Is J.J. Watt A Budding Style Icon?

J.J. Watt talks style, the trouble with shopping and his date night look at the Nordstrom launch of Mizzen + Main.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen February 2, 2017

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J.J. Watt and Kevin Lavelle in from of the new Mizzen + Main section at Nordstrom.

It's not hard to know when J.J. Watt walks into a room. Even if you're looking at your phone, first you'll hear the background chatter of 50 people suddenly get quiet, and then, looking up, you notice the big blond guy with the chiseled jaw that stands about a head above everybody else. At Nordstrom on Wednesday Watt was wearing a deep blue collared shirt with a subtle windowpane pattern, one of 12 new styles from Dallas-based Mizzen + Main that is debuting at Nordstrom stores at the Houston Galleria and at NorthPark Center in Dallas. Watt sat down with Houstonia to talk about his favorite looks and how he fell in love with the brand that he now reps.

Okay, let's talk style. We see you on the sidelines in T-shirts, you've usually got your performance gear on. Are you a guy who likes to dress up with you're not on the field?

I like to dress up when the situation calls for it. I definitely like comfort clothes when I'm around the house hanging out, but if I get a chance to dress up and there's the right situation for it, it's definitely a lot of fun to kind of get outside your element and really put on something nice.

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Tell me a little but about Mizzen + Main and what drew you to the brand.

With Mizzen + Main it's all about the comfort with the style. Being down here in Houston and sweating every time I walk out the door, somebody sent me a Mizzen + Main shirt and said 'you have to try this.' I tried it on and you don't sweat through it because it's breathable, it stretches, you don't have to get it dry cleaned, you can machine wash it, so all these things I was like, this is perfect for me. It's like the on-the-field comfort clothes and the off-the-field style, this combines them both. 

Do you wear it every week for game day?

How it works for our game days is when we travel, you travel the day before and then you play the game, so you have to wear a suit two days in a row and if you wear a regular shirt it gets all wrinkled and it gets gross. If I wear this I toss it in the bag, take it out and there's no problem.

So you've got the navy windowpane on today, do you usually like to stick with classic colors or do you dabble in the pastels, the peaches and aquas in the collection?

So I have gone a little bit back and forth in my style over the years, there are some times where I've gone a little bit out where with the big patterns but I would say at the current time I'm back to more classic solid patterns. I'm actually working with them... it will come out in the future but I'm actually working with them on some more things like that.

Ooh, that's kind of fun. Is that stretching a little bit of a different design and style muscle for you?

Exactly. It's something fun that as a defensive lineman you never thought you'd be able to do. With a company like Mizzen + Main — and [CEO] Kevin [Lavelle] is so fun to work with — it's a lot of fun to kind of flex that muscle like you said. 

Have you introduced the brand to a lot of guys in the locker room?

Yes, a lot of the guys in the locker room love it, my brothers who play on other teams love it, and [it] just kind of grows by word of mouth, because as soon as guys discover they can just toss it in their bags, they're like, where can I get more of these.

Do you have any other places you like to shop in Houston?

Well, shopping is a little hard because a) my size and b) just going out in public, so it's actually very difficult for me, so I'm actually very fortunate that I have Mizzen + Main. I'm also fortunate to have Reebok who helps me out with all my clothes. Jeans are by far the hardest thing to find because my quads and my thighs are big but the waist is a little bit smaller. Finding pants that fit is very, very difficult. I try to find pants that don't look like they're painted on me. 

So I was looking through some of your big style moments: you had the pink pants at the Espys, the plaid double-breasted blazer at another event—do you like to take risks like that?

I have! It's kind of like a teenager going through all the phases trying to figure out who you are. So I was figuring out, okay, the white pants with the pink tie ... I don't know if that's me. I actually really liked that double breasted look, so I think it's more just figuring out who you are. As I get older the more I settle on clean, classy looks. One of my favorite looks right now is just a grey suit with a white shirt and a black tie, something really simple and elegant, very classy.

Who is your biggest competition in the locker room, style-wise?

We have Kareem Jackson—I can't even get on his level. He's phenomenal. The guy comes in every single game day looking fantastic. I would consider myself a little down the ladder from him.

So now that your relationship [with Houston Dash forward Kealia Ohai] is Facebook official—or I guess Instagram official—tell me about your date night looks. Do you like to take it up a notch?

Well K is great because obviously in this city we don't get to go out too much. We do a lot of stuff around the house, we're in a lot, so I would say date night look is basically sweatpants and sweatshirts, which fits perfectly for both of us. Being athletes that's kind of our natural look anyways. But when we do step out I like jeans and a pair of Tom Ford shoes that I got as a gift, which is great because they're incredible shoes, and then just, like, a henley. Jeans and a henley is one of my favorite looks.

Not a lot of henley weather in Houston.

No, but I try to work through it. Sprint from the car to the air conditioning as quickly as possible. 

Alright, last question: what are you doing for Valentine's Day? Have you thought about it?

Well, we had Christmas, and then her birthday was Tuesday, and now we've got Valentine's Day, so that's a very short window back to back to back. We just went to Cabo last weekend for her birthday, so obviously topping that is going to be very difficult. But there's obviously going to flowers and chocolate involved. I'll figure out something special.

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