In Appreciation of Trevor Noah

Charcoal suit, light blue shirt, and navy tie.

Every once in a while, the topic of who actually dresses well in real life comes up. We can easily think of real people from the past who do and a whole lot of stylish fictional characters from today. It is difficult these days to find those who are a menswear role model, due to so many celebrities opting for flashy, tight-fitting, or overly fashionable clothing. Classic menswear in the sense of coat and tie has made something of a comeback in the last decade, that much is certain. But often it is tampered with to such an extent that it the result appears less than the sum of its parts. Because of this, many people who want to dip their toes into menswear can be understandably confused.

Medium grey suit, white shirt, and burgundy tie with grey stripes. 
However, some embrace a few aspects of modern fit and style without letting it go overboard. One such person is Trevor Noah, the South African comedian best known to Americans for hosting The Daily Show. Though he may sound like an unlikely candidate for a menswear role model, his consistent good taste of late is evidence enough.

Navy suit with white shirt and and burgundy tie.

This wasn't always the case. When he first took over from Jon Stewart, he had big shoes to fill. I didn't know who he was at the time but it was clear his suits did not fit well. The very narrow lapels were one thing, the bunching at the upper sleeves and pulling waist button were quite another! These suits also have a superfluous second buttonhole on the lapel, a detail that has been seen sporadically in fashion but never lasts long for a reason. The ties were accordingly skinny and the shirts had woefully undersized collars for his face. The suits were made by Tiger of Sweden in what looks to be their "Jil" model for the most part. They may have also provided Noah's shirts, ties, shoes, and socks since he had a contract with them to provide wardrobe for The Daily Show.

Trevor Noah appears in an ad announcing him as host of the long-running comedy news series. Note the poor shoulder fit which results in dimples at the upper sleeve and the unsightly "X" created by a too tight, too high button placement.

It's unclear if their shrunken fit, Euro-fashion suits were his own style or something the wardrobe department chose to emphasize his youth. Although he has a slender figure, these suits have the effect of making him look smaller and inexperienced. He later decided to try out Ermenegildo Zegna after being impressed by one of their shops, commissioning a made-to-measure three-piece navy suit for the Met Gala in 2016. From there, a relationship was born. Though Noah readily admits he doesn't know that much about clothing, it seems that he saw the difference in better fit and quality. Soon after, Zegna was listed as providing wardrobe in the credits. It is difficult to get good pictures of him standing up on the show, but we can infer a lot from his first, similarly-cut suit from them.

Navy suit complete with peak lapels for a more formal touch. Improved fit and overall higher quality. This would be a great suit for other social gatherings in the evening.

The suits now fit more cleanly but still have a trim, modern silhouette. The most immediate difference is in the shoulder fit which lets the upper sleeves fall straight instead of fighting against Noah's deltoids. This also allows his shoulders greater breadth visually, helping him to appear more masculine and powerful. He wears solid worsted wool in shades of blue and grey. The suits all feature a two button front with medium-narrow notch lapels, double vents in back, and straight hip pockets with flaps. The trousers are flat front, plain hemmed, and likely have side adjusters of some type since they are not worn with a belt. The shirts are always white or pale blue broadcloth with a spread collar and mitred single button cuffs. They do not have a chest pocket. The ties are all restrained reds, blues, and blacks, often solid but sometimes with stripes or dots. He seems to be one of the few television personalities to regularly wear grenadine ties, too. They are tied in the Victoria knot most of the time, a double wrapped four-in-hand knot where the blade only goes through the outside loop. Occasionally it is a regular four-in-hand knot. Noah chooses socks in the same colour as his suits and wears black cap toe dress shoes.

Both former President Barack Obama and Trevor Noah are good role models for menswear due to their simple but effective style and colour choices. Here, Noah wisely chooses matching socks that continue the line of the leg.

If there's one criticism I'd level, it's that his trouser rise is still a bit on the low side (and the fit could be loosened for more comfort). Due to this, his shirt and tie play peekaboo under the waist button when he stands up to greet guests. No matter how close or loose the fit of a suit may be, unifying the jacket and trousers at the waist presents a more consistent and well-tailored appearance. On the plus side, this triangle is not as large as on his previous suits and the lack of belt makes it less distracting.

The jacket fit is good, though let down slightly by the low rise trousers.

In maturing his wardrobe, Trevor now looks ready to control the discussion on The Daily Show, make the show his own, and crack a few jokes along the way. He also demonstrates how one can look authoritative even while wearing limited number of colours and styles. For this he deserves praise despite the aforementioned nitpicks.


Comments

  1. He's looking a lot better these days!

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  2. You say that he wisely wears socks the same colour as his suit, but you admitted to wearing contrasting socks in your recent post. Why the difference here? Not attacking, just curious.

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    Replies
    1. It's wise for someone presenting the news whether or not in a comedic context and whatever their political leanings are. Also a good idea for those with conservative dress codes. I can get away with contrasting socks at my place of employment because the dress code and atmosphere is not that strict. It just depends on my mood.

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  3. Can you do an article on Tucker Carlson? He's another well-dressed news figure.

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    Replies
    1. If there's enough interest, sure. His style is more Trad than I am right now, but he does seem to wear it well. Until then, this article might be of interest to you: http://www.ivy-style.com/preppy-pundit-a-tucker-carlson-style-gallery.html

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