It all kicked off – in the comments section, at least – when Conor McGregor was, according to some, most egregiously omitted from FashionBeans’ 2015 rundown of Best-Dressed Men. Disgruntled fans of the sharp-suited Ultimate Fighting Championship superstar gave us a severe dressing-down. So lest we endure an actual kicking, we thought it prudent to pen a belated tribute to The Notorious’ style nous. We’re menswear enthusiasts, after all, not seasoned fighters.
McGregor is by no means the only UFC bruiser bringing some much-needed sartorial flair to the octagon – traditionally a place where style, along with lesser competitors, has gone to die. Welterweight Rory Macdonald is also overturning long-held notions that the thriving sport is all Ed Hardy tees and snapbacks. But McGregor displays a level of swag to match his unrivalled swagger – and fighting prowess. As the Irishman himself puts it, “There’s two things I really like to do and that’s whoop ass and look good.”
At the risk of mixing combat sports, allow FashionBeans to be the grizzled Mickey to your Rocky – or the Sly Stallone to your Michael B. Jordan (who did make the list incidentally). Like a style version of a training montage, these moves will help you punch up your own wardrobe.
1. Have A Cut Man In Your Corner
McGregor’s custom suits fit him like a 4oz glove, which is more than half the battle. Even the finest suit will fall flatter than Ronda Rousey after a roundhouse kick to the face if it isn’t tailored properly. Indeed, if we had a dollar for every Hollywood actor treading a red carpet in a borrowed designer suit with sleeves sliding past their wrist and trousers puddling on their shoes, then we’d pay for their alterations ourselves.
Conversely, with a few judicious tweaks, an inexpensive suit can punch well above its weight. As a rule, set aside between 10 and 20 per cent of your budget for alterations. Especially if, like McGregor, you have an athletic physique with shoulders far wider than your waist – i.e. a ‘drop’ (the difference between the two measurements) greater than the standard six inches of most suits.
And if your quads are bulging at your seams, size up in your trousers and get them taken in. The only belt you should need is a championship one.
2. Keep Your Body Covered Up
Most men think of a waistcoat like the tailoring equivalent of a gall bladder: a hangover from a previous era that’s functionally useless. But not only does a waistcoat give your outfit – literally and metaphorically – a little extra than ten-a-penny two-pieces, it also has a profound visual effect on your torso, slimming you quicker than a pre-fight weight cut.
If you’re already as lean and mean as McGregor, then a waistcoat will accentuate what you’ve worked hard in the gym to get, widening your shoulders and streamlining your middle. If, on the other hand, you’re a couple of divisions heavier than you’d like to be, a waistcoat is an extra insurance policy that’ll cover your excess.
Plus, it looks neater than a crumpled shirt when you take your jacket off, either because it’s too hot or you need to teach somebody some manners.
3. Master The Right Combinations
Repeat after us (until it’s drummed into your head harder than McGregor’s jab): your tie and pocket square should never match exactly. Yes, they can be similar; perhaps close in colour, or the same pattern but on a different scale. They can ‘correspond’, sure.
But they should never, ever be identical, or they’ll bring your outfit down quicker than McGregor’s left hook sank José Aldo. It may seem like matching makes perfect sense, but it’s a mistake many men fall foul of – winding up looking like they ran out of budget on Don’t Tell The Bride.
Be wary of a silk one-two as well: a matte cotton or linen handkerchief is an effective counter to a lustrous tie and prevents the overall effect becoming too shiny, especially if your suit fabric already has some sheen to it. Unless you’re attending an evening event, it’s advisable to have some texture in there: too much gloss will only take the shine off.
4. Guard Your Chin
Ever wondered precisely why McGregor looks so damn tough? It could be his unmistakable, rounded-shoulder fighter’s build, muscles taut like an elastic band that’s ready to snap at any moment. Or it could be his massive, extremely graphic chest ink showing a gorilla eating a human heart, rendered in glorious technicolour and remarkable anatomical detail.
But it’s also – at least in part – on account of his facial hair. ‘Strong’ jaws suggest physical might, a throwback to when our ape-like ancestors, the australopiths, evolved tougher faces for fighting. (Scientists suggest strong jaws are more attractive to women for this reason.)
McGregor’s caveman beard makes his mandibles look even more manly, extending beyond the line of his actual chin like a force field of hardness. Juxtaposed with his skin-tight fade – which is another way to instantly inject some attitude – the effect is even more pronounced.
5. Put On A Performance
Like the aforementioned left hook, there’s no way of avoiding this, so we’re just going to come out and say it: McGregor’s dress sense often skews as loud and brash as his trash talk. But like the latter, the former is all part of the show. McGregor understands that if he looks like a champion, and sounds like one, then guess what? He might just be one.
The old adage of dressing for the job you want is a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason. And while you might get some funny looks if you’re the intern, dressing like a boss is almost never a bad move. It hints at effort, attention to detail, competence: you’re signalling that you’ve got this game on lock so hard it’s in a rear naked choke.
Just look back at McGregor’s weigh-ins and press conferences. Whatever workplace you’re in, if you show up in a suit and the other guy shows up in a T-shirt and snapback, you’ve already won.
Is McGregor pound-for-pound the best-dressed fighter in the world? Or is his style a little too punchy for your taste?
Have it out in the comments below.