There’s no denying that all athletes have style. The touchdown dances, the acrobatic slam dunks, the spin moves and the bicycle kicks and the all-around attitude on the court or field or ice—it all gives us a little glimpse in players’ personalities. But it’s outside of the game where the world’s top athletes distinguish themselves the most, swapping uniforms and team colors for fierce fits on city streets, red carpets, runway shows and Instagram feeds. “It can be a statement, it can be a way to start a conversation or change a tradition,” says Steven Kolb, president and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a group of almost 500 American fashion designers, of the way athletes have embraced—and excelled in—the elite world of fashion.
As athletes continue to demand attention with their sartorial choices and superfly style, the editors of Sports Illustrated, in partnership with the CFDA, unveil the fourth annual Fashionable 50 list, honoring the world’s most stylish athletes.
THE STYLE EXPERTS
Featured in the July 29–August 5, 2019 issue of Sports Illustrated, the Fashionable 50 list was selected by a panel of stylists, fashion editors and executives and other influencers across the sports and fashion industries. Subscribe to SI here.
The Most Fashionable 2019
You know Serena Williams the tennis player—the fist-pumping, catsuit-wearing, candid (and sometimes controversial) woman who has dominated the sport for more than two decades. But the 23-time Grand Slam champion demands attention off the court too, displaying her relatable (usually) but ravishingly chic (always) style and pursuing her longtime passion for design with a self-funded clothing line, all while promoting messages of equality and empowerment. And so, another honor for Serena: She heads SI’s fourth annual Fashionable 50 list, honoring the most stylish athletes in sports.
WHAT DOES FASHION MEAN TO YOU? “My whole career has been really about tennis and fashion. I always try to make a statement when I walk out on the court—to be bold and to be unique and to kind of transcend. I always try to send the message of just being confident and being fierce.”
ON CRITICISM OF HER STYLE: “People always have things to say when you're wearing fashion. It could be good things. It could be bad things. I don't care what people say. I'm like just so past it—you could say whatever you want to say. Honestly, you're allowed to have your opinion. My life is far too complicated to worry about people that want to say mean things. I have a daughter, I have a family, I have a career. I have too much to worry about.”
ON HER S BY SERENA LINE: “I tried it before and it didn't work. Then I sat down and invested in myself and really put a really good effort behind it. Now I really get to express myself. I get to see how you can wear fashion so many different ways and how you can represent yourself. I have this whole big vision of what S by Serena is going to be.”
Read more about Serena’s foray into fashion and her big plans for her future here, and in the July 29–Aug. 5 issue of Sports Illustrated.
After being named SI’s 2018 Most Fashionable athlete, Odell Beckham Jr. has continued to push the boundaries of NFL style, pairing label-laden ensembles and flashy fits with his signature cockscomb of bleached curls and unapologetic attitude. Now out of New York and with the Cleveland Browns, the 26-year-old wide receiver is out to make his mark on a new city and franchise—expect to see jaw-dropping catches on the field and highlight-reel-worthy fashion.
It’s hard to predict what the NBA’s style trailblazer and self-proclaimed Fashion King will wear next, but that surprise factor and fearlessness are exactly what make Russell Westbrook a style icon. From arena tunnels before games to the streets of Paris during Fashion Week, the 30-year-old doesn’t waver from his “Why not?” approach to dressing, sporting everything from designer threads and the latest kicks, to vintage clothing, trendy Zara pieces and unconventional suits.
While James Harden’s style of play on the court might stir up some controversy, there’s no debate over his dominance in the fashion game. For the 2018–19 season, the Rockets guard carefully planned his daring and dashing ensembles, pairing his signature beard with everything from bright floral prints to neon suits and more.
While he officially retired in April after 16 seasons in the NBA, Dwyane Wade still kept up his reputation as one of the league’s founding fathers of fashion this season. The 37-year-old has evolved from wearing baggy clothes and ill-fitting suits to becoming a trendsetter with his pre-game looks in the arena tunnels. From streetwear to bold accessories to monochromatic attire, Wade can do it all.
Five-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova serves up style wherever she goes, bringing together sporty athleisure elements from tennis and a minimalist, elegant aesthetic to create her signature, modern-chic look.
A fixture on Formula One tracks and on the fashion scene, Lewis Hamilton is a natural risk-taker—don’t you have to be when you race a car at more than 200 mph for a living? The 34-year-old Brit is a veteran in sport and style, with five F1 world titles to his name and a style résumé that includes everything from sought-after streetwear to slim suits and, of course, an abundance of jewelry and accessories.
Portugal’s famed footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is also a perennial style leader, scoring with sleek, slim-fit suits and put-together casual looks, while also helping to create footwear and clothing designs for his menswear brand, CR7.
LeBron James is a man of many NBA MVP awards, but beyond the basketball court, he’s also a consistent style winner. Dressing his 6’8”, 250-pound frame is no small task, but King James has mastered game-day dressing with expert tailoring, cool accessorizing and a polished mixing-and-matching of fabrics, patterns and colors.
When it comes to his start in the NFL and his sense of style, Tom Brady has come a long way. The 41-year-old quarterback keeps getting better with age and experience, nailing sophisticated suits and subtle casual looks.
He may be known for more timeless sartorial styles, but don’t let the suits and ties fool you: P.K. Subban always toes the line between classic and creative. Now a defenseman for the New Jersey Devils, Subban always makes sure he represents his team and family with respect, while still adding in a bit of his personality and flair to a look, with patterns, bold colors or one of his signature hats.
STYLE INSPIRATIONS: “I draw inspiration from a lot of different things. With Nashville, there’s such a rich culture there. I would say that I’ve probably picked up a few things from Nashville. But also things that are in pop culture. It’s all intertwined. Until Lil’ Wayne started wearing rocker belts and ripped jeans and chains from his jeans and really having that punk style, that’s when it became cool in pop culture. That blended with that urban look of the baggy jeans. Now look at it. It’s just as cool to wear tight jeans as baggy jeans. I just try to take influences from everything else, but most importantly I’m comfortable in everything that I wear.”
ONE PIECE YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: “I would say the watch that my girlfriend [Lindsey Vonn] got me by Rolex. I definitely can’t live without that. It’s special. If I’m being honest, I don't know how many guys have a girlfriend who’s bought them a Rolex. I would say it’s my only prized possession, the only thing I can’t lose. It’s customized. I’ll tell you exactly what it is, because it’ll embarrass her: On the inside it says LOVE YOU ALWAYS. There’s a heart in there too.”
Broncos' linebacker Von Miller has the confidence to pull off eccentric ensembles that feature everything from cowboy hats to studded belts, gold chains and those signature specs.
A former Esquire fashion intern and CFDA ambassador, Kelly Oubre Jr. is the wizard of “wavy,” a new type of swagger and style that the 23-year-old has introduced to the NBA. Oubre Jr.’s looks are a little bit grungy, a little bit high fashion, a little bit edgy and a whole lot of fun.
Animal prints, patterned suits, trendy eyewear and more—Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce’s audacious when it comes to fashion and it's clear that he always dresses with the “Stylin’ and profilin’” mentality.
Like the writing style of his Instagram captions, Panthers QB Cam Newton is unique and unexpected when it comes to fashion, sporting everything from printed matching sets, to unbuttoned silk shirts, fanny packs, and of course, some flashy headwear.
From the countless unusual hairstyles (and facial hair) to blinged-out diamond chains and fur coats, Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown is always dripping with swag.
Big man DeAndre Jordan doesn’t care about following trends or wearing designer threads. Instead, the 6’10” center gravitates toward anything that fits his frame (whether its brand-new designers or vintage) and he uses any and all accessories (hats, jewelry, bags and more) to define his eclectic style.
Though he is currently without an NBA team, Nick Young was one of the first in the league to showcase an unconventional style—and it’s caught on, as Swaggy P now has company when it comes to statement-making fashion.
Unlike many athletes on the 2019 Fashionable 50 list, New York Jets safety Jamal Adams doesn’t work with a stylist, but the 23-year-old’s sophisticated but playful style stands out among the best of the best.
STYLE MOTTO: “Fashion is a sport to me. I always want to set the tone. At the end of the day, it’s about being comfortable in your own skin, wearing what you want and just being fashionable and swaggy with it. When you come out with a new trouser or Nike sneaker that hasn’t been seen before, that’s where you’re setting a trend and that’s where you’re getting exposure, so I think that’s very important.”
STYLE INSPRATION: “I try to be myself. A lot of guys are dressing the same way, so I try to be unique my own way. If there were anyone that I look at and appreciate as far as what they do, it would have to be Russell Westbrook and LeBron James.”
FASHION FUTURE: “My goal is to become the best dressed in the NFL. There’s a lot more I can do. There are a lot more colors and stuff I want to put into my wardrobe to where I'm standing out a little bit more. By the end of this year, I definitely plan to have my name held at a higher standard when it comes to the fashion game.”
Along with his wife Teyana Taylor, Iman Shumpert completes the fashion power couple duo with his on-trend and risk-taking style choices. Shumpert also has his own menswear line called Centerpiece, which features track pants, hoodies, graphic tees and more.
Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper might be most recognizable by his perfectly coiffed hair and manicured beard, but his style game is strong, too. The 26-year-old has an effortless look that mixes casual street wear and suits with a touch of pizazz.
DeAndre Hopkins may look to Pharrell for some fashion inspiration, but the Texans wide receiver has a unique, enviable style all to his own. Hopkins mixes luxurious and intricate designer pieces with more casual options from retailers like ASOS with ease.
An ambassador for Umbro since 2017, U.S. Women’s national team goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris uses her audacious approach to fashion to push the limits on androgynous style, mixing and matching designer threads with vintage finds, fun accessories and sporty pieces.
STYLE MOTTO: “For me, I think everything stems from self-expression. From as far back as I remember, I was always trying to do things differently. I've been trying to creatively express myself through what I wear and what I look like. At first it was shoes and then backpacks, and then cutting up clothes or adding patches to things. And then I started to get into tattoos. The most important thing is about how it makes me feel. I think that’s the most beautiful thing about fashion—there are no limitations. So I love pushing the boundaries.”
INSPIRATION: “Everyday it's something different for me, based on what kind of mood I’m in or what I’m feeling that day. It’s very much centered around me and not what is trendy at the moment. I’m trying to be authentically me. I'm not a chameleon—oh I’m in Los Angeles this week, I’m going to dress one way, or if I’m in New York, I’m not going to dress super chic and high-end just because of that.”
When he’s not on the pitch, you’ll typically see Neymar Jr. drenched in designer logos and swagged out in streetwear, both staples of his effortless but fashion-forward style.
Days after celebrating the Toronto Raptors' NBA championship title, Serge Ibaka hit the streets of Paris for Fashion Week full of confidence, choosing to wear full plaid suits and even a kilt to some shows. Ibaka’s fashion celebration tour in France was just an extension of his fierce fits throughout the NBA season.
STYLE INSPIRATION: “I started to pay attention to my style because of my dad and our culture in Congo. Where I’m from, the older guys dressed up everyday in colored suits and shoes, and I always wanted to dress like them. Now, when I’m in other cities, I love to look at other people’s style and just add my own spin to it.”
FAVORITE FIT: “Suits and colors are my thing! A few of my teammates work hard on their style—they call me the 'fashion' guy on the team. I never try and push my style on anyone, but they like my look.”
When Rockets forward P.J. Tucker enters an NBA arena, you’ll likely see him sporting a fresh pair of kicks (and holding a pair, too) and a killer outfit featuring bright colors and bold patterns.
STYLE MOTTO: “It’s hard to say what makes up PJ’s style. I think its just originality more than anything—putting things together that someone else wouldn’t do. I like to experiment. Like I had this pair of shoes and I wanted to find a suit that I could wear with them—that was my mission, to find something that wasn’t a regular suit but that could make the shoe pop a little bit. I like to have fun with different clothes that might not go together.”
WHY IS FASHION IMPORTANT TO YOU: “It’s just fun. It’s something outside of basketball where I can show my artistic side and things that I like doing. With shoes and clothes, I’ve always wanted to personalize it and make it my own.”
ON THE ROCKETS’ TEAM FASHION: “On our team—me, Chris [Paul] and James [Harden]—we’re all just totally different. In the stuff we wear and the way we wear it. It’s so funny because a lot of time me and James [Harden] wear the same pieces, but we wear it totally different. Then some of the other guys crack jokes.”
Though she is now officially retired, Lindsey Vonn still brought the heat in 2019, sticking with elegant but edgy looks that accentuate her curves and show off her chiseled physique.
There are no rules when it comes to fashion for Arsenal defender Hector Bellerín, who expertly mixes vintage pieces with fresh-off-the-runway fashion to create his signature style.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE?: “Quite versatile. I like to use different styles of pieces—some streetwear mixed with more high-end and a lot of vintage lately. I’ve learned to appreciate more clothes for what they are, vs. whether or not they are good this season. I like to dress comfortable—that’s one of the most important things to me. And then from there, I’ll just switch it up depending on where I am and how I am feeling. I’m a guy that likes to add things to his wardrobe but I also have a very strong base of clothes that I use a lot—basics that I can wear everywhere, every single time. Lately it’s been a lot of flare-y trousers and high-waisted trousers and vests, especially in the summer months.”
WHEN DID YOU START TO PAY ATTENTION TO FASHION? “My mom always tells me this anecdote about when I was younger. I always wanted to wear a suit and tie to school because my dad used to wear a suit and tie for his job, so I always wanted to be like him. I feel like since I was very, very young, I liked dressing nice and dressing smart. Then I stopped paying attention for a while until I got to the U.K. when I was about 16. I feel like London gave me the chance to spread my wings. London taught me to see people and what they wore as a way of expressing themselves and I started to appreciate being different rather than being accepted. My love for fashion started growing more and more from there.”
STYLE INSPIRATION: “Nowadays with social media we see a lot of inspiration there when you’re scrolling. I follow loads of fashion profiles and I read a lot of news in fashion. And when you go to fashion shows you get a lot of inspiration as well. I don’t have a certain place or person that I look up to, I just get little details from different people and places and that’s how I forge my style.”
STREET STYLE STARS
Rockets point guard Chris Paul always puts a personal touch on his highly-coveted and comfortable dressed-up looks, mixing formal suits with sneakers and adding in a special message or theme to every fit.
STYLE INSPIRATION: “I'm a big believer in: you have to wear what you want to wear and not what you're supposed to wear. I think a lot of guys get caught up in trying to wear what they think people want them to wear, instead of what you’re comfortable in or expressing your own style. One of the biggest things I wanted to do this year with my clothes was champion people and designers of color and represent HBCUs. So that’s what we did.”
WHY FASHION IS IMPORTANT: “It's about supporting us—and when I say that, I’m not just talking about people of color. Russell Westbrook is one of the guys that I compete unbelievably hard against, we go so hard against each other, but people wouldn't know that me and Russ got a close relationship. Russ has a clothing line, Honor the Gift. I wore some of his stuff during the season. Melo has a collaboration with Goorin Bros, so I wore his hat. Another game, I wore LeBron’s shoes. I think in what we've done for so long, especially as athletes, we were pit against each other all the time, like competition. It's so important for us to support each other.”
FAVORITE FIT: “It sounds so generic, but I love warm-up suits. I love suits that are like leisure. But I also love a dressed up suit—I’ll wear a double-breasted suit but I’m probably going to wear it with sneakers. And it’s funny, this year I started wearing slouch socks. When I played high school basketball like back then that was like a thing—you was a real hooper if you had slouch socks, you know what I mean? So we started wearing them again, just because we wanted to.”
76ers point guard Ben Simmons is only 22 years old, but he’s quickly cemented his own brand of personal style in the NBA: creative, au courant and always consistent.
As one of the NBA’s resident sneakerheads, you can always count on Kyrie Irving to pair his casual-cool layered looks—think dressed-up sweatpants and standout jackets—with a fresh pair kicks.
Thunder point guard Dennis Schröder channels some Dennis Rodman vibes with his fashion and hair choices, rocking fully-patterned matching sets, fur jackets and more.
From '90s R&B and rap to country music, pieces like cowboy boots and sports jerseys influence Jimmy Butler’s quirky-cool style and wardrobe, which is anchored by jerseys, vintage tees and sweatpants.
Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams finds inspiration from traveling the globe for tennis, and she applies those concepts to both her activewear brand, EleVen, and her personal style.
FAVORITE FIT: “I love everything! I think what I'm most uncomfortable with are wearing trends. I'm not a trend person. I definitely beat to my own drum and like to express who I am with what I wear and what I do. If a look is too trend-heavy, that makes me uncomfortable. Outside of that, I always say, If you feel good in it, then wear it!”
STYLE MOTTO: “Right now, I'm updating my style to sporty, sexy chic. With EleVen, I am always thinking about style and fashion and how that relates to everyone, what inspires me and what would other people like to wear. I'm constantly changing and evolving. I reinvent myself every few years. The last time I reinvented myself was the end of 2016. I went for solid colors instead of prints. Now I'm going for similar, but super sporty. I want to wear everything with tennis shoes—but fun tennis shoes or fun boots. I also love experimenting with my hair and incorporating different colors.”
Jazz point guard Mike Conley mixes and matches athleisure, old-school pieces and simple basics to create a suave street style look that always highlights his svelte physique.
Hawaii native Michelle Wie has consistently pushed the envelope with her on-course fashion, but she’s also developed a strong off-duty look anchored by sporty athleisure fits and fresh kicks.
20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is worthy of the Hall of Fame both on and off the court. While he’s shown that he isn’t afraid to take a risk with bolder choices as of late, Federer’s signature look is refined and relatable.
Cavaliers All-Star Kevin Love knows how to put his cool-dude style on display, rocking dapper suits fitted to his 6’10” physique and layering-up neutral classics for that sought-after laidback look.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST COMFORTABLE IN? “My style is classic with a hint of streetwear. My collection is timeless and my closet is filled with clothing that I know I will love and continue to wear for years to come. Perfect tailoring, great outerwear and luxury fabrics are staples, but I also love the diversity in menswear now. Guys are taking more risks. It’s fun to play with printed silk shirts and vintage tees. I may always gravitate towards a beautiful Ralph Lauren three-piece suit, but I’m never going without my white Air Force 1 lows and a denim jacket. Ever!”
STYLE INSPIRATIONS: “My upbringing in Portland, Ore., and that authentic lumberjack style and outerwear, my love of great musicians like Sam Cooke, The Rat Pack, The Rolling Stones and their unique and distinctive style....and also this convergence of sports and style has really forced me to explore fashion, not only as a form of expression but as a business. I’m constantly inspired by the brands that are making clothing for us tall guys and supporting athletes as influencers."
FAVORITE PIECES RIGHT NOW: “My 3x1 denim jackets, my ShipRock SantaFe turquoise pins and my Airforce 1s.”