Leon Bridges has a classic R&B sound that feels slightly out of time. Wearing a suit on the weekend? That’s a vintage move, too. But as Bridges shows here, the right retro tweaks can help your business clothes find their Saturday-night groove.
You don't exactly expect to see Leon Bridges in an Uber. Or using an iPhone. Based on everything the 26-year-old soul singer projects in his '60s-leaning songs and old-school sartorial spirit, we figured he'd be driving a Studebaker and pulling a big plastic rotary phone out of his vintage suit jacket. But no: There's Bridges in the Uber, clicking at his smartphone, asking the driver to put on the hip-hop station, singing snatches of a Drake song, extra dulcet—and you wonder which century, exactly, he lives in.
That's the thing Leon Bridges wants you to know: He's as much a millennial as any other late-'80s baby. His interests just drift back a little further. He skyrocketed to fame (after washing dishes and playing open mics as recently as 2014, he signed with Columbia Records, released a Grammy-nominated debut, and sang Ray Charles for President Obama) on a suite of simple love songs, high-waisted trousers, and a voice that keeps getting compared to Sam Cooke's. Bridges's hook—the suited-up look, the stripped-down sound—is so compelling that it threatens to hide what's actually there: a kid who ransacked thrift shops until he found an identity he liked, a coffee-shop songwriter who happens to have early-Motown pipes. “I grew up in the '90s,” he says. “So I'll still go to a club—in a suit—and rock some Fetty Wap. I'm not gonna front and be like, ‘My parents gave me my first 45 when I was little.’ ” He laughs. “My mom was playing, like, Anita Baker and Babyface. Mom music!”
Though he still gets pegged as some sort of time-traveling troubadour, Bridges insists he isn't wearing a costume, or playing a persona. “I just write whatever I'm feeling,” he says, “and the way that I write songs, and the way that I sing, comes off as genuine to people. It's really easy to do this type of thing and just come off as totally cliché, or a weirdo. But if you just lay it out there, people will connect with it.”—Sam Schube
The Case for the Off-Duty SuitIn 2016, you can watch art-house movies on your phone and order gourmet food to your doorstep with a swipe. And yet picking out what to wear during your off-hours is more confusing than ever. Sweatpants and a bomber? Khakis and a denim jacket? Our suggestion: Your everyday suit—with the right tweaks—does all that thinking for you, whether you're mimosa-sipping at brunch or moonwalking at your best friend's wedding. What separates these more chilled-out looks from your Monday-to-Friday rotation are the underpinnings: New-wave Hawaiian shirts, striped polos, and rugged Henleys remind you that you're not in the office. You even have our official permission to cut ties with your neckwear all weekend long. In the end, you'll be shocked by how much easier it is to suit up than to dress down.—Jake Woolf
The Droptop of Suits: The same suit you wore to get a bank loan on Wednesday instantly becomes weekend-approved (but still slick and sharp) the moment you slip a patterned shirt underneath it.