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James Dean _ Rebel Without a Cause

Retro Men’s Fashion From Fictional Movie Stars

Fashion is such a subjective industry, much like art. Beauty is often in the eye of the beholder.

Everybody is looking for a new fashion, a look that suits them and their outlook on life. They get inspiration from the catwalks of Paris, the movie stars of the day, or even just the people they see in their local mall. Fashion comes from within, at least that is what Ralph Lauren said, but is very much influenced by what we see and hear.

Often, you can get some great fashion tips and different styles from fictional movie characters. Costume departments spend lots of time crafting certain looks for their stars, but it is not uncommon for those looks to move across from the big screen into shops and closets across the country. Indeed, some of those styles are well worth revisiting many years after the film has been released.

With that in mind, we’ve scoured the movie archives to find three great styles from old movies that would hold up well in today’s fashion-conscious world.

Jim Stark – Rebel Without a Cause

James Dean’s seminal role as troubled youth Jim Stark was a momentous moment in movie history, described by Medium as having given birth to the modern teenager. Teenagers dominate the film, and it became a massive influence on how they were depicted going forward, and the fashion still resonates today. A simple T-shirt and jeans combo had rarely been seen on screen, especially not when contrasted with the sharp red Harrington jacket. The Harrington jacket is just as popular today and still goes well with a plain white tee. It’s a look that suggests living on the edges of society, a rebellious uniform for a disenchanted but entirely stylish youth. We’re not sure you should go with the turn-ups though, they are perhaps a bit too retro.

Rocky Balboa – Rocky

When you think of Rocky Balboa, you likely think of him in the boxing ring in a pair of shorts. It’s a popular image, one strengthened by his constant depiction in digital media. Think about it: video games such as Rocky Legends on the PlayStation feature him topless and ready for action, as does every other video game across different platforms. Gala Bingo has a slot titled Rocky, and it too has his image front and center, primed and ready for the starting bell. Wherever you find Rocky, he’s in the ring. That doesn’t do justice to some of his timeless fashion, not least the leather jacket and gray sweater. It’s an understated look in terms of color, but one that typically depicts New York even today – Joey from Friends was another often rocking the look. As for the trilby, that’s optional depending on how daring you wish to be.

Daniel Plainview – There Will Be Blood

Like Rocky, this is an outfit where simply removing the hat makes it far more contemporary and stylish. There Will Be Blood is a slow, steady western movie that won the hearts of the movie-going public. Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his role as antagonist Daniel Plainview, but his classic suit should have won him an award. Typically, western fashion does not transfer well to the modern world. Instead, films and even video games such as Red Dead Redemption conjure images of rather scruffy, dusty outfits. The character of Plainview bucks the trend with a three-piece suit, which is always a bold fashion choice, especially in woollen fabrics. However, Day-Lewis pulls it off, so can you. The retro suit is gaining credence as a strong fashion statement, especially when paired with a pocket watch or similar, as in this famous scene from the film.


story: by Luke Trevis

photo: A poster for Nicholas Ray’s 1955 drama ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ starring James Dean. Movie Poster Image Art / Getty Images

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