LA Restaurant Spago Is the Ultimate Men’s Style Hub
From David Bowie’s elegant tailoring to Gregory Peck’s excellent knitwear, 10 of our favorite looks from the city’s scene-iest scene
Celebrity style inspiration often comes from two places: either the red carpet or the entrance gates to an airport. It makes sense because the dress codes are totally opposite (formal for the former, off-duty for the latter). But where do we turn to if we’re looking for something in between? Something that mixes all outfit genres up and proposes ensembles with fuller (and arguably a bit more authentic) fruition? We’ll tell you where: restaurants. In particular: Los Angeles hotspot Spago.
Perched above a car rental agency on the Sunset Strip, Spago first opened its doors in 1982 and became an instant hit among the Hollywood crowd. It was by no means members only, but the atmosphere was bustling, the food was great and the style on site was supreme — mainly because guests rocked up in garments that hit all corners of the wardrobe spectrum. Tailoring, outerwear, denim, athleisure, you name it. Without a stylist in sight, Spago played host to the coolest unofficial fashion shows of the late 20th century, and one look back through its archive of arrivals supplies some of the most failsafe menswear lessons you could ever ask for.
Herewith, 10 of our favourite style moments from the restaurant’s impeccably dressed guests and — more importantly — the best pieces to help you recreate them today.
Gregory Peck & Michael Caine
Style cue: First up, the film stars. Gregory Peck and Michael Caine in particular, who stepped out for a visit to Spago together in 1986. Needless to say we’re into their strikingly similar ensembles, because of 1) the careful consideration of layers and 2) the elegance it communicates. What else would you expect from two of the most classic Hollywood actors in the business? The standout ingredient for style (and practicality) has got to be Peck’s middle layer: a single-breasted cashmere cardigan to soften up his formal garments on top and underneath.
Style cue: Who says you can’t mix your favourite formalwear with your favorite casualwear? Certainly not Pierce Brosnan, who crossed the threshold at Spago in some killer Ivy-League clothes in 1986. For the lower half: simple, straight-cut indigo jeans, most likely Levi’s 501s, which you can probably source from a good vintage store. For the upper half: a sharp black button down shirt, the collar of which was layered over his excellent single breasted blazer. That check print sits well within the current Autumn/Winter trends, so for the best investment, head to Drake’s.
Style cue: The actor may have found his fame through starring in some seriously action-packed films, but off screen, Sly’s wardrobe was always the polar opposite. In a nutshell: utterly elegant. A prime case in point for such was his trip to Spago in 1983, for which he donned a brilliant three-piece, twill-cut suit under a stunning peak-lapeled overcoat. Very classic and very French, much like everything Parisian brand Husbands has designed. Final layers count, so be sure to source a similar overcoat and drape it over your sharpest suit. Oh, and don’t forget the newsboy cap.
Style cue: It’s near hard to go wrong with a monochrome ensemble, but the key to pulling it off with maximum effect is through a balance of different textures, much like this look Kevin Bacon put together for a trip to the restaurant in 1986. The silhouette was slim and streamlined, mainly achieved through his cotton white tailoring which he smartly divided with a skinny leather belt. As for the finishing ingredients? A touch of suede injected through his Belgian loafers and a slick dose of leather through his refined motorcycle jacket. The latter piece is a failsafe purchase for any decade.
Style cue: Ringo Starr may have been one of the fab four who spread mod style across the globe, but as the ’80s ascended, his black tailoring was exchanged for tweed blazers and his Beatle boots gave way to bright white chukkas. Sure, the shade of shoe is a bit of a statement, but if you carry it in a similar way to Starr (shoutout to the huge printed tie and jet black aviators), the result is guaranteed to be good. Desert boots have since been a favorite for Daniel Craig in James Bond, so make them a favorite in your own wardrobe, stat.
Style cue: Quite possibly our favourite Spago style outing to date: David Bowie and Iman in 1991. Why? It’s easy: the, well, easiness of it. Iman’s classic black attire complemented the light tones of Bowie’s tailoring perfectly, and proved that when it comes to stylish dressing, a single tone will always do the trick. The biggest lesson from this, however, is Bowie’s base layer: a white T-shirt. It’s the most essential wardrobe item any of us can own, and as shown here, it’s the smartest way to relax your suit. To those in search of sartorial nonchalance, this is the secret ingredient you need.
Style cue: With Christmas just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about what to wear for the big day. The ultimate texture? Velvet, of course. And the ultimate point of reference? Tony Curtis’s arrival to Spago in 1991. We’re a bit lost for words with this one because it just looks so. Damn. Good. Killer suit: check. Classic white shirt unbuttoned a little for a touch of insouciance: check. And a brazen attitude which carries the look with total confidence: double check. The appeal of the tufted fabric is still strong today, and there’s only one place to go for it: Gucci.
Style cue: Just like Pierce Brosnan mixed up the dress codes with his Spago outings, so too did Woody Harrelson, only he took it one step further through the use of super chic accessories — in this instance, a fedora hat. Arriving to the restaurant with Carol Kane in 2000, the award-winning actor entered the new millennium with a new style rule: don’t overthink it and just have fun. His denim jeans, black T-shirt, jacquard blazer (wow), huge spectacles and wide-brimmed hat added up to a truly knockout outfit — and one that you can easily turn to any time of the year.
Style cue: John Travolta was way ahead of the athleisure wave that swept through the ’90s. Seven years ahead, to be exact, as he opted for this brilliant colorblock sweater to dine at Spago in 1983. This is a really nice way of nodding to sportswear: perfect split contrast, total effortlessness. Wherever you’re heading, you won’t look too underdressed in a piece like this, and fortunately, British brand A-Cold-Wall* has a really similar one in its current collection. Style it with jeans by day and tailored kecks by night for an easy win.
Style cue: Lynchian films are defined by dreamlike imagery, meticulous sound and consistent style. The filmmakers personal wardrobe is basically the same, confirmed by this extremely assured sartorial move outside Spago in ‘87. For the most part, he kept it monochrome — a smart way of emphasizing the bold tie sitting between his two little notch lapels. If full-blown print isn’t your thing, accessories are the smartest way to nod to it, and we suggest this Canali number for a simultaneous touch of Art Deco. Lynch would most certainly be into it.
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