As an entertainer, Justin Timberlake has learned from the past. He can cradle a mic stand like Elvis Presley, move like Michael Jackson and swoon like Frank Sinatra.
Tom Ford, Timberlake’s fashion designer, has taken advantage of Timberlake’s showmanship to craft an edgy but tradition-based style for the star. The new style has been on display in recent weeks as Timberlake has made the rounds to promote his new album, “The 20/20 Experience.”
Timberlake was once a boy-band idol with mismatched baggy attire and the curly, frosted locks of a Cabbage Patch Kid doll. His early fashion missteps included a full denim costume complete with rhinestones and a cowboy hat, and for a time his hair was twisted in cornrows.
But Timberlake has long since left the Kid Rock look behind, thank God.
“These kids grew up in a generation of baggy shorts and baggy athletic clothes, and now they want some kind of little formal touch to something,” Ford told the New York Times last week. “They want the glamour of suits and ties.”
Ford has moved Timberlake forward by looking back, trading in the baggy outfits for form-fitting suits, the wild hair for immaculate grooming. The suits have the fundamentals of good fit and Las Vegas-inspired styling, and they are a little on the fast side. The tuxedo Timberlake wears when performing is not the kind of tuxedo you would wear to a wedding. It’s appropriate for an entertainer.
With Timberlake’s retro turn, it’s no surprise that Jon Hamm of “Mad Men,” a show about ’60s advertising agencies and the sartorial sophistication of the executives who ran them, is a fan of the singer’s style. Hamm calls Timberlake a “fashion-forward kind of guy.” Like Hamm’s character Don Draper, who has once again popularized classic American, form-fitted gray suits with crisp spread collars, Timberlake evokes another era — the era of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
The style is not always perfect. Sometimes when Timberlake wears an impeccably cut suit and tie, his dress shirt is patterned but too dark and gangsterish. As a result, the whole outfit comes off as a bit too loud, too Las Vegas flashy. Lighter shirts, Justin!
For the most part, though, the Timberlake experiment is working. “The 20/20 Experience” sold nearly a million copies in its first week of release.
Timberlake is now not only a virtuoso performer but a style icon. Like Madonna, who has and well deserves style icon status herself, JT understands how to reinvent himself. I like the new, cool, swinging Justin Timberlake.
Roger Stone is a well-known Republican political consultant and a veteran of eight national Republican presidential campaigns. He’s also the men’s fashion correspondent for The Daily Caller and editor of Stonezone.com.