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This year Wimbledon was a masterclass in men's fashion

A demonstration of how even suited looks can be ultra-fresh

This year Wimbledon was a masterclass in men's fashion A demonstration of how even suited looks can be ultra-fresh

Earlier this summer there was, within the fashion bubble, a little debate about traditional men's formalwear. Outfits such as those seen, say, in Florence during the Pitti days, while becoming more modern with each passing season, are increasingly associated with an extremely artifactual and demodé formalwear - almost comparable to a ComicCon for Oscar Wilde and early 20th century dandies cosplayers. Some particularly progressive voices in the industry have lamented the excessive attachment to a heteronormative and somewhat old-fashioned male costume: broken suits in prissy colors, pants with too-short hems, baroque ties paired with club collar shirts, suspenders, handmade monkstrap shoes, wide-brimmed Panama hats, Windsor-knotted ties - all a fancy pants-core that has become over the years almost painful to watch, clichèd and culturally inert. The question therefore arises as to what the state of the art is for men's formalwear in 2022. And if with Pitti came, in sometimes somewhat contentious forms, the question with the latest edition of Wimbledon came the answer. David Beckham, Tom Cruise, Rami Malek, Woody Harrelson, Andrew Garfield, Martins Imhangbe, Rege Jean-Page, Tom Daley, Jason Statham, Matt Smith, Paapa Essiedu, Tom Hiddleston, Jimmy Akingbola, Paul Mescal, Max Harwood, Mason Mount - these are just a few of the men featured in the tournament's famous Royal Box, who showed up in a parade of Ralph Lauren suits (many were but not all of course) that made it clear how men's formal attire, when executed without mannerisms or fuss of any kind, manages to be of unparalleled freshness.

Simplicity and nonchalance were the common denominators of an array of outfits that included everything from the original suits of Beckham and Andrew Garfield; to the formal outfits of Tom Cruise, Rami Malek and Rege Jean-Page; to the more relaxed outfits of Matt Smith, Max Harwood and Paapa Essiedu. Jimmy Akingbola and Tom Daley, dressed in Ralph Lauren and Paul Smith, respectively, brought some eccentricity with their use of yellow the as did Federer in a Gucci suit that was a basic navy blue on the outside but had a colorful psychedelic lining on the inside. Like good Americans on vacation, however, Woody Harrelson showed up in a totally informal outfit of jogger, shirt, and T-shirt (remember that spectators are required to wear formal dress only if invited to the royal house stands) while the rest of the informal but elegant looks were dominated by bowling shirts: Mason Mount's was Nanushka, rapper Ghetts' was Amiri, and comedian Munya Chawawa's and Taika Waititi's were Prada. The collective direction taken by the various outfits was characterized by a vintage sensibility for colors and silhouettes, a trend toward a taste for subtle but ever-present decoration in the form of stripes on shirts, accessories or strategically placed pockets, and, for shoes, an adherence to laceless designs with a shower of loafers and slip-ons interrupted by fairly classic sneakers that tended to be white. Honorable mention goes to Tom Sturridge, who showed up in a pair of white Air Force 1s ruined and destroyed in an almost poetic way - although the rest of his outfit did not denote a highly sophisticated taste, indeed.

If one lesson can be learned from this parade of outfits (there were even some forgettable ones) it is that fortunately, today, the horizons of the formal are broadening even among the aristocratic stands of Wimbledon. Through the rigid "cage" of the classic suit the various celebrities have experimented with different colors, fits, textures and imagery while the more interesting strand of preppy but relaxed outfits that did not include a jacket or tie per se, have interpreted the concept of formal elegance in their own way, shaping and expanding its limits. A bowling shirt and a perfect-fitting trouser, but also a pair of shorts, can become formal, in short, just as a suit like Beckham's, in which each piece possesses its own color and decoration, can become an interesting alternative to the classic bland artless suit good even for a small-town wedding. The trick that Wimbledon spectators teach us is to look beyond the form and idea of the suit that we know, to go beyond the formal and canonized nature of that look to look critically at the elements that compose it, finding there their true beauty and "breath": the combination of colors, the play of proportions, the length of a collar and the flare of a pant, the inlay of textures but also a certain kind of casual eccentricity. The best menswear is seen not in the presence of "old" elegance but in the absence of apparent effort