Billions: the show setting a new benchmark for men’s style

To create a successful anti-hero, two main ingredients need to be met: he has to be ruthlessly ambitious, of course. But he also has to do it with an unmistakable sense of style: Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, Frank Underwood, Don Draper…and now Bobby Axelrod.

With the second season already underway for Stan's latest series, Billions, it's hard not to notice that protagonist and all-round shady type Bobby "Axe" Axelrod – wild card hedge fund manager played by Damian Lewis – doesn't quite dress like your average Wall Street tycoon.

Scroll through the gallery above see nine of the best dressed men on television.

While the suits are there, occasionally, and the more street-inspired casual looks reminiscent of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Axe seems to dress more like your cool local barista. Just, filthy rich with money that doesn't belong to him.

But seriously though – what does a billionaire dress like? Bespoke suits, Italian shoes and made-to-measure shirts? Or the paired back off-the-rack, Silicon Valley-inspired hoodies that deliberately hide any of the effects traditionally ascribed to wealthy folk?

Researching the rich

According to the show's costume designer, Eric Daman, it was a dilemma that plagued him as he attempted to craft a wardrobe that would be both somewhat believable but at the same time capture the imagination of the viewers.

"I did quite a bit of research on billionaires and the mega finance influencers," explains Daman.

"But was pretty disappointed by their style choices. It all seemed a bit haphazard and not as aspirational or cool as I hoped."

The bleak reality

Which, when you think about it, shouldn't come as much of a surprise. The most visible billionaires in the world today - Zuckerberg, Gates, Trump - are far from style icons and if anything seem to suggest that the richer one gets, the more questionable one's aesthetic taste.


So Daman did what anyone would do – he crafted a whole new look to encapsulate both Axe's wealth and his blue-collar background. But at a price.

Unlike television's other sartorial star, the indomitable Harvey Specter, who wears his Tom Ford suits loud and proud, Daman's wardrobe for Axe is a little more subtle. Or sinister, depending on how you deep you want to look at the hidden meaning behind it: What looks like it should have come straight out of a vintage or department store sale is probably a high-end replica that costs more than your rent.

Get the look

"It's really all about making high/high look high/low. Axe's day-to-day style definitely has a high/low flavour, but it's all about finding the perfect T-shirt, which sometimes can cost upwards of $650," says Daman

"It's the same for the jeans - perfectly distressed to feel like he has had them since his 90s Metallica fan days. Mix them with the perfect Classic Retro Puma or the newest Nike, and a $2000 Loro Piana Hoodie and there you go – Bobby Axelrod in all his glory."

It's a sneaky game that perfectly plays into the complexity of Axelrod's character – a wardrobe that makes him look like an everyday bloke you'd spot on the street.

Strategic dressing

"It was very conscious from the get-go," says Daman.

"It was integral to the character to infuse his wardrobe with the anti-establishment anti suit and tie statement. But at the same time not fall into the Silicon Valley collegiate nonchalance. Axe does everything with purpose, and selecting his wardrobe is a part of that considered thought process."

And in one of life's greatest ironies, Daman says show has begun to influence the style of real-life hedge fund managers: "It seems Bobby Axelrod...has become a premium billionaire style influencer. I have definitely noticed Axe's style seeping into the finance culture."

Take a look at the gallery above to see the best dressed men on television.