Bryce Harper’s casual days are long behind him. The Major League Baseball star and Las Vegas native no longer just “throws on” an outfit—despite a locker-room culture that typically eschews high fashion, he’s all about the sophisticated look that comes with a European-cut suit and designer shoes. Ask him, and he struggles to remember the last time he went out in anything less than a three-piece. And this is a 22-year-old ballplayer.
It’s been nearly five years since the Washington Nationals selected Harper with the No. 1 pick in the MLB amateur draft—a milestone that occurred exactly one year after a Sports Illustrated cover story dubbed the then-16-year-old “Baseball’s Chosen One.” After signing a record $10 million contract, Harper left Las Vegas for the minor leagues, eventually making his debut with the Nationals on April 28, 2012. Since then, Harper has gone from top prospect to Rookie of the Year (2012) to two-time National League All-Star (2012, 2013) to postseason hero; the only thing evolving as quickly as his game is his sense of style.
Just before departing for spring training last month, Harper returned to his hometown to pose for our Spring Fashion issue. And while he enthusiastically prepped for his moment in front of the camera, we asked him about his personal style, how he stays fresh on the field and his expectations for the upcoming season.
When did you start to take an interest in fashion?
Probably my first year in the big leagues. I thought about it, and I really wanted to look good every day I went into the clubhouse, every day I had an interview. It’s a lot of fun to be able to dress up. It’s like on Sundays when you go to church, you want to wear your Sunday best, and during the season I try to do that. Every day is like Sunday. And I enjoy the offseason, because of what I can do with photo shoots and things like that.
Do the Nationals have a dress code?
During the season, of course when we travel we wear suits. I usually wear a suit and tie no matter what. Some guys will just wear a shirt, no tie. I wear all the accessories—the tie, the three-piece suit. I want to look good and have some fun doing it.
Have any other athletes influenced your style?
[NBA All-Star] Chris Paul is one of the guys I really look at. He has a great style. He’s different from everybody. He’ll wear a hoodie with just a regular jacket, or with a suit jacket. That’s pretty different. I love the short suit—you know with the shorts and a regular [jacket]. Some people will say they don’t like it, but I think that’s awesome. So it’s fun to look at other people and see what they do, how they do it and learn a little bit.
How do your teammates respond when you take a fashion risk?
Baseball is a traditional sport, so people will say, “What are you wearing that for?” It’s like, that’s what’s in right now, and that’s what I want to wear. So I’ll do certain things like that, and guys will just say, “That’s weird,” or whatever. But that’s me.
If you’re going out for a night in Las Vegas, what are you wearing?
I don’t really go out much, but if I’m going to dinner or something, I love being in a suit. I love that kind of look. If I could live in the 1950s and be suited up every day, I would. I really think suited-up [men], with girls in their dresses, is a really cool look. When we’re doing Old Timers’ Day at the park, I wish they’d make fans dress in suits to watch us like in the old days.
What’s your go-to spot if you’re looking for a suit?
Stitched [at the Cosmopolitan] is great. To be able to go there and sit down and go through fabrics, it’s a lot of fun. In the offseason I love going in and picking out the suits I want to wear … for the season. I want to be different. I don’t want to show up with the same suits as everyone else. I want to show up and have everyone else be like, “Wow, where did you get your suit from? Who made that for you?”
As a baseball player, you have to wear a uniform 162 days out of the year. How can you customize that to show off your unique style?
I try to be different as much as I can on the field. I try to have stuff that nobody else does. With my batting gloves and my cleats and my arm sleeves, wristbands and things like that, Under Armour and all the other companies do a great job for me.
People will walk by my locker and see 15 different pairs of cleats, and they’ll say, “What size do you wear?” And I’ll say, “My size. Don’t worry about it, because you’re not going to get a chance to wear them.” You look good, you feel good, you smell good, you play good. That’s one of the mottos I’ve always lived by.
You’ve played three seasons in the majors now. What is your mentality heading into 2015?
I still feel like I have the same mentality of trying to win and doing everything I can to bring a ring to D.C. We have a great organization and the best fans. We have one of the best teams and definitely the best pitching staff in all of baseball. Adding [former Cy Young Award-winning pitcher] Max Scherzer is something I’m very, very happy about. He’s an absolute stud. Adding him to an already phenomenal staff is a great thing.
For me personally, I just want to play a little bit smarter. Play hard of course, but play smart and stay on the field for 162 games and really try to enjoy this year. I always have fun playing ball. It’s not a job for me. I’ve always said when it gets to be a job, I’ll quit and find something else to do. I’m excited for this year and we’ll see where it goes.
The 2014 Nationals made the playoffs for the second time in your three seasons. What have you learned from your postseason experiences?
Two of the past three years we’ve won the NL East, and both of those years we should have won the World Series—having the team that we had, the best team in baseball all year long, we should have won. But woulda, shoulda, coulda. We’ve got to get the job done this year. We’ve got a great manager [former UNLV star Matt Williams], we’ve got a great team. Everyone is healthy. … We’re going to go in and work hard and hopefully hold that trophy at the end.
It looks like Las Vegas is on the verge of getting an NHL franchise. Can you envision an MLB team here?
I hope so. That would be awesome. It would be great for this city. My parents were born and raised here. We’ve had three generations of people in our family who have been born and raised here. You don’t see that much. So many [Las Vegas residents] are from California, Arizona, East Coast, West Coast—they’re all coming here and rooting for different teams.
I think the NHL will thrive if they get a team here. They’ll get so many fans from other places who come to Vegas. You can imagine how much revenue you can generate from something like that.
You seem to take a lot of pride in being from Las Vegas. Why is that?
I went to Las Vegas High School. Being able to come from a high school that’s named after the city is special. I love this place. It’s a working town and seeing people work hard, I want to work hard for them and be a good person on and off the field. I want to be that guy who’s from Las Vegas and people say, “They’ve got good people coming out of Las Vegas.”
I love coming back here in the offseason. The people in this town really take me under their wings and root for me and have a lot of pride for me. I love being able to say I’m from the 702.
Where to Buy
All looks available at Stitched Lifestyle in the Cosmopolitan, 702-698-7630, StitchedLifestyle.com.
TAG HEUER the Shops at Crystals, 702-380-2820, TagHeuer.com.
TOM FORD the Shops at Crystals, 702-740-2940, TomFord.com.
AG ADRIANO GOLDSCHMIED Fashion Show, 702-433-5875, AGJeans.com.
JOE’S JEANS Fashion Show, 702-690-3046, JoesJeans.com.