Read on esquire.com
Ric Flair moseys down a short red carpet behind a nondescript midtown Manhattan doorway, fashionably late on a Tuesday night. He’s one of several marquee names at the VIP kickoff party for the Delta Passport to Madison Square Garden, a two-day initiative to showcase the history of the famous New York arena. There’s Evander Holyfield and Earl Monroe. Here comes John McEnroe, who instantly makes eye contact with Ric Flair.
“Hello, young man,” says Ric Flair.
“Hey, Ric,” replies McEnroe.
To seemingly everyone except McEnroe, he’s Ric Flair. Not Ric. Not Mr. Flair. Ric Flair. Several minutes later, as Holyfield steps in front of the gray backdrop with various corporate logos, Ric Flair slides off to the wing. The number of camera flashes grows exponentially larger. Ric Flair stays out of the way but keeps smiling all the while. He’s done this before. He’s a two-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion. He’s in the Professional Wresling Hall of Fame. After a group photo, Ric Flair—wearing a powder blue button-down shirt, a navy sport coat, gray slacks, and a red tie—makes his way back up the red carpet, where he’s game to talk about men’s fashion (however briefly).
You don’t see many people with your sense of style anymore.
Kids today can’t touch us. Are you kidding? I spent more money on one robe than guys spend in five years. All they are now is markin’ their T-shirts. I wish I would have thought of that. We didn’t have T-shirts back then. You don’t see anybody dress elaborately anymore. It’s much more casual than it was, but my clothes and my ring attire—I thought up half of what I brought to the show.
Did you pick out the boas yourself?
Did I come up with the idea? Yeah. But like everything else, I went overboard. If one was nice, then I wanted one nicer. Then I wanted the next one nicer. It’s my own fault. But I had a phenomenal seamstress. She made all the stuff for Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, all the rhinestone cowboys. She knew how to make it.
You had those huge aviators.
I don’t have those anymore. I’m down to Maui Jim aviators now.
You look sharp tonight. Did you pick everything out, or do you have a stylist?
Well, I didn’t wear the alligators [points to his shoes] because of the snow, but this is all Zegna. Want me to prove it to you? Look! [Whips open his sport coat.] Italian! Everything Italian! Handmade Italian shirt. All custom-made.
Do you put your initials on your cuffs?
No, I don’t do that. I’m not quite that vain yet.
What’s your take on pocket squares?
You gotta have a pocket square, I think. [Flair smiles, re-opens his blazer, points to his belt.] Alligator, see? $600, brother. All the way.
Any other advice?
Well, I just think, you know, fashion is more casual today. If you have notoriety, you can dress any way you want to dress. That’s the way it is. I just like to get dressed up. I think that they go hand in hand—notoriety and people lookin at ya. If they look at ya, either you look like a million dollars or you don’t. A guy can have a phenomenal body, but if the suit doesn’t fit him, forget it.