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 any man to name five stylish guys, and you’ll likely 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.
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 most enduring style the 1960s 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)
I’ve included this one because as soon as I saw it, I thought two words: Ralph Lauren. This is the kind of inspiration the Americana maestro himself probably had in a scrapbook while he was on his way to his eventual career as one of the world’s iconic designers. The outfit itself is another that could just as easily be worn on the street today as it was back then. Double denim, chunky roll neck sweater, western belt and hiking boots is something I could easily see myself wearing. I love Ali’s aztec patterned coat too.
The Blob (1958)
Here’s a great example of 1950s collegiate style. The khaki OCBD over a plain white tee, high waisted grey trousers and suede bomber jacket are a solid combination of everyman style.
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 the term ‘well dressed’, 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 particular one, in that particular off white shell with red, black and white tartan lining, 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.
Steve McQueen serves as an enduring icon of men’s style for one reason. He – and often the wardrobe department in his filmography – had a great sense of style, and lived it accordingly. His lifestyle is another story, and his treatment of loved ones is at best problematic, so do be mindful that the outfits – and maybe the motorcycling if that’s your flavour – are the only things you’d really want to take inspiration from.