With glacial blue eyes and a masculine brand of elegance, Paul Newman is a Hollywood icon.
An all-American actor best known for playing charismatic or anti-hero characters, his career spanned half a century. From his earliest roles in movies like The Hustler – where he plays pool shark Fast Eddie Felson – through to more recent performances such as John Rooney in 2002s Road to Perdition, he has consistently carried himself in style – in his own unique way. Effortlessly transcending between formal and casual, it is that ease by which he will be remembered. Whether at a red carpet event or riding motorcycles in the desert, he always brought that same rugged appeal set against matinee idol good looks.
In my opinion, Paul Newman is still fashionably relevant today and links nicely with that much talked about FashionBeans notion, timeless style. The American actor’s style was all about simplicity; he used the basic building blocks of menswear to perfection; without appearing to be trying too hard. When classic pieces like white crew neck tees, cashmere sweaters, pea coats and well tailored suits are worn in that unforced manner, it creates a winning sartorial formula.
Here a few of my favourite Paul Newman photographs for you to get an idea of what his look was all about:
If I could point to one thing that we can all learn from looking at Paul Newman’s well-worn chic, it is being comfortable in ones self. It has been discussed before on the pages of FashionBeans; the theory that a man is looking his best when the clothes fit well, he knows what suits his physique and is aware of those subtle touches that make your outfits stand out, without peacocking.
It would have been easy to load the pages of this article with row after row of photographs of this Hollywood legend – such was the strength of his dress sense throughout his distinguished career that sadly ended in September 2008 after a long struggle with cancer. So, it has been hard to narrow down this piece of work in many ways.
As I said before, he seamlessly moved between the formal and the casual without losing his own sense of style. With that in mind, I will break down this article into two; formal and casual. By breaking down outfits and investigating how elements of his looks can be executed today, I hope to give an insight into a true style icon that left a legacy for men who want to dress masculine yet elegant.
So, let’s start with formal. By utilising classic, almost Italian style tailoring, Newman always looked relaxed – with that cool demeanour becoming his trademark. In attempting his formal look remember not to be too packed into your shirt or blazer. The key point, as I said, is a comfortable brand of elegance. Dress up your suit with a crisp white shirt and slim tie, or dress it down with a slightly less formal Oxford shirt.
The finishing touches added to Newman’s overall charm and relaxed approach to dressing. By folding or rolling up your sleeves, you relax the aesthetic of formal wear instantly, whilst leaving the top button undone and loosening the tie was another of his trademarks. It shows a casual nonchalance; almost a rebellion against the unwritten rules of being a well dressed gentleman. But this ethos just added to his appeal, he dressed how he wanted – and was confident doing it. It created a real dominant and masculine persona, whereby women wanted to be with him and men wanted to be him. The mark of a true icon.
Remember to finish off your formal looks with chunky, masculine accessories. A tan statement watch and silver jewellery are the perfect accompaniments.
I’m sure by his own admission the actor would have suggested he was more comfortable in casuals. He managed to blend a preppy, heritage style with a more rugged, well worn silhouette. Therefore in his outfits, as you will see, there is a lot of denim, corduroy, chunky overcoats and work boots mixed with softer, more nautical flavours like cashmere knits, Oxford shirts and weekend chinos teamed with boat shoes.
Perhaps his most admirable style trait was how he managed to bring the two – seemingly opposed – looks together without appearing to chop and change his look or sensibilities. As previously mentioned, he always looked comfortable and the clothes always fit him well. He was unforced and sophisticated in his dress, but with that masculine edge that made him unique.
A key point reinforced by this approach to dressing is the importance of quality basics and consideration of materials. Before trying to hit any trend looks your wardrobe should be full of fitted plain tees, premium knitwear, great fitting jeans/chinos and timeless footwear styles. Invest in materials such as cashmere, high grade leather and raw (or selvedge) denim – they will give your pieces longevity and take your casual looks to the next level with subtlety and ease.
Of course, not everyone can afford to invest in premium materials, but the lesson is still the same; get the building blocks of your wardrobe down and you will be able to develop your own take on timeless style; hopefully incorporating many of the same effortless traits that made Mr. Newman a true style icon that will continue to transcend generations. Here is a selection of inspired pieces from high street – mid-priced brands:
For those of you looking to invest in your wardrobe, here are selection of premium quality inspired pieces that Mr. Newman himself would be proud of:
The legacy of Paul Newman is going to continue to live on for generations, such is the appeal and timeless nature of his dress sense. He was a man’s man but still exuded class and elegance naturally through his clothing choices and overall demeanour. There is a lot we can learn from looking to the past, as we strive to become one of those males who is widely regarded as well dressed, and has a personal style that will transcend fleeting trends, looks and ‘fashion’.
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