They say there are only three guarantees in this world: death, taxes and Jeremy Strong wearing brown.
The Succession actor appeared on the Emmys remote telecast Sunday night to accept his Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series award for playing disgraced heir and dad-hat enthusiast Kendall Roy. For 2020’s pandemic Emmys, Strong chose to wear a stiff taupe brown suit and matching neckerchief. Up against a black background and beige curtains, Strong looked like he’d popped into a rinky-dink photo booth at Mariposa Saloon in Westworld.
A brown Dust Bowl suit is an odd choice for a leading actor, but it’s quickly become Strong’s signature look. For about two years now, he’s almost exclusively worn monochromatic brown suits, ties and even hats — both on and off the red carpet.
He even committed a fashion faux pas by wearing brown to the same event two years in a row. At the 2019 Emmys, Strong shuffled around in a three-piece brown suit — believed to be the same one Kendall tears off in Succession before jumping into his iconic “L to the OG” rap.
It’s not just red carpets. Strong wore modern brown fits as the cover boy for the Wrap, Backstage, First Take and the Sunday Times.
Paparazzi also caught him the day after the 2002 Emmys in, you guessed it, daytime brown. This time, though, he accessorized with one huge gold pop of color: his Emmy award, clenched tightly in his right fist.
Strong might be the Emmys’ No. 1 boy, but he’s on many sartorial shit lists. The all-brown fits are dull. Depression chic, if we’re being generous. He favors wood, coffee and umber shades, which at times leaves him looking like both a newsie and miserable soloist in a traveling western barbershop quartet. He’s the “before” photo in a Lexapro ad.
The penchant for shit-colored suits confounds even his most loyal fans. “He just loves brown, and I love it for him. I will support it till the end of my days, but I’m not going to pretend like I understand it,” says Gina Niven, who runs the Instagram page @JeremyStrongUpdates.
The only recent time Strong hasn’t worn brown on the red carpet was to the Critics’ Choice Awards in January. He stepped out of his comfort zone to don a traditional black tuxedo. “I was more shocked about that than the fact that he won,” Niven says.
For a leading actor of one of the year’s best shows, who has a buzzy role (where he’s not wearing brown) in the upcoming Oscar-bait movie The Trial of the Chicago 7, Strong’s sartorial decisions are off course. He’s not following the same fashion standards that younger leading men like Timothée Chalamet or Michael B. Jordan have capitalized on by buddying up with progressive designers and wearing floral, asymmetrical suits (and even the occasional harness). He’s also not sticking to sleek black business suits Leonardo DiCaprio and Bradley Cooper wear to signal how professionally they take their careers.
Maybe the open method actor is channeling Kendall Roy off-screen. In Succession’s second season, the newly down-on-his-luck Kendall also wears shades of brown. Reading into the sartorial tea leaves, one could presume this costuming choice of somber clothes reflects Kendall’s depressive character arc.
It’s rare a celebrity takes fully to the red carpet dressed like their character, but why further limit your public image to one defining role? But it’s not unprecedented. Blake Lively pulled out every suit to become her domineering A Simple Favor character, while Elle Fanning donned every pastel tulle and lace ballgown to sell herself as Sleeping Beauty in Maleficent.
This is also true for method actors. Joaquin Phoenix masqueraded as his hip-hop artist persona for the 2010 mockumentary I’m Still Here with perpetually disheveled hair, scraggly beard, a black suit and matching sunglasses. Sacha Baron Cohen is also known to portray his characters Brüno, Borat and Grimsby on red carpets and during publicity stunts.
The key here is these actors never break from their immersive roles. Fortunately, we’ve yet to see Strong as Kendall berate an underling or do coke (and worse) on the red carpet. “I don’t get ‘Kendall Roy’ from his style choices so much as an actor who wants to remind people that he is an ACTOR,” says Tom Fitzgerald, half of the fashion blog Tom + Lorenzo.
Just look at their diverging aesthetics. Kendall dresses in the typical insufferable tech bro style of Barbour vests, too-tight polos and linen button-downs. That’s not the vibe Strong is going for in his somber porkpie hats. “He dresses like a 19th-century French shopkeeper for some reason,” Fitzgerald says. (Would totally watch him in that type of role, though.)
Perhaps, though, Strong isn’t avoiding risks. Maybe he’s taking the biggest one of all: dressing true to himself. He raved about his Emmy outfit to W Magazine last week, saying he simply loves the color. “It’s not a tuxedo — in fact, it’s brown. I love brown. I look forward to dressing up a little. It’s another thing I’ve missed during this strange time,” he said.
Even if we can support Strong in his brown suits, that doesn’t mean the fits make any sense. Still waiting for an explanation on the neckerchief. That’s a tougher pill to swallow than the idea that Kendall’s extremely hot brother becomes heir to Waystar Royco instead.