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January Fashion Recap: The more things change

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Don’t call it a comeback.

NHL: JAN 22 Oilers at Maple Leafs Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

So, how’s everybody doing?

It’s been, oh, eighty-four years just under twelve months since the last time I did one of these, an intervening year in which the Maple Leafs wore a lot of sweatpants and team-branded polo shirts and absolutely nothing else happened.* You know what has definitely happened, though? The Leafs have started wearing fun clothes again. Mitch Marner showed up to a game in that gorgeous red silk suit he owns, and it summoned me, so let’s get down to it!

*This is not true.

Fun fact: this is the exact same facial expression I made when I first saw this picture.

Looking at this photo is the aesthetic equivalent of shotgunning a can of Four Loko, and I’m talking about the original Four Loko, before they adjusted the ingredients to make it less likely to kill you. It’s not just an outfit, it’s an experience.

We can start with the coat, which pairs a plaid fabric with a fur collar, as if the Highlander was attempting to go incognito. Every single hockey player seems to have the same love affair with plaid suits and coats, and while I appreciate a well-inset shoulder seam as much as the next girl, a strong overall pattern is best paired with simplicity in the rest of the garment. The beanie, in a color I can only describe as “dirty celadon”, goes with neither the collar or the plaid (somehow) and only adds to the sense of several disparate yet distinctive elements chucked hastily together into an outfit.

In short, William Nylander’s back, baby. God, I’ve missed him so much.

While it’s Auston whose outfit is practically begging for attention here—I’m unashamed to admit I saw this picture and went straight to Google trying to source exactly which grotesquely expensive designer produced that scarf—I would like to give a shoutout to Spezza’s coat, which is the kind of classic yet subtly interesting piece that I love to see. The double-breasted fit with closely spaced, black-on-black fabric-covered buttons paired with narrow, deeply notched lapels is reminiscent of an antique frock coat. For anyone who hasn’t spent a large quantity of time reading about the history of 19th-century Western menswear (for instance, someone with a life, who is not me), here’s a photograph of the type of coat I’m talking about, helpfully modeled by Oscar Wilde:

See the buttons on the placket and cuffs, and the lapels, and the breast pocket? The cut through the body is different—frock coats, through most of the time that they were standard wear, were intended to emphasize the hourglass figure that was fashionable for both genders during much of the 19th century, while Spezza’s follows a more modern men’s tailoring aesthetic of padded shoulders and largely straight lines from the armpit to the hem. The details, though, give the whole thing a formal, vintage effect that works on an almost subconscious level. The hair says NHL player, but those buttons say extra in a Masterpiece Theatre adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby. It’s deliciously good. I could write a graduate thesis on this coat.

(There is nothing, I repeat, nothing that brings me greater joy than getting to raid historical clothing archives for example pieces. This is a great gift I have been given this day. Thank you, Jason Spezza.)

As for Auston? That scarf is Louis Vuitton, is made of silk and costs $485, and while I wouldn’t wear it with that outfit—the blue suit and blue-and-red tie match exactly zero of those shades of brown and black, which somehow makes an already busy print look even busier—it’s actually...kind of cool. The map nerd in me wants to call up Louis Vuitton and gently steer them away from using the Mercator projection for anything, but this is the Maple Leafs fashion recap, not Map Projection Nerds Anonymous.

Also, let the record show that Auston Matthews is stylistically predictable enough that I was able to find this scarf within fifteen minutes because he always wears the same goddamned labels. Please, Auston, for the love of God, consider branching out to a fashion house whose founder is still alive. I beg of you. There’s a whole new world out there.

Much like Willie, Frederik Andersen continues to be comfortingly reliable. He’s the Gallant to Nylander’s Goofus. This navy three-piece with a fine pinstripe—you can barely see it in the photo, which is my preferred type of pinstripe—and red-and-blue striped tie is classic, and Andersen makes it look effortless. The blue stripes of the tie are even threaded through with narrower white stripes to echo the pinstripe pattern of the suit, which is a small yet immensely satisfying detail. It’s one of those “somebody put serious thought into this outfit” touches that Andersen is so good at.

The flatcap is fine. Like, it’s not a beanie. Under no circumstances am I going to criticize a member of the Toronto Maple Poorly-Fitted-Knit-Beanies hockey club for wearing literally any other kind of hat. Seriously, these guys wear such gorgeous, expensively tailored three-piece suits that they are among the small number of people who could get away with wearing a fedora and not remind me of my ex-boyfriend (so quirky!), and yet they inflict knit caps on me day after day. It’s a crime, I tell you.

These kids are so cute, and even their cuteness isn’t enough to distract me from how hilariously weird these sweatshirts are. The pockets cutting across the logos looks like some kind of bizarre factory misprint, and the fact that different sizes have different parts of the logo obscured only adds to the effect. Also, the vivid blue combined with heather gray is...a choice that someone made! That is a decision that happened!

Image taken from Toronto Maple Leafs on Twitter (https://twitter.com/MapleLeafs/status/1352749338309652481/photo/3)

Here we have Spezza again, wearing a gray windowpane check three-piece that I love for its simplicity, and would love unreservedly if he took those trousers to a tailor and had them adjust the fit through the thighs just a bit. A light, geometrically patterned fabric is going to make even small fit issues stand out, and well, he’s a hockey player. The rest of it’s great, though—the black tie picking up the black buttons manages an effect that’s more classic and monochrome than boring.

Image taken from Toronto Maple Leafs on Twitter (https://twitter.com/MapleLeafs/status/1352749338309652481/photo/1)

Here we have an image that genuinely makes me crave the sweet release of death. From the neck down, I love the shit out of this outfit—the pattern of the suit evokes leopard print and is incredibly fun with those velvet leopard loafers. It’s a big look that works, winking coordination that’s clever and self-aware, and then Mitchell Marner, who usually delights me fashion-wise, just had to top it off with a hat that:

a) brings in red, a totally new and very bright color that immediately draws the eye away from the interesting parts of the outfit,

b) is a goddamned knit beanie (see above),

c) and, to make matters worse, is covered in a huge designer logo and no other source of visual interest. Valentino is a fine brand, but why would you engineer an outfit defined by cleverness and creativity and then spoil it by splashing on a huge designer logo? If there’s ever a time to employ the word gauche, it’s describing that hat. Don’t ruin a fun look because you simply have to announce to the world that your winter hat cost five hundred dollars.

This video contains not one but two burgundy suits—the player (Jimmy Vesey? Maybe?) at the beginning right after Freddie, and then Auston at the very end. The first suit, worn by possibly-Jimmy-Vesey (seriously, if you have a definitive idea who that is, leave a comment) is as close to subtle as a red suit can be, and I love it as a dipping of one’s toe into head to toe color. It’s a rusty, muted shade of maroon, and the black tie and white shirt are solid, safe choices to pull off the whole look without verging into avant-garde if that’s not what he’s into.

Auston Matthews, obviously, has no issues with being avant-garde. Turtlenecks and suits are a very dangerous game, but I actually rather like Auston’s black-turtleneck-and-burgundy-suit outfit here. With the slicked-back hair, he looks like he should be starring in some 1970s Italian horror movie with a title like Death Haunts the Virginal Seamstress or Bloody Knife Under the Hydrangea Bush. His aesthetic has generally been moving towards the 1970s—that decade is trendy right now, which is why when I walk into Target I’m confronted with knockoff Gunne Sax dresses and at least thirty percent more burnt orange than is medically advisable—and this is a neat look, especially if that dark sheen on the burgundy suit isn’t just a trick of the lighting in the video. It does something different enough to stand out without setting his outfit wholly apart from his teammates’.

That’s it for the January fashion recap, which ended up pretty damn packed, considering the season is only two weeks old. What exciting novelty will they have for us next month? Will Jason Spezza finally be the Maple Leaf who fulfills my fondest dreams and busts out a cravat? Which highly specific genre of vintage foreign film will Auston Matthews emulate next? Will Mitch Marner expand his jungle cat repertoire? I, for one, am excited to find out.