How To Harness The Sartorial Firepower Of John Wick’s Suit Game
— 10 July 2023

How To Harness The Sartorial Firepower Of John Wick’s Suit Game

— 10 July 2023
Randy Lai
Randy Lai

For those who’ve had the (dis)pleasure of knowing me, it probably comes as no surprise that, like many menswear oldheads of a certain age, I am — how best to put this? — apprehensive about the sartorial wisdom of wearing black suits.

Throughout the early 2010s (i.e. in the era immediately following the downfall of the skinny, Dior Homme-inspired school of suiting), menswear writers couldn’t distance themselves from the colour fast enough. Notwithstanding a small number of highly contextual situations (e.g. black tie), black was pitched as a shade rife with certain unsavoury cultural connotations.

Popularly sported by those on the far right of the political spectrum or within the regalia of dogmatic religious orders à la the Eastern Orthodox Church, the history of black is one shrouded in power, ritual, and a bit of an authoritarian streak.

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It also doesn’t help that, within the mundane context of everyday real life, it can be really challenging to wear — especially for devotees of traditional sartorial clothing, which relies heavily on soft and warm hues for personality.

Nevertheless, when it comes to cynicism about black’s daily appeal, I’m aware that I am decidedly in the minority. For all the reasons that it has become (somewhat unfairly) associated with fascists and witchcraft, black is equally a restrained, cerebral, and incredibly elegant shade — beloved by Italian surrealists, Japanese couture designers, American coastal elites, and of course, cinematic anti-heroes.

The latter camp has been doing considerable heavy lifting over the past decade to rehabilitate the black suit’s credibility. In Spectre (2015), James Bond actor Daniel Craig famously wore a natty three-piece number in monochrome herringbone; and since then, there has been a palpable return to form for black-clad protagonists in film & television.

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In 2023, few spring to mind with as much lethal velocity as John Wick: the stoic master assassin and titular lead of the John Wick films played by Keanu Reeves.

Since the franchise’s inception, Wick’s signature look has consisted of suit jackets, trousers, and shirts in a handful of monochrome shades; with the overwhelming majority being in, you guessed it, black.

A neat visual portent of Wick’s “Boogeyman” status within this fun-yet-hokey universe of hitman-staffed luxury hotels and gun sommeliers, most pop culture writers have theorised he eschews colour in clothing “in order to hide [his] roguish ways.” Sort of like that old Paul Feig anecdote about why wearing a well-cut suit is like owning your own set of keys to the city (except, in this case, bullet-resistant ones).

In any event, below we cycle through lessons everybody can glean from John Wick’s suit game… and figure out how to put them to deadly use in your own daily wardrobe.

A “Uniform” Approach

Though this article isn’t necessarily a straight-up guide to “getting the look” of the John Wick suit, the good news is that it’s actually a relatively straightforward aesthetic to achieve.

In the series’ second film, the John Wick crew even lays out an explicit blueprint for how one would go about ordering a suit jacket (and all other associated accoutrement) in the eponymous assassin’s style.

Putting aside all of the BS about “silicone carbide disks” and “ceramic matrixes,” Wick orders two variations on his distinctly murdered out tailoring. These consist of a daytime and evening option with the latter distinguished through use of some choice accessories (e.g. a tie bar) and the addition of a waistcoat — all choices which would be considered broadly acceptable for the second act’s glitzy Roman setting.

As for finer details, both versions of John Wick’s suit follow the same style which, in turn, is broadly influenced by the Milanese school of Italian tailoring. If you have neither the time nor inclination to replicate this with a tailor, the Milanese style’s global popularity means it’s also easy to approximate via off-the-rack retailers like Suitsupply and M.J. Bale.

Hallmarks include:

  • Jackets cut with a two-button-stance, shortened length, and relatively low lapels
  • A squared-off shoulder which feeds into a slightly “roped” sleevehead
  • Trousers with a medium rise, tapering gently from the knee downward”

Trading Colour For Texture

John Wick suit

The stark, monochromatic look that John Wick favours throughout his many fight scenes and on-screen adventures also necessitates a closer examination of texture.

Costume designer Luca Mosca often stops the John Wick suit from sliding into cater-waiter territory by employing a mixture of silk, wool, and cotton fabrics — each woven in distinctive and visually interesting ways with varying degrees of lustre.

Beyond such material nuances (i.e. a tie in silk twill worn against a jacquard-woven suit), Mosca is able to differentiate the different facets of Wick’s personal style by, as previously mentioned, also changing up his accessories.

During the famous Red Circle shootout in the first film, Wick marks his return from retirement with a relatively classic black-and-white get-up — the sole embellishments being a pair of cufflinks and leather belt (with the latter making its fighting debut in John Wick: Chapter 3).

Assuming you’ve already managed to lock down the aesthetic of your tailoring, consider trying out these Wick-esque accessories for one final deadly flourish:

  • A black tie in silk grenadine
  • A shirt with French cuffs
  • A self-winding mechanical watch (like this one from Carl F. Bucherer)
  • A slim black turtleneck sweater — for when you’re not rampaging

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].


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