The Iconic Outfits of Steve McQueen

His is a name that’s synonymous with style.

Steve McQueen may be long gone, but his legacy as the king of cool lives on to this day.
In that aspect, he’s never been replaced.
No matter how tortured his life may have really been – I’ve read the book and seen just how much shit he dealt with, right through to the end, and it wasn’t a pretty picture – he lives on in the collective human mind as an icon of relaxed, happy and casual style. Him having been such an avid motorcyclist (even starring in the documentary On Any Sunday) was a big part of his character, and was certainly part of the draw for me.
Ask a man to name five stylish guys, and you’ll probably hear his name.

Consequently, if you look him up online today, you’ll see a bunch of articles purporting to teach you ‘how to get the McQueen look’ or ‘how to dress like Steve McQueen’.
Quite frankly, however, you shouldn’t try to be him.
You aren’t him.
You’re you, and your style should be you.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t take a few cues from style icons, however.
So, let’s take a look at a few of my favourite McQueen outfits.
Ones that could easily be worn on the street to this day.

Bullitt (1968)

One of the most, if not the most iconic McQueen outfits is the one pictured above.
A brown herringbone three button sport coat with suede elbow patches, navy turtleneck, dark grey flannel trousers and caramel suede desert boots topped off with a pair of Carrera style sunglasses.

It’s an absolute classic, and a textbook example of a great smart casual outfit.
Some of the best style the 1960s aesthetic had to offer.

The Great Escape (1963)

Another iconic outfit of McQueen’s, this one serves as a reminder of how military looks have influenced casual wear and continued to do so.
The battered leather jacket over flat front military chinos and a navy crew neck sweater is a simple and effective fit.
This outfit would look just as much in place if worn today, as when it was originally worn.

Vintage reproduction company Bronson did a run of replica crewneck sweaters from this film, and I’m still kicking myself for not having grabbed one.
I did get a couple of stellar tees though.

Walking with Ali McGraw (year unknown)

Steve McQueen - Inspiration for Ralph Lauren?

I’ve included this one because as soon as I saw it, I thought two words.
Ralph Lauren.
This was before Ralph, though.
There’s no way that this pic wouldn’t have inspired Ralph when he saw it as a youngster.

This is another outfit that could just as easily be worn on the street today as it was back then.
The double denim, chunky roll neck sweater, western belt and hiking boots is something I could easily see myself wearing, perhaps aside from the hiking boots, simply because I have chunky enough feet already.

I love Ali’s aztec patterned coat too.

The Blob (1958)

Here’s a great example of 1950s preppy style.
And the cool thing about preppy style is that it’s timeless.
The ecru OCBD over a plain tee, high waisted grey trousers and suede bomber jacket are something I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of my stylish friends around the world wearing.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

What this film lacked in character and storytelling, it certainly made itself worth watching purely for some of the wonderful wardrobe combinations shown throughout.
And the vehicles.

Nevertheless, this grey plaid three piece suit is another one of the most iconic McQueen outfits, and any time his name is mentioned in the same sentence as a word like dapper (in its true meaning, not the appropriated one we know it as today), this outfit comes to mind.

My favourite thing about this suit is the cut of the waistcoat. The short and sharp straight cut line at the bottom of the waistcoat looks decidedly stylish, individual and opulent.

A Portrait Photo (year unknown)

For a long time, this was the sole image that made me really want a Harrington jacket in the classic Baracuta G9 style.
Sadly, the G9 is not at all flattering on my body type, but I still appreciate a well executed Harrington outfit on others.
And this one remains the pinnacle for me.

It’s a wonderful example of tonal dressing, with the pop of colour from the tartan lining of the jacket.
The deep cut of the V neck sweater is fantastic, and looks great with the high collared white shirt.

Concluding Thoughts

Steve McQueen serves as an enduring icon of men’s style for a good reason.
He had a great sense of style, and lived it accordingly.
However, I must re-iterate that it’s one thing to take influence from someone and another thing to ape them.
And following any one of the abundance of ‘how to dress like Steve McQueen’ articles around the web is a hot ticket to being a try-hard.

Take notes, but be yourself.

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With content features ranging from appearances on popular menswear hubs (The Rake, StyleForum, Put This On) to French perfume newsletters and university course readings, Sam is a writer, designer and enthusiast in the fields of menswear and fragrance.

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