Our best-dressed man for January is Matt Smith. But is he really Britain’s most stylish man?
My ears always prick up when someone receives an official ‘best-dressed’ gong – particularly when it’s the GQ Best-Dressed Man for 2018. This year the award went to actor Matt Smith.
“… the reason for the actor topping our annual chart isn’t anything to do with how many views he’s pulled in on Netflix, but that he’s had a supremely stylish 12 months. He is, quite simply, an original – a rare man who can pull off that quintessentially British tailored vibe in a way that not only feels totally genuine, but also totally fresh. He’ll step out in a beautifully cut linen suit in a zingy – but not showy – colour one day, then the next, will arrive at an event in a scoop-neck T-shirt with a rock’n’roll necklace slipped over and a ballsy wool overcoat. In short, Smith wears what the hell he wants and looks superb. And what more do you need than that?” Nick Carvell, GQ Magazine
His roles as eccentric (Doctor Who), and historical (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Christopher and his Kind and The Crown) characters has shown he can wear tailoring and tweed with aplomb. And his appointment as the face of Burberry’s recent campaign affords him serious style credibility in front of the lens. But what about his style off-camera? This month we’ve put together a brief profile of Matt Smith as an actor and style front-runner.
Who is Matt Smith?
It may come as a surprise to fans that the 35-year-old wasn’t originally destined for a career on the stage and screen. Born Matthew Robert Smith, he was raised in Northampton to a football-loving family who sent him onto the pitch at an early age. He showed great promise as a footballer during his childhood and teenage years, playing in the youth system for Nottingham Forest and Leicester. However, a serious back injury forced him off the field.
Although his interest in acting was sparked by a drama teacher while at school, he chose to study Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, adding in some drama and film studies along the way. Following university, he began his acting career at the Royal Court playing a New York gigolo in Fresh Kills. A couple of years at the National Theatre later and he secured his television debut in Sally Lockhart Mysteries: The Ruby in the Smoke.
Other small theatrical, television and film roles followed until he was catapulted into the public consciousness when he was cast as the eleventh doctor in BBCs cult science-fiction adventure series Doctor Who. Smith starred in 49 episodes and left in the momentous 50th anniversary year, but not before acting alongside other Doctor Who actors John Hurt, David Tennant and Tom Baker in the 50th anniversary special. Notably, he was the youngest actor to ever be cast as the doctor. He also had input into his Doctor’s look: he is the one that insisted that a bow tie was added to the costume, and he reportedly owns the tweed jacket that he wore on screen.
Matt Smith’s CV is as eclectic as they come. His film roles have been diverse, to say the least: from Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Skynet in Terminator Genesys to 1930’s gay British writer Christopher Isherwood in Christopher and his Kind, and playing the lead role in the biopic of controversial 1960s photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Theatrical roles have included Swimming with Sharks with Christian Slater, and playing Charles Manson in the musical adaptation of American Psycho. On the small screen, he’s made appearances in Secret Diary of a Call Girl, The Street, Moses Jones and unforgettably in Doctor Who.
He explained to The Guardian why he chooses such roles: “I like to make myself feel uncomfortable. That’s why I did a musical. That’s why I did Mapplethorpe, because there was an unknown entity to those projects. David Bowie said to the guy in LCD Soundsystem: ‘Go and make yourself feel uncomfortable again.’ And it’s really important.”
Most recently he has starred in The Crown as Prince Phillip alongside Claire Foy. It is estimated to be the most expensive television series ever made (Netflix won’t release numbers but it estimated it cost close to £130 million for the first two series). In an interview with Variety he was asked how Prince Phillip compares to other characters he has played and said: “Interestingly enough, if you take a role I’m most known for, like the Doctor on Doctor Who, they’re both aliens in many ways in their worlds. They’re both outsiders. The same with Bully on Lost River. He’s a bit of an alien in his world. I find that often I’m drawn to these people who are just slightly on the fringes of the world they’re involved in.”
Matt Smith’s off-camera style
Chris Harvey from the Telegraph described a 27-year-old Smith as “…very physically expressive, always playing, adopting different voices, sending himself up.” He channels this complex personality into his clothing via a wardrobe that spans ‘moody teenager’ dark slouchy t-shirts and heavy coats, to slimline suits with unique accessories and conservative trouser and jacket combinations. Smith told the Evening Standard that he likes Dover Street Market and Acne, and seeks vintage times at Mint near Seven Dials. For shoes, he prefers Church’s and Russell & Bromley.
He is famed for his love of socks and said to The Guardian in 2017: “That’s our one flourish a day, see. Women get underwear, we get socks.” He’s freely admitted to stealing the odd pair from photoshoots and considers it a perk of being famous. “What’s good? People tend to fly you business class. You get a little bed. Now that, to me, is the sort of victory you want. And I try to nab a pair of socks from every photo shoot,” he said to Shortlist magazine (after he snuck off with two pairs – one yellow and one purple).
Smith’s off-duty look is very soft which makes his 5′ 11½” (1.82 m) frame look quite willowy. The trousers are full and the jackets are slouchy which throws him off balance a little. He isn’t afraid to play with print however, opting for plaid suits, polka dot shirts and Burberry check scarves.
The suits he chooses for formal occasions (like the December 4th picture in this GQ list) are very dark and are cut with a soft shoulder and overall soft look. Some gents who are slim like to wear softer tailored items and some like to disguise their frame – it’s really up to the preference of the individual.
How I would dress Matt Smith
He’s very slight on his shoulders so for me a firm shoulder would work perfectly to balance out his frame and achieve a defined waistline.
I like the grey three-piece suit he wore at the Cinderella premiere in Milan. When worn super slim it’s nice to add texture and weightier cloths to give the illusion of more bulk and depth.
I’m not so keen on the very ‘quintessentially’ British fabrics he has worn on and off screen – the heavy navy and dark grey double-breasted suits (as above and as worn in these pictures), I think, take away from his youth. Instead, I’d like to see him wear more colour: warm blues, sage green, and even plum would look fantastic.
Ideally, I would put him in a cool, warm-blue, textured suit (perhaps in a flannel) and have some fun with a pocket square and an open-necked shirt. I would keep his tailoring sleek and defined using a firm shoulder for definition, a free-floating canvas to be able to show off his teeny-weeny waist, and tapered trousers with a turn-up. Oh, and add a cool pair of shoes and fun socks, of course!
And as for that award. I’m not so sure he is Britain’s best-dressed man, but with some clever styling and some nicely tailored suits, he would be well on his way.
- Daily Mail, 19 February 2015
- Daily Mail, 2 November 2016
- Empire Online, 12 February, 2016
- Esquire, 23 November 2016
- Evening Standard, 16 December 2011
- GQ Magazine UK, 7 January 2018
- GQ Magazine UK, 2 February 2018
- GQ Magazine US, 6 December 2017
- GQ Magazine US, 8 December 2018
- IMDB Matt Smith
- Interview Magazine, November 7 2016
- Metro, 4 December 2017
- The Telegraph, 17 March 2011
- The Guardian, 26 November 2017
- Tom & Lorenzo, 20 September 2017
- Variety, 5 November 2016
- Zimbio – photos