For the past two years, Chris Pratt has been trying to make vests his thing.
It’s been a long and arduous journey. But we stand here today, as you well know, on the very precipice of just that accomplishment. Chris Pratt, the actor, however astonishingly, and however out of nowhere, currently threatens to ascend to a place where only the great vest-wearers of history will be able to touch him. Chris Pratt, pending the results of The Magnificent Seven … is on the brink of becoming the no. 1 vest-wearer in the world.
And as the dust finally settles on last weekend’s much-anticipated wide release ($56 million worldwide, off-the-charts vest-to-shirt ratio), a major question continues to stand out:
How did we get here?
This is a brief history of Chris Pratt trying to make vests his thing:
There is scant evidence of Chris Pratt wearing a vest during this period. At first I suspected that Parks and Recreation, Pratt’s TV show that premiered in the year 4 B.V.* (*Before Vest), might have been the origin point for Pratt x Vests: recreation, and parks, and … outside and all of that — it seemed like fertile ground for a vest-curious person to experiment. But initial research shows this not to be the case.
I also took a hard look at Zero Dark Thirty, Pratt’s 2 B.V. film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Pratt plays a bearded Navy SEAL in the movie, and shares scenes with Joel Edgerton and Jessica Chastain — the whole thing scans as fairly vesty. But again my data proved otherwise: While Pratt sports some great mil-spec fall outerwear in Zero Dark …
My current working position on Pratt’s early period: These are all supporting roles. And Pratt, knowing that wearing a vest would instantly transform him into a dominant and distractingly charismatic leading man, held off.
Evidence suggests that Chris Pratt first turned his attention to vests in the year 2014, while filming Guardians of the Galaxy. Here is a Guardians promotional photo, with Pratt in costume as Star-Lord:
On first glance, this is a photograph of a movie star wearing a vest — and wearing it with confidence. But look closer. Have you ever bought a piece of clothing — a jean jacket, a pair of sunglasses, the T-shirt of a band you’re only kind of into but it’s a great color scheme and honestly who will ever know — and felt like an impostor? At the store, trying it on — you feel a rush of confidence. “This is me,” you think to yourself. “This is who I am now.” But a couple of days later, when it’s time to put those sunglasses on, and debut your bold new look-slash-self out in the wild … you get cold feet. “This isn’t me,” you think. “I’m not ready. I thought I was, but I’m not.” And then you put on your old sunglasses, and walk out the door.
Well, that’s Chris Pratt trying to will himself into being The Vest Guy in 2014. Notice Pratt’s neck, yearning for a normal jacket collar; and Pratt’s face, trying to smile — but instead filling up with sadness. Notice Pratt’s left arm, not knowing quite what to do without a jacket sleeve; and then Pratt’s left hand, tilting awkwardly away from his arm in discomfort; and then Pratt’s fingers, tilting awkwardly away from his hand in what can only be described as a “finger situation.” This is not a Vest Person. This is a person who wants desperately to make vests “their thing” … but who just isn’t ready yet.
And so, when Guardians finally came out later that year, it was no surprise: Pratt got cold feet. Star-Lord wore a jacket for the entire film.
Chris Pratt knew enough to want to be a great vest-wearer. He just didn’t know how to become one.
What happened to Chris Pratt between 2014 and 2015 remains a total mystery. One theory — probably the most popular working theory, though our knowledge on the subject is constantly evolving — is that, after Guardians of the Galaxy’s runaway box office success in 2014, Pratt simply began to feel like a movie star … and started to dress accordingly. Another theory is that the Jurassic World trailer, released in November 2014 and featuring some quick shots of a vested Pratt, gave him a final, conclusive boost of confidence. And there’s even a fringe theory that — well, let’s just say it involves some sleeves, some CGI and some bad reputations.
But whatever it was that happened to him in late 2014, the result was the same. Chris Pratt entered 2015 with a clear-eyed agenda: Make vests happen — and never look back.
The initiative was swift and decisive. First, there was an appearance in a brief skit on a January 7, 2015, episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!:
And then — not even two days later — there was a Lakers game, on January 9:
This is the first document that I have been able to find of Chris Pratt wearing a vest as a civilian — and it’s strong. Is it perfect? No, definitely not. I’d say the vest is a half-size too small; not sure those jeans are the answer; and the watch is a little, “OK, Chris Pratt, relax.” But overall this is a really nice vest debut: courtside at Staples Center — but not playoffs or anything. Just a nice, pre–All-Star break, “I wear vests now” statement.
Not long after, as Jurassic World’s promotional campaign began to ramp up in the spring, people suddenly began to pay attention to the more … how to put this … vest-friendly moments in the trailer:
And then the buzz just kind of took off from there. It was never anything explicit. As far as we know, Chris Pratt never tweeted out, “Vests are my thing now.” He never went on a talk show and, when asked about his upcoming projects, said, “This summer I have ‘getting ingrained into the American vest iconography,’ and then of course Parks is back in the fall.” It was never like that. You would just hear whispers: Psst … loving the vests on Pratt. Or: Psst … Pratt and vests. That sort of thing.
Until, by the time the Jurassic World press tour rolled around, the Chris Pratt aesthetic had become All Vests, All the Time. Take this vest look, in Beijing, from May:
And a callback to the Laker game look, in London, from June:
The Jurassic World–era Chris Pratt vest-wave was so strong, in fact, that vendors began to sell replica costume Chris Pratt vests — before the movie had even been released — in sheer anticipation of the boom:
The only thing left, after that, was for the movie to come out. If the vests were on point, then the sky was the limit — Chris Pratt would be launched into the vest stratosphere. Were the vests on point?
The vests were on point.
By the time 2015 ended, Pratt’s journey was complete: from obscure vest prospect to vest-wearing superstar.
Or rather, I should say: His journey was almost complete. And that’s because there is being one of the best … and there is being the best. Chris Pratt knew that he had come way too far now to settle for second place. If Pratt’s 2015 goal was to put himself on the vest-wearing map, then his 2016 goal was to become the map: to secure his spot as the no. 1 ranked vest-wearer in the world.
It wouldn’t be easy.
The first setback came in January, with the premiere of Showtime’s Billions. Billions, of course, was nothing short of Vest Nirvana:
It was a vest debut so transcendent that the phrase “Year of the Vest” was tossed around in vest-head circles … only a few weeks into 2016. And while it wasn’t a knockout punch to Pratt’s Vest Ascendancy, it was definitely a knockdown. Billions was a show that said: “Before we go off and anoint a new vest king, let’s first consider all of the places that we can take the vest this millennium.” It was a strong message, well-received by many within the vest community.
The second — and most damaging — setback to Pratt came in March, when Ben Affleck debuted his vest-centric interpretation of Bruce Wayne in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
If Jurassic World was the A New Hope of the Vest Wars, then Dawn of Justice was the Empire Strikes Back. Affleck’s look was largely seen as a shot across the bow, from the Vest Hollywood Establishment to Pratt — essentially saying, “Back the fuck up. I’ve been in vests.”
The third and final setback came in April — when Pratt debuted one of his most forced and unfortunate vest looks to date: a corduroy vest, with weird facial hair and sideburns and also a hand signal that, I’m not really sure what it means, on the red carpet at CinemaCon:
I won’t mince words: This was not good. It was the clearest sign so far that the one-two combination of Billions and Dawn of Justice had gotten to him.
Pratt attempted to bounce back at the Magnificent Seven premiere — with a nice, if half-hearted, black tuxedo vest:
It was a worthwhile effort but it didn’t really land. And from the outside, it looked as though Pratt’s ascendancy would burn out as spectacularly as it had burned bright.
But even Pratt’s staunchest doubters knew: He still had an ace in the hole. And that ace in the hole was the actual movie — The Magnificent Seven.
Why? Because, quite simply, Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven is the most ambitious vest movie ever made. All seven of the Magnificent Seven wear vests, as do a number of other prominent characters in the film. Let that sink in for a minute. One movie, 10 vests. The stage for Chris Pratt’s vest comeback was set.
And after seeing The Magnificent Seven, The Ringer can exclusively report …
That Chris Pratt, in The Magnificent Seven, gives one of the greatest vest performances of all time. That he is now firmly entrenched in the no. 1 spot of the World Vest-Wearer Rankings. And that he has now, finally and officially, done what many thought not possible:
Chris Pratt has made vests “his thing.”