Congrats to Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats, who just won the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in dramatic fashion, thanks to a three at the buzzer from beefy junior forward Kris Jenkins.
We could think of no better time to resurface our interview with Jay Wright, an A-list coach and one of the best-dressed men in America.
We asked Jay about sharp suits, style tips and Hawaiian shirts. But mainly sharp suits.
“My first year as head coach of Villanova, the first time we played in Miami, I wore a really light mustard-colored suit with matching shoes. And it’s January. The game’s on TV and everybody’s going crazy. And we got beat by 30. Villanova fans were saying, ‘What the hell is this guy doing, and what the hell is he wearing?’ ”
You’re one of the best-dressed coaches in America. When did you first get into style?
I must have always liked clothes. I went to public school, but my mom always made sure I didnt go out looking like a slob. And when I was in high school, our coach used to make us wear jackets and ties for our games, and I liked it, you know? I was like, “All right, if he’s going to make us wear a jacket and tie, I’ll make it look good.” And I just kept going from there.
Do you remember the first suit you ever bought?
I remember the first real nice suit. I was an assistant coach at Villanova. I was 25. I was making $16,000 a year. And one of my good friends bought me a suit and a tie and a shirt, and it cost over a thousand dollars. And I remember thinking, “This is one-sixteenth of what I make in a year!” But man, I took such good care of that suit. I must have worn it for about five years.
How would you describe your style, in three words?
Clean. Hip. Basic.
Who had the biggest influence on your style?
Pat Riley. I always liked the way he dressed. He looked sharp and clean and not really flamboyant.
What’s your number-one style tip for guys?
Stay current, but be true to yourself.
What’s your number-one tip for guys for looking youthful?
Eat healthy, exercise and use moisturizer.
Would you ever wear a sweater on the sidelines, Bob Knight-style?
Honestly, I would rather wear a sweatsuit on the sidelines. Because you’re hot, you sweat, then you get in the huddle, and these guys are leaning over, they’re sweating on you. You gotta get your suit dry-cleaned after every game, and I feel like sometimes you’re ruining your suits and your shirts. But, out of respect for the coaching fraternity and the game, I wouldn’t wear a sweater.
Do you cringe when you go to the Maui Invitational and they make you wear the Hawaiian shirts?
[Laughs] You know, we tried the Hawaiian shirt the first couple years, and… we ended that. That was a little bit much.
What’s your favorite suit?
I have a tailor. His name is Gabriele D’Annunzio. And each year he makes me new suits. So usually each year I have a new favorite. This year I have a charcoal three-piece with a purple stripe that is probably my favorite. It’ll change next year when he makes me some new ones.
How many suits do you own?
If I tell you, my wife’s gonna know, right? I probably have 25. If I kept them all, I’d have a hundred. But if you’re not wearing something consistently and it’s not current, you gotta get rid of it.
What’s the worst suit you’ve ever worn?
Oh, man, I got that story. It was my first year as head coach of Villanova. The first time we played in Miami, I wore a really light mustard-colored suit with matching shoes. And it’s January. The game’s on TV and everybody’s going crazy. Like, “What is this guy wearing?” And we got beat by 30. Villanova fans were saying, “What the hell is this guy doing, and what the hell is he wearing?”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Learn from your mentors, but make sure you are yourself. Because players know the difference.
OK, finally, in the interest of inciting a style war: Who’s a better dresser, you or Rick Pitino?
Most times, Rick would win. But one time we played down there, he came out with an all-white Colonel Sanders suit. The crowd loved it, they went crazy. And he even laughed. He said to me, “Do you believe I’m doing this?” I have great respect for him as a dresser, but I would never wear that Colonel Sanders suit.