tie, and Marcus Davenport of Texas showed up with a black beaded bracelet peeking from the cuffs of his nicely starched pure black shirt and light blue sports coat. Josh Jackson of Iowa tied his look together with emblems on his shoes, collar, and a gold lapel pin.
Many of the guys finished off their looks with sunglasses, the right kind of celebrity look for these soon-to-be-superstars hoping for a Superbowl win and product endorsements to come.
Rock Bespoke Men’s Fashion Like a Sports Star
Not every prospect made the draft with a gig, but when it comes to red carpet and bespoke fashion, 2018 was a sure win. With a long hot summer of training up ahead, these NFL newcomers will be out of the fashion circles for a while, but it’s likely they put a print on men’s wear for the months ahead.
Borrowing from NFL style might mean ditching your socks and adding fashion flair where there was none before, but you can bet your bracket that the attention you’ll receive will make it worth your while.