How ‘Ramy’ Quietly Became One of the Most Stylish Shows on TV

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How 'Ramy' Quietly Became One of the Most Stylish Shows on TV

Photographs: Everett Collection; Collage: Gabe Conte
For season three, Ramy Youssef’s Hulu series tripled down on the knit polos and mohair cardigans ascendant in American menswear.

The third season of Ramy—the soulful dramedy helmed by comedian Ramy Youssef—hit Hulu last fall. Since premiering in 2019, the award-winning series has explored contemporary life through its titular character (played by Youssef), the extremely millennial and often irksome son of a Muslim family. When we first see Ramy again in the latest season, it becomes clear that a lot has changed since the end of season two. First, he’s strolling throughout New York delivering blinged-out jewelry—and second, the character has never looked quite this stylish.  

“He’s got some coin now, so he’s making style choices based on that,” explains Nicky Smith, the show’s costume designer. “It’s not a total fuckboy look, but he has his little hat, diamonds in his ears, and an iced-out necklace.” Calling the showrunner’s character a fuckboy might sound like an unwise move, but if the tiny beanie fits, right? Either way, Smith isn’t the first to label the fictional Ramy as a fuckboy—The New Yorker did, and so did GQ. From season two to three, he’s gone from unemployed drifter to newfound hustler, and has secured the wardrobe to match. Still, the way that Ramy’s millennial cool-dude wardrobe signifies his glow-up is quiet. Early on, Smith and Youssef decided they wouldn’t rely on logos to convey the character’s leveled-up fashion. Which meant: no Balenciaga, no Supreme. No flashy overhyped sneakers. Instead, the objective was to lead with sharp silhouettes and an elevated of-the-moment palette. 

Marcus Price/Hulu

The result was a look that feels cribbed from a Noah lookbook, or the line outside the Aimé Leon Dore cafe: the sort of post-streetwear, new American way of dressing that mixes classic menswear staples with a fresh streetwise appeal. To assemble the wardrobe, Smith and her team cast a wide net, looking everywhere from ASOS to Mr Porter. “I wasn’t thinking about the label or the brand. We’re looking at everything and anything that will give us that look,” says Smith. “Whether the pants came from J.Crew or Saks is irrelevant. It was all about if the item works for the character.” (However, Smith did share that one of Ramy’s hoodies is from the new J.Crew.) 

This isn’t to say the show doesn’t have its winking menswear moments. Ramy wears clothes from the cult-loved Kapital and the newer Japanese streetwear brand, Flagstuff, and boasts a little Parisian flair thanks to Sandro and Officine Générale. But the way everything gets worn together feels distinctly American and meets this moment in men’s fashion. Think long-sleeve polos worn with cropped trousers and box-fresh Air Max sneakers, or a turtleneck under a tailored overcoat dressed down with a Mets cap. Other trendy signifiers like crossbody bags, signet rings, and mohair cardigans make appearances. So, how exactly did Smith nail the moving target that is contemporary menswear?

“Street style,” she explains. “That’s where you get a real taste of what is really happening. I want to see what the kids are doing on the street. I will stalk everybody’s Instagram account. I don’t care who you are. If you have style, I’ve flipped through your photos and checked what you’re doing.”

The style of another character that feels worth mentioning, too, as far as the show’s general vibe goes: Uncle Naseem, Ramy’s boisterous elder and fellow jeweler. Naseem (played by Laith Nakli) dresses like an old-school Diamond District guy, not unlike the leather blazer-inflected style Adam Sandler made famous in Uncut Gems. It’s hard not to notice the difference between uncle’s shiny leather and garish prints and nephew’s roster of hoodies and knit sweaters. “We wanted to show this space between Uncle Naseem and Ramy. His style is not really of the times; it’s dated. And Ramy is right on the fashion trend,” explains Smith. Both men feel like outsiders in America and strive to project affluence from two very different generational viewpoints of what is considered stylish. (To show how younger Diamond District guys are dressing, Smith spent some time with an actual jeweler that Youssef grew up with.)

Jon Pack/Hulu

When I ask Smith if it was tough dressing a character based on a real-life person (when that person is also the writer, director, and executive producer), she tells me Youssef’s perspective only helped her hone in the very specific fashion they needed to hit. “Ramy knows this character like no other. He has a unique relationship with how he wants that character to be seen.” Her job was to deliver fashionable clothes that didn’t distract from the story—while still giving the audience a nod to “that cool kid style.” As a show, Ramy has never shied away from the role that identity and image play in our lives. Whether it was down-on-his-luck Ramy in season one or newly stylish Ramy in season three, the show treats its characters’s style dress with the same thoughtfulness it does everything else. But if you’re looking for some style inspiration of your own, maybe stick to this latest season. 

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