Hulu’s The Bear is a runaway hit. Season 2’s debut in June 2023 brought in 70% more viewers than the Season 1 debut a year earlier, and by mid-July the series had garnered 13 Emmy nominations.
The Bear connects with a lot of people for a lot of different reasons, starting with the excellent writing, acting, directing, and pacing. The number of people who have worked a restaurant job at some point in their lives is no doubt a factor as well, but the show’s themes – grief, trauma, guilt, family, self-improvement (to name just a few) – resonate with a wide audience. And of course the tantalizing food porn featured in nearly every episode doesn’t hurt.
The Bear also made a surprisingly big splash in a particularly niche corner of the internet: menswear aficionados. Hordes of articles have pointed out that, actually, The Bear is a menswear show. The main character of the show Carmine “Carmy” Berzotto reveals his denimhead bona fides right from the get go in season 1 episode 1 when he is forced to sell a pair of his vintage Levis and a vintage trucker jacket to get the money he needs to procure an order of beef to keep his struggling sandwich shop going for the day.
“We got issues. This arcuate’s painted,” says the guy Carmy is selling his jeans to in exchange for beef.
After lecturing him on how Levi’s had to conserve things like thread and copper during WWII (“That’s why there’s no rivets. How the f*ck do you not know that?”) Carmy says,
This is original big E redline selvedge alright? From 1944. You can get $1,250 for that on Ebay tonight.
The first time I watched the show last summer I had no idea what words like “arcuate”, “selvedge”, or “Big E” even meant, or what a “type 3” jacket was and why a pleated one is more desirable. But I was already interested in men’s fashion, so I started internet searching some of these things, only to find that The Bear had already caught the attention of internet menswear fans.
For me and countless other guys, the show opened up a whole new world and I started learning more and more about selvedge denim and loopwheeled tees and the like. If you have watched the show and found yourself pondering what the male characters are wearing and maybe how you could dress like them, then this is for you.
Here is my ranking of the top menswear items on The Bear with some hints and links for how you can style yourself in a similar way.
Note: Hulu doesn’t let you take screenshots, so we’re using Very Great Quality iPhone photos of a TV Screen. Enjoy!
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Carmy’s T-Shirt in The Bear
The topic of fascination was Carmy’s plain white tee shirts, a rather unassuming and basic item of clothing that might not seem the likeliest of candidates to make a stir — but everyone wants a good t-shirt. Menswear sleuths began trying to figure out who exactly made Carmy’s thick, luxurious, and obviously well constructed tees. Was it American heritage brand Velva Sheen? Was it Whitesville or some other Japanese brand? Was it German loopwheel manufacturers extraordinaire Merz B. Schwanen?
After wearing them here and there in season one, Carmy wears almost exclusively Merz B. Schwanen 215 loopwheeled tees in the second season. Costume designers and Jeremey Allen White (the actor who plays Carmy) liked the look of them so much that they dropped some the other season one brands, which included Whitesville shirts and a Supreme collaboration with Hanes.)
It’s pretty incredible that a plain white tee became the focus of so much fascination, but that is a testament to how well the shirts are made. They are different enough from a run-of-the-mill Hanes Beefy T because of their thick texture and striking whiteness that stands out on television, and eagle eyed viewers will notice there are no side seams. This is because it’s a loopwheel shirt, made on tubular knitting machines that knit in a circular motion, protecting the fabric’s integrity at all points.
Loopwheel construction puts the shirts under less tension than conventional tees, so they’re less likely to stretch out and will instead conform a little to the shape of your body and become softer, less boxy, and more flattering with wear.
When you find yourself wondering why these tshirts cost so much more, it’s not just because they’re thicker. Loopwheel machines are very inefficient by modern standards, producing fabric some ten times more slowly than modern machinery — and you need an entire new loopwheel machine for each size of tshirt you make.
Carmy’s Sweater in The Bear
Carmy wears this sweater in season 2 episode 3 “Sundae” when he is experimenting in his home kitchen with sous-chef Sydney to come up with a new menu for their under construction restaurant.
A cable knit sweater is a must have in any stylish man’s wardrobe – it’s a classic for a reason. Cable knits have an interesting pattern that is pleasing to the eye and the cashmere makes them cozy – good for doing things around the house in winter or going out on the town alike. Cashmere is a soft, luxurious wool that comes from cashmere goats that live in the colder regions of Mongolia, China, and Afghanistan. While a sheep can produce about 3 kg of wool per year, a cashmere goat only produces about 200 grams. To get wool from a sheep the animal is sheared, but to get wool from a cashmere goat the animal must be brushed to remove its undercoat. So sourcing cashmere takes more labor and more animals, making it more expensive than sheep’s wool.
This Twitter thread (can I still call it Twitter?) by Derek “Menswear Guy” Guy is a good explainer on why cashmere is expensive, how to spot quality cashmere garments, and the environmental impacts of cashmere production. Click through to read an article’s worth of info.
HOW TO BUY A GOOD CASHMERE SWEATER 🧵
I want to address this comment left by someone in response to my Brick Watch Company tweet. It also gets into something I’ve been wanting to talk about: how to buy a good cashmere sweater. pic.twitter.com/hFqVXevAQk
— derek guy (@dieworkwear) November 28, 2022
It’s nice to see an accessible brand like J. Crew getting some attention from Hollywood trend setters. J. Crew is currently undergoing a bit of a renaissance thanks to the leadership of new men’s creative head Brendon Babenzian (formerly of Supreme and his own label Noah). His giant fit chinos made quite a splash this season and are hopefully a sign of more out-of-the-box experiments to come.
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Fak’s Clothes in The Bear
Worn by affable handyman Neil Fak in season 1 and the entire kitchen staff in season 2. Rosa Rugosa is a workwear line co-founded by Canadian chef and internet personality Matty Matheson, who plays Fak.
A quick glance at their website shows that they make all kinds of interesting workwear from chore coats to double-knee pants. Their clothes also come in various colors ranging from standard workwear shades like navy blue, black, and teddy brown to more interesting fashionable shades like dusty rose, kelly green, and hickory stripe. Wear these clothes out and about when you want a rugged casual look or when you have actual work to do. Rosa Rugosa’s clothes are 100% cotton, with sturdy double stitching, and made to order in Toronto.
Carmy’s Rugby Shirt in The Bear
Carmy wears this to the Berzotto family Christmas dinner in the second season episode “Fishes”. The rugby looks great – the color is an interesting shade of green and the white collar really pops. I had a hard time finding this limited edition shirt, but a very similar rugby can be obtained from the Ralph Lauren store in the exact same shade of green just minus the “Palace” label right beneath the iconic Polo player label on the chest. Known as the “Iconic Rugby Shirt”. it sells for $125.
This episode sparked an interest in me in rugby shirts and I have to say I love them – perfect for the fall and for wearing to family get togethers like Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. (Hopefully yours are not nearly as toxic as the Berzotto family’s.) I got a navy Ralph Lauren Rugby in navy blue on Poshmark, and I’m really looking forward to wearing it a lot this fall especially on campus where I teach.
Carmy’s Checkered Jacket in The Bear
Currently, Carmy’s exact color is sold out, but you may get lucky with a restock.
NN07 is a Danish label that makes high end European/Preppy clothes (their chinos look fantastic). Worn by Carmy in both seasons, the jacket is a subtle nod to the role Denmark plays in the show, as the country where Carmy learned how to be a chef and where in house baker Marcus later apprentices in dessert making.
So the jacket is a nice piece of characterization. Even if you can’t get this exact jacket anymore, a wool jacket is a solid wardrobe piece that will never let you down in the fall or winter. This Filson Mackinaw work jacket is in close proximity to Carmy’s jacket, I think.
Carmy’s Jeans in The Bear
Another piece Carmy wears to the ill-fated Christmas dinner in the season 2 episode “Fishes.” Since Carmy is established as a denimhead early on, it is no surprise that he also likes to wear non-vintage selvedge denim.
This pair is by French brand A.P.C. and it was chosen specifically by the show’s costume designer Courtney Wheeler because she thinks of A.P.C. as a “gateway to liking denim” and the jeans are a reflection of Carmy’s time in Europe.
There are no shortage of selvedge denim makers out there in Japan, the United States, Canada, and Europe. If you’re looking for a good “gateway to liking denim” I don’t think you can go wrong with Canada’s Naked & Famous, who we’ve featured in several articles on this site, like this guide to the perfect jean fades.
These kinds of jeans go with everything: you can dress them up or you can dress them down. You can put on a tweed blazer or you can throw on your favorite winter jacket. You can wear them with an oxford cloth button down or you can wear them with a henley, polo, rugby shirt, or of course, a plain white tee. Just make sure to roll up your cuffs to show off that selvedge.
Above all, make sure you have a good sense of your body type and what cuts of jeans look good on you – after a long time trying I’ve discovered that I need to wear higher rise straight cut jeans like these A.P.C Standard Jeans. Your body might work best with straight fits, slim fits, relax tapered fits, wide fits… don’t get stuck on one brand if the fit doesn’t work for you!
Richie’s Suit in The Bear
Worn by Carmy’s volatile “cousin” Richie (played brilliantly by Ebon Moss Bachrach) in season 2, the suit is emblematic of Richie’s character development and transformation. Where once he was a slovenly loud-mouth incapable of changing his ways, he emerges from his time staging at an exclusive Chicago restaurant a suit-wearing professional ready to charm every restaurant guest as the front of the house manager.
Richie says he wears the suit to feel good about himself, and honestly, that pretty much distills why any of us who are into menswear wear what we wear: to feel confident and good about ourselves. A tailored wool suit is a must have in every man’s closet whether it is in black, grey, or navy. Just make sure that it fits you properly; get it tailored and go with cuts that flatter your body type.
Carmy’s Work Pants in The Bear
These pants are an affordable menswear classic. It’s not surprising that Carmy and other members of The Beef/Bear’s staff wear a lot of Dickies and Carhartt in the kitchen (Carmy also wears Carhartt Work in Progress Pants in the series). These clothes were made to be worked in.
Get yourself a pair of these Dickie’s work pants and pair them with a plain tee or henley when you want a casual about town look. If you want to feel extra manly, put them on when you are doing yardwork or messing around in your garage. You really can’t go wrong with them.
Marcus’ Beanie in The Bear
This beanie is worn predominantly by Marcus (Lionel Boyce), the aspiring dessert chef with a heart of gold. In the show, Marcus wears the beanie in a shade of green but it is turned inside out so as not to reveal the label (in all probability because the show did not have an endorsement deal with Carhartt).
Partly because it’s made from acrylic rather than wool, this beanie is very affordable and has become a widespread staple of the modern wardrobe. I picked one up for myself and wore it all around Ireland when I visited in January. Pick one up for this winter and you won’t regret it.
Richie’s Leather Jacket in The Bear
This is worn several times in season 1 and season 2 by Richie. Members Only jackets, of course, have a pop culture legacy from ‘The Sopranos,’ and anyone who grew up in the 1980s (like me) remembers when they were all the rage.
The jacket fits well with Richie’s casual streetwear style – he opts for things like Adidas track suit bottoms and work t-shirts from The Original Beef of Chicagoland (or “The Berf” as one of his misprinted tees says). The jacket is retro enough on its own, but making it leather puts this over the top – no doubt Richie clings to when this jacket made him the coolest kid in the 10th grade. It’s a fun look but hard to pull off as it requires a bit of daring.
Members Only makes a “vegan” leather version of the jacket as well for $148.
Marcus’s Baseball Cap in The Bear
In season 2 we get to spend a lot more time with Marcus outside of work, where he usually wears Carhartt work pants and tee shirts. In season 2 episode 4 “Honeydew” we follow Marcus all the way to Denmark and get a much better sense of his personal style, which is an homage to the “Black Ivy” style. Marcus wears chinos, rugby shirts, bucket hats, varsity jackets, and wool shirt jackets, all signifiers of Ivy style.
In one scene in Denmark Marcus can be spotted wearing a vintage inspired baseball cap of the Negro League Chicago American Giants. It’s a pretty cool piece of characterization as it shows that Marcus is someone aware of black history and incorporates it into his dress sense.
Ebbets Field Flannels produces all kinds of retro sports apparel. I really like their baseball caps which cover all kinds of teams and leagues ranging from the Major Leagues to more obscure minor league teams. You can also buy caps of Japanese, Mexican, and Negro league teams. The best part is their caps are made in the USA out of 100% wool, the way that baseball caps used to be made. These days if you buy a current “on field” baseball cap, it is usually largely made out of synthetic material.
Carmy’s Short Wool Pants in The Bear
The show hints that Carmy had other obsessions before he became the world’s greatest chef, including doodling menswear designs while daydreaming in high school math class.
In a season 2 episode 5 scene that sees Carmy and love-interest Claire getting closer and declaring their long standing crushes on one another, Carmy describes the pants as,
Very, very short pants… like Dickie’s but cuffed, made with worsted wool… very high level…
Then he says that after becoming a chef, he discovered that someone already made the pants! While the pants are never shown and Thom Browne is not mentioned by name, show creator Christopher Storer (a friend of Browne’s) confirmed that these were the pants Carmy was talking about.
Later in the season, Carmy gives a custom made Thom Browne chef’s shirt to Sydney on The Bear’s opening night. The shirt is the only Browne piece to appear on the show, but I would love to see Carmy wearing the pants in a future episode.
Thom Browne’s stuff is quite high fashion and a bit avant garde, but his clothes are undoubtedly very interesting (and look a lot like the high fashion clothes David wears on Schitt’s Creek).
The Bear’s success, along with its excellent costume design, has led many guys with an interest in menswear to seek out more information about the clothes worn on the show. The show’s style is, for the most part, accessible and unassuming, encompassing things like workwear, t-shirts, jeans, basic suits, and leather jackets. Almost any man would feel comfortable wearing these clothes on a regular basis.
If you lack some of these things in your wardrobe, this guide should help you find what you need. Remember, it’s always best to seek out pieces that are well-made, durable, and will stand the test of time. A big reason why the show’s clothing has become such a topic of conversation is because the styling is timeless. A guy in a sturdy t-shirt, jeans, and leather jacket will look stylish no matter what trends may come and go.
Featured image via @thebearfx and @mattymatheson on Instagram.