Men’s style has come a long way in the last fifteen years. There was a time when almost everyone was obsessed with just one thing, whether it was raw denim or Italian tailoring. Today’s landscape is a lot more diverse with different communities built around everything from techwear to normcore. And so have many people’s closets. Alongside some tailoring nowadays, most guys have some kind of casualwear they feel a bit more confident and passionate about.
While it’s hard to characterize today’s zeitgeist in just one word, however, it’s easy to capture it with two characters — Cosmo Kramer and George Costanza. To be sure, clothing has always played a large role in Seinfeld. The show, after all, opened and closed with a dialogue between Jerry and George about how the placement of the second button makes or breaks a dress shirt. There was also the time Jerry ruined an expensive suede jacket; the episode where Kramer couldn’t get out of a pair of skinny, raw denim jeans. Or that time George demanded an apology from someone for saying his rather “bulbous head” would stretch out the “normal sized neck hole” of a finely knit sweater.
Along with those memorable comedic moments, Kramer and George perfectly capture the average guy’s wardrobe right now.
Kramer was the show’s spring/ summer character. And this is best represented in the way he often wore just a slim-trouser-and-shirt combo, with the shirt being a wild and bold print (very of the moment right now). Kramer’s button-up wardrobe spanned mustard yellows to navy blues, lobster prints to faint florals. If you substituted any of these for a more basic blue or white button-up, his character wouldn’t feel the same. Jerry, who played the more straight faced, incredulous straight man to Kramer’s foils, often wore more conservative clothing.
Never a follower of trends, but always updated on his look, Kramer also occasionally sported the collar-over-lapel thing that seems to have come back. Except, where some boldly and recklessly flip out both collar points, Kramer exercised a bit more moderation by flipping out just one. This, my friends, is the difference between fashion and style.
Some other PTO favorites: olive sack suits and combining unusual prints with tailoring. Every guy who’s appeared on a street style blog in the last six months looks like one of the photos above.
Here’s Kramer in a muted blue-yellow color combination with a low-slung jacket and moderate trousers. The outfit, which is completed with a pair of funky colored Engineered Garments-y sneakers, could have come straight out of a Needles lookbook. I bet he proxied it from Japan.
Kramer wasn’t always about weird prints and Japanese imports. Here, our hero looks like he’s part of The Stonemasters, a 1970s California crew that combined Rugged Ivy with a psychedelic sense of Patagonia style. Half the guys walking into juice bars today look like this.
Less of a strictly spring/ summer look, here’s Kramer in an RRL ad and what looks to be a straight-off-the-runway Dries Van Noten coat. Solid fits that show a bit of willingness to experiment with designer fashion.
Whereas Kramer embodies spring/ summer style, George encapsulates fall/ winter — often in the same episode, which makes no sense in terms of weather, but nicely symbolizes the ying-and-yang of our closets. In the above, George sports a fitted tweed cap, tartan shirt, and mountain parka. Because he’s a man of taste, not flash, he also wears a modest plastic watch (we recommend Swatch). Thin wire, circular frames shows he’s an independent thinker and possibly enjoys a bit of K-Pop.
Wild and unusual prints are good for spring/ summer, but fall is about familiar classics. George often wore tartan shirts in smooth plain weave cottons (note the great button-down collar roll). As soon as October rolls around, even if it’s still 80 degrees (and it will be), you’ll see at least a three dozen guys every day wear something like this with dark raw denim jeans and work boots, talking about how they love butternut squash, hay rides, and Fair Isle patterns. They will absolutely not wear a jacket though because it’s still too hot.
Let’s get one more look at that collar roll.
Once the weather gets cooler, however, out come the mountain parkas. George has them in every color, from deep forest green to khaki to safety orange. The mountain parka was a staple of Rugged Ivy, which is a fact that every guy wearing a mountain parka would love nothing more than to tell you.
The ultimate though is when he gets to break out that waxed cotton Barbour — the familiar corduroy collar, spacious pockets, and tartan lining that remind him of his rich and imagined English heritage. “I hear the weather today might dip into the mid-70s,” says some Californian guy in October, as he swaddles himself in a cashmere scarf he spent too much money on and refuses to not wear. “This kind of clothing really reminds me of my childhood.”
Here we have the autumnal looks this entire site was built around — a soft shouldered navy sport coat (honestly, pretty useful) with an oxford button down (have I mentioned that collar roll?). Then a dark brown sport coat, probably tweed, which you can wear open collared or with a tasteful ancient madder tie. George’s taste in neckwear was unassailable, which is impressive given that all the other ties on the show were pretty terrible.
Like Kramer, George also wasn’t afraid to mix it up with designer brands. Here he is in the puffy, oversized Raf Simons parka famously worn by Rihanna.
And he loved his streetwear.
When it came time to get serious though, both men knew how to put together a black tie ensemble. From classic tailoring to more avant garde fashion, everything in men’s style right now is downright Seinfeld-ian.