GQ | Getting Questionable

This is exactly why I stopped buying American men’s fashion magazines.  The content is so lean in terms of what is actually meaningful, and so full of off-topic pandering fluff pieces– I can mine any nuggets that may be there in about five minutes or less at the magazine rack, and save my four bucks for something useful.  Case in point–

The magazine: GQ March 2009.  

The title: The 10 Most Stylish Men in America, Starring Justin Timberlake.  

My reaction: “You can not be serious.  Hell, he’s not even a man, let alone stylish.”

GQ— short for Gentlemen’s Quarterly, and once the gold standard for men’s style is now GQGetting Questionable.  Yeah, your credibility takes a hit in my book when you’re consistently extolling the virtues of teeny-boppers and hip-hoppers.  I think of those guys as trend-seeking, fashion-wagon opportunists, not icons of style.  Weren’t they wearing white belts not too long ago?  Give them their props somewhere else– not in GQ.  I used to laugh at what rags FHM and Maxim were, but now everyone is starting to migrate to the shallow end of the style gene pool.

00002f1justin timberlake 

Oh, those nuggets I was talking about?  Well, here they are– GQ’s most stylish man talking about what he knows best– the delicate intricacies and subtle nuances of men’s fashion–

“Nobody dressed like my dad,” Timberlake says. “When he worked at the bank, he looked like Richard Gere in Gigolo [I have to jump in here- It’s actually American Gigolo, and it was the film that launched Armani’s career– show some respect]. And he would do it all the night before, laying out the suit he’d wear the next day. Even on weekends, if he had to go into the office, he’d wear a trouser pant [trouser pant, JT?  Is that like a coat jacket, only for your legs?] with a V-neck sweater and tie. And I was like, I want to dress like that! He was just so cool.

“When he’d get his pants hemmed, he’d ask for them to be slightly longer in the front, because he wanted them to bow [Son, when Daddy gets his pants hemmed a little extra long for that “bow” that drives you so crazy– that’s call a “break“.  You can get a “slight break “which hits the top of your shoe, or go a little longer for a “full break” which is nice and flopsy like Daddy likes it]. So when he walked, he had this Travolta thing going, where the pants would flop a little bit. And it was cool, man! Some days my mom would come get me out of school a little early, and we’d go meet my dad for lunch. And I remember him walking out of the bank, and with his pants it was like he was gliding down the sidewalk.”

This is our guy?  Sounds like what he knows about style wouldn’t fill a friggin’ thimble.  Hey, don’t get riled at me– he’s hanging himself here.  And how about GQ?  They hold him up as the poster child for American style, then print this dribble.  Oy.  Makes you want to run out and buy some William Rast, doesn’t it?

Other blatant GQ misses–


Yeah, Rushmore was cool.  But that was 10 years ago, and I’m sorry to break it to you Jason– it’s not cute anymore, man.  It’s kind of like Beaver Cleaver grew up.  Lose the windbreaker, comb your hair and get some proper footwear.  Save the tennis shoes for the court– recess is over.  Not aging gracefully is a great disservice to one’s self.  It’s time now to evolve your look–take it to the next level.  You could have great style.  Bono is singing your song, brother– “You’ve got to get yourself together– You’ve got stuck in a moment, and you can’t get out of it.”



I don’t think I could stand like that all day just for a hat– my neck would kill.  Sorry, who are you again?


What GQ got right–


Sid Mashburn (and staff)

Haberdasher, Southern Gentleman

Sid Mashburn is a throwback to a time when looking sharp was about a lot more than labels. His philosophy—the one reflected in his Atlanta store—is that good style is about knowing how to tie a tie, dress right for an occasion, and be comfortable in your own skin.

“My look is kind of an amalgam of different things: European, preppy, southern. Preppy is often times pejorative, but if you really boil it down, it’s nothing more than classic clothes—a pair of khaki pants, a Shetland sweater.”

Sid Mashburn would put a serious beating on Justin in a Celebrity Dress-Off.


Glenn O'Brien

Glenn O’Brien

GQ’s Style Guy

Find us an icon of New York’s punk/new-wave scene who looks as bold today as he did in 1978. Fact is, most are dead, washed-up, or worse—banking. The secret to Glenn O’Brien’s style longevity: He hasn’t strayed from his roots.

“How have I stayed stylish? I’ve always worn the same clothes. I have ties older than my wife. I think I’ve had this suit for twelve years. And it’s my favorite suit. Style is about expressing your personality, and it’s not like that changes from one year to the next. Winston Churchill had incredible style, and it was permanent. When I had shoulder-length hair, I wore the same kinds of clothes I wear now. I never wore bell-bottoms. It’s also about dressing with respect. My grandmother was a big influence on me in that way. If I was going on a date, she’d say, ‘You can’t wear that pink shirt—what’s the girl’s mother going to say? Have some respect.’”

Love the tartan mack and Belgians, Glenn.

26 thoughts on “GQ | Getting Questionable

  1. Amens all across the board! I thought Jason looked good in The Darjeeling Limited though. So, I guess you could use that as evidence against GQ. But a point needs to be made about the tension between selling style and selling to the masses. As a blogger, you have the luxury of staying true to yourself without having to worry about making a profit. Thank God for blogs.

  2. C.L.–

    I’m with you. Justin Timberlake on the cover is going to sell more copies than Sid Mashburn any day of the week. That’s the bottomline. And you’re right– blogs have filled the precious void left by print media that has to answer to shareholders, etc.

  3. Totally agree about GQ, you can look at about 15 pages out of the whole thing and get the meat of what a true “Gentleman” would want out of the mag. Even a piece like this could be a real inspiration, but then you see T.I., give me a break. Sid Mashburn and his team are one of my favorite style inspirations in America right now.

    JP, you seemed to be telling the future of the GQ pages with your story on them (the Mashburn team) earlier this year.

  4. GQ will always feature whatever Hollywood publicists are willing to push and pay for.

    GQ in the UK and Italy is an entirely different magazine. Printed on heavier stock paper, filled with arresting photographs and more intelligent writing.

    Who reads GQ anymore?

  5. I agree, Justin Tinkerbel is really not who I want to read about at all in GQ, and TI ? really ? if we all feel this way , what guy is buying this magazine ? Maybe they’re getting heat from the top to sell more mags ?

  6. The Kanye and TI admissions are probably an appeal to demographics. In their defense, they are probably the best dressed within their field. Those looks are much better than the oversized jeans, oversized chains, and oversized white tee shirts common to most men in urban music.

  7. I’ve said it before and appreciate this post. GQ, Esquire, etc… give me something that holds some weight. Inspire me…don’t tell me that my socks should match my trouser color, don’t tell me to wear a brown belt with brown shoes… (in every other issue, I might add) inspire me to be a stylish man. JP, you do this with your blog. Thanks!

  8. Just received the issue last night in the mail and I have to agree about the article. As I got to the first page and read their little spiel about “real guys” not royalty or pretty boy actors, I just rolled my eyes. Why couldn’t they find 10 non famous guys who have actual style. Either that, or have Justin and Jason wear their actual clothes. I get the whole PR machine that has to push their customer’s product. But then let’s call it the “10 Most STYLED Men in America”

  9. Great post. Style is about knowing who one is, and living it. I like the words “Have some respect.” Respect for self and for others. Never been a bog fan of GQ. Esquire is rocky these days. When did men stop dressing like adults?

  10. I don’t necessarily hate the Timberlake look as much as some of the commenters here, but GQ is falling into dangerous territory by mixing up fashion and style. What they’re slinging with this type of stuff is fashion, but it’s not style. I try to have style every day, but that is far different from fashion.

    I live in Wicker Park in Chicago and the Schwartmann look is so common. The canvas sneakers, the jackets, the haircut, everything. Some folks can pull it off (probably because they have style) but many fail (probably because they’re emulating fashion).

  11. JT is not alone with the “trouser pant” thing…check out the new men’s items on . Seems they are spreading fashion stupidity as well.

  12. I agree with you 150% — great post. Someday a smart publisher will realize there is a huge need for a quality men’s magazine again in the USA and step up. There are at least half a dozen fantastic Japanese men’s fashion magazines. If the Japanese market can support that one would the the American’s could support just one! Bye bye GQ, I never buy it anymore, either.

  13. Pingback: Spring Trends

  14. Although Ill agree with you that content of of the article is weak, you are being a bit nitpicky. I don’t think Timberlake was blatantly being disrespectful, as you seem to imply when you ask him to “show some respect”. When American Gigolo was out, the man was a 1 year old. Does he have to be fashion guru and know the intricacies of the career of Georgio Armani in order to be perceived as having good style? And when did knowing the definition of a break become the defining factor of a man being interviewed for dressing well? I thought it was more about judging the look and not how much they know about what they’re wearing?

    And the whole thing on TI. He’s as lame as the other mainstream hip hop artist, but to use the argument of not knowing who he is as your reasoning for him not belonging?

    I understand this was an opinionated post, as are all blogs. In fact, I even AGREE with your opinion, but your arguments seem to stem out of ignorance of who a person is and a haughty attraction towards the correct terms for clothing and designers. I don’t think I can resonate with that.

  15. Hey Victor-

    Thanks for your feedback.

    No, I didn’t think Justin was being blatantly disrespectful in regard to American Gigolo. My point was that for the most stylish guy in America (according to GQ) and having his own clothing line, he seems to be fairly ignorant about style and menswear in general. And yeah, with his stature he should know what a ‘break’ is.

    I am well aware of who TI is. To name him as one of the most stylish guys seems weak when you consider all the talent out there.



  16. Guys like Timberlake ,Kanye and Andre 3000 are pretty much new to all this,just starting out and what have you.They are going to put out what is relevant to them-fashionable menswear as clothing,not really straight menswear-there’s already huge market out there being catered to.Watch when Western Kenya’s line comes out,it will be no different.Take the start of all 3 of those performers careers,none of them dressed even close to how you see them in photos today…

  17. Did everyone fail to notice in the Sid Mashburn photo that everyone is wearing high-water pants? That surely is not considered to be in style again, much less fashionable.

    • Thank you. Mashburn is a charlatan who sells dork-chic to oldsters and calls it classic. It’s not classic. It’s never been classic. It’s silly looking. It’s always been silly looking. It always will be silly looking.

      A idiot in expensive clothes is still an idiot.

  18. Axel–
    Seriously, where have you been? Under a rock? Yup, it’s been in. I looks good on the right guy, as long as it isn’t taken too far.

  19. I suppose not living on either coast is akin to living under a rock. Having learned the lesson of the screwy styles of the ’60s and ’70s (nehru jackets, leisure suits, white belts. big bells, big cuffs, and, yes, high-water pants…..) we here in flyover country don’t fall for the more eccentric fashions very easily, at least, not any more. So, no, I haven’t seen anyone wearing high-water pants since I wore them myself, lo those many years ago.

  20. Pingback: Menswear | The Rules of Engagement « The Selvedge Yard

Comments are closed.