Larry David, Style Icon? How His Boring-Dad Look Got Trendy

On Sept. 12, Larry David, the fusspot star of HBO’s long-running awk-com “Curb Your Enthusiasm,”

On Sept. 12, Larry David, the fusspot star of HBO’s long-running awk-com “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” sat in the front row of the Staud fashion show in New York City. He did not appear to enjoy himself. As models swooshed past in buoyant primary-colored clothes, the 74-year-old comedian leaned forward, plugged his ears and stared straight at the floor. In an October appearance on

Jimmy Kimmel

Live!, Mr. David explained that the music at the Staud show was just too loud for him. (Through an HBO representative, Mr. David declined to comment for this article.)

“Me, a fashion show…it’s a little out of place,” he told Mr. Kimmel, after explaining that he was in attendance because his friend, the Hollywood super agent

Ari Emanuel,

is engaged to Sarah Staudinger, the designer of Staud.

Mr. David looking none too pleased at the Staud runway show during New York fashion week in September.



Photo:

Getty Images

Mr. David might be selling himself short on the fashion front. In the past several years, he has emerged as an unexpected fashion icon for his commitment to straight-legged khakis, thin V-neck sweaters, navy blazers and practical sneakers. In September, when the paparazzi captured Mr. David getting drinks with “Dune” heartthrob Timothée Chalamet, who’s 25, some on social media joked that it was just a meeting of two contemporary style gods.  “He wears whatever he wants,” said Usmaan Razzaq, 23, a college student and big-time “Curb” fan in New York. “The way he puts stuff together, even though he doesn’t care, you can still see that he looks well put together,” he said.

Mr. David is so revered that fans wear photos of him on their own clothes. In the lead up to the Oct. 24 premiere of the 11th season of “Curb,” the New York streetwear emporium Kith released a collaborative collection with HBO that included a $70 T-shirt and $165 sweatshirt showing Mr. David wearing one of his patented navy-toned outfits and “woe is me” expressions. The full slate sold out online within hours of its launch.

Larry is “a perfect example, in my mind, of what fashion could be, as a self-expression tool,” said Ronnie Fieg, the founder and creative director of Kith, who said he was “one of the biggest fans ever” of the show. Indeed, Mr. David is a paragon of steady, self-assured dressing, ignoring all topical trends. “Larry has never tried to be fashionable in any which way,” said Mr. Fieg.

‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ actor J.B. Smoove modeling the Kith collaboration.



Photo:

Kith

Mr. David’s humble attire is miles away from the trend-driven excesses of New York Fashion Week, but that’s exactly why people admire him. “I do like his style. I think he employs a lot of classics,” said Dewey Bryan Saunders, 38, a graphic designer in Los Angeles. He says he can get behind everything Mr. David wears except his lumpen sneakers—Mr. Saunders would advise trading those in for some proper loafers.

The reappraisal of Mr. David as a septuagenarian style icon has its roots around five years ago, when “normcore,” a trend built on deliberately basic clothes, took off. (Mr. David’s clothes, often from high-end labels like Armani and Zegna, aren’t always basic in price.) In 2020, GQ Magazine ran a fashion shoot of Mr. David styled in his own so-ordinary-they’re-extraordinary clothes such as gray Theory T-shirts,

Polo Ralph Lauren

khakis and dingy Ecco shoes.

“We’re attracted to authenticity,” said Emilia Petrarca, a senior fashion writer for New York Magazine’s style site “The Cut” who was sitting across from Mr. David at the Staud show and captured a perfect 40-second video clip of the wispy-haired comedian in all his misery. Ms. Petrarca posted the clip to her Instagram and within moments her “phone crashed” from the amount of people commenting “Mood” or reposting the clip with “Me.” It has since been viewed more than half a million times.

As Ms. Petrarca sees it, part of the clip’s appeal lies in Mr. David’s unflappable attitude. He has a front-row seat to the latest fashion trends but is more concerned with keeping his eardrums intact. “There is something so enticing about someone who just doesn’t care, especially at Fashion Week, where everyone cares so much,” said Ms. Petrarca.

For Mr. David’s legion of fashion admirers, he is a man worth emulating. “I think Larry is very practical and comfortable and as I get older, I definitely see myself heading in that direction as well,” said Andy Rosenberg, 35, the director of brand marketing at Mack Weldon, a men’s apparel startup in New York. Mr. Rosenberg takes particular inspiration from Mr. David’s common summer layering combo of a lightweight V-neck sweater over a T-shirt.

A “Curb” superfan, Mr. Rosenberg appreciates how Mr. David, who is also the show’s creator and showrunner, uses the show to reflect on those absurd sartorial conundrums we all might experience like the unsightly (and perhaps offensive) “pants tent” or a dry cleaner’s loss of our beloved garment. “He probably gives a lot more thought to his clothing than what might appear on the surface level,” said Mr. Rosenberg.

Some that relish Mr. David’s normcore bona fides confessed to being a bit perplexed by the Kith collaboration, which plastered images of their slightly-rumpled, steady-dressing hero onto hyped-up streetwear. A hoodie with Larry’s face on it felt like a shallow fashion statement to Kevin Burns, 33, a project analyst in Albany, N.Y., who sees Mr. David as the epitome of personal, trend-immune style. (According to Mr. Fieg of Kith, Mr. David’s team approved all the items in the collection.) Mr. Burns would’ve rather seen Kith release khakis and a black T-shirt just like Larry wears. To him, that would’ve been a genuine collaboration fitting for this genuine style icon. Of course, those clothes already exist and can be had for about $19.99 at

The Gap.

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