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It’s been a weird year for getting dressed. If you’re shaking off the style cobwebs, breaking free of your sweatpants, and need some pointers on where to go next, we’ve got you. All week long, GQ Recommends is exploring What to Wear Now: the clothes, designers, bold moves and big vibes that matter at this precise moment.
Last summer, as we all searched for safe refuge outside of the confines of our own homes, tennis courts and golf courses suddenly felt central to American life in a way they hadn’t in decades—or possibly ever. People—people you knew, people your age, people who’d never so much as shown interest in a brisk walk from the time you’d met—were suddenly talking about tee times and string tension. Almost a year later, that enthusiasm has fully spilled over into our wardrobes.
Truth is, for as fuddy-duddy as they might sometimes seem, tennis and golf both rank among the most stylish sports on the planet. In the interest of time, rather than diving deep on their rich sartorial histories, here are a few keywords worth Googling for each: René Lacoste’s shirts, Arthur Ashe’s glasses, Bjorn Borg’s short-shorts, Andre Agassi’s Nikes; Arnold Palmer’s cardigans, Jack Nicklaus’ tartan pants, Payne Stewart’s everything, Tiger Woods’ Sunday reds.
Both sports have long been fertile territory for designers to draw from, but they feel even more relevant than usual to the way we’re dressing in 2021. Even if you don’t know a deuce from a double fault, even if you can’t make par on a putt-putt course, you need to bring some of these very specific athletic vibes to your closet right now. It’s a little bit preppy, a little bit techy, and unabashedly cool. Here are 20 fist-pump-inducing ways to dress like a champion all season long.
All those balmy beach holidays you’ve missed out on this past year? Casablanca’s signature recipe of lush printed silks and extravagant flowy silhouettes are designed to bring the resort straight to you. Start with this absolute kingly camp shirt, which’ll work as well crushing Negronis poolside as it will conquering opponents on the grass court.
Asics UB1-S Gel-Kayano 14 sneakers
We love a throwback tennis shoe around these parts, but lately it’s been hulked-out, aughts-era runners making it to our feet the most. Take this glorious Asics concoction for example: juiced up in a spicy, shiny red-and-purple colorway, it’s the type of sneaker that downright radiates good vibes every time you enter a room.
What happens when you hand the foremost tracksuit virtuoso of her generation the keys to the brand that invented the tracksuit? Absolute magic. Grace Wales Bonner’s reimagining of the classic Adidas tracky ratchets up the ‘70s energy with an elongated collar, a searing pink palette, and crocheted stripes down the sides.
The trick to pulling off a cricket sweater? Don’t be afraid to get rough with it. These pullovers were designed to be worn on the pitch while running the wickets (thank you, “Laws of Cricket” Wikipedia entry), so they can absolutely survive a beach day with your Baggies, a park hang with your trashed 501s, maybe even a camping trip with your shell jacket.
Mr P. slim-fit stripe-trimmed cotton mock-neck golf sweater
For all of Tiger Woods’ ineffable gifts to the world—the time he knocked it out of a bunker, over a water hazard, straight onto the green; the friggin’ entire 2019 Masters—none ranks greater from a fit-enthusiast perspective than his bold crusade to normalize the short-sleeved mock neck. Thanks to our guy Eldrick (get well soon!), you can step out in this crisp, retro-leaning knit with all the confidence of a major champion.
Why these shorts? Our shoot with Paul Mescal. That’s why these shorts.
NikeCourt Advantage tennis cap
A couple of summers back, the black version of this low-key tennis cap inexplicably swept our offices. Now, we’re really feeling this extra-clean white take.
Whim Golf 1/4 zip wickaway golf shirt
Making *actually cool* performance golfwear is a Herculean task, but the fellas at Whim Golf make it look easy. We’d actively encourage you to wear this absolute banger of a mesh polo and impeccably tailored cargos off the fairway—not something we’d say about most of the gear you see on the Tour these days.
Sid Mashburn fine-gauge V-neck sweater
Sid Mashburn cotton polo shirt
Sid Mashburn hopsack wool trousers
Speaking of the Tour: PGAer Kevin Mitchell is living proof that there’s also no reason you have to wear performance fabrics when golfing. Let his finely-tailored, Palmer-inflected duds—from Atlanta haberdasher Sid Mashburn—be your muse.
They’re designed to double as swim trunks, but everything about these baggy, swishy wonders screams peak ’90s Agassi to us—in the best way possible.
Rototo coarse ribbed old school socks
Pull ‘em up when you’re wearing shorts, then let ‘em slouch a little over top your loafers or sneakers or boat shoes. [Chef’s kiss] Perfection.
Noah x Vuarnet District sunglasses
Vuarnet is as iconically French as it gets, and Noah is dyed-in-the-wool Downtown New York. But somehow, these collaborative shades are pure SoCal surf: blazing white acetate, totally gnarly reflective lenses.
On The Roger Advantage sneaker
Roger Federer’s first signature on-court shoe from On—the cult Swiss running imprint he now co-owns—hides a boatload of advanced tech under its handsome midcentury hood.
Photographs by Martin Brown
Styled by Jon Tietz and Liz Serwin