Few Hollywood actors can – at the age of 43 – claim to be in constant demand for roles as varied as a Baltimore drug lord to Nelson Mandela. Even fewer can also DJ. And none can say they do it all while sometimes stalling to rap with Jay Z or consult on collaborations with the likes of Superdry.
Idris Elba, however, is the very definition of a modern-day renaissance man. Since first shooting to fame as suited and booted Stringer Bell in The Wire, Elba has consistently impressed with his ability to stay cool – both on and off the camera.
Whether he’s repping his signature laid-back style, cutting a dapper figure on the red carpet or giving a fresh nod to next season’s trends in his downtime, there’s a reason why Newham’s finest constantly crops up in our best-dressed lists.
Here are eight reasons why Big Driis is one of the most valuable players in the game right now, and why your style will thank you for taking your cue from him. Watch and learn.
1. He Knows The Trends That Work For Him
Time’s a great teacher. With over four decades under his belt, Elba has learned to trim the fat from his wardrobe, refining it so that timeless staples are kept stocked high and flash-in-the-pan fare is weeded right out. You won’t find any sliders, extreme longline tees or cross-eye-inducing prints here.
That doesn’t mean Elba avoids trying his hand at trends, though. He just tries on them on for size in a subtle way that doesn’t compromise his larger frame. A bold trouser here, a coloured shoe there; this is a man who’s mastered the art of deploying bold prints, hues and fabrics in small bursts, without letting his signature style suffer.
2. He Can Wear The Hell Out Of A Suit
There are many reasons why Elba was tipped by bookies to succeed Daniel Craig as the new 007. And stellar acting chops aside, we’d like to think it’s because he looks as sharp in a suit as any other of Her Majesty’s MI6 agents.
The key to Elba’s formalwear success is his secret weapon: a good tailor on speed dial. Taller than average and muscular in stature, Elba knows his frame needs some expert input to looks its best. Which is why each suit, whether a Prince of Wales check or midnight blue tux, has been nipped and tucked to perfectly flatter his form.
Any agent in the making knows that a few millimetres shaved off the sleeve or the leg makes all the difference – which is why you’ll never see his trousers pooling or his cuffs around his palms.
3. His Off-Duty Is On Point
Elba doesn’t stunt solely on the red carpet: his downtime looks are just as smartly put-together, bridging the gap between buttoned-up and casual as effortlessly as the man himself moves from big-screen acting to basement club deck-spinning.
It could be a fitted polo shirt with slim-fit chinos, or a cashmere jumper with selvedge denim and brown Derbies – whatever the smart-casual combo, Elba knows exactly how to dress comfortably without having to curb his style.
Oh and kudos to one of the very few men over forty who’s managed to master the ‘mankle’.
4. He Doesn’t Ignore The Details
Whether you’ve actually reached your forties, or you simply want to start dressing with the maturity of a guy that knows what does and doesn’t work for him, it’s worth investing in a handful of all-important accessories.
Like a good watch, for example, or a couple of choice pieces of headwear – all of which Elba has checked off his list. Channel his classic approach with a stainless steel bracelet timepiece and a knitted beanie or British flat cap.
5. He Knows An Overcoat Is Essential
It’s not just accessories where Idris excels, he also raises the bar with his outerwear game. Elba appreciates that, much like a suit, a smartly tailored overcoat is one of those few menswear pieces with an almost transformative power.
If you’re in the market for only one of these, make it a Luther-approved single-breasted charcoal style. Or, make like Elba and push the boat out with a double-breasted powder blue statement piece.
6. He’s Got The Three-Piece Down Pat
Not sure how to pull off a three-piece suit? Elba’s got your back. It might look effortless when he does it, but you needn’t necessarily be as cool as Idris to look as good as him. (Although it definitely helps.)
It’s all about adhering to the golden rule – other than nailing fit – of steering a little more conservative in your choice of colour and material. Stick to neutrals like grey, navy and dark royal blue and avoid crazy patterns or fabric finishes; that way you won’t muddy the waters by adding another piece into the mix.
If you really want something to shout, make it your shoe choice.
7. The Man Does His Research
Despite a jam-packed schedule of filming, interviews, DJ sets and red carpet appearances, Idris recently cleared time in his diary to launch his first fashion collaboration with Superdry.
“I’m not a designer, but I’m passionate about clothes and I know how men want to look. Functionality and durability were key things for me,” said Elba of the collection, which saw his signature, fuss-free style spliced with the sporty superbrand.
One of the key reasons why you’ll never see him put a sartorial foot wrong? Because he’s worked hard to research the pieces that complement his lifestyle and frame.
8. He’s The First Name In Smart Streetwear
Structured bomber jackets? Check. Dope two-tone wool blazers? Check. Ultra-soft cashmere-mix sweats? Check.
If you ever needed a lesson in elevating an urban aesthetic, then look no further: Elba has turned wearing streetwear separates without looking scruffy into an art.
Made it your mission to add some Elba to your wardrobe this spring? Or is this man’s style one to be swerved?
Let us know below.