TAYLOR KINNEY OF ‘CHICAGO FIRE’ PULLS OFF THE ART OF WARDROBE MAINTENANCE WITH A FEW UPDATED CLASSICS, STEALING FROM GAGA AND A REALLY COOL MOTORCYCLE JACKET.
Wearing clothes scares Taylor Kinney. Well, not all clothes. But when he saunters into the West Side studio where he’ll be wearing several looks for our men’s style issue, he exhibits what I can only describe as a fight or flight response. “Oh, no! I’m not wearing that!” he says with a nervous laugh pointing to a bright-print shirt hanging on the clothes rack. You can’t blame the guy. The shirt, scribbled with shocks of primary colors, scares me a little, too. So I’m already impressed by Kinney’s astute eye. Don’t let his humble, everyman baseball cap, t-shirt, and jeans getup fool you — this guy also knows something about style. The 33-year-old actor from Lancaster, Pa., hit his career stride playing handsome, rough-around-the-edges Kelly Severide on NBC’s hit firehouse drama ‘‘Chicago Fire’’. Filming keeps him in Chicago for about 10 months a year. Maybe this city’s down-to-earth style fits him better than L.A. “God knows there are trends there I can’t keep up with … or care to” he says. Anyway, the print shirt: False alarm. He’s looking at the wrong set of clothes. Quickly, a scrum of stylists usher him over to the rack of clothes he’ll be wearing today. Among its offerings: Belstaff motorcycle jackets and leather pants. Jackpot. Kinney, an avid motorcyclist and admirer of that brand, is excited. Still, I think clothes do scare him — I mean, he can hardly keep them on. Consider the evidence. The weekend before this shoot, he participated in Chicago’s Polar Plunge, shirtlessly gallivanting in the icy March waters of Oak Street Beach with his fiancée slung over his shoulder. Her name, for the record: Lady Gaga. She’s a singer. You may have heard of her. Looks great in a meat dress. He’s known for being shirtless on Chicago Fire so often, his pecs deserve their own credit. Though on that, Taylor says I’m dead wrong. He’s not shirtless that much. “Maybe once this year.” he says. But yeah, he gets this irony. He’s engaged to one of the world’s biggest style icons for whom clothes are art. On that he says: “I appreciate her passions and her drive and her world, but I’m not the biggest fashion guru. I’m a flannel, t-shirt, and jeans guy, and she does her thing, but I don’t dive into that world.” So we sat down with him to talk style, how a guy knows when to get engaged, and life with Gaga.
You’re a motorcycle rider — how does that inform your style. “Some of the stuff we wore today — there was a pair of leather pants that Belstaff makes. They make great leather motorcycle jackets. I’ve been riding since I was a kid. I got my first street-bike when I was 17 and I’ve had motorcycles ever since.”
I hear you’re a Chuck Taylor fan. “I have three brothers and we’re all close together in age so it was a lot of hand-me-downs. To differentiate us we’d all get different colored Chucks. I have this really neat picture — I don’t know, I must have been seven years old — and we all have different color Chucks on.”
Do you have any go-to brands? “I like utility. I like Carhartt stuff. I like flannels. I think I’ve only ever worn Levi’s. Ten years ago, I splurged on an expensive pair of jeans and I hated them. You can always depend on a good pair of Levi’s.”
Does Gaga push you into more adventurous style directions? Does she shop for you? “No, but I might steal some of her stuff now and then…”
Meat dresses? Do tell “No. Just…t-shirts and jeans…”
Ok, so no meat dresses. But you’re getting married, so how’s your suit game? “I’ll get help there. I’ll have someone help me out with a tailored suit that fits well and looks nice…but I’m not out there doing that on my own.”
How do you know when it’s time to get engaged? “I just knew. It wasn’t a light bulb going off.”
Do you have any ring shopping tips? “No, I don’t have any tips, but it was exciting. We did it together. And then it was up to me. Then I did the legwork.”
Did you get down on one knee when the time came? “Oh, yeah. All that good stuff. It was in Manhattan. It was snowing. It was beautiful.”
Anything else you want to add? “I love my fiancé!”