My, how he has grown. To know Dev Patel is to remember his early years and the awkward jaunts on the red carpet circa 2008, when he made his grand entrance in the beloved Slumdog Millionaire. It wasn’t that he wasn’t absolutely wonderful back then—he was boyish, innocent, endearing in his wide-eyed appreciation for all that surrounded him.

He wasn’t new to the entertainment world by any stretch. His role in the sleeper hit film of the year was due largely to his presence in Skins, the teen drama series on British television in which he earned a spot without any previous acting experience. It was on a whim that he auditioned, but it was enough to change his life—Millionaire’s director, Danny Boyle, credits his daughter with recommending Patel for the role after seeing him in Skins.

What followed was a whirlwind of activity. He was honored with the British Independent Film Award, a Chicago Film Critics Association Award, a Critics’ Choice Award, and a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 2009 Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. His performance in Millionaire solidified his presence on the big screen, and he went on to star in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel alongside Dame Judi Dench, Hotel Mumbai, about the 2008 terrorist attacks at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Lion, for which he earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 2017 Academy Awards, and the upcoming The Green Knight, in which he portrays the lead role of Sir Gawain.

Style Transformation

Patel has made a sharp transition from the young, gawky youth of the late aughts. He’s no longer dressed in pulled together yet not quite perfectly fitting clothing. He’s his own man—someone who has clearly learned the finer points of tailored attire. Patel is recognizable at a glance, what with his wonderfully casual, relaxed mane.

What caught everyone’s attention—aside from his spectacular on-screen performance, that is—was his penchant for razor-sharp style during the Lion press junkets. He somehow made the most unexpected pieces work, and had a knack for bringing to life even the simplest of basics.

There was the refreshingly understated maroon pullover paired with tapered black slacks. Simple? Yes, but so approachable, too. Then he swung the pendulum in another direction and threw a baby pink, double-breasted sports coat over a soft gray T-shirt. What? Yep, that worked, too. The flourish of pink felt oddly right at home over the neutral backdrop.

But Patel isn’t all about the casual looks and the unexpected pieces. He pulls off the dapper look with just as much aplomb. We’ve witnessed the sleek, sophisticated presence he conveys and the attention he commands in a pinstriped suit—with stripes so subtle, they just lightly lift off the fabric to transform basic charcoal into something with a bit more visual intrigue. We’ve fallen—and searched in vain for—the sharp burgundy tailored suit he sported at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

Then there was the three-piece wonder he wore to the Palm Springs International Film Festival awards gala—it was fresh and distinctive largely because Patel put his own nonchalant twist on the proceedings, opting to skip the customary tie and top button in favor of a far more low-key take on luxury. And it worked.

When he’s not reigning on the red carpet and wowing at special events, he’s keeping things interesting by mixing pieces up. Reinvention isn’t quite what he’s all about, but there’s a sense that Patel knows fashion isn’t about playing by the rules. That’s probably why he felt comfortable enough to throw a varsity jacket over a loose-fit chambray top and oxblood-brown pants—on paper, nothing makes much sense, but on his frame it all came together beautifully.

Although not married to any one particular style, Patel does have a penchant for simply dressing well. That’s not something everyone can claim, and even fewer can pull it off with such panache. There’s an air of free-spiritedness about it all. He’s not trying too hard—and it’s that genuine quality that makes it so appealing.

Where menswear is concerned, it’s also quite a feat to accomplish. Because, if the fashion world has taught us anything, it’s that menswear is serious—very, very serious, indeed. It’s all tight cuts and crisp tailoring and neutral palettes. Patel essentially flips it on its head, embracing the essence of quality menswear but throwing in his special brand of unorthodoxy to ensure that nothing looks the same twice.

He’s also accustomed to wearing what works for him. Isn’t that a lesson we can all take? Experimentation isn’t just a form of adventure, but something that allowed Patel to arrive at the right answer—and it’s precisely why we now see him embracing the slim silhouettes, the multitudinous colors, the occasional patterns, and the classics. He mixes it up in fine form, showcasing what makes his take on fashion so fresh and spontaneous.

Serving Looks

How to? That’s the, er, million-dollar question, if you will. How might one emulate a guy who stylistically marches to the beat of his own drum? He has that part covered. Isn’t it up to you to determine your own style? Yes—but it’s also just as valid to assert that you’ve been inspired by someone who captures the essence of all that you want to convey through your own wardrobe choices, too. That Patel’s wardrobe is definitive eye candy doesn’t hurt, either.

When he’s out and about, you can spy Patel in the most hyper-casual attire on the planet. He’s been spotted at the airport in light-fit, airy white T-shirts and camo-green jeans. He’s embraced trucker-chic (speaking of the aughts…) in old-school hats reminiscent of Von Dutch. He’s done the whole denim-on-denim thing (it worked). He’s been known to toss on a fuzzy green sweater with baggy jeans and call it a day.

His burgundy pullover is a treasure—something that you could potentially wear over and over again, with everything from jeans to khakis. The Giorgio Armani crewneck sweater offers a luxurious take on the look and promises to rack up some serious mileage. Still thinking about that pink blazer? Understandable. This Reiss wool-blend double-breasted variety has the potential to be become a wardrobe favorite. It’s versatile enough to incorporate into your casual wear with jeans and white tees, yet looks remarkably posh with matching pants for a more formal occasion.

Patel once modeled a plaid suit for a magazine spread, and it was just as you might expect: awe-inspiring for its audaciousness—it was Gucci, after all—and somehow sharp and mesmerizing at the same time. It felt like the right kind of throwback, made modern with little details, like clean lines and tapered legs. If you’re feeling that, or just want to incorporate even a hint of the look into our repertoire, the ASOS DESIGN skinny suit jacket should steer you in the right direction. Simplicity is king, so throwing it on over a sleek black turtleneck and jeans works just as efficiently.

In the end, it’s not just about the looks Patel graces in life and on the big screen. It’s about something considerably bigger than that. He’s a humble sort—a rarity in a world where braggadocio seems to go a long way. Patel is but the opposite: gracious, grateful, and garbed to perfection on top of that. The style icon praise suits him well.