List of Five: The Straightforward Style of the Polymathic B.J. Novak

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List of Five: The Straightforward Style of the Polymathic B.J. Novak

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As if working on a laugh line until it’s just right, B. J. Novak has refined his look over the years. The actor and writer, who made his name on the sitcom “The Office” before going on to write and direct episodes of the show, appears this month with Michael Keaton in “The Founder,” a film about Ray Kroc of McDonald’s.

In addition to his television and movie work, Mr. Novak has published a short-story collection, “One More Thing”; a best-selling children’s book, “The Book With No Pictures”; and is the co-developer (with Dev Flaherty) of an app, List. Here, Mr. Novak, a native of Newton, Mass., discusses his five wardrobe staples.

Shirt My all-time go-to is a long-sleeve T-shirt. In L.A. for 362 days of the year, a long-sleeve T-shirt is the right thing to wear. It can be more chill than a sweater, but can look more elegant than a short-sleeve T-shirt. I’m talking about a Gap long-sleeve, so elegance is in the eye of the beholder. I never do a print. It’s always black, white, gray or blue, which is basically everything I wear these days. My style has evolved slowly, sort of by subtraction. When I came to L.A., my first job was on “Punk’d.” Ashton Kutcher looked so amazing in all these outlandish things. He would wear an oversize pinstripe suit with sneakers. I was like, “I’ll never make it in this town.” But the good part is that since I couldn’t just wear stuff like that, I learned style is a particular thing to a particular person, not some abstract goal.

Jacket The light jacket is my new favorite thing. I have a style I like — the cloth bomber — and every time I go shopping, I think, “Oh, that’s the perfect one.” Now I have a closet of them, mainly from Rag & Bone. My favorite, though, is one from Spencer Project, in blue, of course. I have blue eyes, and before I knew anything about fashion — I’m talking about the second grade — I learned I would get a compliment if I wore a blue shirt.

Pants I switched from jeans to pants about a year ago. I may switch back. There’s a Rag & Bone chino in navy that I’ve worn just about every day for the past year and a half that’s my life hack. It’s so much more comfortable than jeans, but it has that same appeal in that there’s an anonymity to it. I like jeans, but I think in 100 years it’s going to be crazy when we look back at the fact that everyone, every day for about 60 years straight, wore stiff blue pants as their default. Why?

Shoe I buy batches of Stan Smiths from Adidas.com. They’re simple and they go with everything. I often get the Stan Smith navy. I always avoid the color green, so I don’t get the classic one. When I was a kid, my dad said he hated green, and I was like, “Yeah, me, too!” And besides, green is too close to blue. Like get out of here, it’s an off-brand blue.

Accessory I have one really nice watch. It’s a white face stainless-steel Rolex Daytona. I wear it a lot. I got that in the middle of “The Office.” All the guys in the writers’ room were like, “Let’s all get a nice watch.” We were too busy to upgrade our lives in a big way, but we thought this was a nice symbolic gesture. I saw this style and loved it. One thing I love about a really nice, simple watch is that when you wear it with a casual wardrobe, it makes the whole outfit look very deliberate. Suddenly, it doesn’t look lazy to wear Stan Smiths and a Gap T-shirt.

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