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Larry David’s Fashion Hack Is Trickier Than It Sounds

Can I make the normcore style icon's advice work for me?

TV legend and style icon Larry David is the persnickety subject of the latest splashy GQ profile, and when he’s not hassling waiters over the temperature of his decaf, he’s dispensing wisdom about the distinctive Look™ he’s cultivated over the years. His philosophy is this: Limit yourself to one “nice” piece of clothing per outfit. 

“Otherwise it’s too much,” he tells interviewer Brett Martin. “Too dressed. You have to be half-dressed. That’s my fashion theory, since you asked: Half Is More.” Sounds like something he made up on the spot, to be honest, but let’s follow the reasoning here.      

First, we should probably pin down what “nice” means. Clearly, for Larry, it isn’t synonymous with “extravagant” or “trendy.” I’m guessing the gray jacket in the photo above is the nice garment of that ensemble — a designer label, though not obviously so, and the kind of uncomplicated gray that is a staple of his wardrobe, muted enough to jibe with that pullover for an overall “business ultra-casual” fit. The half-dressed approach here allows him to be comfortable while acknowledging the responsibilities of sitting courtside for an NBA game, where the camera will find him at some point.

In practice, though, does Larry’s fashion hack apply to anything besides his outermost layer? Isn’t he just throwing a high-end blazer (or bathrobe) on top of the normcore sweaters and long-sleeve tees that are his true bread-and-butter? It’s hard to picture him pairing, say, a plain Gap shirt with seersucker or linen pants. And realistically, aren’t all his clothes “nice” in the sense that even the basics are from bougie shops on L.A.’s West Side, all paid for by HBO? Right now I’m wearing a cheap, dingy tank top I ordered online a few years back, with a picture of Bob Saget in Full House and the phrase THUG LIFE on it. Also, hole-y denim cutoffs. Not sure if I can “upscale” quite as easily.

Suppose I should invest in some khakis.  

Or I could be thinking about this all wrong. With my loud beach dirtbag aesthetic, maybe I simply need my daily “nice” piece of clothing to live up only to a standard of “would not get a lot of weird stares on a suburban main street,” as my tank with the NASA logo modified to say “LIES” did when I was home for the holidays. Like, keep the raggedy shorts and dirty sandals but add a single-color shirt. With buttons. Yeah, that’s the ticket. 


Yep, gonna see if I can get into a 7-Eleven naked from the waist down. Wish me luck.