Paul Mescal’s fashion sense: how does he get away with it?

As his Hollywood career has taken off, the Irish actor has cultivated a reputation as a daring dresser

'The full Mescal': Paul Mescal shows up at the Gucci men's spring-summer 2025 fashion show in his boxer shorts during Milan Fashion Week. Photograph: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty

Why am I reading about Paul Mescal’s underwear?

The Maynooth actor, who rose to fame in the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Normal People, arrived at a Milan fashion show this week in Gucci boxer shorts, paired with a pale blue, partially unbuttoned shirt and horsebit loafers.

A wardrobe malfunction, surely?

Think of it more as the actor going “the full Mescal”. As his Hollywood career has taken off, he has cultivated a reputation as a daring dresser. In May he turned up at a Tate Modern fashion event in London in Bond villain black. Last year he was praised for bringing back “man-cleavage” when he took to the red carpet in a white vest and dress jacket.

Paul Mescal arrives at the Gucci Cruise 2025 Fashion Show at Tate Modern in London in May. Photograph: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Gucci

He’s certainly going where no former Kildare under-21 footballer has previously ventured.

After Normal People, Mescal went on a solo run trying to make the “GAA intercounty look” a thing in fashion. Posing for GQ in 2020, he paired O’Neill’s Kildare shorts with a £10,000 Hermès pullover. The fashion world couldn’t get enough of it – GQ magazine ran a piece praising his “scruffy heart-throb style”.

Paul Mescal as Connell in the Normal People wearing the GAA shorts that will go on sale to raise money for charity. Photograph: Enda Bowe/PA Wire

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Good on him!

Actually, he’s increasingly fed up being a poster-boy for “knocked out in the Leinster semi-final” chic. Initially he was proud to do his bit for O’Neill’s, saying, “This is thrilling to me. I love it”. But last year, he’d had enough. “Let’s stop talking about it,” he implored a radio interview. “Please, for the love of God.”


‘For the love of God’ is a phrase that could be applied to his new shorts’n’shirt look. How does he get away with it?

Famous people can dress however they wish without fear of ridicule. Pop star Troye Sivan was spotted at the Cannes film festival in Prada boxers, so Mescal certainly isn’t going it alone.

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Did he just wake up in the morning and decide he wanted to wear boxers to a fashion show?

Not a bit of it. All stars at his level have a carefully curated look. Last year his stylist, Felicity Kay, told British Vogue the vibe they were going for was “classic, great tailoring but subtly subverted. A little rough around the edges, tactile and contemporary.”

What’s next for Mescal’s adventures in fashion?

Footage from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator II, in which Mescal plays Roman emperor Lucius Verus, sees him wearing a leather gladiator skirt. If he takes to frocks as readily as he has to outdoor underwear, Mescal’s adventures in fashion have only just begun.