Brad Pitt is adamant that he is not a man of style. “If I have style, it’s not style,” he tells me over the phone. I, for my part, disagree. There’s a damn good reason Esquire has covered his red carpet and off-duty looks with some regularity over the years, and it’s not just because he’s the fucking Brad Pitt, one of the Last True Movie Stars. That’s because, whether he’s hitting the red carpet in classic black tie or teaching an impromptu masterclass in casual dressing while out for coffee, the man seems to have an innate sense of what works for him when it comes to dressing. (Being the fucking Brad Pitt does help though.)
I’m going to step in and tell him exactly that when he starts expanding on this “style without style” idea, and I realize that we don’t agree – we’re just dealing with a good old fashioned language barrier. “I like monochrome without it being uniform,” he explains. “I like simplicity. I love the detail in the stitching, the way it feels. If anything, it’s the only divining stick I have. In other words: unlike so many guys who care above all about the facade, Pete taps into something deeper. He focuses on how he lives in what he wears. How he works with his own idiosyncrasies and biases. It’s personal style distilled – he just doesn’t call it that.
“It’s driven by comfort,” he continues. “I like the feel of a Lecia camera or the way a watch feels. I don’t want to seem ostentatious, but if you get close, you notice. I like the feel of the lining. It is these details that are important to me. It’s too exhausting to follow trends. I despise billboards too; I just don’t want to be a billboard.”
However, he’s ready to represent the brand he truly loves, which is why we’re talking in the first place. Pete has just signed on to be the face of the latest campaign for Italian coffee experts De’Longhi. “I’m a serious, professional, dedicated coffee drinker,” he says. “I usually have three cappuccinos in the morning and depending on work in the afternoon I might switch to an espresso.” As my nerves begin to crackle from sympathetic caffeine overload, he explains why he decided to work with De’Longhi. “I try to do very little of that stuff,” he says. “But it made sense for me to ride with De’Longhi. When you have confidence in your product, you don’t have to shove it down people’s throats. You can do it well.
In practice, this translates to a Damien Chazelle-directed video featuring Pitt riding his motorcycle along the coast to pick up fresh beans before returning home to enjoy a cappuccino. Although he’s quick to admit that days like this don’t come around all that often, Pitt calls it “a small slice of life.” And true to life, instead of wearing something supplied by the costume department, he’s wearing his own jacket — one that happens to encapsulate Pitt’s sense of style pretty perfectly, and one that I’m pretty damn sure I’ve seen before.
“Yes you have!” Pete confirms. “It’s Loro Piana, it’s cashmere, and if I get to 86, I’ll wear it with moth holes. It’s expensive, but if I can wear it for 30 years, it won’t be long term. It’s so simple, so elegant. For me this is perfect. This sounds like someone who has delved so deeply into the fundamentals of personal style that he has actually bypassed the language necessary to explain them, whether or not one is “styleless.” In addition, the thing is comfortable. And as Pete, 57, explains to me, “You get older, you get more irritable, and comfort becomes more important. I think it’s that simple.”
Jonathan Evans is Esquire’s style director, covering all things fashion, looks, accessories and, of course, sneakers. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and son. You can follow him @MrJonathanEvans on Twitter and Instagram.