Denzel Washington Was, Is, and Always Will Be Ahead of the Game. Here’s How to Get His Look Today.

Avidan Grossman
·3-min read
Photo credit: Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Hearst Owned

From Esquire

Welcome back to Vintage Gold, a recurring segment where we here at Esquire HQ collectively lose our shit over some of the best throwback looks in Fit History.

In the early '90s, nobody in show business was bigger than (my man) Denzel Washington. In 1992, the already-Academy-Award-winning actor scooped another nomination playing the title character in Spike Lee's Malcolm X, and the next year Washington would star alongside Tom Hanks in the critically-acclaimed Philadelphia, helping Hanks nab his first Oscar win in the process.

But for all the well-deserved accolades and industry praise heaped on him for his work as an actor, Washington's truest masterpiece from the era—his most breathtaking display of pure artistry—happened off the screen, in a cramped corridor in Los Angeles International Airport.

Because halfway through 1993, Denzel Washington was snapping exiting LAX in a fit for the ages, one that'll go down in the record books as his piece de resistance, a visual testament to how effortlessly cool the man always was and always will be. And right now, there's no one else you should strive to emulate more.

Airport style is a celebrated subgenre of getting dressing unto itself, but the days of the world's biggest stars waltzing through the exit terminal at LAX in fits so big it'd be criminal not to document them are largely over. Sweatsuits and the various cozy accouterments of modern transitional dress did that era in long ago, so stumbling across pictures like this one is a pleasant surprise, a reminder that in post-pandemic life getting dressed (gasp!) to go the airport (gasp again!) should no longer remain relegated to a ritual of the past.

There's a reason Denzel's fit looks as relevant today as it did then. Sure, the '90s influence on fashion more generally is very real right now, but the basic elements of this fit are pieces every dude should have in his arsenal. A no-frills baseball cap, a go-to simple graphic tee, a good pair of denim. Some easy slip-ons, an all-purpose carry-on case, a sweet set of shades.

These are things we should all own, and Denzel, as per usual, simply got there a bit ahead of the rest of us. So while travel is still largely verboten and summer plans are cancelled left and right take solace in an image of a man at the zenith of his influence, strutting determinedly out of the airport looking for all the world like the megastar he already was.

Happy Friday, folks. Throw in a mask, and this is officially the outfit you should wear all weekend. Case closed. Now go forth, or, er, stay in, and get these fits off.

(And FWIW, Denzel is still a real-life hero and an all around all-star dad, if our most recent cover story— featuring Tenet star John David Washington—is any indication.)

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