It’s not all about gym shorts and sweatbands.
Moss - ecru boucle knitted shirt


Words: O. Brown


We’re calling it: Challengers will be known as the definitive men’s fashion film of 2024. Not only do co-stars Mike Faist and Josh O’Conner make men’s tennis style effortlessly cool, but the film has reignited a well-overdue trend that we haven’t seen in the mainstream for quite a while –tennis core.

Whether dressing up Wimbledon-style or getting that fresh-off-the-court look, we’re here for the revival of tennis core, provided it’s done well. Thankfully, Jonathan Anderson’s styling in Challengers has given us a cinematic lookbook that serves as a masterclass on how to get it right. Here’s everything the soon-to-be cult favourite has taught us about tennis core and how to get the look.

What is tennis core?

It’s not all about gym shorts and sweatbands – tennis core is a style that extends far beyond the court. It’s a stylistic approach where sportswear and old-money aesthetics intersect. And the look is as much influenced by tennis spectators as it is by players themselves, so taking cues from the grandstand is really the key to pulling it off.


The basics of men’s tennis style

Successful tennis core hinges on getting the basics right. For a sport and style steeped in tradition and fuelled by affluent spectators, this is where well-tailored garments really come into play.

polo shirt is the quintessential staple in men’s tennis style, and wearing one will never go amiss in conjuring up a sense of luxury and refined sporty style. Take it up a notch by choosing a knitted version of the classic polo for a bit of texture and refinement.

However, if there’s one thing that Challengers and the likes of Rafa and Djokovic have taught us, it’s that tennis core has room for T-shirts, too. If nothing else, a beautifully proportioned, high-quality T-shirt is all you need on top this summer.

Whichever side of the court you’re on – team tee or team polo – tuck either of them into a pair of smart or pleated trousers, and you’ve got tennis core. Add a blazer or casual jacket to the mix, and you’re ready to hit the stands at Wimbledon.

Embrace shorter shorts this summer

Challengers embraced shorter shorts, and we’re doing the same. If you haven’t already, there’s no better time go for a slightly shorter short than you’d usually wear. This isn’t to say you should wear a size down. Quite the contrary, a neatly tailored short will take a couple of inches off your usual knee-height profile without sacrificing comfort. Pair them with a casual button-down and a pair of laid-back loafers, and you have a look elevated yet versatile enough to take you from drinks by the pool to a Wimbledon after-party.


Accessorise with versatile footwear

If you want to go full Challengers-style tennis core, it’s worth having two pairs of shoes in your rotation: a match-ready pair of white trainers and a pair of smart loafers for an off-the-court look.

These two styles will keep you prepared for whatever comes your way –whether you’re being served a tennis ball, another spreadsheet, or a drink instead.

When in doubt, keep it simple

As volatile and outrageous as tennis players can be (we’re looking at you, Nick Kyrgios), the style is anything but. Men’s tennis style is about restraint and simplicity, so don’t overthink it. Stick to well-made, thoughtfully designed staples, and this fashion trend couldn’t be easier to pull off.