Sporting Style, Part II: Center Court Sartorial

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When Roger Federer steps onto the court, those not familiar with this dominating tactician may be forgiven if their first impression is that of just another pretty face who can hit a ball. The monogrammed blazer, patrician bearing and wavy hair all belie a masterful appreciation of what it takes to win on and off the court. Just as he rules the game of tennis, Roger Federer is reshaping the very look of the sport as well. If any athlete is making fashion news today it is he, and rightly so.

By all accounts Federer is a very nice guy. Even opponents speak highly of this man who, with little apparent effort, decimates their game. He is also a technician when it comes to his public appearance and Federer’s approach to personal style is something from which every man can learn.

In many ways he is a bit of a throwback and wouldn’t look out of place standing next to Cary Grant or Gary Cooper. At the same time he is absolutely an international man of the 21st Century. Living and training in Dubai and jet setting around the world to matches and appearances, Federer’s graciousness and timeless good looks earn him a reputation as one of the classiest guys in any sport. And he makes sure that reputation is well deserved.

When he won at Wimbledon last year Federer was ready for the trophy ceremony. By the time the cameras were set up and silver polished, he was decked out in his ubiquitous “RF” monogrammed blazer, white slacks and a tennis sweater. Federer could have just as easily stepped into a Ralph Lauren photo shoot, which in some respects he did as Ralph now outfits the Wimbledon crew. The look was perfect and a little gutsy, but it worked. In his own way, he was setting the tennis world’s style bar a little higher. After years of slouchy beachwear inspired shorts, his classy and classic look hearkens back to the heydays of Renée Lacoste.

For the U.S. open, which he looks poised to win for a fourth time, Federer’s color coordinated and tailor made duds are an excellent reflection of his cool and collected on-court elegance. In his opening match, Federer took to the court in royal blue and white. For the evening matches he is the “man in black,” with a tuxedo-inspired outfit complete with satin tape running down the legs of his shorts and warm-up pants. It’s really no surprise that he recently graced the cover of Men’s Vogue, just like his buddy Tiger Woods.

What is most notable about Roger Federer is not just that he is making classic cool again; it’s his attention to detail and precision, even in the way his clothes fit. During his last match with Andy Roddick, Federer simply looked like a winner. Where Roddick seemed fidgety and uncomfortable, constantly pulling up the shoulders of his shirt, Federer’s fitted outfit looked comfortable, clean, and elegant. He was the picture of sartorial ease. Everything worked together to project an image of confidence and comfort, from longer shirt tails which kept his top from riding up to the perfectly tailored Bermuda length shorts.

The details didn’t stop there. Along with the color coordinated head and wrist sweatbands, Federer sported monogrammed Nike sneakers, each embroidered with three tiny Swiss flags marking each of his U.S. Open victories. Cocky? Maybe, but he can back it up and more than likely will need to add a few more.


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Chris Hogan, an association executive based in Washington, D.C., blogs at OffTheCuffDC.com. A lifelong interest in style and clothing led to sales and management positions at several Ralph Lauren stores and an active wardrobe consulting practice