February, the shortest and also worst month, is finally over, and that means one thing—it’s time to look at the good, bad, and ridiculous things the Toronto Maple Leafs (and, in one case, a member of the hockey media) put upon their bodies last month. We’re already halfway through the season, and this is only the second fashion recap of the year, because time flies in a hockey season marked by repeating “hey, didn’t we just play the Oilers?” until the bleak darkness of the void swallows us all whole. Fashion is a rare light of creativity and joy in these trying times, so let’s get into it, shall we?

I’m so conflicted on this suit. On the one hand, it’s a plaid three-piece, which is just so much pattern, and I tend to think is visually overwhelming and usually a mistake. On the other hand, it’s a very simple plaid that sticks to two tones of the same color, which helps ease some of the usual problems.

The issue, honestly, lies with the tie, which I wish I’d determined before studying this outfit for so long that a checkered pattern started floating behind my eyelids. The tie is the same as one of the colors in the suit, which I’d ordinarily endorse—yes! color matching! it’s like watching a baby deer wobble through its first steps!—but because the suit is so monochrome and the pattern is unbroken across the jacket, waistcoat, and trousers, this needed a tie in a contrasting color to give the eye somewhere to land. Sometimes, the way to make a pattern look less busy is, counterintuitively, to add contrast somewhere else in the outfit to provide visual balance. A deep red would be very traditional and very sharp, or if he wanted to look trendy, something in the muted rusty-red family would provide an even stronger contrast with the dark grayish blue of the suit (orange and blue are complementary colors, so the warmer the red, the higher the contrast and the more the tie will stand out). It’s a look! Commit to the Look, Rasmus.

We’re just going to pass right over William Nylander choosing to mismatch a green shirt and a green suit, because a) I’ve already picked on him for that once before, and b) sometimes even Sisyphus gets to take a nap, okay? I’ll keep shoving that boulder up a hill next month.

Instead, let’s talk about that tie, which I love. The brownish maroon and forest green is such an unexpected, fun combination, and that dots-and-stars pattern is adorable. With a white shirt, this would be perfect. I love when the Leafs wear clothes that are playful and fun and even a touch silly, instead of the team’s general desire to cosplay as a hedge fund manager in his fifties with a standing tee time at the local country club. I want to see them experiment with fun colors and cutesy patterns and off-the-wall choices. I want a tie/suit combination that makes William Nylander look like he could guest-star as Steve’s very important and professional brother in an episode of Blue’s Clues. I want more stuff like this.

Another maroon suit! We had two last month, and I loved them both, so it’s no surprise that this one is also great. For once, I’m going to acknowledge the beanie, because whether or not it was intentional, the gray mask with black trim manages to match both the beanie and the tie, which is the kind of darkest-timeline, extremely-2021 accomplishment that deserves to be appreciated. Leaving aside both of those things, though, the black buttons on the dress shirt add just a teensy bit of unexpected interest to the rest of the outfit, and matching that with the solid black tie is a great choice. I love that kind of subtle detail; it’s reminiscent of tuxedo studs.

Look, as much as I want to love any kind of sartorial swing for the fences, and as impressed as I am that someone managed to dress themselves as the personification of a game of Minesweeper, this is one of the most visually jarring suits I’ve ever seen. It’s so visually jarring, in fact, that I just had to include a media member in the Leafs fashion recap. The suit itself, the turtleneck, the pocket square printed with what looks like blocks from a maroon-pink-and-gray Tetris game—this is the kind of outfit that Tim Gunn invented the phrase a lot of look to describe. There is so much happening here! I don’t even know how to feel!

The fix isn’t a fix so much as it’s a total inversion—if that suit was a maroon base with gray stripes, it would fix at least 95% of my issues with this outfit, mostly stemming from Elliotte Friedman’s pale, high-contrast coloring not working with that much of that shade of light gray. The other five percent are the turtleneck, which I want to get rid of not even because I don’t like turtlenecks (although, to be excruciatingly clear, I do not) but because that blocky geometric print on the pocket square is incredibly unique and a fantastic choice with a widely spaced plaid like that, and I want to see it carried over into a tie. Please, give me a superior version of that monochrome-Discovery-Zone mid-nineties geometric aesthetic. There’s a really fun look somewhere in this outfit just dying to get out.

The greatest accessory owned by any Leaf has made a reappearance, and by that I obviously mean John Tavares’s ripstop nylon math teacher backpack, which is everything to me. The contrast between that camel coat, which is very classic and nice and probably cost, like, money and stuff, and that purely utilitarian backpack is the kind of power fashion move Auston Matthews only dreams he could one day pull off. It’s elite. Tavares just absolutely does not give a fuck, and that fully transcends whether or not this outfit is “good”. What is “good” fashion if not total and complete confidence?

By the way, the outfit is good—I love the lighter, almost spring-y pairing of the dark lilac striped tie and the camel coat. He obviously gets extra points for the purple tie, because I’m always going to hand out extra points for purple. I’m a deeply predictable creature.

Garrison Bespoke posted a bunch of pictures from last summer to their Instagram in February, so we’re going to treat them for all intents and purposes as February pictures, because there’s only so much I can say about suits any given month. Pierre Engvall’s head-to-toe black look here, with the turquoise graphic on his T-shirt matching the shoes, is some A+ casual wear. I have a strong suspicion that the shoes are this Dior pair, but as it’s impossible to tell, I’m just going to give him credit for good use of turquoise. Much like purple, it’s a great color, it looks good on a lot of people, but because it often gets gendered as feminine, it’s not as common as it should be in menswear. This is sad! Turquoise is for everyone.

The one fucking time Mitchell Marner comes to the rink in an outfit where it would be perfectly and wholly appropriate for him to wear a beanie, he does this. It’s like they’re fucking testing me. A fedora with a suit is cool and retro and fits the overall aesthetic; a fedora with jeans and a T-shirt looks like you’re trying way, way too hard. Mitch looks like he’s on his way to try out some new pickup artist techniques at a bar while drinking straight bourbon and unironically calling himself a ladies’ man. Shit like this is why I spend an inordinate amount of time defending men’s hats, because too many guys who think negging totally works, bro have decided this is a great look. Every accessory has a time and place*, and wearing something too formal with casual clothes can look as jarring as wearing something too casual with formal clothes.

*The obvious exception, as previously established, is John Tavares’s backpack. The backpack transcends all petty fashion limitations. The backpack is universal.

See, this is much better.

My favorite thing about this outfit is how formal it is, in ways that are both dissonant and delightful. First of all, he’s wearing his fantastic, gloriously tacky red-and-black dinner jacket—look at that satin shawl collar!—and a shirt buttoned with what are either tuxedo studs or buttons intentionally chosen to look like tuxedo studs, like Jack Campbell’s from earlier. (They also look like they’re a very dark red to match the red pattern in his jacket, which is amazing.) With Campbell’s straightforward single-breasted suit, the buttons are an interesting touch; do the same thing with a dinner jacket and you’re unquestionably indicating this is some fancy-ass shit. Considering all that, the choice of the plain black tie is perfect—if he’d worn a bow tie, as the rest of the outfit seems to demand, it would have the effect of showing up to a board meeting in a ball gown. The hat is also not the kind of thing you’d wear with formalwear, and has the same effect as the tie of grounding the rest of the outfit but not too much. As it is, Mitch looks overdressed, but in the best possible way.

The sloppy tie knot is just making me laugh.

Frederik Andersen is apparently sad that we missed Halloween, and has decided that dressing up as a ginger Professor Indiana Jones on a random game night in February is a great idea. I’m a predictable bitch who loves coordination, and the coordination here is near-perfect—the brown hat, the brown and warm gray plaid jacket, and the muted blue-gray waistcoat all go together beautifully. I love the use of a double-breasted, solid-color waistcoat to add to the vintage look and balance out the pattern of the plaid, too. The tie, which brings in cool gray and stark black, is a problem, although I love that knitted texture, which is unexpected and quirky and would make me roll my eyes in an outfit less obviously and carefully planned than this one. If the tie was in shades of brown or shades of gray and blue, this would be flawless.

Here we have yet another installment in Morgan Rielly’s exceptional coat collection, this one a warm brown that straddles the line between rust and bronze. I don’t think I love the tie—it’s too close in color to the coat without quite matching—but it’s not exactly a disaster, either. Mostly, I just love Mo’s commitment to looking good and staying warm at the same time. His coats give me coat envy.

While I love the hat—do not get me wrong, I love the hat—it’s not even the most interesting thing about this outfit! The mustache tie clip is fantastic and the kind of winking, slyly funny accessory I adore, but I’m also extremely into Matthews swapping in a suede tab-collar jacket in lieu of a blazer. That’s a fucking gorgeous jacket. The material is a key factor in why it works here—while a leather jacket is more utilitarian than formal in a general sense, this particular jacket is suede, which is gorgeous and luxurious and irritatingly easy to ruin, and ups the formality of the whole outfit. That very dark, very cool brown also works well with the gray-and-blue plaid pants and gray tie; as shown earlier by Freddie, blue, gray, and brown is a great neutral color scheme that avoids the harshness of stark black. Every time one of the Leafs experiments with a jacket that isn’t a standard single- or double-breasted cut, I am filled with a joy and lightness in my heart, because I crave novelty.

While February was full of some great surprises, it’s to be seen what the Maple Leafs have in store for us in March. More hats of the non-beanie variety? More delayed Halloween costumes? More inspiration taken from PC games of the 1990s? (If someone does a Solitaire-themed outfit, they will earn my respect forever). Check back in April to find out.

(Many thanks to @dontcallmecatie, @onlyoneloislane, @imaginarydaze, and also the entire PPP masthead for giving me material and helping me track down pictures this month. You are all the collective wind beneath my wings. Or something.)