Are British actors the new style elite? First there was Eddie Redmayne, then Benedict Cumberbatch started topping best-dressed lists. After that came a new guard helmed by Tom Hiddleston in his immaculate tailoring, and now James Norton – the London-born, Yorkshire-raised and RADA-trained thespian who’s moved from treading the boards to making it big onscreen. And in style.
Here, we chart some of the rising star’s most outstanding sartorial moments. This one’s set for the top.
1. He might spend most of Grantchester in a dog collar, but off set, Norton’s suit-and-tie game is as strong as the rest of ‘em. Here – attending Wimbledon – he adds punch to his quintessentially British Prince of Wales check suit with an expertly knotted navy knit tie. Ace.
2. Norton’s face could double as a Double Gloucester grater, so it’s not exactly surprising that his ability to make clothes look good extends to even the most basic of clobber.
But where other handsome celebrities use their looks to disguise their lack of efforts in the wardrobe department, Norton never lets his standards slip. Case in point? This flecked blue crew neck jumper, black jeans and brown brogues combo.
3. As you’d expect of someone who’s spent a good chunk of time playing a Third Coalition officer in War and Peace, Norton knows a thing or two about statement outerwear. Here, he swaps the bells and whistles of Prince Andrei Bolkonsky’s regalia for an equally arresting contrast-collar overcoat. Someone give this man a medal.
4. Straight-leg or bootcut? We’re not sure. Not that it matters really; Norton still manages to look every inch 2016’s answer to James Dean – even if the hems of his jeans are a little wider than menswear’s cognoscenti would approve of.
5. OK, visible swing tag aside, this is one of the strongest English countryside looks we’ve seen this side of the Berkshire border. Barbour waxed jacket? Check. Tweed blazer? Check. Tortoiseshell eyewear? Check. But rather than roll out a musty look well past its sell-by, Norton lends it a modern flavour with an undone white Henley (very thespian), black scarf and steel watch. Jolly.
6. Norton was born in London but raised in part in Yorkshire – something which might go some way in explaining why his wardrobe is a mix of city-slicker clean-lined tailoring and polished accessories and more rugged stuff like denim, wool and tweed.
Splicing the two together here (in a feature for luxury accessories label Smythson), he serves up a masterclass in how clashing styles can be surprisingly complementary.
7. As dab a hand as he is at playing clergymen and princes, it was Norton’s role as ex-convict Tommy Lee Royce in BBC crime series Happy Valley that proved he wouldn’t be pigeonholed.
He’s equally versatile in his off-duty style; here, intent on disproving the theory that he’s little more than a mannequin for tweed suits, Norton shows he knows what’s trending in a shearling coat that’s taking no prisoners.
8. Disclaimer: As you can probably tell, this moody shot isn’t a candid pap snap, but a carefully orchestrated shot from Norton’s January 2016 interview with Interview magazine. Which means that this particular Alexander McQueen and Christopher Kane mash-up wasn’t entirely of his own design.
Still, such affairs are usually collaborative in their nature – it’s not like stylists actually force celebrities to wear certain clothes. Plus, you know, he makes this jacket look a hell of a lot better than we ever could, so that has to count for something.
9. To the woman in the back of this picture, we feel you. Norton’s black-tie game is hands-down show-stopping.
No small part of his look-twice red carpet success is his choice of colour. Although often incorrectly mistaken for being the unconventional black-tie choice, midnight blue is in fact the more traditional option, as – under artificial light – its colour appears a richer shade of black than black itself. (They don’t teach you that at drama school.)