Steve McQueen’s ten ingredients for a killer wardrobe

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When people started calling Steve McQueen “The King Of Cool”, it wasn’t just because of his ability to master any role on screen. Of course, he could do that better than most of his contemporaries, but he was also one of the sharpest dressers ever to make his name in Hollywood.

When people started calling Steve McQueen “The King Of Cool”, it wasn’t just because of his ability to master any role on screen. Of course, he could do that better than most of his contemporaries, but he was also one of the sharpest dressers ever to make his name in Hollywood.

1. Never underestimate the power of a leather jacket
Cropped, unzipped and battered, McQueen used leather jackets like toast uses butter. Invest in a simple design such as his (ideally, you want to find one secondhand with a real worn-in look) and style it with a navy jumper and white jeans (also a favourite) for casual attire done right.

2. Get yourself a silk tie
Steve McQueen liked to keep his tailoring simple. Case in point: this super elegant combination of grey wool trousers, a black wool blazer, white shirt and silk printed tie. For that finishing accessory, he’d advise you go for a slim structure, stick to a dark shade, and let a subtle print speak for itself.

3. A killer raincoat is key
Shirt? Check. Tie? Check. Single-breasted suit? Check. But on those gloomier days, what’s the one practical essential to top it all off? A smartly cut rain coat. McQueen’s two tips: stick to a beige shade and leave it unbuttoned to show off that killer suit. If you’re really vibing it, pull up the collar too. It worked wonders for his appearance in Bullitt.

4. You can wear a Western hat
Not exactly the most subtle item to add to your wardrobe, we know, but a stetson carries just as much appeal today as it did when McQueen modelled it on the set of Nevada Smith in 1966. The key to keeping it fashionable is through single-tone styling: a neutral beige shirt and kecks, he would say.

5. Nothing says ‘cool’ like a pinstripe blazer
You wouldn’t have found any jacquard in Steve McQueen’s wardrobe. You would, however, find plenty of arch-masculine pinstripe: his preferred tailoring statement for formal outings. It’s a yes from us. With its refined striped pattern, easy notch lapels and accompanying satin tie, this will make you the very definition of sophistication (if your attitude matches).

6. A shawl lapel cardigan is a life essential
For days indoors or afternoon strolls outside, you can’t go wrong with McQueen’s most casual piece of all: a shawl lapel cardigan. Worn with a distressed denim shirt and straight-cut, striped trousers, this knitted layer is warm, comfortable and looks totally effortless. Daniel Craig has since embraced it – need we say any more?

7. Double-breasted cocoons the body
McQueen’s go-to tailoring was slim-cut, black and styled with patent leather shoes. Top points for his double-breasted design here; his six by two button structure sat higher on the chest, resulting in a tighter, trimmer and much more modern fit in comparison to its 1930s origins. In a nutshell? Easy elegance.

8. Never don’t wear a pair of chukka boots
When brogues or Oxford shoes felt that bit too formal, McQueen turned to chukkas and, boy, did they work. Worn with a single-breasted blazer, black trousers and a navy rollneck (big yes), his brown suede boots were the perfect base and, as a result, he set the bar high for classic casualwear. It certainly helps that he was wearing stellar Persol shades too.

9. Don’t be afraid of a waistcoat
Cast your mind to McQueen’s 1968 movie, The Thomas Crown Affair, within which his leading character mastered a plethora of three-piece suits. They were a favourite for McQueen both on and off screen and his success in styling them was largely down to the waistcoat. This was his sartorial staple and there was only one way to top it off: with a pocket watch chain.

10. A shearling jacket is your best friend in winter
Sure, he made the case for pretty much every kind of blazer, but after starring in The War Lover, his character’s staple shearling jacket started cropping up regularly in his wardrobe. Our favourite is the one pictured above: a light suede, double-breasted button structure and the cosiest cuffs and lapels you could dream of.

PROC. BY MOVIES

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