Five style lessons every midlife man can learn from Bradley Cooper

Five style lessons every midlife man can learn from Bradley Cooper

At long last, it’s Bradley Cooper’s moment. All the smart money is on the actor to win his first Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards, for his turn as Leonard Bernstein in Maestrobut it’s not only in his career that the 49-year-old is excelling. In recent years Cooper has also relaxed into a personal style that reflects the sotto voce mastery he applies to his craft.

Combining low-key staples such as straight-fit jeans and boxy overcoats with luxe trainers and statement fashion items, Hollywood’s bluest-eyed boy has become something of a quiet style icon for middle-aged men.

“Bradley Cooper is every regular guy’s guy,” agrees Zak Maoui, style director of The Gentlemen’s Journal. “Like his contemporary Ryan Reynolds, he has a pretty normal approach to dressing – think off-the-rack chinos, nice navy coats and puffer jackets – but also throws in curveball pieces like jumbo Louis Vuitton hats from Pharrell’s eclectic collections and super rare sneakers.”

Here are five tips to help you achieve the modern-day maestro’s impeccable personal style.

The power of a personality trainer

Bradley Cooper is seen on November 25, 2023 in New York City
‘Cooper uses if-you-know-you-know footwear to amp up the most simple outfits,’ says Zak Maoui, style director of The Gentlemen’s Journal – Ignat/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

For all the understatement and restraint he demonstrates ankles up, the Hollywood star is not afraid to bring the vibes on his feet. He wears rare sneakers, such as the Replay x Puma Ralph Sampsons and the Jordan 1 Retro High OG SP (which currently sit at around £1,000 on resale app StockX), with understated separates to make a statement without pushing things too far (they also make him look younger than his 49 years). “Whether in a pair of Travis Scott Air Jordan 1 High or Riccardo Tisci’s ultra-rare Nike collab from the mid 2010s, Cooper uses if-you-know-you-know footwear to amp up the most simple outfits,” agrees Maoui.

Embrace a shawl-collar cardigan

Bradley Cooper spotted in the West Village neighborhood of New York City 2023
Shawl-collar cardigans are timeless and provide all the comfort a midlife man could want

Shawl-collar cardigans are to men of a certain age what drop-hem floral dresses are to Anna Wintour – non-negotiable. It stands to reason, then, that Cooper would jump on the shawl-collar train, as the style provides all the comfort one could require in midlife – with all the enhancing physical structure provided by the fabric gathered around the neck and shoulders. “In the relatively short history of Hollywood, the Ivy League preppy look worn by stars like Paul Newman and Robert Wagner stands out precisely for its timelessness,” says menswear stylist Catherine Hayward. “That’s why shawl collars looked good on them in the 1960s, Starsky in the 1970s, Daniel Craig in the 2000s and now on Bradley Cooper. Yes, they’re all handsome actors, but they’re everyday family men too. It’s an attainable look.”

Tonal dressing needn’t be boring

Bradley Cooper attends SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations
This look was a notable move away from Cooper’s usual navy, black and denim blue – and all the more intriguing for it – Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images North America

When Cooper recently arrived at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations last week, the attendant photographers would have been forgiven for doing a double take before snapping. Wearing a caramel overshirt with a grey roll neck, grey chinos and a pair of chestnut shoes that matched his belt, the look was a notable move away from Cooper’s usual navy, black and denim blue, and was all the more intriguing for it.

The soft hue of the shirt brought out the warmth in his skin, while the simplicity of the tonal grey acted as an elegant backdrop to the statement piece – the chromatic chorus girls to their charismatic Caramac lead. The lesson? Don’t be afraid to go tonal with warm neutrals, you’ll be surprised how flattering they can be.

Opt for the air tie

Bradley Cooper and Ellen Burstyn speak onstage during the Maestro actors studio conversation at 787 Theater on January 31, 2024
Copying the ‘air tie’ trend, Cooper wore a black Louis Vuitton overshirt buttoned to the top for a recent conversation with screen icon Ellen Burstyn – Rob Kim/Getty Images North America

A trend has stirred, in recent years, for men wearing shirts done up to the top of the collar, devoid of ties, with formal suits and tuxedos. The so-called air tie is often rocked by legendary auteur David Lynch, and is favoured by A$AP Rocky on the red carpet, too.

Cooper is the latest star to enter the fray in his own way, wearing a black Louis Vuitton overshirt buttoned to the top for a recent conversation with screen icon Ellen Burstyn. Combined with a pair of tonal trousers and some statement trainers (the aforementioned Jordan 1 Retro High OG SPs), Bradley Cooper looked youthful yet respectful. It’s a trick that could just as easily be absorbed into your working wardrobe, if the office dress code is not strict but you want to look smart.

A quality haircut will make everything look good

Bradley Cooper wearing a green, black, and blue striped cashmere sweater
A great haircut is the perfect finishing touch to any look – AKGS/BACKGRID

Yes, this look is a bit all over the shop, but the individual pieces are strong. The striped sweater complements Cooper’s colouring and the puffer jacket looks cosy. What this outfit really demonstrates, however, is the acute power of an excellent haircut to hold a look together (no matter how disparate the constituent elements might be). “This classic cut doesn’t try too hard,” says barber Joe Mills of Woolf Kings Cross. “It’s the perfect blend of cool and effortless styling. The natural shape and the extra length on top means that it looks great whatever the outfit is teamed with. Throw the short, well-kept beard in the mix and it completes the overall look.”

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