Menswear seems to have reached a saturation point: literally everything seems to be cool at once. Prep is back, and it brought loafers and boat shoes to the party; pants and shoes are big, but glasses and bags are small; streetwear is the dominant aesthetic trend—the genre’s designers lifted up by kingmaking European luxury brands. Everything is cool in menswear—but no one is cooler than Lil Uzi Vert.
Uzi’s Instagram page, wiped clean not too long ago after he threatened to retire, is filling up with images of him dressed fantastically and unlike any of his counterparts.
Uzi dressing well is a phenomenon that’s about as new as planking. But the latest evolution is notable for how seamlessly he manages to mix it all together. The best example of this is a photo from last week. The fit: the blue striped button-down shirt seen at every business meeting the world over (it’s literally the emoji you get for “shirt” 👔) under a creamy tan V-neck sweater. If you watch the video closely enough, you can also see what appears to be a Madras-pattern hat on his head. So far so good. The swerve comes in the form of a puffer jacket: a collaboration between North Face and Supreme with a heavy dose of cheetah print. Together, the look is Lifetime Middle Manager If He Got Cold at Quavo’s House.
Here, Uzi shows off the full potential of menswear in its current form. A V-neck sweater, long relegated to the clearance rack at mall retailers, on one of the best-dressed rappers in the world? Sure! And why not pair it with an otherwise boring and totally standard dress shirt? The Madras pattern is ripped straight from plaid shorts favored by Connecticut-area high schoolers. And then he pulls in a puffer jacket from a totally different style universe. Uzi (and those of us with Uzi-level swagger) is playing with as full a palette as there’s ever been in menswear.
Even in the past, the best-dressed rappers hewed closely to one sort of style. Take Kanye, for example. The former World Heavyweight Champion of Getting Fits Off experimented with different styles, but they’re easily broken down by era: preppy backpack rapper, suited sad boi, Givenchy-wearing streetwear god, dad who loves brown sweats. Consider how easy it was for fast-fashion retailers to follow in the footsteps of that Kanye—and now imagine them attempting to do the same thing with the all-over-the-place style seen from Uzi. The style is too broad and its inspirations too varied to be diluted down into one beige longline tee. That’s not a knock on Kanye—just evidence of how wildly menswear has evolved over this decade.
But the out-there drip doesn’t stop there. Uzi can go from his business casual outfit one moment to a chest-baring top and pearl choker necklaces the next. In late February, in the span of back-to-back Instagrams, Uzi went from Hot-Topic-skinny jeans (with the wallet chain!), Off-White Nikes, and a woman’s Off-White tee (the front reads “Princess”) to ‘90s-baggy jeans, a flowing floral shirt, slides, and a bucket hat—all from Louis Vuitton. None of it makes sense with the latest jumbo-sized fit Uzi posted to Instagram: a simple white button-up shirt under a classic shearling coat more fitting for old Hollywood royalty than disruptive Soundcloud rappers. Try to square that with the Junya Watanabe pants that belt around the thigh Uzi recently showed off on his Instagram Stories and you’re left scratching your head.
That Uzi’s style is impossible to define is exactly the point. He’s taken every potential mode of dress and put it in a blender. But the fact that it all looks great together might be less a function of his ultra-advanced style than of our adjusted vision. Menswear is expansive and all-encompassing now. And if the future of menswear looks anything like Lil Uzi Vert—and we’ve got a strong feeling it does—the future looks awfully bright (and cheetah-printed) indeed.
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