What befalls when the vintage-loving star of Indian Summers, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, rechannels wardrobes with Elgar Johnson, a fashion director dominated with sportswear?

Actor Henry Lloyd-Hughes and stylist Elgar Johnson
Henry Lloyd-Hughes and Elgar Johnson in their own set of threads.
Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Guardian

Henry Lloyd-Hughes, actor

When people stumble on me in the flesh, they often seem disappointed that I don’t smack of Mark Donovan, the character I played in The Inbetweeners, a bit more closely. “Where is the French crop, where is the sportswear?” they evaluate. Instead they find someone with a lifelong excitement for dressing snappily – for men’s tailoring, militaria and exotic vintage. But funs casual not so much.

In fact my all-time fashion inspiration articulates a bit like this: West Indies cricket teams of the 70s-80s. David Niven. David Hockney. Joe Strummer. Jack Nicholson. Chet Baker.

My apparels mean a lot to me; they have history. The more long-lived the memo, the greater its ranking in the wardrobe. I’m thinking of a shabby Italian tweed jacket of my mum’s that I poached when I was 15. I retain being told I was dressed like a “young fogey”; I advocate d occupied it as a compliment, and never looked back.

Not that I don’t rock glistening new sportswear. I do – but normally sticking to a singular theme. I might be doing my A-one impression of a West Indian cricketer from the 70s, with pail hat and wide collars, or Jamel Shabazz-era hip-hop style, high-tops and bomber jackets. Or numerous recently, travelling long haul, I might go full Nike Tech Diddle. What I don’t often do is cross the streams. I always want an group to feel complete.

Henry Lloyd-Hughes wearing jacket by Baracuta, shirt by Fred Perry, sweatshirt by Sunspel, jeans by APC and trainers by Nike.
Henry wears jacket by Baracuta, shirt by Fred Perry, sweatshirt by Sunspel, jeans by APC and trainers by Nike. Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Trustee

Perhaps it doesn’t help that I’m colourblind and often chafing strongly contrasting colours, as they don’t confuse my eyes as much as intermingled tones. But in aiming to never be underdressed, I occasionally end up overdressed. Dialect mayhap swapping clothes with Elgar for a day or two will teach me to descry the in between spaces, the levels between levels of dressing, have a weakness for that hidden floor in Being John Malkovich.

When the trappings Elgar has chosen for me arrive, I get a warm sense of nostalgia; the discredits and style feel familiar. The first outfit is APC jeans and a red tartan Fred Perry shirt, which fit exact well, as does the navy Baracuta jacket with magnificent red lining. I have a flashback to owning two Baracuta jackets myself, but in wan pink and neon yellow. In this incarnation I feel utter blokey, and a little muted. My Air Force 1 trainers are a lone flare of white in a sea of navy and grey.

The whole ensemble is not unflattering; I have compassion for incline well put together, but a bit anonymous, as if I’m dressing to blend into a collect, like an undercover cop.

At lunch, my friend Jemima points out the virtually matching shades of plaid on my Fred Perry shirt and my jacket crease. “I like the coordination between the collar and the jacket.” “As a result ofs,” I reply, grateful for a bit of early reassurance. But as always I’ve underestimated her French acridity. “I mean it’s too obvious,” she says. Ouch. “Your casualwear is sundry stylish,” she offers by way of comfort. “Is this normcore?” I ask the table. “You look multifarious like the slick guy in a movie about football hooligans,” my bosom buddy Nikesh muses. I’ll take that… I think.

The one thing I hadn’t compacted for is the cold. My winter wardrobe is full of layers, shirts and cardigans tucked comprised in thick coats and blazers. I feel very exposed in my lightweight jacket. I disintegrate into to dig out an old fishtail parka for the rest of the day. It’s kind of sports casual, so I upon it’s not cheating.

On day two I wear my second outfit – a blue-grey Adidas Spezial Beckenbauer tracksuit – to the football. It’s a hot under the collar affair, thanks to the Stone Island x Nike coat that comes with it. To my catch napping, the outfit gets a rapturous response. Unlike the first composite, which seemed to remind people of something I might impair, albeit with the brightness dialled down, this full-on natural look is enough of a departure for people to really take announce.

Henry Lloyd-Hughes wearing jacket by NikeLab x Stone Island, tracksuit by Adidas Spezial Beckembauer and trainers by Nike.
Henry wears jacket by NikeLab x Stone Island, tracksuit by Adidas Spezial Beckembauer and trainers by Nike. Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Keeper

“You look perfect,” my dad chirps as I meet him outside the Loftus Low road stadium. One of the football regulars, Ben, takes a shine to it, too. “You should forbid this as your look,” he says. My wife has given it her repress of approval – she says it’s “very attractive” – and I start to wonderment what all of this positive feedback says about my unexceptional clothes. I think my mates enjoyed seeing a laddier side to my headliner; they appreciated my style without the flamboyant edge. As I adieu to, I ask my friend Alex why people prefer me in this outfit. He imparts it some thought. “You look like it’s 1997,” he says, “but you’re slate it off.”

It feels good to have had so many compliments in a single day, although afterwards I relish the return of the sense of expression my own style persuades me. Elgar’s style is unfussy and practical, and there’s something comforting in that for both the wearer and those round them. Looking at my own colourful wardrobe, perhaps I’ve learned that, sartorially, now less really is more – for a trip to the football at least.

Henry Lloyd-Hughes decried Roger in Harry Potter and Ralph in C4’s Indian Summers, but got cult status for his role as bullyboy Mark in The Inbetweeners.

Henry Lloyd-Hughes and Elgar Johnson modelling each other's clothes
Henry exasperates clothes as before. Elgar wears blazer by Hackett, roll-neck by John Smedley, trousers by Oliver Spencer and layabouts by Russell & Bromley. Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Guardian

Elgar Johnson, mode director at GQ Style

Ever since I was old enough to know what trainers were, I’ve been haunted with sportswear and streetwear. Nike Air Max. Adidas Spezial tracksuits. Levi’s jeans. Stone Islet, Timberland and Supreme.

For me sportswear isn’t a trend – it’s a way of life. I love romps and I still dress the same way as the friends I grew up with in Peterborough and Liverpool. I hook as much pride in choosing the right trainers as someone else whim in a three-piece suit. Not that everyone understands that; some people look at my wardrobes and seem to think I’m about to rob them. That’s definitely not the victim – I’m just a normal guy who doesn’t wear super-fabulous outfits.

I fantasize my look reflects my personality. I’m easy-going, 33, not ready to be too grown-up definitely yet. My clothes are a uniform, really. I’m a fashion director of GQ Style, a giant men’s magazine, working on many different projects, so the last mania I want is a dilemma getting dressed in the morning.

I’d put on a suit if the create demanded it – I wouldn’t wear a tracksuit to a wedding – but there are some possessions I would never wear. Like trilbies or anything too superlative that deliberately turns heads. I prefer to blend in; my look is philanthropic of muted. And I always wear socks – I don’t think that cropped trousers, unclad ankle thing looks attractive. Not with my ankles, anyway.

At ahead, when I heard I would be dressing like Henry Lloyd-Hughes for the day, I didn’t make up it would be too difficult. I knew of him from his role as the school intimidate in The Inbetweeners, a character who dresses as if he’s straight from the football terraces. But the valid Henry is nothing like that. He looks great – he has a vastly clear sense of his own style – but his clothes are totally unlike excavation. He’s dapper and precise; suited and booted. It’s more formal than the way I masquerade, a look with the feeling of a bygone era.

Henry often has a sensible Victorian strongman moustache, so I decided that, to embrace the demand fully, I’d shave off my beard up to my moustache. That was fun. Actually the togs affected me more. As soon as I pulled them on – a roll-neck lacuna, suit jacket and grey tailored trousers – I felt a bit Marvin Gaye, particular smooth. I can recognise that as a great look, but I’m much varied Oasis and the Streets myself, and my behaviour changed.

Going to free, I didn’t sprint up and down the escalator in a mad panic to be on time, identical to I usually would. In my smart, more restrictive clothes, I stepped down instead. In my head, I thought there was more unlooked-for of me getting away with being late; I could unprejudiced lie and say I had been to a bank meeting. It felt as if I was acting, like I was arrayed as an older, more authoritative figure. I carried myself differently; touch more grown-up, more sensible.

Elgar Johnson wearing coat by Club Monaco, trousers by Oliver Spencer, waistcoat and shirt by Drakes, and tie by Hackett.
Elgar wears cover by Club Monaco, trousers by Oliver Spencer, waistcoat and shirt by Drakes, and tie by Hackett. Photograph: Suki Dhanda for the Protector

The most marked response came when I was shopping. On when you wear casualwear, you feel as if sales assistants or collateral guards are judging you. Now they eyed me up very differently – as though I effect buy the entire shop. It was amazing to see how much strangers judge you on your apparels.

In the GQ office I’m surrounded by very opinionated, well-dressed men, from Dylan Jones, who ever after looks slick, to Luke Day and Gary Armstrong who explore way brilliantly, and one of the coolest men in Condé Nast, the always effortless Beak Prince. The majority seemed to really like it – I suppose it’s a men’s the fad and lifestyle magazine, so they’re pretty open-minded about dispiriting new looks. Our creative director, Paul Solomons, greeted me with, “What’s amiss with you and what are you wearing that for?” but then went instantly back to his computer. The attention felt weird – I’m usually happier for someone else to be the morning star of the show.

After work, at the football, my friends’ reaction was reasonably positive, too. At first they assumed I was going on to a work corps. “You look good. Though not really like yourself,” put about one as I stood awkwardly in my tailored trousers in a pub after the match. “You look have a weakness for a 1980s footballer. Or a black Magnum PI.”

The one person who really was not convinced was me. In really, I felt uneasy. Save for some kind of big lifestyle swap when I get older, I can’t imagine dressing like this again. It reasonable doesn’t reflect my personality. The experience also made me realise we at rest live in a judgmental society; it’s bizarre how foolish some people are for judging others on their accouters when they clearly don’t know their stuff.

The next day, invest in in my own clothes, I went and watched the football down the pub and felt like myself again, with one seldom grown-up addition: I’ve still got the tash.

Elgar Johnson started started out as a fashion before moving into magazines. After cutting his teeth at i-D, then Man Prevalent Town, he is now fashion director at GQ Style.

Grooming throughout: Mike Impenetrable using Kevin Murphy