Pitch Perfect: Wynton Marsalis on Style

Jazz at Lincoln Center Managing and Artistic Director—and jazz legend—Wynton Marsalis starts his day at the ironing board, touching up his suit and dress shirt. Even when he’s not playing on the Rose Hall concert stage at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, Marsalis goes about his day in a Brooks Brothers suit and tie. Suits have become his signature, dating back to his musical upbringing in the nineteenth-century birthplace of jazz music, New Orleans.

As Jazz at Lincoln Center’s official clothing sponsor, Brooks Brothers takes pride in dressing Marsalis and the entire Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with the suits, shirts, ties and tuxedos that reflect their classic yet individual taste while encouraging an unforgettable performance. Every few months, our tailors assess and refit the suits of every musician to ensure the Italian fabrics are able to withstand wrinkling, dry-cleaning and, of course, the demanding performances while on the road.

“It’s important for us to create a wardrobe that looks stylish on stage and is also practical for their touring season,” says Robin Ibekwe from Brooks Brothers’ public relations department. Ibekwe works directly with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, who played a prominent part in Brooks Brothers’ 200th anniversary celebration in 2018.

“I’ve performed in a suit my whole life,” says the 58-year-old trumpeter, who swears by the jazz standard of Sunday-best attire. “I’ve got to be clean, clean as Emma Jean,” Marsalis banters. “I’m walking down the street and guys ask me ‘Where can I get one of those suits?’ ”

The nine-time Grammy Award-winning Marsalis continues to reign as the leader and musical director of America’s most revered jazz band since he initiated it decades ago. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis is the resident orchestra of the not-for-profit Jazz at Lincoln Center and features 15 of the world’s finest soloists, ensemble players and arrangers who collaboratively practice their art with seamless coordination. Every season, these celebrated musicians light up concert stages in New York and around the world with their soaring jazz renditions, blending classical and international influences in Brooks Brothers suits, French cuffs and silk striped ties. “Elegance is part of our artistic presentation,” Marsalis says.

Lately, band members have steered toward Made to Measure trousers with an adjustable side-tab waist that allows for a beltless, streamlined look, and many prefer pleats.

“We like to be uniform, but there’s also room for personal expression — we aren’t robots,” says Marsalis. Trombonists require wider suit sleeves for sliding their arms back and forth with a wingspan of five feet, while percussionist Charles Goold, who played with the Orchestra last fall, had shirts and jackets cut shorter to avoid winding up with his sticks in his sleeves. Lightweight, breathable Performance Non-Iron Dress Shirts keep the players looking crisp during vigorous, sweat-inducing two-hour performances, and a button-down collar keeps things firmly in place. And, in case cuff links go missing, our tailors sew hidden buttons into their cuffs to ensure they’re always fastened.

“We go on the road, we might bring a blue suit, a black suit, a gray suit, with different color shirts, and we change them for every gig. When you look good, you play well,” says Marsalis. Navy, black and gray pinstripes reign as the suit colors for performances — reading more sharply than neutral khakis and browns on stage, in front of the camera and on television.

“The main thing we share with Brooks Brothers is that we are both classic and in the present.”

When the players receive a colorful array of silk ties from our Long Island City, Queens, factory each season, Marsalis opts for a bold color to complement his suspenders — a blend of tradition and personal flair.

“The main thing we share with Brooks Brothers is that we are both classic and in the present,” explains Marsalis. “We both have a deep tradition that we are proud of, that we don’t run from. We continue to build on that legacy with new things that aren’t fads,” he says. The one thing he’s never without? His signature single-breasted trench coat in crisp navy blue.

Join Us for A Night at Jazz at Lincoln Center

Don’t miss a very special evening in New York City with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra featuring Wynton Marsalis on April 3. Your experience includes pre-concert cocktails and a private reception after the show with members of the orchestra. Get your tickets now. Treat yourself — or someone else — to this exclusive engagement.