Jay ElliseJay Ellise

Jay Ellis: One suit, four different ways

On HBO’s hit comedy 'Insecure', Jay Ellis plays the smooth and always polished Lawrence Walker — an on-again-off-again love interest of Issa Rae. The South Carolina-born actor’s breakout role (which recently won him an NAACP Image Award) isn’t far from his personality offscreen, especially when it comes to style—he is both considered and casual.

He's also a pro when it comes to packing. His travel packing tip: "A great suit is key. Look for a suit style that can work multiple ways. One that has a jacket versatile enough to pair with jeans for a drinks date, but professional enough to wear to a meeting." Below: four looks that can work from the boardroom to dinner.

Jay EllisJay Ellis
Jeans + a suit jacket are polished and cool

When a client meeting calls, you don't want to look too stuffy, so a full suit is not your move. Ellis's version riffs off his fondness for prints and colour yet still feels polished. And above all else: "Be comfortable,' he says. "If you’re not comfortable, style doesn’t matter because all you’ll think about is your discomfort - and people will see it."

3. For the casual occasion

Use prints to make a full suit casual

"I try to pack pretty light but also have enough pieces that can work for both day and night," Ellis says. Case in point: A printed polo can be worn with jeans for brunch, or styled with a suit for a look that's dressy enough to go to a bar or nice restaurant - but still relaxed enough for a casual night with friends.

Jay EllisJay Ellis
The same theory works for a plain white T-shirt

Just dress it up with playful accessories for that ultimate 'Hollywood-cover-story' effect. Ellis chooses statement pieces likes a trusty timepiece or simple printed silk pocket square to elevate a casual sweater-and-jeans combination, or to complete a well-tailored suit.

4. For the business presentation

Add a tie with flair (and go)

When the time comes for that important business meeting, there's nothing more powerful or confidence-boosting than a well-tailored suit. Depending on the location, Ellis might play with patterns and colours, but he generally opts for versatile neutrals. Whether it’s patterned or solid, Ellis looks first to fit and fabric as the most important elements of travelling in a suit.

travel collection by BOSStravel collection by BOSS
On Ellis's packing list:

"Sunglasses, Chapstick, a great watch, an overnight bag, books, headphones, iPad, sneakers, boots, black denim, a few button-up shirts, and a great casual outerwear jacket," he says. "I’ve come to learn that sometimes you just have to be prepared for anything from a boat ride to a party or dinner with friends. Things have a way of just happening unplanned in my world."

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Styled by Eric Nicholson

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